I have a very wicked habit – I gawk. I am a visual person who takes in every detail. I can describe anything down to the minutest element. I stare at people. I scrutinize lines on faces and if someone is interesting or unusual looking I drink in the facets of what I’m seeing even more. My bad habit has become a tool in writing, which provides a paint box full texture and interest to what I’m attempting to convey.
When I was a little girl my Dad told me, “Stop staring!” He said it was impolite and made people feel uncomfortable. If I saw a handicapped person with a deformity, I brought staring to a whole new level. If I happened upon a person who was mentally challenged, my father would have to literally drag me away because my reaction was as if I encountered an otherworldly phenomenon– eyes wide, mouth agape frozen and fixated.
Now, as a Grandma, I have learned to curtail my habit and feed off the treasure trove of past staring information that I stored away. However, the practice of staring has given me insight as to why the situation we find ourselves in as a nation irritates me the way it does. I realize that there are people who beg us to look at them and then censure us for doing what they dared us to do–like people with full body tattoos or ten penny nails through their pierced eyebrows.
After many years of contemplating my annoyance and impatience with a certain people group that doesn’t like being stared at, I finally figured out what bothers me about Muslim women outfitted in hijāb.
I want to clarify, although I realize that the burqua marginalizes women and is a symbol of the inequality between males and females in the Muslim culture that isn’t what irks the living daylights out of me. Freedom of religion aside –I know myself enough to know that I’d be unable to control my reaction if confronted on the street by Casper the Friendly Ghost. Trust me, I would stare.
The crux of the matter is that the Muslim culture has invaded our nation and their repressive, 5,000-year-old outerwear is being inflicted on us in our day-to-day life. Muslims make some sort of costume statement and we’re being told to dare not ogle? If we do, because we can’t believe our eyes–it’s interpreted as religious discrimination against Islam. You know what I say, “Tough! If you don’t like it, woman-up and take off that ridiculous outfit.”
Question? If you saw two people walking around in the grocery store in Renaissance attire acting like it was the most normal thing in the world, would you keep thumbing through the National Enquirer, or look?
For example on a recent foray into Walmart, the people’s market, I was subjected to quite an eye-opener. Perusing the laundry detergent aisle and innocently comparing the prices between Tide and Purex, I prefer Tide, whiter whites and all, out of the corner of my finely tuned eyes appeared a Muslim man outfitted in a floor length, galabiyya. On his poorly coifed head, a wrinkled kufi. He had sandals on his, hygienically challenged bare feet and sported a full length, never been groomed, overgrown, Prophet Muhammad beard. Trailing right behind him, at a comfortably respectful, but no less repressive-submissive pace, was a woman dressed in full burqua, with niqab – and sunglasses no less. And I’m not supposed to look? I was gripped with horror like the first time I saw the Invisible Man – no skin, a mummy in Ray Ban’s. I thought, “Is there someone in there?”
I couldn’t stop staring and as I did, I questioned reality asking, “Is this America?” I know the argument that other religions dress funny like the Hasidic Jews or even the Amish, who by the way all look alike. I’m sorry, there is a big difference between a head scarf, suspenders and a full body tent with two holes cut out for eyes —it just doesn’t compare.
Meanwhile, back at Walmart the woman in the niqab was struggling to see under her sunglasses, holding Windex in one hand and a pair of trendy pink flip-flops in the other. Shoppers were making wide turns to avoid these two. Although straining toward a politically correct effort not to gawk, I could see that inquisitive shoppers were just pretending to read the ingredients on the products they held in their hands, while every eyeball was riveted on Abdul and Habibah.
Or how about the woman I encountered in Starbucks trying to drink a Caramel Macchiato in a burqua? My thought at the time was maybe she should put the drink on the floor and snake a garden hose up under her garment and into her mouth. Then, the only thing suggestive of latte drinking would be the veil covering her face billowing like a sail on a mizzen mast.
Originally, my first reaction to burqua-draped females was mild interest; my second, feigned respect and then following close behind was infuriated rage! I became outright indignant and it showed. In my heart and on my face I was ripping headgear off and throwing it to the floor in a blasphemous statement…and saving Judeo-Christian foundations in the process. After watching what could best be described as a religious sideshow I lost my ability to acquiesce to the First Amendment and wondered what the framers of the Constitution would say about the abuse American culture is presently being forced to endure.
The First Amendment does says that, “The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext, infringed.” However, Santeria is a religion and animal sacrifice, which is an integral part of that faith, is still against the law. Can’t we outlaw burquas? Burquas offend much more and at least you can eat dead chickens.
I can’t help thinking America is presently the victim of a Santeria ritual being slaughtered under the oppression of a Muslim culture that is slitting the throat of cultural sanity. I also can’t help but believe that to ask an American citizen to be subjected to the scene similar to the one in Walmart, while simply buying laundry soap, is an “…abridgement of civil rights on account of Muslim religious belief or worship.”
The couple in Walmart had no problem inflicting on modern American culture a fashion statement instituted in the days of the Byzantine Empire and while doing so dared Americans to object.
Reality is, we’re under invasion, literally and culturally and the invasion includes subjugation. American culture is being subjected to having to endure infiltration by a religious system that insists, regardless of how much it offends, that America submit to a 1500-year old tradition…and dare not complain about it.
Fatwa aside and risking suffering the potential fate of Salman Rushdie, part of my new plan to address the problem is to disobey my much revered late father and stare. I plan on staring down every woman in a burqua I run across whether pumping gas or picking up dry cleaning. Hopefully, my staring will send a message making marauding shrouded entities more uncomfortable than they make me –forcing niqābīah; to either assimilate, take the sartorial hijāb off, or take it somewhere else.
Cross posted at: www.jeannie-ology.com