Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Beyond the Veil: A Response

by Martha Nussbaum

New York Times
July 15, 2010

I’m extraordinarily grateful to the many people who posted comments on my piece, “Veiled Threats?” I note that many have come from educated and active Muslim women (in countries ranging from the U. S. to India), who have expressed a sense of “relief” at having their convictions and voices taken seriously.

I’ll begin my reply with a story. The day my article came out, I went to a White Sox game (the one in which my dear team took over first place!). I was there with two friends from Texas and my son-in-law, who was born in Germany and now has a green card. So, in Chicago terms, we were already a heterogeneous lot. Behind me was a suburban dad with shoulder-length gray hair (an educated, apparently affluent ex-hippie, like the “Bobos” of David Brooks’s book), who took pleasure in explaining the finer points of the game (like the suicide squeeze) to his daughter and two other preteen girls in fashionable sundresses. On our right was a sedate African-American couple, the woman holding a bag that marked her as working for the “U. S. Census Religion subcommittee” of her suburban county. In front of us were three Orthodox Jewish boys, ages around 6, 10, and 18, their tzizit (ritual fringes) showing underneath their Sox shirts, and cleverly double-hatted so that they could doff their Sox caps during the national anthem, while still retaining their kipot. Although this meant that they had not really bared their heads for the Anthem, not one person gave them an ugly stare or said, “Take off your hat!” — or, even worse, “Here we take off our hats.” Indeed, nobody apart from me seemed to notice them at all.