[lit-ideas] Re: Religion & Public Reason

  • From: Mike Geary <jejunejesuit.geary2@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 12 Aug 2010 22:08:56 -0500

I stand by your analogy and conclusion as well, Phil.  Wish I could argue so

Mike Geary

On Thu, Aug 12, 2010 at 5:31 PM, Phil Enns <phil.enns@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> Eric wrote:
> "The Cheney Doctrine concerns loose nukes or loose bioweapons, where
> the destructive potential of their use -- even at 1 percent chance --
> is civilization-ending, and consequently an unacceptable risk. Not
> entirely apropos."
> What I said with regards to the security argument in support of
> banning the niqab: "Here we approach something like the Cheney
> doctrine".  First, with an analogy, the fact that the two things being
> compared are not exactly alike is not an argument against the analogy.
>  The whole point of an analogy is that the two are different with some
> aspect of similarity.  So, Eric is right that the Cheney Doctrine was
> offered in the context of a discussion on nuclear and biological
> weapons.  My argument turns however on what I perceive to be a
> similarity, namely, the claim that the possibility of a future
> security threat is best dealt with by a present day response rather
> than by analysis.
> But, if I may be presumptuous, Eric might argue that the similarity
> works only if the threat is to scale.  There is, Eric might argue, an
> important difference between the threat of a suicide bomber with an
> explosive vest under a niqab and a rogue country or terrorist
> organization with nukes.  However, I think this imagined response
> misses the point.  As I claimed before, the rhetoric surrounding the
> push for a ban is not focused on the niqab as a delivery system for an
> explosive vest, but rather it is focused on the religious extremism
> for which the niqab is the proxy.  In this respect, the article Ed
> Farrell linked to in the National Review is useful in that it attempts
> to lay out a connection between the practice of wearing the niqab and
> the threat Islamic extremists pose to Western Civilization.  More
> evidence of this connection lies in the punishment the French have
> proposed, namely classes on French culture.  In other words, the
> French see the practice of wearing the niqab as a threat to the very
> nature of French society.  Furthermore, there has been a decided shift
> in the rhetoric surrounding Islam in the U.S. so that, for many
> Americans, Islam itself is a threat to the U.S. and all the values it
> supposedly represents.  If, as I am suggesting, the rhetoric that
> surrounds discussions of the threat of the niqab takes the niqab as a
> proxy for Islamic extremism or even Islam itself, and that this
> extremism is understood as a threat to Western civilization, then my
> analogy holds.  This construed threat of Islamic extremism is to
> scale, or perhaps even greater, with the threat of a loose nuke.
> In short, I stand by my analogy.  Those arguing for a ban on the
> practice of the niqab adopt a rhetoric that understands this practice
> as a threat to Western civilization.  For this reason, so the argument
> goes, the risks require a response, the banning of the niqab, rather
> than analysis, that is the evaluation of facts and evidence for a
> specific threat.  Here, the banning of the niqab is a proxy for the
> banning of Islamic extremism, or perhaps Islam itself.  And to
> summarize my argument, I think this approach both undermines liberal
> democratic practices and reduces the effectiveness of the response to
> actual security threats.  Instead, the most effective approach is for
> liberal democratic governments to avoid interfering in religious
> matters but rather focus on the rule of law.  In this way, liberal
> democratic governments ensure the right to religious freedom while
> also ensuring the legal and security structures that make the practice
> of such freedoms possible.
> Sincerely,
> Phil Enns
> Indonesia
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