Here's a challenge to Muslim men who believe that the wearing of the burqa is no hardship on women. Don one yourself and wear it for a week. Wear it to work and see if it impedes your ability to do your job. Wear it when you go out in public and see what it's like to try to interact with others. Wear it when you go to the local mall or the park or take your children for a walk. And, by all means, do so on the hottest day of the year.
The First Amendment would likely make a broad ban on the burqa in the United States unconstitutional, though some states have restricted its wearing for such activities as obtaining a driver's license. But it would be a false tolerance to suggest that we should treat the burqa as a symbol of religious freedom. The burqa is a statement about the woman's status more than a religious one. The burqa-clad woman is not an individual with rights; she belongs to a man -- her husband, father or brothers -- whose "property" must be protected from other men's gaze. We may not ban the burqa here, but we can and should disapprove of it.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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