Clearly this was an idea that was too far ahead of its time. (Or perhaps a dozen or so centuries behind it.) One Ohio high school principal came up with the brainstorm of issuing a “challenge” to all the female students which would encourage them to wear a Muslim head scarf – or hijab – to school for a day so they could empathize with their Muslim peers. Word of the plan got out to the parents in the community and the result was pretty much what you’d expect.
Intense criticism has prompted an Ohio high school’s principal to cancel a student event in which girls would celebrate diversity by spending a day wearing a Muslim headscarf. Mason High School Mindy McCarty-Stewart also issued an apology in an email Thursday to district families, saying the intent of the April 23 student-led event was meant to be positive, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
“I now realize that as adults we should have given our students better guidance. After much consideration and after talking with the student event organizers, we have canceled the event,” she said.
The event, dubbed the “The Covered Girl Challenge,” was designed to combat stereotypes women face wearing head coverings. Similar events have been held on college campuses and other high schools.
Encouraging kids to recognize the differences between families from different backgrounds, while tricky, can certainly be productive if it’s handled properly. But in this particular case there are a couple of glaring problems. One of these is aptly pointed out by Rick Moran.
To be intolerant of intolerance is the best lesson those kids can learn out of this. Since when is it “anti-Muslim bigotry” to protest against the reality of Muslim treatment of women? Sheesh.
Only radical multiculturalists promote diversity in a vacuum. When you ignore the reality of Islam’s oppressive 8th century ideas about women and celebrate one of the major symbols of that oppression — the hijab — you give aid and comfort to the very people and ideas you are supposed to be fighting.
Muslims do not celebrate “diversity.” They punish it — harshly. The price for non-conformity is sometimes death, always ostracization. And the hell of it is, the principal is clueless about the gaping dichotomy of celebrating diversity by having girls wear an anti-diversity symbol.
Rick is correct here. Inviting students to participate in an exercise where all of the represented religions – even the Christians – in the community share information about their faith and practices in a positive way might turn out pretty well. (Again… only if it’s handled properly and doesn’t disrupt other school activities.) But singling out an item of clothing which essentially represents the oppression and shaming of women is hardly the way to do it.
But getting back to the “proper handling” question for a moment, this looks like a rather aggressive and poorly considered plan. Right off the bat it was being described as a “challenge.” Rather than inviting students to learn something the principal was effectively setting up a day when any girl who chose not to participate would be singled out as “failing to embrace the diversity” and essentially labeled as a bad person. And there really aren’t any parallels to draw with other religions here which come to mind. You might suggest something along the lines of challenging all the boys to wear a yarmulke for a day, but that’s really not the same thing at all. The yarmulke is a sign of respect and obedience, reminding the faithful that God is above them, but it is not meant to hide the man’s features because some enforced sense of “modesty” should cause them to not be seen by the rest of society.
I know there are Muslim women – including some living in the United States – who choose to wear the hijab when they leave the house. That’s their choice, and if they feel it appropriate because of their faith, good for them. But western values don’t exactly embrace the idea of covering yourself so nobody else can see your features. Making impressionable high school girls feel excluded because they don’t wish to mimic that custom is not a celebration of diversity because the men who force women to dress in that fashion are not interested in diversity at all.