The Conclusion of The Politics of the Veil

This week’s blog post will be on the book “The Politics of the Veil” by Joan Wallach Scott and specifically how she arrived at her conclusion in the book. Specifically speaking, “rather than resolving the problem of integrating Muslims into French society, the law banning headscarves has exacerbated it”. Within the book, Scott separates interwoven strands so that the reader can better understand how the situation has developed over time. According to Scott, the veil is a manifestation of racial tension between republican France and the Muslim “Other”. In the preceding paragraphs before the quote, she gives more examples and personal accounts to support the claim. Although the veil ban technically only applies to elementary through high school girls, one can see some side effects taking place for adults as well. A woman tells Scott about how, when the woman was seeking naturalization, that if she wore the veil that “her case would be compromised if I kept it on.” The page also states that marriage proposals can be denied because of the veil, some courts will not see a defendant wearing a veil, and that people who wear the veil have been turned away by employers as a result. “In the end it’s not because of Islam that we stay home, but because of French Society.”

All throughout the book, Scott breaks down enacted legislation¬† and events that have helped set up a french attempt to dominate and control difference thus alienating Muslims rather than integrating them.” As a result, a self-fulfilling prophecy is formed and exacerbated causing a rift between republican France and the Muslims. However this hasn’t been solely a french problem. Many different ethnic minorities have or are feeling this alienation all over the world. In fact, at the University of Missouri-Columbia, there have been controversial protests that have been supposedly caused by the same issue. One of the goals that was stated was to be a more welcoming and inclusive campus environment for everyone attending. Another major claim was that the University was stricken with widespread institutional racism and that it was affecting the quality of life for black students. The claims being made by the activists and the institutional response mirrors what Scott is arguing in terms of the veil in France. I will not get political or offer my stance on the situation at my school, however, the situation has similarities to the one highlighted in the book and especially by institutional or governmental policies that were enacted.

The feeling of unforgivable differences shape these kind of controversies which is what Scott means by exacerbating rather than integrating. With every attempt to control and regulate a religious, philosophical, or physical difference, it will alienate the people involved and actually cause more hardship and controversies if people lash out at each other rather than talking it out and coming together. Ultimately, the author arrived at her conclusion by recognizing the alienation of a group of people by another group of people and gave examples, cases, or events that supported her claim. Alienation only breeds contempt for the oppressor and the suppressed group lashes out. Then by these lashing out events and the differences displayed, a vicious cycle and self-fulfilling prophecy is formed.

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