I strongly suspect that Daniel Pipes is trying to invigorate the passions of the Washington Times readership while simultaneously offering the rest of the world some trollgaze. But with the knowledge that I'm probably being baited, let's get into his new idea to ban clothing affiliated with the Islamic faith -- in order to fight crime.
Philadelphia, Pipes says, has become the "capital of the Western world" of criminals wearing burqas as disguises. I suspect that's pretty overstated, but whatever, rents in Philadelphia are probably cheaper for a reason. Anyway, Pipes says there have been "15 robberies (or attempted robberies) of financial institutions in the past six years in which the thieves relied on an Islamic full-body cover." Yes, that works out to just over two a year, which is not exactly an epidemic.
What are most other criminals doing? Probably wearing disguises that aren't bulky and do not restrict one's peripheral vision, I'm guessing. (Ninja disguises are also all the rage right now, it seems.)
But let's ban burqas in public, obviously, says Pipes:
These crimes prompt several reflections: First, as full-body Islamic covers spread, criminals increasingly use them to perpetrate their offenses. Second, government workers and others need to get over their timidity and apply normal security procedures to those wearing full-body coverings. Third, this is deadly serious business, involving thefts, rapes and murders. Finally, this problem has a simple solution: Ban the niqab and burqa in public places, as has been done in France and Belgium.
I have several reflections of my own, actually. First off, the assertion "criminals increasingly use them to perpetrate their offenses" is actually false. Here's the math, presented in this very article:
By my count, the Philadelphia region has had 15 robberies (or attempted robberies) of financial institutions in the past six years in which the thieves relied on an Islamic full-body cover. These took place in January 2007, June 2007, May 2008 (two), October 2009 (two), November 2009, February 2011, June 2011, December 2011, January 2012, March 2012 (two) and April 2012 (two).
That's not "increasingly." That is, "from time to time this happens." (And remember, this is the overall rate of burqa-clad criminality in the "capital of the Western world" of burqa-clad criminality.)
Second, I can't help be struck by the internal inconsistency here. Someone who knows and cares about Daniel Pipes should have told him that he is applying the cliched version of the liberal argument on gun control to religious practitioners. Instead of 'let's ban guns,' it's 'let's get rid of the burqas.' If burqas are banned, only outlaws will have burqas! Maybe that's the point?
For my part, I think that we should approach policy making in a way that doesn't make law abiding citizens -- whether they own guns or practice Islam -- feel imposed upon. I sympathize with people who have done nothing wrong who get caught up in a "lowest common denominator" policy, and I think that the gun control debate is a well that's been poisoned by many people who just think of gun owners as weirdos and hicks. We'd probably be a lot further down the road to an equitable solution on universal background checks if there hadn't been decades of placing the motivations of law-abiding citizens under suspicion or demonizing them with cheap insults.
But look, like I said, I am being trolled. The dead giveaway is that a Washington Times columnist is saying that we should do something that the French and Belgians did.
At any rate, we should all thank Daniel Pipes for giving every two-dollar thug in Philadelphia some new ideas.
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