Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Opposite of Assimilation

For me, this story from the Chicago Tribune captures exactly one of the problems with immigration.

In this story the reader is told of the travails of Bridgeview's Universal School girls basketball team. What is the problem, you ask? The Universal School is a private school for Muslims. As such, the girls who attend it wear the long, flowing robe (called a jilbab) and headscarf (the hijab) that some seem to think Islam requires. Such garb is worn to promote modesty, which in and of itself, especially in this day and age of Brittany Spears and bared mid-riffs, isn't a bad thing.

(Never mind for a moment that it turns the idea of self-restraint on its head. This uniform for Muslim women serves a dual purpose. It also serves to keep the women from tempting the men. In the 100+ degree heat of Saudi Arabia, I have always found this stricture exceedingly cruel. The men are allowed to go out in their sun-reflecting white thobe, while the women must wear the all-black - and heat-absorbing - abbaya. I always think the same thing, "Why not ask the men to exercise a little self-control instead of enshrouding the women in what surely must be the most uncomfortable garb one could have devised for the desert heat?")

What is a bad thing is what the Universal School is considering demanding of its prospective opponents. In order to play basketball, the girls must, perforce, doff their long robes and headscarves. Horrified at the idea that male spectators would be able to see the bare arms and legs of 15-, 16- and 17-year old girls, the Universal School has decided that it must bar male spectators from the girls' games. This, in and of itself, would not be a problem if similarly-minded opponents abounded. The rub is that they don't. In the Chicago area there are only four other such schools.

Obviously this would make for a very short season. Or a very dull one, facing off against the same competition four or five times each season. So, Universal School would like to play some public school competition. Not a bad idea, you say.

The problem is that would-be opponents
"would have to agree to bar men and boys above the age of puberty from watching the games". This means that no fathers and not many brothers would be allowed to watch their favorite young hoopsters play. It would also deprive the opponents of much of their fan support. Not to mention the small fact that many public schools' girls basketball teams are coached by men.

According to the Tribune article, this "
dilemma underscores the balancing act many Muslims perform as they toggle between American and Middle Eastern culture".

Yes, it does. And at least one member of the Universal School girls' hoops team has the right idea.
"I don't want to have to impose our religious requirements on anyone else," Farhat Siddiqi says. Yet Ms. Siddiqi seems to be in the minority among her minority.

Apparently the Universal School has considered and rejected as impractical the idea of having the girls play in sweat pants and head scarves. Still, in reading the article, they seem unwilling to make any further concessions towards the larger majority. What's wrong
with the modest concession of allowing the girls play in short-sleeved jerseys and knee-length shorts like those favored by basketball players from high school through the NBA?

All of this is my long-winded way of underscoring one of the things that is wrong with immigration today. Instead of immigrating to America and embracing our culture while preserving parts of their own, modern-day immigrants seem intent on moving to America and recreating, in toto, their native cultures.

Yet in the elites' imposition of total obeisance to diversity, must we now bar fathers and brothers from watching their daughters and sisters play basketball so as to not offend the hyper-sensitivity of a small segment of our population? What's wrong with a few concessions from the minority?

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