Was Judge Jeanine Pirro's question about Ilhan Omar all that outrageous?
See also: Thomas Lifson's 'Fox News pulls Judge Jeanine Pirro off the air -- for now, at least.'
Judge Jeanine Pirro got her Fox News show pulled from the air, presumably suspended, maybe cancelled, after she made a remark about Rep. Ilhan Omar's wearing of the hijab that was condemned, first by the left and then by politically correct FNC officials as unacceptable. According to Deadline Hollywood:
Referring to Omar, who is a practicing Muslim, Pirro said: “Think about it — Omar wears a hijab. Is her adherence to this Islamic doctrine indicative of her adherence to Sharia law, which in itself is antithetical to the United States Constitution?”
It was clumsy and dumb -- sharia law has a lot of interpretations, not all of them involving stone-aged head- and hand-chopping, and to wear the hijab is just an indicator of one's professed faith - a well-known faith that stretches over a large part of the globe, and if you come from one of those places, it's very likely that that's your faith. I have many of Muslim friends who wear hijabs in places like India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the U.S. and none of those people hold any of the crazy views of Ilhan Omar, let alone hold any stone-aged interpretation of sharia law.
Having a hijab doesn't signal that. Heck, I am a Catholic, and I own a hijab, too, so the question kind of made me laugh. I bought it in Brooklyn, and once in awhile I'll wear it to Latin mass, because nobody's ever going to be the wiser -- it's the same look, worn differently.
All the same, it was not an utterly bad question to ask. Other Americans might be wondering the same. It was only a question, and the fact that it was enough to take Pirro's show off the air does raise questions about censorship, as Thomas Lifson points out here.
But there's one thing that stands out in Omar's biography that suggests a less than positive reason for Omar's wearing of the hijab.
It can be found in this laudatory profile of Omar in the New York Times, published shortly after her election to Congress:
Her arrival in this country was the first time, Ms. Omar has said, that she had confronted “my otherness” as both a black person and a Muslim. She became a citizen in 2000, when she was 17. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, she decided to wear the hijab, as an open declaration of her identity. But from “the first day we arrived in America,” she said, she concluded that it was not the golden land that she had heard about.
So she put on the hijab after 9/11? Back most Americans were draping themselves in the American flag, flags flying like crazy, flag pins, flag boxes, flag everything, and back when Palestinians were dancing in the streets about it? Yes, that happened, there were horrible people in hijabs dancing with glee when that terrible event happened. How strange she chose that moment to put on the hijab. For her, it wasn't even a religious motivation, it was, as she said, all about her identity, who she identified with.
It goes against the response normally seen at such times. Normally, people tend to want to assimilate with the injured party or with the nation itself when it's had war declared upon it.
My German ancestors certainly did - they changed their German-sounding names to more English-looking versions during World War I to avoid association with "the Hun." Many German-Americans did, it was the natural response, because they wanted to unify as Americans.
Even more dramatically, the Japanese-Americans responded to their nationality under fire after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor by volunteering in vast numbers to join the U.S. military to fight the Axis, becoming some of the most valiant and ferocious fighting heros of that conflict. They didn't protest internment, and not one, to my knowledge, put a rising sun in their windows as some identity thing. One of the Japanese-American batallions of troops fighting for the U.S. - the 442nd Regiment -- was the most decorated unit in the entire war. And they were hardly the only unit of distinction, according to this history here, there were many.
It's natural to want to assimilate and pull together, not just in wartime, but also in crisis.
What was the natural response from New Zealand's prime minister to this past week's terrible massace of 50 Muslims in their place of worship? She put on a hijab, to show solidarity with the injured party. It's a natural reaction to such an atrocity -- she wanted to connect and get closer. To many, it was a beautiful gesture.
Omar? Not so much. She hadn't been wearing a veil, until 9/11 motivated her to do it, joining the dancers. You could argue she's missing some sympathy to the U.S. under fire with a decision like that, or maybe its laws, as Judge Jeanine focused on with her question. Omar's reaction makes you wonder what she is loyal to. What could motivate someone to want to choose that moment to embrace the hijab? I don't think it's any version of sharia law, given her strange marriage history. It looks more like petty-intellectual, anti-American, garden-variety, resentful, elitist, socialism. The kind V.S. Naipaul wrote about in his non-fiction books. The kind that reflexively takes the side of America's opponents.
Clumsy or not, Judge Jeanine had a right to ask the question she asked, because some clarification would be useful. Putting her back on the air to have her hash it out might be useful, too.
Image credit: Gage Skidmore, via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0