Anne Applebaum Is Full of It


Still, freedom to practice religion in the West shouldn’t imply freedom to hold jobs that impinge on that practice. An Orthodox Jew should not have an absolute right to work in a restaurant that is open only on Saturdays. A Quaker cannot join the Army and then state that his religion prohibits him from fighting. By the same token, a Muslim woman who wants to cover her face has no absolute right to work in a school or an office where face-to-face conversations are part of the job. It isn’t religious discrimination or anti-Muslim bias to tell her that she must be polite to the natives, respect the local customs, try to speak some of the local patois—and uncover her face.

First off, Applebaum has obviously never heard of conscientious objection, because if she had she would have known that many a pacifist Quaker has served in the US Army, just in non-combat roles. This includes Quakers who enlisted, and were not conscripted.
Second, there’s a difference between not being able to serve in the military/work on Saturdays and not being able to communicate with someone without a veil. The former requirements are major impediments to one’s ability to work in very specific field; they are easily managed. But veils not only do not harm the wearer’s ability to do just about any job, but they apply during all occupations. So allowing Muslims to be discriminated against on the basis of veil-wearing would, in theory, ban female Muslims from workplaces for doing something that does not impede their ability to work. Not only that, but they could be banned for no good reason from just about any workplace, unlike Orthodox Jews or Quakers. That’s not fair, and Applebaum’s smart enough to know it.

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