Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Daniel Pipes, burqa bans, and basic math

Daniel Pipes calls me out at NRO:

I am frustrated that Westerners don’t perceive the obvious point that burqas and niqabs, both of which cover not only the head but the whole body, threaten public security. A person wearing these Islamic garments can be male or female, can carry an assault rifle, and can usually get away with anything anonymously. 
But no, whether it be an intellectual like Martha Nussbaum, a journalist like Joel Mathis, or the many, many voices opining on the recent burkini ban from French beaches, security issues inspire a collective shrug, with almost everyone focused instead on the symbolism of these two garments, whether it be concerning the welcoming of the other, the inhibition of social interaction, or the status of women. 
I'm old enough to remember when National Review was filled with cries for religious liberty.

But I digress. This argument goes back a couple of years, to when a man in a burqa robbed a Philadelphia bank, and Pipes — per usual — offered it as a reason we need to make Muslims act like the Rest of Us.

The problem is, he's right. This particular issue, so far at least, deserves a bit of a shrug.


I expected that my compilation of burqa- and niqab-assisted crimes and acts of political violence going back nearly fifteen years and now about 150 incidents long, would convince any sensible observer of the public security problem.
Let's do the math.

One hundred fifty incidents in 15 years. That's 10 incidents a year.

And Pipes is taking his examples from around the world, not just Philadelphia, or not even a single country. Which means he's drawing on a world population of 6 billion, more or less, in which those 10 incidents are produced.

What's the per capita number, then, on those incidents per year? It's not quite zero, but it's pretty damn close.

So for a problem that, by Pipes' own statistics, is so small as to be unobservable if he hadn't set out to observe it, Pipes would have us deprive millions of Muslim women the right to make their own religious choices.

I don't buy it.

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