Then a legislator got his hands on the idea. Saint Cloud representative Steve Gottwalt decided to help the chiefs out with a bill that would "mandate driver's license photos display the 'full head and face' of the driver." (KARE)
Sounds reasonable, right?
Let's think about it. I wear glasses. KARE almost certainly abbreviated the bill, but taking the article at face value, I'd have to take those glasses off for my next license photo. I look different without my glasses, so I don't know if that'd be the best idea.
Well, of course, glasses don't count. 'Everybody knows that.'
I'm wary, at best, of knee-jerk accusations of bias, but I'm glad that Minnesota Muslims got wind of this bit of legislation.
" 'The bill as written smacked of discrimination,' area Muslim commentator Khalid Elmasry told KARE, 'It allowed an exception for people who have medical reasons to cover their heads but not for those with religious reasons.' " (KARE)
CAIR got involved, too. I'm no fan of that collection of hypersensitive people, but this time they had a point.
Hijabs and Common SenseThere are all sorts of hijabs. Some, like this lavender one, cover quite a bit of the face. However, if a woman wears this sort of clothing when she drives, that's what she'll look like when she drives.
And, after observing human beings for over a half-century, I've noticed that eyes are as individually distinctive as the rest of our faces.
Mandating that license photos show "full head and face" isn't quite the same as banning scarves, but I'm pretty sure that's how it would be enforced. And, I think it makes as much sense as insisting that women wear a prescribed hairstyle - or shave their heads.
That lavender number was the only nose-covering hijab I found on The Hijab Shop's website. Most looked something like this, but there's quite a range of style.
And, getting back to the point of this post, nearly all get in the way of visual identification about as much as most hairstyles do.
How Some State Employees Deal With 'Those People'Or, "I am not making this up." From KARE:
"There may be some driver's license clerks who think the ban on head coverings is already the law. Elmasry recalls in 2002 when his wife went to get her first Minnesota license at a Twin Cities office.
" 'She was told, not even asked, but told to remove her scarf.'
"He said he tried to explain the prevailing laws to the clerk, who still refused to take the picture. It wasn't until Elmasry appealed to the supervisor, and the supervisor's supervisor, before the clerk agreed to take the photograph with the scarf where it normally goes." (KARE)
Not everyone will go to the supervisor, and the supervisor's supervisor, to get common sense and the law acknowledged. I think we'd all be better off if more did - but that's another topic.
Not All Americans are WASPs: Deal With ItIt's been a long, long, time since more American citizens were white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. Every time a new group of people starts moving in, they have to adjust: and so do the 'real' Americans, whose ancestors did the same thing, a few generations back. Some find adjusting easier than others.
A principal in Oregon was (and may still be) convinced that rosaries are gang symbols. A psychological quirk like that would be relatively harmless in someone else, but this chap banned rosaries in his school. A couple of the Catholic students didn't take that very well.
And, there's the track official who wouldn't let a Washington, D.C., high school athlete compete in track because she didn't wear the hot pants and clingy tops that American girls are supposed to wear. She's a Muslima, and has standards. I'm not being entirely fair. Juashaunna Kelly's outfit may, possibly, have been non-standard enough to be outside established standards. Or, the official may have been clueless.
Here in Minnesota, the driver's license photo bill now has a provision that takes religiously-required headgear into account.
Good thing, too. Sooner or later, someone would have tried to shave a Sikh: and that kind of trouble we don't need.
- "Hijabs, Minnesota Law, and Me"
A Catholic Citizen in America (March 6, 2009)
- "Heated Foot Baths for Muslim Prisoners Necessary: Crucifix Verboten"
(December 15, 2008)
- "Of Bias, Veils, and Crucifixes"
(February 25, 2008)
- "Juashaunna Kelly's Track Suit Disqualifies her: Islamophobia? an Official on a Power Trip? or Bureaucratic Cluelessness? "
(January 16, 2008)
- "I'm With the Devout Muslims on This One"
(September 19, 2007)
- "Gottwalt revises driver's license identification bill"
St. Cloud Times (March 6, 2009)
- "Dispute over hijabs on driver's licenses resolved"
KARE (March 6, 2009)