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Jack Straw and the Veil
Publication date: 2006-10-08

Does Jack Straw Know What is Good for Him?

It often happens that people dislike things that are good for them and like things that are bad for them.

The recent statement by Jack Straw, the former British Foreign Secretary, suggesting that women should not cover their faces is an example of that phenomenon.

The reason Jack Straw gives for the need for women not to cover their faces is that in his work as Member of Parliament he needs to see the face of a person he is talking to. But does such need exist?

All government institutions, including Parliament, must be objective and impartial. They should not be used to advance interests of particular individuals, but deal with all people equally.

Any government action should be based on facts and principles of law, not on facial features or expressions of particular individuals government officials happen to deal with.

So, when dealing with his constituents, Jack Straw should deal with the facts of the cases brought to him by his constituents. It should not matter to Jack Straw whether the facts were brought to his attention by a faceless letter or email, or submitted orally at a “face‐to‐face” meeting at his surgery. Nor should it matter for him whether his constituent happened to be a man or a woman, young or old, ugly or beautiful.

And, if Jack Straw's actions are influenced by facial features or expressions of his constituents, then he is guilty of favoritism, and is unfit to be a Member of Parliament.

So, from the point of view of Jack Straw's work as Member of Parliament it is better that Jack Straw does not see the face of the person he is dealing with so as to help Jack Straw to preserve his objectivity and impartiality. It would be even better, if Members of Parliament conducted their meetings with their constituents from behind a partition similar to confessionals in Catholic Churches. But in the absence of such partitions, a veil over the face could play such role.

Jack Straw also says that he feels uncomfortable to talk to a woman without seeing her face.

But has it occurred to Jack Straw, that some women might feel uncomfortable when they are stared at by a man?

Women cover their faces to hide from men's view their attractiveness, and thus to protect themselves from sexual harassment.

But it is not only women themselves who are protected by the veil. By covering their faces they also protect men and other women.

Let us suppose that to satisfy Jack Straw's desire to see her face an attractive young woman would take off her veil in front of Jack Straw, and Jack Straw would feel so attracted to that woman that he will “fall in love” with her.

What would be the consequences of such sequence of events?

An “affair” would ensue.

Then … a scandal!

Who will be the victims of that scandal?

Jack Straw himself and the members of his family.

Has Jack Straw forgotten what happened to Bill Clinton as a result of Monica Lewinsky failing to veil her face? … Or what happened to one of his colleagues, who now regrets his affairs?

So, instead of calling for women unveiling their faces in public Jack Straw should propose that women should cover their faces at least in such “high‐risk” areas as the House of Commons, and certainly in MP's surgeries.

Does not Jack Straw understand that by covering their faces in front of Jack Straw women protect not only themselves, but the reputation and career of Jack Straw himself, as well as the stability and happiness of his family life?

But this is not the only example of Jack Straw disliking what is good for him and liking what is bad for him.

Jack Straw has a special affection for the State of Israel, which is understandable in view of his ethnic origin, and he is concerned for the safety of the State of Israel and its people. This explains why he was such an ardent promoter of the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq. But have these wars achieved the objective of making the State of Israel safe?

This human tendency of disliking what is good for them and liking what is bad for them was known for centuries. Just as was the need for women to cover their female attractiveness so as to protect themselves and the people around them. But as the example of Jack Straw clearly shows, people ignore the ancient wisdoms proved to be true by all human history, and prefer to follow their own vanity and arrogance, the ultimate victims of which are themselves.

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