Is one of America’s oldest and most elite military colleges caving to political pressure by Muslims? Well, that might be the case as one female Muslim student is asking for permission to wear her Hijab, which is not part of the official uniform.
From Cadet Nick Pinelli:
Today, I was called a bigot. Someone who lives a few doors down from me asked me if I, “could not be a bigot for a few hours this morning.” She asked me this while I was engaged in a dialogue with a few of my friends here at the Citadel. She was taking issue with the content of our conversation, and concluded I was a bigot because of it.
Let me fill you in.
Currently, the Citadel is exhausting resources and man-hours to accommodate a woman who will be attending this school next semester. She will be the first cadet authorized to wear a ḥijāb, as well as full body covering when the uniform does not conceal the entirety of her body. Time and money is now being spent figuring out how the Citadel can alter rules and regulations to accommodate her needs. The school is even exhausting resources to research which company to place her in, so they ensure she is in the most accepting company in the Corps. No final decisions have been made, but time and effort are being consumed, nonetheless.
As you can imagine, the reasonable person sees issue after issue here. The Citadel is putting up zero fight. And you can’t blame them. The Administration knows that, in the end, it’s either or both a battle they can’t win and/or can’t afford. No matter how reasonable their argument is. So, to be clear, I don’t blame the Citadel at all.
The United States has always protected First Amendment rights by prohibiting any government entity from restricting any expression of speech on the basis of the content of the speech. You can burn an American flag because prohibiting one from doing so is taking issue with the CONTENT of what one is saying by burning said flag. That is powerful and ever necessary in a free society. However, burning a draft card is a crime. It is a crime because of the compelling government interest in the execution and functionality of a taxpayer-funded system. Burning a draft card disrupts that system. Therefore, the government doesn’t criminalize that act because of the speech it conveys, but because of the way it harms the execution of a government activity. Of course, we knew the draft card burner was burning it to give a big up yours to America, just like the flag burner. Yet, it is important to note the differences between the two acts. As much as we hated that speech, our Constitution will never allow our government to restrict our speech if they don’t like it. And that is good.
My first point. The Citadel should be able to tell the prospective student to wear what they tell her to wear. Not because they are concerned with the religion she is trying to practice or the speech expressed by doing so, but because they are concerned with the execution of an essential part of the system the Citadel puts in place. Agree or not with the system, this institution has that system for a reason (that most maintain has worked exceptionally for almost 200 years) and the disruption of that system by exempting those who don’t wish to conform is legally pronounced a slippery slope that will lead to the further disintegration of said system. Unfortunately, after seeing what has happened in the military in similar cases, the school is being financially responsible in not fighting it. It’s important to note that the Armed Forces has not yet gone to the Supreme Court for an order of certiorari. They gave up the fight in circuit courts.
Moving away from a Constitutional argument, my next point is one of reason. There are various groups, organizations, governments, etcetera; all have different standards, ways of doing business, values, and systems. I simply find it shameful that people expect to be accommodated by groups that are opposite to themselves. The Citadel is going to waste countless hours and dollars making the school “ready” to accommodate this woman. They shouldn’t have to because they are ready. Those who came before her gave up their identities to attend this school. Trust me, people from every walk of life have given up their identities to attend this school so that they leave here with their identities not only intact, but fortified.
If I valued liberal ideology, I would go to UC Berkeley. I’d wear, say, and do whatever I wanted and it wouldn’t cost the university any time or money for me to do so. If I valued conservative ideology and wanted to challenge myself in a military environment, I would go to the Citadel. It’s no secret that you can’t wear what you want when you’re at the Citadel. You’re punished even for wearing what you want when you’re not on campus. But, those who come here are signing up for that, no matter how much they hate it (we do). So it’s not unfair to those people who want to join an organization with the intentions of excluding themselves from the regulations, it’s unfair to those who practice within the realms of those regulations. It’s unfair to the school having to change rules and adjust to the individual, when the individual could’ve gone to USC without incident. Your expression of self shouldn’t place a burden of cost on others.
This girl should be welcomed to the Corps with open arms, as should any person of any religion, race, gender, or identity. That’s equality. It’s not equality to let one of those groups follow a different set of rules. Which leads me to my last point that I’ll illustrate with a joyful story.
Do you think The Citadel should cave to political pressure and allow this Muslim student to wear her Hijab? Share your thoughts below!