Monday, August 10, 2020
This Article addresses a long-established debate in political theory — under which circumstances is it legitimate to force people to be free? Focusing on recent cases in Europe—handshaking, gender-mixed swimming lessons, and burkini ban — the Article reveals two types of moral hypocrisy. First, there is an increasing appeal to the notion of “forcing people to be free.” This seems counter-intuitive and the antithesis of freedom, yet it is often justified based on conformity with the “general will” and the avoidance of self-imposed “harm.” The Article shows the dangerous use of the concepts of the general will and harm and claims that they are employed to legitimize the submission of the minority to the majority culture. Second, the Article indicates the double standard of European policies. While religious symbols and ways of life of the majority are first culturalized and then universalized, symbols and ways of life of the minority, even when seen as cultural, are often religionalized and politicized. This legal façade enables the majority group to frame social reality as a direct conflict between universal morality and religious fundamentalism.