I sympathized with Sawsan Morrar’s situation as she described it in the April 29 op-ed, “Look past my headscarf,” but it is more complex than looking past a headscarf. “Choosing” to wear a headscarf sends several signals. For example: “I subscribe to a conservative religion. I am likely to be more conservative than Muslim women who choose not to wear headscarves.”
Most people know majority-Muslim countries are less democratic than non-majority-Muslim Western countries, many are less tolerant of other religions, most enforce blasphemy laws and some even apostasy laws, and the behavior of women is often highly regulated. Ms. Morrar may agree with none of these things, but the headscarf might unnecessarily raise assumptions about her objectivity.
If someone wears a shirt claiming to be an evangelical Christian, it is easy to make assumptions about them. Surveys indicate that as a group evangelical Christians are, compared with the public at large, more inclined to accept the Bible as being literally true and less inclined to accept discoveries of modern science such as the age of the Earth, evolution and climate science. If the shirt-wearing person is interested in a job as a biology teacher, a wardrobe adjustment is advisable.
We make superficial assumptions based on probabilities. If we see people wearing hats proclaiming their support for President Trump or Bernie Sanders, we categorize them based on our experiences. This is how we sort things out. These are things we cannot “look past,” even if it would be better if we did.
Jeff Holtmeier, Silver Spring