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Is accepting the right of others to adhere to a religious doctrine and style of dress that others find distressing or demeaning to women an example of the dreaded cultural relativism? No, it is an example of pluralism. What’s the difference? Relativism holds that truth does not exist; pluralism, that there is such a thing as truth, but that none of us is in automatic or absolute possession of it.

A liberal society is pluralist, not relativist. It allows each of us to pursue our vision of the good life, to hold and espouse our ideals of what is just, without prejudice to the notion that goodness and justice exist: indeed, precisely so that we may more nearly approach them as a society. Neither is a liberal society incompatible with the idea of cultural norms: beliefs that are commonly shared, practices that are commonly observed. It draws the line only at enforcing these norms upon the unwilling.

It would be one thing if the women who insist on their right to wear the niqab at the citizenship ceremony, to the point of going to court to defend it, were in fact being forced to wear it. But there is no evidence of this: quite the contrary. Far from meek and submissive, they give every sign of being quite obstreperously independent, rock-ribbed individualists, willing to assert their rights even in the face of a hostile majority...

Andrew Coyne: To uncover or not to uncover — why the niqab issue is ridiculous | National Post

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