The left, the right, the veil

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The president of the Senate Maria Elena Alberti Casellati she is a distinguished lady with a polite smile and a bombastic name. Politically he is on the right. In other times we would have defined her as a conservative Christian Democrat. She is a stranger to feminism, which, moreover, did not prevent her, in her inauguration speech, from pronouncing firm and non-rhetorical words on the phenomenon of misogynistic violence.

I happened to think about the lady after webinar on Veil and freedom with Marina Terragni, Sara Punzo and Maryan Ismail. Exactly two years ago, an infinite amount of time due to the extended rhythms of the Covid era, Casellati met Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani in Doha, someone who doesn't joke about names and patronymics. In the same period she was received by Pope Francis. On both occasions the clothing was composed and formal, yet casual and in a certain sense strong-willed. Next to the Qatari minister she appeared tiny, delicate but radiant, and rather direct. As she posed with the Pope she looked like an ancient princess, or a devout noblewoman. But not even in that case was it subdued or annulled, despite the conspicuous black veil.

Let's specify: she had worn the veil in front of the Pontiff. In Qatar she showed up bareheaded.

Out of disrespect for Islamic customs? We wouldn't say so. Rather for that probably spontaneous need to define oneself and valorise differences. The conservative Casellati seemed to have understood that authentic dialogue did not involve the cancellation of the culture of belonging, but required a discussion on the same level of dignity. The Madame of Palazzo Madama presented herself as an Italian politician, of Catholic - that is universal - tradition who carried out her role in full autonomy.

If we scroll through the photographs of left-wing, secular and openly feminist ministers and ex-ministers, the scenario is very different. Laura Boldrini with an all too showy veil in the Rome mosque (but without headgear and in lacquered sandals in the presence of the Pope); Federica Mogherini at the Iranian Parliament, also wearing a veil - imitated by Emma Bonino and Debora Serracchiani - arousing the indignation of the feminists of that country who are fighting at the risk of their lives for the freedom to dress as they see fit.

Who would ignore the political history of these women, to whom would they attribute the epithet of progressive? First or second?

Not to rage. Perhaps it really was a matter of good faith, as well as obligation. We know well that the Vatican protocol no longer provides for the compulsory veil for ladies since the 1980s. In some countries, and Qatar is no exception, female modesty is more than simply recommended. But gestures go beyond prescriptions; and, at times, one has the impression that one is looking for it, the sedan. Irritation towards certain progressive policies cannot (always) be ascribed to sexism, indifference or – we had to read this too – Islamophobia. It's about culture. And tradition. Which is not traditionalism but transmission. Although sometimes unconsciously the critics motivated of the above policies they were accused of exactly this: the lack of culture.

Graduated, cosmopolitan women, supporters of even marked migrantism: and nevertheless ignorant, because they do not emerge from an exoticism of manner, pervaded, moreover, by a poorly concealed sense of superiority.

The portrait with the Pope demonstrates this fully. The perceived message, perhaps beyond the intentions, is: "Here I can afford to wear loose hair and slippers, I don't believe it, I'm modern. Elsewhere devotion must be displayed, i good savages they must be supported." And then, “go left”…

A left that has so far proven deaf to the persecution of Christians (and especially of Christian women: the silence of Western activists on Huma Younus and Leah Sharibu) of Africa and Asia deserves eternal shame, because they are non-European of the "competition"; because Christian culture, particularly Catholic, must necessarily be considered a by-product of dark ages, from which a true, open and libertarian feminist must decisively distance herself. Add to this the identification of Catholicism with the West - the same equation as jihadists - which liberal Westerners see as smoke and mirrors; while a "glamorous" queen like Rania of Jordan does not hesitate to show herself to Bergoglio in a white stole, with a naturalness that reveals everything except submission and flattery.

The reaction to the arrogance of the current left is disaffection and tedium, even on the part of long-time militants.

It is not surprising that in this historical moment the most reformative positions come from notoriously "moderate" sectors. It's also obvious, though. If the error consists in ignorance - and in the loss of memory - the result is confusion, the overlap between development and progress, the undermining of perspectives. “Only Marxists love the past – he wrote Pasolini – the bourgeois love nothing, their rhetorical affirmations of love for the past are simply cynical and sacrilegious: however, at best, such love is decorative, or 'monumental' [...], certainly not historicistic, that is, real and capable of a new history."

But it is precisely the historical sense, of a history that advances and changes, that is missing today left no longer Marxist, but liberal-capitalist, "bourgeois". Exactly, modernist and not modern. The right lives from this dispossession, rather than from its own values; but the process has only just begun, and no one seems to realize it.

Daniela Tuscano

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