République française has banned the burqa. Along with the face-covering veil (the niqab), the burqa is the garment with which Muslim women conceal their bodies from head to toe. More accurately, it is the instrument by which their bodies are concealed. In fundamentalist Muslim communities, the burqa is not worn by a woman's free choice. It is imposed, a product of cultural submission that reflects the subordinate status — in a real sense, the chattel status — to which women are consigned in Islamist ideology.

The new French burqa law was announced this week. Not a social debate: a law. Western societies are running out of gas for the same reason Western economies are sputtering: They are over-lawyered and, hence, hyper-regulated. We're incapable of comprehending public controversy through anything but the most legalistic prism, particularly when individual liberty is implicated.

Thus we have the tyranny of the lowest common denominator. The tune is called by that rarest of creatures: the woman living in the West who wears the burqa because she wants to wear the burqa. Of course there are such women. Some are merely eccentric, but most burqa volunteers are affirming a civilizational chasm. In Islam, the concept of "freedom" is nearly the opposite of what the non-Muslim West takes it to mean; it is perfect submission to Allah. That is the only life choice the voluntarily shrouded woman makes, and the burqa is emblematic of all the doctrinal subjugation that necessarily follows.

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