LONDON – At a time when we can communicate better and faster, there is a disturbing trend of shallow empty words, real-life anomalies, mirroring the narcissism displayed by so much of what we see across social media. It is not to say that the selfie generation is in any way connected to oppression of the other, as here the damage is often to one’s self (anxiety, depression, etc).
But it is sufficient to observe the shallow meaningless of leaders, be they politicians or those enforcing our laws, when on the one hand they speak of justice, while on the other end up becoming an oppressor.
For the best part of a generation, we have been told that the western world is at war with Islam, with the vast majority of us ignoring such projectionist diatribe.
Yet actions of late, which while not validating the claim, have become tools for radicalism the weak-minded, the angry, the disenfranchised. So much so that some men and women who know so very little about the teachings of Islam see joining organizations which challenge western cultural norms and societies as their spiritual calling.
Yet, just as joining ISIL is as meaningless a spiritual move satisfying very little of the rich spiritual values Islam teaches, political actions by some, are equally void of meaning and purpose, other than becoming a recruiting mechanism for the meek-minded.
We saw this first with Aung San Suu Kyi, who throughout her years of house arrest breathed human rights for all, yet now in political office ignores the plight of her fellow Muslim Burmese citizens, the Rohingya, who have been and continued to be oppressed by ‘extremist Buddhists’; two words which until recent years I never would have placed alongside one another.
Today, one of the two presidential candidates in the United States is using playground tactics to appeal to suppressed racists, creating a climate of fear and distrust – the very thing a leader is meant to overcome, not fan the flames on. So much so that any person can falsely accuse another of being a member of a terrorist organization, based not on evidence, but simply their own insecurity, and often, prejudice.
The attack in Nice on Bastille Day should have been a warning that those guilty of committing crimes often have very little religious sincerity or affiliation. Remember, many of the victims [a third] were also Muslim, not that it matters, as all life is precious. The headline of one leading UK news publication, The Telegraph, reads “Nice terror attack: ’soldier of Islam’ Bouhlel ‘took drugs and used dating sites to pick up men and women’.”
Evading Real Problems
My only conclusion to understanding the call to ban burkinis in certain French cities, is that instead of addressing the real problem, a generation of cultural isolation faced by many in the French immigrant community, which has led some seeking spiritual salvation by affiliating themselves to the irreligious such as ISIS, the French are putting all of their energies to be ‘seen to be doing something.’ And what easier a target could they wish for, than women on a beach.
As one (ethnically-white) French friend said, ‘I am SO ashamed of my country for that.”
While feminists around the world have picked up on how the French national motto of “Liberté égalité fraternité (freedom, equality, and fraternity)” seems to have fallen because some women who follow their right to freedom and equality are being denied their freedom and equality. There is an overbearing silence from French feminists.
Whatever a person’s religious or secular affiliations or choices in life with regards to dress, how any person chooses to dress should really be left to them. That is why any time any person, be they religious or secular, imposes directly or indirectly through guilt, a form of dress on any other person, they demonstrate not the values of justice they claim to uphold (be they religious or secular). Rather, they simply reflect their own insecurity.
Whether a woman wears too much, or too little, whatever too much or too little may be, it is no one’s business but the individual person’s. This is why so much of what is said in the name of religion or secularism is simply empty words.
For the lazy, banning the burkni, this denial of rights is repackaged and rebranded as a war against Islam, it becomes the type of recruitment marketing campaign that ISIS could only dream of.
But for the educated mind, you understand that if the French really cared about women’s rights, there would not be a focus on the way a woman dresses, but a focus on protecting the rights for a woman to dress as she pleases. This isn’t a war on religion, it is a war on women’s freedoms.
Burmese politicians, American presidential candidates, and French feminists have joined the league where their general silence is proof that for so many of them, their words too, are empty.