I realize that this is a food blog -- not a political blog. But for me, food is unmistakably political. The food industry's political weight is determined by every consumer's level of food-conscience -- or compliant lack thereof. What we eat, where we get if from, who sells it to us, along with the chain of what, where and who's that come before our contact with stuff on our plate, holds huge power in economic, social, and environmental realms. Discrimination, however, is another story. And maybe that's where this post is a little out of place. But still ...
Yesterday a law came into effect in France which places a restriction on anyone wearing a burqa from doing so in a public place. From the Wikipedia page :
From 11 April 2011, the full-face veil is illegal to wear in public places – such as on the street, in stores, in museums, on public transportation and in parks (the wearing of all conspicuous religious symbols in public schools, including the Islamic veil, was previously banned in 2004). As a result, the only exceptions to a woman wearing a niqab in public will be if she is traveling in a private car or worshiping in a religious place. The law also pertains to all citizens, including men and non-Muslims, who may not cover their face fully in public except during established occasional events such as some carnivals or where specifically provided by law (such as safety workers).
The woman pictured in both of the above images, Kenza Drider, was one of the two women arrested yesterday while protesting outside the Notre Dame Cathedral.
In the minds of many born even in the following generation, World War II was a long time ago. The presumable "offenses" of Jews, gypsies and homosexuals is so foreign to our more educated, world view of today, that we can (almost) all agree "Hitler was evil" and that "we'd never do that," without fear of contention. Suddenly, in our modern society, we can also agree that the only "other" that exists today are people that truly deserve to be outed : Homosexuals who want too many rights; women, blacks and other minorities who think that odds are still stacked against them; Muslims who assume they can come into the western world and not be suspected of terrorism when they don't adjust to our Judeo-Christian set of values ...
How does that happen ? How do we stand so strongly united in abject distaste for the grave injustices of the past and yet have so many peers and compatriots that claim that, this time around at least, vilifying certain groups of people is justified ? And how can so many people who don't believe in discrimination be counted merely as apathetic ?
Regardless of whatever political label you stick to your forehead, you've no doubtedly seen/heard/(maybe even supported) the mantra of "every man [with something to lose] for himself." Maybe it's just that I've been exposed to more "Fox News and Friends" in recent days than I care to admit, but it would appear that this motto is gaining ground. And even though I wouldn't be one to watch Fox News outside of present company, I recognize how much of America's vast population relies on if for information (present company included). Now it seems that only in countries (or states) where people feel they've already lost everything, that everyone is really free (free and motivated) to fight democracy.
Is this accurate ? I feel like this post is rant without a punchline, except to say that I wish there was something more I could do to show that -- while I am not Muslim; while I do not stand out in society even as an ex-pat in Paris; and while I do not agree that a woman should ever be forced to hide herself -- this ban against an act which poses no threat to others, be it physical, emotional, or otherwise, and which is put in place to vilify and "other" a specific group of people, causes infinite pain to me and my democracy.
Read more about the ban here. Ou bien en français ici. The Guardian also has an interesting debate between two British Muslim women here.
And so that I don't leave you on a note thinking "the whole world's going to hell in wheelbarrow,"* there's this. I'm a big fan of the cyclist and the winning fish, but nothing beats an elegant free pour (in my opinion).
*Quote stolen with gratitude from Utah Phillips.