September 5, 2016
It’s Labor Day, and the wind is shaking the branches outside my window–Hurricane Hermine making her presence known. At this end of summer, my thoughts turn to the crazinesses of the past few weeks–among which the “burquini debate” in France surely takes first prize. The Conseil d’Etat, France’s high court, recently declared it unconstitutional to forbid women from wearing burquinis on French beaches, after several municipalities in the South and in Normandy had passed laws to that effect. But it’s a sad day when you need a high court to declare what any reasonable person knows: people should be allowed to sun themselves and swim in whatever attire they choose. Women in France can go topless on any beach, while many others cover themselves in protective sun-proof clothing. The attempt to single out Muslim women is a sign of France’s current hysteria about the potential “threat” posed by any and all of its Muslim citizens (who represent approximately 8% of France’s total population). Terrorism is real, and it is a threat– but it does not lurk under a burquini. Hatred and fear of a whole population will never protect us from the terrorists, whether in France or elsewhere. As we in the United States know, cynical attempts by politicians to exploit and stoke such fears are not limited to France. Reasonable people of the world, unite!