FROMA HARROP: Hijabs, face masks and oppression | Opinion

If I had been in the air when the Florida court overturned the public transportation mask rule, I would have been encouraged to join other passengers.

And if I had been on a certain flight in the Southwest, I would have again encouraged the call for the civility of an assistant. “I urge all passengers on my flight to be treated with courtesy and respect,” he announced. “No one will have trouble wearing a mask or not wearing a mask. It’s all up to you right now. Enjoy the fresh air.”

The requirements for the face mask, in order to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19, made a lot of sense at one point. And I would accept continuous mandates in places like the New York subway, where I would wear a mask anyway.

But many saw the rules of disguise as government oppression. When they were told to obey, the fools among them became violent children.

The designation of a supplement as a symbol of coercion has taken another form in France. The item under discussion is the hijab, a scarf used by Muslim women to cover their hair. Right-wing nationalist Marine Le Pen has become an issue in his vote against incumbent President Emmanuel Macron.

Some see this piece of cloth as an instrument of Islamist separatism, which has been exacerbated by jihadist attacks in recent years. Le Pen calls it an “Islamist uniform” and a sign of women’s addiction.

Macron is not playing. During a campaign break, she asked a woman in hijab if she was a feminist and advocated for equality between men and women. He said yes and yes, and Macron replied that this was “the best answer to all the nonsense I keep hearing.”

Underlying the headscarf controversy is a French belief that religion — its accessories and clothing — is not in the public square. France has already banned the wearing of religious symbols in public schools. This law extends to large head scarves, yarmulke, and crosses.

I’m not entirely antipathetic. Religion must be in the heart and soul and not be exploited for identity politics. Demonstrating one’s religious affiliation through dress is a form of signage. But here’s the way I share it with the French: I think most signage should be legal. It is a kind of free expression.

It can be a complicated discussion about Muslim head coverings. When is the scarf a radical message and when would Audrey Hepburn wear a silk square sitting in the back of a scooter?

Face masks are another conversation because these nose and mouth covers perform a public health function. At the beginning of the pandemic, effective vaccines did not exist, and it was difficult to get treatment for severe cases of coronavirus. Face masks became one of our only defenses against debilitating illness and death.

But then demagogues, and later, became a symbol of forced vaccinations. Their arguments were degenerate, borrowed from Macron, in a way of stupidity, often with tragic consequences.

And so we have the new death of DJ Kay Slay at 55 years old. The radio and rap star gave a hard time, saying, “Cats know I have no limits.” Uninserted Slay may have thought “COVID won’t kill me fabulous”. But he did so for several months after being tortured in a hospital ventilator.

Returning to the more pleasant skies, the passengers gave masks to the attendants as part of a celebration. Okay, but let’s say goodbye to the good citizens who wore them too, instead of giving hard time to the staff of the airlines.

Historians may be surprised to see how masks and scarves turned into weapons for political warfare. We may have to live with that, but better habits can soften the edges.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. You can contact him fharrop@gmail.com.

FROMA HARROP: Hijabs, face masks and oppression | Opinion Source link FROMA HARROP: Hijabs, face masks and oppression | Opinion

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