Tuesday, April 12, 2011

When in Paris...

Mapleton is a small town in western Iowa which now is known for something - it was almost completely destroyed by an early season tornado last week. Of course, as they say, it could have been worse. You see, Iowans know that tornadoes will threaten from time to time, but the usual area of destruction is small compared to, say, a major flood or earthquake, so the locals simply hope the twisters will spin themselves out harmlessly in the corn and soybean fields which dominate the countryside rather than hit the towns. That strategy usually works.
This time, though, the town itself took the hit. Even so, a statewide system of warning sirens clicked into action at the right moment, and Mapleton was spared any fatalities. Was it a miracle? I don't know, but it gives the lie to those perpetual grouches who keep insisting that government can't do anything right. BTW, this complaint is usually voiced by those who expect (and get) their Social Security checks right on time every month.

Did you notice the law that went into effect in France over the weekend? It's now illegal to wear a veil that covers your face. It doesn't apply to motorcycle helmets or holiday costumes, but it's not restricted to women, either. The target, though the term "Muslim" also does not appear in the legislation, is clearly Middle Eastern immigrants, which France has had many of for decades following its colonial past.
If the US had such a law, no doubt it could only have been passed with the use of scare terms like "terrorist" or "sharia law", but the French evidently don't see it that way. A high government official cited two factors behind the law: the preservation of "secularism" and the "equality of men and women". Having never set foot in Europe, I don't know if these terms are meant to be 'code speak" among the French, but the law seems to have backing by both sides of the French political spectrum. For what it's worth, violators of the new law get hit with a $200 fine.
What should we think of all this. or is it just none of our business? Some folks of our Right will no doubt decide to ignore that we are supposed to (according to their last dictum) hate the French (from their lack of cooperation in our Iraq fiasco) in favor of the even more current doctrine of hating the A-rabs. Forgotten in their black-and-white vision is our own tradition of permitting all sorts of dress, particularly if it's connected to a religious tradition. Even today, picking Hasidic Jews or Amish from the crowd is easy, and no one seems to mind. And isn't the Right's job to keep reminding us that government is "too big" and that opposing it all the time is our only choice if liberty is to be preserved? I guess it's a little like how they see abortion - big government is OK as long as it's leaving ME alone and preventing YOU from doing something I don't like.
Perhaps the best answer to the question in the previous paragraph is "none of our business". With that in mind, I shall remember to leave all veils at home the next time we're headed to Paree.


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