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Pearl River Remember way back in another lifetime, pre-pandemic, before the coronavirus global killer wave? It seems years ago, but it was only last summer that ACORN’s French affiliate, Alliance Citoyenne, gained huge attention throughout France and all of Europe and the Francophone world, when our members and leaders led actions with Muslim women and girls in Grenoble and Lyon who were refused entry to swimming pools, even with their children, if they were wearing any face covering, like a burqa.
This was about more than French cultural chauvinism, valuing their historic view of the world over any other concerns, social or religious. They banned such clothing from all public places, not just swimming pools. They also banned any women wearing a burqa from public employment in outright employment discrimination.
Now their hypocrisy is showing even more clearly. During the pandemic, masks were de rigueur. As France opens up now, they are also requiring that anyone using public transportation wear masks, yet the burqa bans continue to be in full force and effect. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t just in France, but widely across the European Union and even in Quebec in North America. Civil rights groups are reportedly gearing up to challenge the bans.
Having led the fight in France, I wasn’t surprised when the head organizer of the Alliance, Adrien Roux, told me in our weekly call that they had been contacted by a group of thirty Muslim women soccer players who wanted to be able to play with any kind of head covering they thought appropriate in line with their religion. Coincidentally, in a rarity for me, I had been reading a dystopian novel, called The Resisters by Gish Jen set some years in the future. I had stumbled on a reference to it in a sports page that piqued my interested because it mentioned that baseball was a dominant theme throughout the book. Our heroes, the resisters, in the book, are Surplus, the vast army of the unemployed, after artificial intelligence has eliminated millions of jobs and nation states have consolidated in a new economy dominated by the Netted. Our heroes create an underground baseball league from various Surplus communities and go to great links to keep Aunt Nettie, as they call the constant governing surveillance force, from finding them playing and stopping the games.
So, why not an underground league of Muslim women soccer players in France and perhaps throughout Europe? Why not challenge other teams to play in defiance of the rules, just as white and black college basketball teams played each other in defiance of segregation norms in the United States in the 20th century? I have a feeling I know who would win eventually.
Picture this as well. In a 50-person Uber call in New Orleans among members and of ACORN’s Louisiana affiliate, the fear of the virus and the concern for more effective masks provoked some amazing discussion. In fact, there was a serious proposal to re-purpose Spanx as a full head covering for neighborhood African-American women. If you can imagine that, it’s not hard to see a burqa as perhaps a better virus solution and absolutely a more comfortable one.