Tag Archives: France

No Place to Run, No Place to Hide

Greenville       Talking to ACORN’s head organizer in France from one of the organization’s offices in Lyon was something of an other-worldly experience.  He was cancelling a train trip to Paris and had only hours to get back to his home in Grenoble.  The President of France has ordered a fifteen-day period where all residents were expected to stay at home except for essential trips to the grocery store.  The real period of containment he explained is forty-five days, when restrictions will be in force.  We joked that he was finally going to have the organizers take the time to become good at phone banking and phone recruitment, which previously had continually fallen off the to-do-list.

Seven counties in Northern California are under stay-at-home restrictions now except for essential personnel.  My cousin called from San Jose to check-in while we were walking Lucha along the Mississippi River.  She runs the finances for a private school.  She has no choice but to go in during the period to do some tasks even though she can make payroll remotely.  Construction projects at her school that were due to be finished in a month are now up in the air.  Her husband works for Apple and has already been telecommuting for the last two weeks.  Apple has suspended all construction contracts in the same way that they have shuttered their stores around the world.

One of mi companera’s cousins was in New Orleans and in the midst of signing on to do some painting at our building, he hightailed it out of town on a possible job offer in the Twin Cities, because he had heard the city might be quarantined and travel in and out restricted.  We thought that was a pretty wild rumor last week until a friend of our daughter’s with another friend in the fire department told her that perhaps today there would be travel restrictions proposed for the city within forty-eight hours.  We might scoff, but when another friend had warned her that our coffeehouse and all other restaurants, bars, and more would be closed except for takeout at 3pm yesterday, it turned out we could have set our watches to the announcement by the Governor of Louisiana and the Mayor shutting the state down in the face of the epidemic.

Managing three radio stations hop skipping between New Orleans, Greenville, and Little Rock, ironically, I find myself classified as essential personnel. Radio goes to our people and jumps over the digital divide, highlighting another way that lower income families and especially their children will be slammed in this pandemic.  Regardless, my daughter’s concerns are paramount, so I’ll make sure they’re battened down so that they can run seamlessly 24-7 to get out the warnings, spread the news, and give people comfort and support, then I’ll Hank Snow it back to Dodge.

As my son and I sat in our kitchen in the early evening trying to make a plan to provide takeout at Fair Grinds Coffeehouses for several hours a day, his face was dark with the clouds of worry and stress.  As he left, he turned to me and said, “I don’t like any of this!”

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Please enjoy deFrance – Keep The Night On It

Thanks to WAMF.

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What’s so Scary About Muslim Women?

New Orleans       For months ACORN’s affiliate in France, the Alliance Citoyenne, has been campaigning first in Grenoble and then in Lyon and other cities around the ban on the Muslim women from public spaces if they were wearing a hijab or other face, head or body-covering garments.  Direct actions where our members entered public swimming pools wearing burkinis, as they are known, attracted huge attention and international news.

Within the organization, the actions were divisive.  The board in Grenoble debated extensively whether to support the Muslim women among their membership that had brought the issue forward and asked for support.  Finally, the majority ruled to undertake the campaign.  Actively pursing the issue has meant a loss of 8% in our Grenoble membership, but the leadership and organization expresses no regret.

The ban is deeper than swimming, regardless of the record heat waves this summer in France.  In many pools young children could not enter without a parent, and if the woman was wearing covering, they were also banned.  And, that’s not the half of it.  They are also barred from public employment and other services of the state based on this mandatory acculturation and mono-cultural French obsession.

France is not alone.  Austria and the Netherlands passed similar rules, although last reports indicated that the Amsterdam police were not enforcing the public spaces ban.  Talking to our organizer from Montreal ACORN, I was disappointed to hear that Law 21 passed in July, contrary to what I had thought earlier, and is in full force with similar restrictions in Quebec, including restricting public sector employment for veiled Muslim women.  As reported in the Los Angeles Times, the…

“…controversial bill that bans many public employees in the province from wearing religious symbols at work. Teachers, judges and police officers, among other civil servants, can no longer wear Muslim headscarves (hijabs), Jewish skullcaps, Sikh turbans and other symbols of their faith in the workplace.  Even more alarming, the law also prohibits anyone wearing face coverings — Muslim women wearing niqabs (face veils) are the primary target — from receiving government services that include healthcare and using public transit.”

Unbelievable!  Of course, human rights, the United Nations, the ACLU, and other groups are responding, but in the Age of Trump, all of this is going down a very bad road.

All of which makes a recent move, reported by the New York Times, by the NBA world champion Raptors in Toronto, Ontario, Quebec’s neighboring province, even more remarkable.  Working with the Hijabi Ballers, a local organization that promotes Muslim women in sports in the city, the Raptors partnered with Nike to produce a Raptors branded hijab, claiming to be the first NBA team to be so inclusive.  Of course, 400,000 Muslims live in the greater Toronto area, but civil rights groups including the Council on American-Islamic Relations have trumpeted the move.

ACORN leaders and members are still scratching their heads in trying to understand what is so frightening about Muslim women in so many countries, but, regardless, we know where we stand.  With our members.  All of them!

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