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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Refugees Stuck in Place, Countries Banned, and Airport Actions Everywhere

New Orleans   I use Facebook, but I don’t trust it. Nonetheless, I have to say it was valuable yesterday and as shocked and humiliated as I was, along with all Americans who love their country and its ideals by President Trumps banning orders, I was proud of my friends.

There was a moment when I could scroll down my timeline and see my friends protesting at airports from Chicago to Atlanta to San Francisco to Washington to New York City to Boston, and even New Orleans. There were videos of rallies and actions, so even though I was coming out of ACORN’s annual Year End / Year Begin meeting, I felt like I was there at least by proxy. In New York City, 10,000 made the schlep to JFK airport within hours of social media blowing up over the Trump edict. A second rally at Battery Park – with a great view of Ellis Island — drew 20,000 in less than 10 hours of posts, texts, and tweets. A new watchword in the age of Trump will have to be to stay flexible and ready to move on a moment’s notice to keep them from storming the gates.

I also loved the fact that I was finding out that there was an quick response boycott of the ride-sharing service, Uber, that has bullied its way into cities all around the world, displacing taxi workers everywhere, not for something that they did exactly, but for something they did not do. Lyft, their ride-sharing competitor, pledged $1 million to the ACLU in support of their work fighting the ban and winning court orders in four different jurisdictions around the country, while Uber was silent. I’m not sure that Lyft is all that much different than Uber really, except that it allows the drivers to be tipped, but, hey, any port in a storm. AirBnb made a pledge to provide housing to any refugees that needed it, though I’m not sure that was anything more than a press release. Starbucks said it would hire something like 10,000 refugees over the coming five years, but given the turnover of baristas and the number of their employees, I bet they already do that. But, hey, I don’t want to quibble, at least they are sending messages to our foot soldiers that they don’t go for this mess, joining the Catholic Church, veterans groups, slews of mainstream politicians, and others.

The message so far seems to be that protests work, at least a little, and that’s good.

The Trump team is confused. They don’t seem to understand the important distinction between having power and being able to govern.

Yes, they now have the power to create mayhem and bring their chaos and crazy to the country and the world. No, that is not the same as governing, especially where there are laws, courts, other elected officials, and a free and vocal population. Verified reports indicate that they were briefing the former general who is the head of Homeland Security at the same time his staff, listening to the call was watching Trump on television signing the order. Regardless of the breach of our beliefs, values, and the foundations of our country, we pay taxes for something better than a Mickey Mouse operation where one arm has no idea what the other arm is doing, and the mouth seems completely disconnected from a mind.

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Please enjoy One Small Voice by Carole King.

Thanks KABF.

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