Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Vive le France; Vive le Libertie

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I take the title from the post-war conversation between Mel Gibson and Tcheky Karyo in The Patriot, the film that introduced me to the brilliance that is Jason Isaacs. Now, the question here is why I’m quoting a line about France. The answer, as is usual, lies in something that I just recently read from CNN.

Let me indulge my conspiracy theorist urges by saying that if this escalates into an all-out fight between Al-Quaeda and France, this will be a historical first, specifically, the first war caused by fashionable dispute. Vidal Sassoon will have a heyday.

Seriously, though. I find this entire brouhaha silly. Al-Quaeda’s being rather silly, declaring  fatwah on a country that won’t allow a piece of clothing. No matter how ceremonial or cultural clothing is, when in Rome, you do as the Romans do. If the country doesn’t want you wearing clothes that you deem to be important, it’s either you suck it up and conform, or you get out of the country, stat. I understand that sometimes, the pull of personal tradition can be pretty heavy – I’m a Filipino, and if there’s anything Pinoys are cursed with, it’s a heavy history of familial tradition. But to the point of declaring a war? A Filipino kid was nearly expelled in Canada for using a spoon to eat something that wasn’t soup, but that didn’t provoke relationships between the RP and the state of British Columbia.

I mean, Al-Quaeda. Terrorism or not, you have to stop taking these things to the extreme.

But I think the French are equally in the wrong this time around. Being the country that helped the USA win their freedom from the Brits, you’d think that they’d have a good grasp of what “freedom” really entails. In my humble opinion, “freedom” means being able to practice your beliefs without persecution in a given society. The Islamic religion may have practices that seem questionable to western societies, but then again, just how much more absurd IS Islam when compared to more orthodox belief systems such as the Church of Scientology, the Roman Catholic church, or even the protestant conservatives? You’re considering a piece of clothing as restrictive of a woman’s actions, but how can you dictate what that person considers as ideal? French women might find the burqa an impediment in society, but how about the Islamic women who have become culturally acclimatized to the burqa?

As far as liberal thinking is concerned, by suppressing the religious beliefs of people within their borders, I’d like to end this post with four words:


Note to the French though: please don’t ban me from your country, I love your food and your culture way too much.

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