What the debate about France's ban on the Islamic veil and the abaya in public schools says about the difficulty of understanding another country.
I was expecting to find an account of why France is different and the roots of laicite. Instead I found a bunch of generalities. Like, sure, there might be a bunch of people who are anti-racist and anti-hijab (and to be sure I know plenty like that exist) but what's the point if you don't explain why they end up at that point of view. I know you don't like to talk about history but why even write this post then? Ends up feeling like a very tedious exercise.
Who are you arguing with? You don’t link to anyone saying that this is like Jim Crow.
And from the coverage I’ve seen it seems that Americans do understand what’s going on in France, they just disagree with it and have different values. Nothing in this post was surprising to me as someone who gets his news about France from standard media sources.
i am currently traveling around Europe, looking for someplace to settle down in.
France would be the natural choice since I speak fluent French and I really don't enjoy learning new languages
I don't see a future there, though, purely due to demographic reasons. The future of France belongs to Africa and Islam.
Someplace like Hungary or Poland makes much more sense for me. Really not looking forward ot learning Polish.
"the American media are more interested in promoting a simplistic narrative than in reporting the more complicated truth"
I found that this is true also of French media. I was in France during the recent riots and saw on TV one panel of middle class pundits after the other. There was virtually no reporting that gave a voice to the people living in the banlieues where the riots were taking place.
“I think the concept of Islamophobia is extremely vague”
Fine, I can helpfully define it in three words as “bigotry towards Muslims”.
There is an infinite set of modes of dress that the French state could prohibit. I am still none the wiser as to why the French state has chosen to ban a type worn exclusively by Muslims.
As admitted I have a limited understanding of French culture and society so I guess I will never know!
After reading your article I get the impression that Americans on the whole are more ethnocentric than western Europeans. American liberals probably more so than their conservative counterparts. Perhaps it's also a natural consequence of living in a nation which is hegemonic on so many fronts? Interesting read nonetheless.
2,000 words later and I can’t figure out if :
1) French secularism is so peculiar that no one from outside could possibly understand; or
2) Cultural circumstances are so specific (even for relatively similar places as France and the US) that moral judgements about other cultures are impossible.
Either way I don’t think 1) is true and I don’t think that 2 is in any way scalable.
Otherwise I speak basic French, have spent time there (neither Paris nor tourist areas) and still don’t vaguely understand the rationale for legal prohibitions on Muslim dress. I understand US culture maybe 10x better than French but there are still things I don’t vaguely understand (guns, taste for massive vehicles) either.
So I’d honestly love to hear a rationale for French policy that doesn’t have Islamophobia at its root and I think you’re better placed than most to give one.