Shia Altman
Shia Altman

Football and burkinis: This is democracy?

Democracy is imperfect, but it is the best sociopolitical system the world has ever known, and it is actually its imperfections that prove this every day.

Two ongoing occurrences now showcase and test democratic freedoms, freedom of speech and its related expression, and freedom of religion and its related expression.

Colin Kaepernick is an American football player for the San Francisco 49ers. He is fighting in the National Football League pre-season to once again become his team’s starting quarterback, having lost that position last season. He was at one time considered one of the best, or at least one of the most promising quarterbacks, and he even led his team to the Super Bowl in 2013.

So now, Kaepernick has decided to protest against what he sees as wrongdoings against blacks and other minorities, by his not standing with everyone else as the US national anthem is played and/or sung before NFL games start. Kaepernick: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Kaepernick supports the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, which is no stranger to controversy itself for several reasons. The movement has many somewhat diverse chapters, but, and admittedly it is hard to know for sure, many agreed with a platform put out a few weeks ago where this was noted, “The US justifies and advances the global war on terror via its alliance with Israel and is complicit in the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people.”

What this baloney has to do with black lives, I don’t know. But the super left always finds a reason to over-the-top bash Israel, even when there is no reason. (Incidentally, many liberal Jews think they can support all of BLM and Israel. They really can’t if they want to be honest with themselves, but honesty is an ever-shrinking commodity for many on the left. Hypocrisy is their gold asset.)

Back to the QB. Kaepernick of course unleashed a firestorm of anger against himself. And good. What an ungrateful jerk! He refuses to show pride in the flag of a country that has done so much for him? A flag and country for which so many have made the ultimate sacrifice while he rakes in millions for throwing a ball?

Now I am not saying he has no right to express his views in any legal way he wants. He can and he should if he feels so strongly. But there are better ways, ways that don’t condemn a whole country for a very, very, very few who act stupidly and violently.

Yes there are legitimate concerns, and this needs to be addressed. But not in the way he is doing it. And just as he has the right to disrespect the vast majority of the population of a country that allows him by its democracy to make tons of money for playing a game, so does that same majority have the right to boycott him in any way they can.

Black lives matter because all lives matter, and that includes police lives, by the way. And the lives of soldiers who gave theirs so that spoiled, pampered athletes, and actors and actresses and other celebrities, as well as professional victims, can regularly insult by their words and actions the very people who died so that the whining prima donnas can freely act like idiots.

In a world so torn apart, in a country whose racial divide was made worse by the first African American president, not better as it should have been, Colin, do you know what doesn’t matter? Football. And you.

Now to a different side of the democracy coin, in a different democracy on a different side of the world. France’s motto is “Liberté, égalité, fraternité,” “liberty, equality, fraternity.” Over these last few months, and in direct response to Islamic terrorist attacks, certain French Riviera resort towns have acted not so liberté-like by imposing bans on the Islamic swimwear known as “burkinis.” (The word is a combination of burka, the Muslim full-body covering, and of course, the bikini, the um, well, you know, a lot less.)

As everyone is aware, France in particular these last couple years has suffered horrendous Islamic terrorist attacks. So what’s the answer? Step up security? After the Nice truck terror attack, it doesn’t seem so. More care with immigration? Nope. Positive and proper assimilation? Nah.

France, like other European countries took people in but did not appropriately act to incorporate their new citizens as is done here in the US, and the French have been paying the price. There is a balance between rigidity and flexibility that the French have not mastered, and France’s secularism is akin to an integration that includes intolerance.

The answer to Jihadi attacks isn’t a bunch of police patrolling beaches to force women to comply with the burkini ban, as was done last week. And yes, there is the concern that many women are forced to wear the head-to-toe garb, and so, need liberty from Sharia-practicing husbands or fathers, but many Muslim women want to wear the burkini. The answer is tolerant assimilation.

France’s highest administrative court did overturn the ban in one city just before the weekend, but other towns are refusing to lift it.

Personally, I think it’s ridiculous to sunbathe and swim wearing such a constraining outfit. I cannot believe it is at all comfortable. But if a woman wants to be extremely uncomfortable as she wishes to remain compliant within the laws of her religion and it is not harming anyone else, let her. Who cares what people wear? Let people wear a three-piece suit or even an evening gown if they want as they frolic among the waves of the ocean; there are other more important things about which to worry.

Forcing a burkini ban will not stop terrorism. It is an unnecessary aggravation — when some are necessary to be sure, to an already aggravated growing minority population because of assimilation failures. As with Colin Kaepernick, there is a better way to deal with anger and injustice.

Some people and some countries need to better exercise how they use democracy.

About the Author
Shia Altman who hails from Baltimore, MD, now lives in Los Angeles. His Jewish studies, aerospace, and business and marketing background includes a BA from the University of Maryland and an MBA from the University of Baltimore. When not dabbling in Internet Marketing, Shia tutors Bar and Bat Mitzvah, and Judaic and Biblical Studies to both young and old.
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