Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 194- Bad Art Museum of Bad Art

Dear Mr. President,

The French government is another step closer to a full public ban on the burqa. I suppose this makes me grateful to live where I do. Not because I wear a veil, but because I could. Because, more than wear what we want, we can say what we want. We can open bars with "Obama rooms" celebrating bad art. Art can be subversive, offensive, contrary to the values or beliefs or faiths of so many people, and it is no threat to our society. It can hang on the wall, or be inked on some one's skin, or stitched into their clothing and it doesn't make them less American.

Tonight I was in a bar, drowning my AL sorrows, with an "Obama Room". I didn't find out what it meant, or why it was named after you, but the sign said it was a room of bad art. I think it meant that the room is safe for bad art, for art that not every one likes or understands. Art that no one wants to pay for, that no one would remember, otherwise. Art that doesn't have to justify its own existence.

I couldn't help but think of the women in France being targeted by this law. There aren't enough of them to defend themselves democratically. They are outsiders, isolated, kept apart from the rest of French society- not by their own beliefs or culture, but by a government that, by overwhelming majority, has declared their manner of dress to be out of step with what it means to be French.

I'm still pretty upset about the American League breaking a 14-year streak of domination at today's all-star game, so forgive me a baseball metaphor. Baseball has always been described as quintessentially American, but I could, with little fear of harassment, walk outside with a shirt saying "I hate baseball" or "Babe Ruth is stupid" and not worry that it made me any less American. I might be in an extreme minority, too few to ever have my opinion represented in the legislature or to count on it being defended by voters, but the constitution protects me, all the same. It is this bedrock principle that represents true "Americanism", this document which defends us all from the whims of the majority. I hope that, when the law in France must face up to their own constitution, that it is struck down. that the noble principles enshrined in that document are stronger than a passing fear of those who do not dress the right way.

What do you think of this law, Mr. President? Will you speak out against it, demonstrating that the friendship between the US and France is once characterized first by its frankness and honesty? I hope that you will, I hope that the Council of the State acts to protect the rights of these French women. Because, be we immigrants or baseball haters or bad artists or just believers in a faith different from that of the majority, we deserve our own corner of safety, the respect of our governments and of our fellow citizens. Speak to President Sarkozy, Mr. President, and tell him this law is not worthy of a modern democracy.

Respectfully yours,


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