Burkini Ban And An Honest Debate About The C Word – OpEd


Stop blaming Colonialism for every social ills. It’s frankly embarrassing.

The terrible liberal secular tyranny that engulfed France leading to thousands of disillusioned, shocked and scared humans, crossing hundreds of miles to flee Europe and seek refuge in the bosom of distant cultures and faraway lands was finally overturned by the French supreme court. Yes, I am talking about the ill-defined, and frankly idiotic Burkini ban and the reaction to it. And no, of course no one fled Europe, or was even remotely planning to, as far as recorded knowledge goes, though no one will blame you if you felt the opposite from the social media reaction to this entire issue. One hypothesis, yet to be tested in a proper social science experiment, could be that most vicious protests against classical European liberalism comes from a section of the commentariat, who for all practical purposes would never live anywhere other than Western Europe if given a chance.

But that’s beyond the point of this post.

As a political scientist, this entire episode was a fascinating natural experiment to watch, one of social media confirmation bias and simplistic narrative causal generalisation in journalism and a certain section of academe. A single google search will result in dozens of articles, which analysed the Burkini ban from the binary of either feminism and women’s rights, or colonialism and racism inspired by colonialism. The first argument of feminism, comparatively makes a lot more sense, although it is prudent to add for the sake of academic balance, that it has been disputed by some. Notable Arab feminists, either supported the Burkini ban or were straightforward about the right “not to wear a Burkini”.

It is the colonial angle which was far more baffling.

Churning out anti-colonialism as a narrative is nothing new, obviously. And, honestly, there are ample reasons for it. Lamentably, however, it is a causal ascription, which is significantly on the rise, for issues which are far more complex and far beyond the explanatory prowess of such juvenile linear narrative. Examples range from Burkini ban, to devastating terror attacks in France. Team GB won Olympic medals and you’re celebrating? Must be deeply entrenched colonialism that we need to be joylessly vocal about. Black Lives Matter protests? Against colonialism. White actors playing in Asian films, characters which are White?! You guessed it. Western women wearing Bindis? My Ganesha, the savagery of the cultural appropriation. Gender abolition and homophobia? C…

This is beyond exasperating.

Sumantra Maitra

Sumantra Maitra is a Doctoral researcher at the University of Nottingham, UK. He spends way too much time on Twitter, @MrMaitra

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