“We don’t have to be tolerant all the time.” While reading this statement I had an interesting flashback. I remembered the entrance of an interesting nightclub in London. I was waiting in a line to get in when I noticed that the bouncers had stopped some people and separated them from the line. It was not possible to understand what was going on from where I was standing.
Then, as I advanced and came closer, I witnessed this conversation between the guy ahead of me and the bouncer, who said: “Dude you can’t get in like this. Your shoes are too bright. They’ll reflect the light and disturb people inside.” There was a sarcastic smile on the bouncer’s face while saying all this. It was obvious he was entertaining himself, maybe even celebrating his ability to come up with that “creative” excuse at that particular moment. This passive-aggressive behavior helped him release his cruel energy onto the victim. Technically, he was barring someone from entering the club in order to maintain “order” inside. But in reality his excuse was ridiculous and nothing more than humiliation for the guy who was stopped at the club’s entrance.
The real message was this: “Look, I don’t like your appearance. You look like you’re from the working class and don’t belong here. I am not only stopping you, but also having fun doing so because I’m superior to you and you are simply insignificant. You can do nothing in the face of my authority.”
The Italian mayor is not terribly different from this bouncer. He says, “The sight of masked women could disturb children.” He also mentions “hygiene.” He sounds as if he is simply trying to protect public health and children from “trauma”! But the hidden message is very insulting and humiliating: “You scare children with your appearance and contaminate the pool with your dirty body.”
Let’s be honest; Muslims are the new Jews of Europe, aren’t they? There has been no Muslim holocaust, for sure, but there is a creeping “cultural racism” in many European societies. Its proponents are trying to raise invisible walls between Muslims and the rest of society. They create self-fulfilling prophecies. They say Muslims are not integrating into Europe and then push back Muslims who want to join public life. What can be more integrating than a Muslim woman coming to a swimming pool to swim with non-Muslims all together?
One cannot help but recall the way the Nazis saw Jews: untermenschen, or sub-humans. In the eyes of the contemporary racists of Europe, Muslims, too, are backward, primitive people. To be Europeans, they should overcome their “primitive” beliefs, habits and ways of life.
I see the “swimming pool” in this example as a microcosm that reflects the future of Europe. The swimming pool can be a school of tolerance for children to learn that people may have very different identities, very different beliefs and styles and yet all are entitled to equal respect. Or these children will be taught that there is only one type of person that deserves respect. This swimming pool, in other words, will determine whether Europe will be a pluralistic entity celebrating differences or a place for postmodern Nazis to promote the supremacy of Aryan cultures and races over all others.
Believe me, this swimming pool deserves to be watched very, very closely.