Burkas and the return of Boaty McBoatface

Not only is it the day of the long-awaited Netherlands parliamentary elections, it’s also the Ides of March … which is not really a holiday, but rather a historical classification for March 15 in the Roman calendar.

Yeah, I’m a nerd.

Today I’d like to present two stories that, while covering the same topic, are extremely divergent from one another and, by virtue of that, perfectly represents the current global sentiment towards the group of people that the stories center on: Muslims.

You’re well versed on the anti-Muslim rhetoric that’s come from Donald Trump, as well as from Geert Wilders, the even more right-wing agitator who may come out on top of today’s Netherlands elections.

The strong support that’s emerged for Muslims from the political left in response to this hate speech isn’t necessarily borne out of sympathy for their religious beliefs — in fact, the Islamic doctrine and their repression towards women and homosexuals almost directly opposes liberal ideologies. But rather, Muslims have officially become a symbol for diversity and acceptance in an increasingly globalized world.

In the last two years, embracing Muslims has become akin to embracing diversity and rejecting bigotry.

And this month, Nike followed suit by introducing a Pro Hijab designed specifically for female Muslim athletes.

Nike Hijab

The increased presence of female Muslim athletes at the highest stage of international competition was highly evident at this year’s Olympics. Egypt alone sent 37 women to the Games, the most in the country’s 104-year participation in the Olympics.

And that also includes fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, who won a bronze medal last year after becoming the first hijab-wearing American to compete at the Olympics for the United States.

So it’s nice to see a major corporation like Nike open their arms and accommodate a faction of people who have not been treated too fairly lately.

Unfortunately, that segues well into the next story, which took place on Tuesday, when the European Union’s highest court ruled that companies are within their right to ban the hijab from the workplace.

On the surface this sounds extremely bigoted and discriminatory, and people are surely sharing headlines of this story by the thousands on Facebook voicing their disgust as we speak, but it’s not as bad when you read the full ruling.

The court justified its decision as a blanket ruling for all political and religious symbols, meaning that employers have legal basis to ban the hijab, as long as they’re also banning other religious attire like a Sikh turban or a Jewish kippah.

Nonetheless, it sounds like a ruling that would have been made in 1970, not 2017. And it’s not the most ominous sign on the eve of these damn Netherlands elections.

But let’s end with something a little happier.

Boaty McBoatface

Remember Boaty McBoatface? The name that voters chose for an exploration vessel that ultimately got rejected?

Well, it’s back, and it’s about to make its maiden voyage. Only, it’s not a boat but a yellow submarine *insert Beatles joke*.

Boaty McBoatface will begin its mission in Antarctica this week to collect data to help scientists understand how global warming affects oceans.

So not only does Boaty McBoatface exist, but it’s helping us to save the world.

So amid all the doom and gloom in this world, remember there’s a yellow beacon of hope out there for us to rely on. Literally. It’s in the form of a yellow torpedo, zipping through the depths of the Arctic Ocean.

And its name is Boaty McBoatface.

Don’t forget it.

London elected a Muslim mayor, and the world has not yet ceased to exist!

While we’re all so consumed with the presidential race here in the United States, we often forget that there are other elections happening in other countries that have major ramifications for the world.

Voters in the United Kingdom, for example, just recently went to the polls. They selected, among other things, a new mayor of London, one of the world’s most treasured cities.

And since this is England we’re talking about, I’m sure they elected some dude named Nigel, or Oliver, or Finley. Something like that, right? In my head I’m basically picturing Nigel Thornberry from the old Nickeloden show “The Wild Thornberrys.”

Wait, what’s that you say? They elected who? A man named Sadiq Khan?

And he’s … Muslim?!


I mean, I assume he walks around with a turban, a long beard, and just shouts threatening Arabic statements at random.

He doesn’t? You say he’s actually clean cut, well spoken, qualified and highly intelligent? He has 10 years experience in Parliament and is a human rights lawyer?


And after being elected, he lauded Londoners for choosing hope over fear and unity over division during a time when Islamophobia has hit an all-time high in the West?

… can he run for American president?

Last Saturday was an important time for the world. Because it was a day that proved that Islamic ideals can align with those of the West. That a Muslim can be accepted to lead people of all skin colors and religions.

Which is exactly the opposite of what ISIS is trying to preach in order to gain more sympathizers. And, in turn, it’s exactly the message that Donald Trump is also parading around on the campaign trail — that Muslims and white people are basically incompatible.

And Donald Trump, of course, has made a major campaign promise to bar Muslims from entering the U.S. if he is elected president. But, in a wonderful change of heart that should brighten everyone’s view of him, he said this week that he might make an exception for Sadiq Khan. What an honor.

Khan, 45, is the son of Pakistani immigrants. Will he suddenly change everyone’s worldview? Of course not. Firstly, he has to prove that he’s a good mayor. That he’s competent. If he does that, then maybe down the line he can become a symbol for something bigger.

But it does go to show that people can still make choices based not on fear or ignorance, but on hope and reason.

I don’t expect there to be a Muslim U.S. governor anytime soon. Although, Minnesota voters did elect the first Muslim to Congress nine years ago, by the name of Keith Ellison (who, in case you’re wondering, endorsed Bernie Sanders in this year’s election).

There are 3.3 Muslims in America, making up about 1 percent of the population. That number is expected to double by 2050.

Let’s stop acting like they’re not a significant part of our nation that we claim we’re trying so hard to protect. They’re not the threat — our own ignorance is.

Learn from London. We could all be better off for it one day.

While the nation goes crazy, a man named Bud Weisser tried to save us

A few hours ago, Donald Trump said he wants to bar entry into the United States for all Muslims.

I’m way too aghast at this news to even attempt to formulate an objective, productive post about it. So I’ll let it go, for now.

But I will say this: Most people are smart enough to refrain from posting ethnically, racially or religiously insensitive comments on Facebook, knowing full well that it won’t be received favorably by their peers, and that doing so is essentially equivalent to outing yourself as a bigot.

Sharing the sentiments of someone else who is saying such things?

I see no difference.

Obama Oval OfficeBut anyway, this is obviously a very bizarre time in America right now. Six million people are running for president, and we’re less than a week removed from the most deadly terrorist attack on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001.

People are seething over guns and radical Islam, and there’s so much divisiveness that President Obama felt obliged to address the nation directly from the Oval Office on Sunday for just the third time in his presidency.

The world really needs something we can unite behind in agreement — even if it’s not necessarily a positive thing.

Enter one, Bud Weisser.

Let’s face it. This kid never had a chance. You hear unfortunate sob stories all too often of children being born into a life of poverty or crime, or other circumstances so miserable that they never really had a fair shake to become anything but a criminal.

The same goes for any kid who had the bad luck to be named by their Bud Weisserparents Bud Weisser.

And this isn’t one of those things where your parents named you Charles Manson and then some psychopath came along and ruined your name forever.

This Bud Weisser fellow is 19 years old, and the company Budweiser was founded in ’76. No, not 1976 — 1876. What in god’s name were these parents thinking? And don’t give me that “his real birth name is Buddy” nonsense. They knew full well what would end up happening. They knew.

Anyway, Bud Weisser fulfilled his destiny last Thursday when he was arrested for trespassing the Budweiser brewery.

It’s his second arrest in 15 months, as he was charged for breaking into a gas station convenience store last August, presumably to steal Budweiser.

Again, poor dude never had a chance. And even if he is a perpetual screw-up, I think he did this stupid act last week for the greater good. To distract us from the chaos that’s happening in the world.

Because you can’t possibly hear a story about a man named Bud Weisser being arrested at a Budweiser brewery and not temporarily forget what you were thinking about beforehand.

Time Magazine is set to announce its 2015 Person of the Year on Wednesday.

In my mind, the decision has been made.

And his name is one Bud Weisser.