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.
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.
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.