I hereby bestow The Most Incongruous Tweet of the Day Award on Ambassador Gérard Araud, French Ambassador to the U.S.
In honor of the Feast of the Assumption today he tweeted a video of a statue of St. Mary from the Basilica Notre Dame de la Garde (“Our Lady of the Guard”) in Marseille, France, a pilgrimage site for many on this important Catholic feast day.
In nearly the very same moment he followed his tweet of Notre Dame de la Garde with a tweet asserting, “A burqa is not a neutral attire. It conveys an conception of the woman as a object of lust, a subject and not an agent of history.”
In this statue of St. Mary the Ambassador so honored, she is dressed very modestly, in a loose fitting robe covering her entire body, except her head, which is covered in part by a crown.
This leads me to several questions for you, Ambassador Araud.
Is St. Mary’s gown in this statue “not a neutral attire,” thus requiring that the French government should demand the Catholic Church create a new statue, and with her being at the sea, see to it that she be dressed only in a bikini? After all, according to you Mr. Ambassador, “It is to the state to protect women from cultural oppression” (by which I understand you to mean that the state should protect women from their own personal choice to dress modestly).
Does St. Mary’s body being covered make her de facto an “object of lust”? (St. Mary, really??)
Does St. Mary’s body being covered make her — St. Mary of all women — de facto “not an agent of history”?
Ambassador Araud, I would like to know: If St. Mary did indeed have her body covered, instead of wearing a bikini, as one might presume she did when the Angel Gabriel appeared to her, does this nullify St. Mary’s agency in her great “Fiat!” unto the Lord?
And Ambassador Araud, you have not yet answered Daniel Stublen’s question to you, “@GerardAraud what about nuns’ habits?”
In the event you or any of your staff in Washington, DC would be interested in discussing Islam and religious freedom sometime, I assure you the modestly dressed women who work at the Center for Islam and Religious Freedom (CIRF) would greatly welcome such an opportunity. And with their degrees from Princeton University, the University of Chicago, Stanford University, and Yale University and their leadership in founding CIRF, I can assure it would likely be apparent that modest attire and women’s agency are no contradiction of terms.