August 21, 2009
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While I may not philosophically agree with the demand to dress 'modestly' and 'respectfully' while visiting religious sites when said modesty means shoulders and knees covered, yet wouldn't give a toss if the jeans that covered those knees were skin tight or the t-shirt had a cartoon Pokemon emblazoned on the front, I go along with it. I might think the religion is a load of hogwash, but if I'm prepared to be hypocritical enough to want to see the edifices raised to such hogwash, I should be prepared to go along with the clothing requirements as well.
What I do not appreciate is being denied entry to a non-religious monument – namely, La Memorial de la Deportation – a place entirely without shade, where you are either exposed to the elements or inside a tiny, stifling corridor (so I read), on a ridiculously hot day, because my knee length skirt is not respectful enough, and neither is my non-cleavage revealing, non-spaghetti-strap sporting vest top. And the American in the queue can forget it if she thinks she's coming in with flip-flops. I could not work out if my ballet pumps were approved or not. We were supposed to return wearing full length trousers, from what I could gather.
This is not a religious monument. It consecrates all the French who were deported during World War Two – the political, the Jews, the homosexuals, the Jehovahs Witnesses, the "anti social", the Gypsies. My respect for those people will be shown in my behaviour while I am in the memorial; if I start whooping, cavorting and showing off my arse then yes, you will have the right to escort me from the premises for my lack of respect. I developed respect for those people during the six months I spent writing up my second year degree study on the camps. I doubt they would give a toss what I wear, so long as I bear witness to what happened to them. And yet you shut me out of your mass Vichy-collaboration apology, because I am not paying enough respect. To whom? To the victims? Or to your display of remorse?