France's Purple Magazine Taunts America on Freedom of Speech and Wins Big

It appears that American Christians are playing right into the hands of French media.

We have 10 American missionaries awaiting their fate in Haiti, for trying to do God’s work, taking kids out of the country without proper documents. After being advised not to even attempt the illegal move by a top official in the Dominican Republic, at least group leader Laura Silsby proceeded anyway. 

Missionaries and church groups have a global track record of taking care of the poor. I am not condemning or criticizing this generosity. But as The Daily Beast asked this week: who ‘manages’ these people? Who insures that these kids are ending up in safe hands? It seems that the answer is: God is in charge.

This weekend’s NYTimes magazine is devoted to this discussion of religion and the state. I haven’t read the article yet, but here you go: How Christian Were the Founders?

I’m not defending the taste or lack of it in Lindsay Lohan’s current Purple Magazine cover. But the fact that it’s the lead story in myYahoo  email box places the Lindsay Lohan cover in the Haiti missionary controversy in my mind.

What sends shudders up my spine — as someone who stood in Berlin, staring down into the monument of Nazi Germany’s book-burning campaign on April 6, 1933 — is that America plays right into the stereotype we have in the world.

We have almost no records of an incredibly sophisticated Mayan culture because all the documents were burned by the Spanish wanting to convert the population to Catholicism.

Many countries believe that we are very capable of being book burners ourselves.

Americans are known in Europe for talking out of both sides of our mouths. When it comes to social services, we say we don’t want a ‘nanny’ state, but when it comes to regulating female sexuality, we want a ‘really big nanny’ in charge.

Women in just about every European country (perhaps all) believe that we preach freedom and individual rights to the world but are ready to take away Lindsay Lohan’s right to pose fully covered with arms outstretched on the cover of Purple, a French magazine known for being intellectually provocative.

The French may be Catholic, but they also believe in free speech. They also question religion in ways that Americans do not, believing that intellectual debate is part of an evolved society.

French First Lady Carla Bruni Sarkozy criticized the Pope for a policy that insists that women in Africa, who cannot say ‘no’ to their AIDS-infected husbands demanding sex, cannot use a condom to live. There are good Christian people who believe this is a terrible fate to assign poor women in Africa. In America, you could meet an unforseen and untimely death for speaking too loudly on this subject.

The French (and most of Europe) believes that Americans are Nazi hypocrites on human rights.  They see us as bombing the world in the name of freedom and democracy (democrazy) but want to regulate everything about women’s lives, in the name of religion.

This is the point of the Purple cover, the intellectual idea they threw at us, the tennis serve, if you will.

French Vogue did a spread recently that managed to stay under the radar in America, but Carine Roitfeld is making the same statement.

As the Vatican moves to overturn Roe vs Wade in America, you will see much more religiously ‘offensive’ editorial coming out of countries who do not support America’s lack of separation between church and state. And they believe in women’s rights in a way that America does not.

Last week, I featured what Muslims probably consider an anti-Islamic spread in French Vogue, timed for publication as the government is working out a burqa ban. In Paris, fashion is political and part of the intellectual culture.

I understand that America doesn’t value this kind of thinking, believing discourse to be the sign of idle minds and a weak religious spirit, but perhaps the NYTimes article makes a valid point or two. I don’t know yet. Anne

Carine Roitfeld Inspires Women to Think in the Burqa Debate

Laura Silsby | The Art of Doing God’s Work in Haiti