Amena Khan and The Myth of the Incomparably Righteous Hijab

Muslims don’t like Jews. Jews don’t cotton much to Muslims either, but since there are 13 or 14 million Jews on the planet, and 1.8 billion Muslims, the 150:1 ratio makes the former more objectively concerning. Muslims don’t like Christians for that matter, though there’s no a specific Christian State they can focus their energies on like the Jewish State of Israel, so their anti-Christian sentiment is somewhat diffused with random train station bombings across the EU. With Israel smack dab in the Middle East, it’s like having a black dude wander into a Stone Mountain Klan rally. Targeting is simple.

Racism and discrimination are demonized terms in polite society. They are merely forms of tribalism which are forms of natural human instinct. Prioritizing your own kind and believing outsiders to be a lesser kind is pure base instinct. Glass half-empty historians will only point to the hate and wars and destruction these primordial passions promote. The fuller picture might include demonization of those who look or act different in the very survival means of our species. That doesn’t mean the evolved man doesn’t figure out a way not to want to kill people who pray to a different God. But it does mean that any honest or productive conversation as to the end of hate, must concede that it’s completely natural to hate.

Since the transformation of mainstream Western culture into a guilt-ridden post-imperialist mega mea culpa fest, the ruling white cracker class enacted an unwritten rule that those against whom their forefathers transgressed in majority tyranny, must surely be the anointed class. This may or may not be about the time the Magical Negro came to be a popular culture. The spiritual kindly black janitor or homeless black woman endowed with the spirit of benevolence and solid life advice for wayward whites. With reparations comes condescension. The sanctimony is baked right in.

Mainstream culture and their representatives in the Grey Gardens that is the current Fourth Estate insist upon this cynical attempt to delete any attributions of hate or bias to minority groups, or at least those currently trending in hashtags. Hence, black people can’t hate gays, Latinos can’t hate blacks, Asians can’t be the most racist mofos on the planet, and Muslims must be peace seeking prophets. To name a few sweeping generalizations of race, creed, and color seamlessly adopted by modern popular culture.

The promotion of Muslim as grounded scholar and empathetic spirit is clearly a Newton’s Third Law reaction to the belief that anti-Muslim jihadist sentiment needs a counterbalance. It’s a silly supposition on both ends, as if but one percent of Muslims are terrorist inclined, and one-percent are benevolent librarians meditating for world peace, that’s 18 million people on each end of the spectrum. That’s a sizable chunk of people. An entire population of Florida. And yet extreme outliers to the general population of Muslims. The notion that third standard deviations from the norm define the group is partisan masturbation.

From this immature and highly biased thinking comes the Myth of the Incomparably Righteous Hijab. It’s the current year’s version of the Myth of the Incomparably Brave Transgender. That latter case build on the assumption that men who become women, and occasionally vice-versa, are akin to soldiers in battle laying their lives on the line for country and mates. In reality, they’re some of the most self-involved men in the world. That’s not a critical assertion, that’s an objective fact based on the amount of time, energy, and resources that go into making oneself feel happy, inspired by good intentions or not. We’re prescribed to believe that Bruce Jenner was tantamount to Arthur Ashe in courage. As opposed to an incredibly narcissist who badly wanted the attention he saw directed toward the female members of his clan.

The Hijab Myth would have you believe that the wearing of the Muslim head covering provides women with an incontrovertibly inspiring origin story. As if touched by the hands of angels, imbued with spirits of compassion, understanding, and the ability to bring about The Rapture. Never mind that in their version of the The Rapture, you don’t make it to the next level. Magazines are rushing to fill in their precious cover spaces with anything hijab. Sports Illustrated the first hijab swimsuit model. Playboy the sexier side of hijabs. Glamour expose on the first ever hijab wearing Barbie.  Elle on hijab beauty influencers. And most recently, a big CNN feature on “L’Oreal Paris is breaking barriers and making history by featuring Amena Khan, a hijab-wearing woman, in a hair campaign.”

Amena Khan for L’Oreal

More specifically, the beauty brand highlighted how Khan would lead their charge into a more diverse and inclusive world of, presumably, mascara and shaping mousses. L’Oreal and Khan even concocted one of the most referentially inane comments ever regarding haircare marketing:

“Whether or not your hair is on display, doesn’t affect how much you care about it.”

People who understand that to be untrue include the entire universe of people with hair. If you’re alone for the day and immersed in thoughts about your hair, you’ve got problems far larger than which hijab to empower women and girls of the world with that particular day.

Four days after CNN nearly shat itself senseless with unbridled joy over the perfect Myth of the Incomparably Righteous Hjiab tale, Amena Khan stepped down from breaking barriers and making history. Somebody dug into her old Tweets and found a series of inflammatory comments about Israel as terrorists who will be destroyed in Allah’s name. Nothing you wouldn’t hear a thousand times a day in Gaza, but something an international makeup and hair care brand isn’t looking to take on in terms of baggage from a British Muslim beauty blogger. Maybe a Hadid sister. Save your wiping Israel into the sea comments for when you have fifty million social media followers and can move product.

Khan stepped down from her new unelected role as hijab mainstream beauty and inclusiveness spokesmodel. Death to Jews will soon fall under at least European tenets of inclusiveness, but not quite yet. Khan offered an apology to let you know that she’d been paid something by L’Oreal under the table to go away quietly.  Many people applauded her quiet dignity and wondered whether or not comments made nearly four years ago ought be held against her. Because four years ago doesn’t reflect who you are today, with humans so radically changing base instincts and predilections and core beliefs every few months or so. Also, hijab. How can she be bad?

The Hijab Myth may be soon overtaken by the Myth of the Illegal Immigrant Family Man Doctor and the Myth of the Woman Who Is Necessarily a Victim and Yet Super Strong. Probably good for the hijab promotions department. Clearly, they need more time to get the message right.