It should have been a joyous day of frolicking and fun, of pink spun sugar and blue sno-cones and enthusiastic yelps. Instead, the events that began with a young woman's refusal to comply with safety regulations at a Rye, New York amusement park – and escalated into a confrontation with police – have morphed into a political showdown that highlights chasms in American (and Western) culture first thrust into our consciousness by the attacks of 9/11, and which have since grown only worse.
In case you missed it, what happened, essentially, was this: a group of some 3000 Muslims visited Rye Playland on a trip sponsored by the Muslim American Society of New York to celebrate the end of Ramadan and beginning of the festival of Eid. Although cautioned by park officials that Muslim women in hijab (headscarves) would not be permitted on certain rides without removing their head-coverings, which risk becoming tangled in the machinery, the association failed to convey this bit of news to members of the tour. (The rule, it should be noted, extends to all head-coverings, or what the park calls "headgear," including yarmulkes, baseball caps, and hats, as well as other loose items of clothing.)