May 10, 2006

Of Authoritarian Regimes and Uniforms

A debate is going on in Germany over wheather uniforms should be compulsory in school which started after two Muslim girls were suspended for turning up in school, dressed in Burkas.

BBC reports that school uniforms are still associated by some in Germany with the Nazi era and especially the Hitler Youth. Critics argue that school uniforms suppress individualism and are typical of authoritarian regimes such as the Third Reich.

And I suddenly have memories flooding my mind. After all I had served in an authoritarian regime for about 16 years, which made me wear silly colorful uniforms everyday.

I remember the cold mornings in middle school, when I left home in the dreaded weather every morning dressed in white shorts, since all students below class 8 were not permitted to wear trousers to school.

I remember running around the ground after assembly, for wearing the wrong sneakers, which weren't part of the uniform.

I remember the monday uniform in college. Why in college? Because the director was in the Army. Now it was very clear that they need to wear uniforms to work and I'll agree that for the most part, they even look good in it.

But it never made sense to me that wearing a uniform had anything to do with discipline, or any of the good that is in men. It rather gives a pleasure of the mean, sly and sadist kind.