A few years ago, I posted an article on-line about the gezeirah/minhag called "kitniyos", under which Ashkenazi Jews of the past 700-800 years have refrained from eating legumes, rice and assorted other non-chametz produce during the week of Pesach.
The practice originated out of concern for grain being mixed in with other products during harvesting or processing, as well as concern that permitting kitniyos products might lead to accidental permission of the chametz products they resemble.
My position in that post was that the kitniyos decree is founded upon solid logic (even if some of its modern extensions are not), and that it doesn't create great hardship (how many of us need to eat rice or beans every week?). [Where it does create great hardship, such as for those with extreme food allergies or for babies who need soy formula, kitniyos are approved.] So I argued against the popular resentment of this practice.
I didn't think my position was that radical, but others disagreed.
I re-visit this subject now in order to add a point: It seems to me that some of the resentment for kitniyos stems not from any hunger for rice, but from a basic lack of trust for rabbis, leading to automatic rejection of their statements and rulings.
Example: The other day I heard a rabbi cite a classic midrash regarding Sarah's biblical prepartion of "cakes" for guests; the midrash, basing itself on textual evidence, says that this event occurred on Pesach. Despite the textual evidence, I noticed someone nearby groan reflexively. Why? I think it was not because the midrash was particularly questionable, but because it was a rabbinic teaching.
There are several factors here.
The populism which dominates government,
the democratization of information,
the rise of critical thinking,
the revelation of scandal among religious and political leaders,
the proliferation of independent philosophical paths,
lead to rejection of leadership, religious and otherwise, Jewish and general. I don't view any of these factors as automatically negative, but the result is a thoughtless, knee-jerk rejection of leaders.
Add in external pressure from those who reject religion altogether and highlight its foibles at every opportunity, and the result is that religious dicta are challenged and rejected not on their merits, but because of their source.
I find this sad. There is much to debate in the arena of kitniyos, and much to be learned from the general challenging of rabbinic teaching. Rabbis who are expected to explain and defend their teachings will produce stronger Torah. But when the rejection comes from reflex rather than reflection, well – that which is poorly conceived is poorly received.