Beware the Politicians Crying, “Hijab! Hijab!”

This past week Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull proposed to lengthen the pathway to citizenship in his country while also setting higher requirements for profession of what he called “Australian values.”

Meanwhile in France, Marine Le Pen called for religious head coverings to be made illegal in public.

These moves have been interpreted as desperate gambits by politicians trying to hold onto, or gain, power, and since they lack the imagination to deal with substantive issues and actually make things better, they will take a page from the playbook of the academic left and focus on symbols instead.

Back home here in Canada, various Conservative leadership candidates have joined in the value-signaling, presumably taking their cues instead from He-Who-Is-Named-Far-Too-Often. And the Liberal premier of Ontario and the “Liberal” premier of British Columbia likewise are casting about for issues that will draw voters’ attention away from what appear to be corrupt and decrepit regimes.

The modest rise of Muslim populations in these several countries has appeared as a gift to those willing to exploit it. The old stand-by, anti-Semitism, is still not quite ready to be wheeled out again onto the main political stage, since too many people are still outraged by what fading memories and ignored history books say happened to the Jews long, long ago (that is, in the middle of the last century). But now we have new Strangers to fear.

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