What do the terrorists want? They want you to become like them. They hate free countries – their speech, their ways of dressing, their liberal lives. Their security. Their fearlessness.
And how are the liberal nations responding? By giving the terrorists exactly what they want! France banning the burkini is no different from Islamic countries banning shorts. No different from Indian khaps banning jeans. In its eagerness to defy Islamic nations, France is well on its way to becoming just like them.
We do the same in India as well. We are handing over our rights in the name of “security”, and that is exactly what make the terrorists most happy. The crackdown on JNU in the name of “nationalism” is just another instance of the state trying to take away the rights of individuals to express themselves. It doesn’t matter that others don’t like those forms of expression. Freedom of expression doesn’t mean “as long as it doesn’t offend anyone”. It means, freedom “despite the fact that it offends someone”.
The real test of freedom comes when it protects speech that others hate. Every country in the world allows nice, happy speech. Even the most strident Islamic countries don’t ban speech that everyone agrees with. That everyone likes. The test is when a government goes out of it’s way to protect speech that others detest. It’s a test that only the US has passed.
After the Charlie Hebdo attacks, France arrested a comedian for hate speech. In all the world, only the US doesn’t have hate speech laws – a triumph of liberty. France is digging its own grave with its Burkini antics. Terrorists will be rejoicing that they can now point to real discrimination against muslims. And muslims will be right to feel persecuted, making the atmosphere even riper for radicalization.
Both France and India need to learn from the US. France’s “secularism” goes far beyond no interference from the government. It involves active suppression. India’s “secularism” has a completely different meaning where the state sticks its finger into everything. We need neither. We need a government that completely ignores religion and pretends that it doesn’t exist. We need a government that ignores clothes. That ignores speech (unless it’s leading to immediate and specific violence).
We want a government that minds its own bloody business.