I remember sitting in Social Studies class in high school in 1990 or so, hearing about the Japanese Internment during World War II and McCarthyism. I remember thinking that I was happy we were now such an enlightened people that we would never allow something so foolish to happen again. We had learned from the mistakes of the past and were no longer doomed to repeat them.
Then I hear callers to a local radio station calling for the banning of face coverings in the name of protecting us from terrorists. The irony of this being a Canadian station, a country where it is necessary to wear a scarf much of the year or risk frostbite. The lack of terrorist attacks from both the masked and unmasked should perhaps be a clue that this is an issue that does not need addressing.
Certainly the need to positively identify individuals in certain situations is necessary, although those situations are very rare. Religion does not grant additional rights.
Much of what the Burka represents is the antithesis of a secular, free and equal society. However, banning such things is only treating the symptoms and does nothing at all to deal with the issue. As usual, it is a solution that is clear, simple and wrong.
Terrorism is our generation's witch trials, our Red Scare, our Japanese Internment. When my children's children learn of this time in school, they will look back on our paranoia and shake their heads, wondering how we could be so foolish.