You know what a reasonable, tolerant man I am except when I have to oppress idiots who disagree with me. Everyone knows that I’ll put up with anything except idiocy and intolerance.
So why has this turban thing got me so confused?
A Sikh is refused membership of the Garda reserve because he won’t take off his turban while in uniform. This is Ireland, so everybody instantly adopts entrenched and opposing positions. Insults are thrown.
Go back to India!
I’ve heard people saying that the Sikhs’ religion should be respected, that the British police, the Canadian police, the US army, the British army and just about everybody else in the world allow Sikhs to wear their turbans while on duty.
This is true.
People will tell you that Sikhs are civic-spirited and decent people who have shown great courage in both World Wars and whose instinct is to contribute in a positive way to society at large.
This is undoubtedly true.
People say religious practice needs to be respected.
This is less true, though Sikhism seems to be at the fairly harmless end of the scale. Look at Rastafarianism, a religion that believes Haile Selassie – a dead, mass-murderering despot – is God. While you’re at it, look at the majority religion on this island, Catholicism. The followers of this religion worship a biscuit.
What to think? I don’t know.
On the one hand, the turban is an integral part of what it means to be a Sikh. It’s an article of faith, so to speak. Furthermore, we need diversity in all our public services – not just the police. And what harm can it be to allow the turban? That’s one thing I’m thinking.
The other thing I’m thinking is, why? What’s so important about any religion that it should get a free pass? Sikhs, I’m thinking, are fairly inoffensive people, except when they’re assassinating Indian heads of state and the like. They don’t try and tell me what to do with my private life. They’re law-abiding, upright and honest, so why not let them wear the symbol of their religion? Well, I answer myself, because that’s all it is: a religion.
It isn’t a race. It’s a religion.
Now I’m in a quandary.
What to think?
Well, I remember the Catholic maniacs who used to roam this land not so long ago and who are now merely hibernating. Suppose one of these guys decides to join the Garda Reserve? Suppose some quasi-fascist asshole like the revolting Justin Barrett should decide to oppress me in the name of his demented religion? And supposing the Justin-thing should decide that a uniform was the very thing to rally his supporters around him. And supposing the Justin-creature decided that his religion gave him the right to wear a cross on his uniform as a sign of his faith? And supposing this cross was a very special cross, with four equal-length legs, and little kinks at the end of them?
Well, that’s why, unfortunately, at the moment I’m tending to think the Sikhs should not be allowed to wear their turbans as part of a police uniform. Not because I have anything against them. I don’t. In fact, I think they’re generally a fine bunch of people.
It’s because I don’t see why any religion should be entitled to special treatment, and because, if a special exemption was made for Sikhs, our own home-grown fundamentalist dip-sticks would abuse it.
I am open to having my opinion changed about all this, however.
Now, on the positive side, I think Sikhs are exempt from the turban rule when they swim, though I’m not sure what the rule is about visiting outer space. I know the Guards have no interplanetary division, except at senior management level, but they do a lot of river- and sea-searches. Maybe he could join the sub-aqua unit. They might give him a reserve tank.