What Went Wrong This Week For … Terrorist-Watchers

Scaachi Koul is a senior writer at BuzzFeed Canada, formerly the managing editor of Hazlitt. Her debut collection of essays, The Pursuit of Misery, is...

Welcome to Well, That Sucked, our weekly compendium of exactly what it sounds like. Thrown in this week’s garbage: aspiring Quebecois counter-terrorism units

The Parti Quebecois seems bored. Maybe they feel like they don’t have enough to do around the old office that they’re finding new problems to fix, ones that don’t need fixing. Maybe they feel like the rest of the country isn’t paying enough attention to them, so it’s time to start a little desk-fire in the trashcan. Not so big that it means the whole building has to evacuate, of course, but maybe something that generates just enough smoke that the fire alarm goes off.

The big ploy for attention works, of course: They do something fundamentally loathsome just to get everyone to come to their cubicle, and soon enough everybody’s gathered around, saying, “Okay, my god, we’re here, what do you want?”

The PQ, not learning its lesson from its recent attempt to ban turbans from soccer in Quebec—because turbans are the biggest problem with soccer and not that soccer is profoundly boring—is now preparing to introduce legislation for a blanket-ban on religious symbols, which would include forbidding Sikh, Jewish, and Muslim headdresses in the workplace. To be fair, this legislation would also technically ban people from wearing large crosses to work, but something tells me this isn’t about taking away Santa Beatriz da Silva pendants from nice old ladies in Little Portugal.

Though I do wonder exactly how the government is going to decide what is or isn’t religious headgear. If I wear a big hat to work, and I claim it’s because I’m Wiccan, does that mean I can’t wear it anymore? What if I reappropriate the burqa like some asshole and wear it as a fashion statement? And, oh, what of all those 16-year-old girls wearing cross-ridden tops from Forever 21? All that sheer fabric and leopard print destined for back-to-school sales, now gone to waste.

So far, the conversation has been dominated by people pointing out how this is an obvious breach of basic rights at best and a case of egregious racism and bigotry at worst. But what no one’s really talking about is how this is going to affect Quebec’s—and, ultimately, Canada’s—ability to suss out domestic terrorism. Without a mark as glaring as a turban, a hijab, or a yarmulke, it will be nearly impossible to figure out, in the blink of an eye, who is a threat to national security.

That neighbourhood watch program you’re a part of? It’s about to get a whole lot more crowded. Before you know it, all sorts of Moozlems and Jews will be fighting their way in, and you won’t even see them coming. They’ll look like normal people. They’ll look just like you. Every day will be like Roswell, which is terrible, because Colin Hanks is the worst and Jesus, just imagine being stuck talking to him.

How are we even supposed to call them ragheads if they stop wearing rags on their heads?

Really, this proposal has introduced a whole new set of complications in how we racially profile people. Those “random” airport searches won’t be random anymore: We’ll just have to pull aside and violate the privacy of anyone who seems like they could be even remotely non-white. Does the government have the time to tap the phones of absolutely everyone with a weird last name? At the very least, those religious headdresses saved us a lot of time. We’re still getting over a recession, damn it.

Speaking of which, this doesn’t even begin to touch on how devastating it’ll be for our economy. How many yarmulke and hijab factory jobs will be lost thanks to this dent in Quebec sales?

Should this legislation somehow pass (perhaps the Quebec government will be overtaken by an army of Miss Trunchbulls?), we’re going to have to figure out another way to make ourselves feel safe at the expense of others.

The PQ clearly didn’t realize how dire the situation would be if they took away one of our easiest visual cues to enable our daily racism. Now what? We’re expected to figure it out on our own, and find new ways to subjugate and stereotype our neighbours and shop owners and airplane seatmates? How are we supposed to tell the difference? Hell, nearly anyone could be a not-terrorist.

Well, except brown people. I mean, it’s still pretty evident that they’re all out to get us. At least that will always be obvious, turban or not.

Well, That Sucked appears every Friday.

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Scaachi Koul is a senior writer at BuzzFeed Canada, formerly the managing editor of Hazlitt. Her debut collection of essays, The Pursuit of Misery, is forthcoming spring 2017 (Doubleday Canada).

Are you trying to sound out her name right now? You probably are.