In a move more like French farce than smart policy, five French mayors are fighting Islamist terrorism by banning the “burkini,” a full-body bathing suit covering Muslim women from head to ankle. This idiotic initiative is like fighting Communism by outlawing red flags or fighting fascism by outlawing brown shirts. Islamism and Muslim terrorism must be fought intensely but sensibly. Vengeful temper tantrums make Westerners look weak, decadent, repressive and foolish.

The New York Times quoted Thierry Migoule, a Cannes bureaucrat, denouncing the burkini as “clothing that conveys an allegiance to the terrorist movements that are waging war against us.” Such rhetoric helps Islamist appeasers who dismiss all counterattacks against Islamism and terrorism as “Islamophobia.” Muslim women wearing the burkini convey an allegiance to their religion, a protected act in civilized democracies. If French officials fought Islamism and terrorism effectively they wouldn’t have to target Muslim religious practices, especially those like the burkini, which at least gets devout women out of the house and onto the beach.

French justifications for this burkini ban reflect an emptiness deep in their national soul. Prime Minister Manuel Valls linked the burkini to “the enslavement of women.” His women’s rights minister, Laurence Rossignol, blasted such attempts to “hide women’s bodies in order to better control them.” And the right-winger Marine Le Pen, supposedly defending “the soul of France,” wrote: “The French beaches are those of Bardot and Vadim,” meaning Sixties sex symbol Brigitte Bardot and her eroticist screenwriter husband Roger Vadim.