Among cynical observers of the political process, it’s known as getting your retaliation in first.
Create the perception of a threat to something you cherish, declare your support with fervour, issue rallying cries against the strawman you have carefully built, and declare victory when a puzzled opposition confirms that no, there were never any plans to do what you claim. Simple really.
The latest example appears in today’s Irish Times, which reports that a newly formed Muslim group has been set up to help ensure ‘the continued rights of Muslim women to wear the hijab in Ireland.’
Time flies. It’s hard to believe that it’s over three months since I first wrote about the hijab non-controversy, though at the time I was more perplexed by some of the rather odd arguments it spawned to radio phone-ins.
But as a piece of elementary journalism from RTÉ showed in June, there was no controversy.
‘It would be deeply regrettable if a media-driven debate, that’s taking place outside the reality of student and school experience, were to make [the wearing of the veil or hijab] one,’ Emma O’Kelly concluded.
Sadly, it would seem that her worst fear is coming true.