The appropriateness of miniskirts and face veils is culturally dependent. The fury that was sparked when a Sheik criticised the former is in sharp contrast to community approval questioning the appropriateness of the face veil.

Of course the comments by the Sheik are impertinent. Females can wear whatever they want and if that causes offence or over-excitement to some blokes, that’s a problem the blokes need to deal with.

But there is no need to deport the Sheik. All he needs to do is come to one of my philosophy classes. We will need to find a big room, though. Many Australians, including some of our leading politicians, need to come to at least the first couple of lectures. The acquiesence by most Australians to the comments by the PM and Treasurer that the Muslim face veil is confronting underlies a disturbing form of relativism that reveals Australia’s racist underbelly.

The fact that a person finds the attire of another person jarring is no basis for limiting choice in clothing. Otherwise muffin tops would be in museums by now. Being jarred by the self-regarding acts of others is merely a sign of a tolerance deficit. It is also absurd to suggest that we have a right to view the faces of those with whom we come into contact. The telephone lays to rest any nonsense that seeing a person’s face is essential for effective communication.

People who are still unconvinced about the compatibility of the face veil and community harmony should spend a pleasant afternoon at my old stomping ground, the Broadmeadows Shopping Square. The people of Broady don’t fare well on most indices of social flourishing, such as wealth and education standards. But they are fortunate enough to have undergone cultural enlightenment as a result of sharing their patch with one of the biggest Muslim populations in the country.

In Broady face veils are so common that they go by unnoticed – commonality has led to invisibility or at least acceptance, as has occurred with gays and people with mental illness.

At the same time, Sheik Taj Aldin Alhilali needs to spend a bit of time at Bondi beach over the summer. There he’ll quickly come to realise that women and men both wearing not much usually have far more in common than s-x on the mind.

In the end, opposition to the face veil is all about Western prejudice, just as opposition to the miniskirt is all about Islamic prejudice.

Westerners and Muslims both need to drop their small-minded relativistic perspectives and embrace a more universal and tolerant disposition – national unity depends on it.