It was rather obvious that France's highest administrative court, the Council of State, would strike down bans on unrevealing swimwear instituted this summer by French coastal towns. Last Friday, it reversed the first such ban, by the mayor of Villeneuve-Loubet. Though some mayors still don't see why they should cancel their orders, rights activists will soon be on their case, too, and the precedent promises similar outcomes in most of these disputes.
The underlying problem that spawned the comical burkini bans, however, will not go away. It's that of integration: How well should people of different cultures blend into a society before it stops trying to push them away?
As the French poet George Brassens once sang, "The good folks don't like it when someone walks a different path than they do." France has a long history of intolerance toward otherness, and it's part of a powerful European tradition that has often led to horrible extremes as well as to ridiculous ones. The success of attempts to dress it up in legal robes has ultimately depended on the uniformity of public sentiment.