Not Equivalent

John posts an excerpt from a WSJ editorial in which the editors find installing Muslim foot-baths in public restrooms, as planned at the University of Michigan, acceptable and in keeping with accommodations of religion like having chapels or serving kosher food.  But even if there are chapels and kosher food at public colleges, something I’m not sure of, a little thought would suggest that such arrangements are not comparable to having Muslims washing their feet five times a day in public restrooms, or for that matter having Muslim girls attending public school in black head to toe chadors.  These are much greater intrusions into public space.  In addition, the sharia law that is at the heart of Islam is in general at odds with American democratic ideals, as, for example, regarding the separation of church and state, or regarding the equality of the sexes (as shown in the chador among other things).  It is therefore totally unlike the Judeo-Christian ethos which is actually foundational to our way of life and to our freedoms.  To gloss over the differences with arguments based on procedural equivalences is to disguise that fact, and to delude ourselves that our principles are so universal that they can survive any cultural context whatsoever and will never, ever be threatened by any cultural change.  This is not being wise stewards of our political system and not being true to our charge to preserve its blessings not only for ourselves but for those who will come after us.  

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