The Corner

Grip ’n’ Grin

I commend to you a little item in the Daily Caller. It’s about Switzerland. There, they apparently have a tradition in school: Students shake hands with their teacher. Two Muslim boys, from immigrant families, refused to do this — because their teachers were women. The school board said, “That’s okay, we exempt you.” Politicians said, “Not so fast: If you’re going to live in Switzerland, follow Swiss traditions.” They have suspended the students’ families’ applications for citizenship.

This is a neat encapsulation of an urgent problem. You want to accommodate newcomers — “Variety is the spice of life” and all that — and you especially want to accommodate differing religious beliefs. A lot of us think there was something noble about Sandy Koufax’s refusal to pitch on Yom Kippur. At the same time, you want to assimilate the newcomers.

I’m one of the last believers in the melting pot. By the time I came of age, it was sorely out of fashion. In fashion were David Dinkins’s “gorgeous mosaic” and Jesse Jackson’s “quilt” and surely other things (I forget). Out of my time, I liked the melting pot, good ’n’ hot. (Plus, the different ethnicities and cultures leave their flavors.)

Should women be allowed to pose for driver’s-license photos with a cloth over their face? Whatever is the purpose of such a photo? What’s the cop supposed to do, when he pulls you over? And so on.

To be continued, of course (and good for those Swiss politicians, who showed a little spine, a little civilizational confidence).

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