The Star Tribune has already removed Curt Brown’s page-one Star Tribune article on the coming of Sharia to the Minneapolis Community and Technical College from public access. Here is the paragraph I quoted from the article in “Sharia in Minnesota”:
Minneapolis Community and Technical College is poised to become the state’s first public school to install a foot-washing basin to help the school’s 500 Muslim students perform pre-prayer rituals. “We want to be welcoming,” MCTC President Phil Davis said, noting a student was hurt trying to wash in a regular sink.
The Star Tribune can get unusually exercised about church/state separation. I doubt that the merger of mosque and state will even be pointed out as such — Brown notes it as a “sign of accommodation” — let alone raise any alarms on the editorial page. Indeed, if they take notice, I think the editors will celebrate it in the spirit of Brown’s description of it as an “accommodation.”
In its editorial today, the Star Tribune delivers, predictable as Swiss watchwork. What I didn’t predict was the editorial board’s reading of Brown’s description of the incident:
It’s worth remembering that this question first arose at MCTC as a matter of safety, not religion. A student slipped and fell after another student used a campus sink to wash his or her feet.
I understood Brown to be saying that it was the Muslim student who was injured by virtue of the contortions necessary to wash his or her feet in the sink. I did note, however:
Brown doesn’t pause to reveal the nature of the injury sustained by the Muslim student hoisting his foot into the sink. I should think that would make an interesting sidebar all by itself. Where is a reporter’s curiosity when you need it?
Here is how the Star Tribune editorial board analyzes the expenditure of school funds to facilitate the obsrvance of Muslim ritual:
Banning Christmas carols on the official campus coffee cart — which incensed the school’s critics — seems plainly in keeping with a long string of court rulings that forbid the use of public resources to endorse a particular religion. But accommodating the prayer practices of some devout Muslims seems akin to putting kosher items on the cafeteria menu and letting employees display religious objects in their private workspaces — accommodations that MCTC has in fact made in the past.
In its treatment of the constitutional issue, the editorial flunks. Rather than looking to applicable legal precedent, the Star Tribune cites other instances of illegality as precedent:
If MCTC were setting some unusual precedent, we might worry. But it’s not. St. Cloud State University, the University of Minnesota-Duluth and at least a dozen other colleges around the country have installed small foot-washing facilities for their devout Muslim students — at modest cost and often using student fees rather than state revenues.
To cite past instances of illegal conduct to support the proposition that the conduct in issue is legal lacks a certain persuasive force. Among fans of logic it is known as begging the question.
Is it really necessary in any sense for Minnesota students or taxpayers to buy Muslim ritual equipment so that Muslim students can pray? Is the Muslim community — a community that can afford to pay for attorneys to bring a frivolous lawsuit on behalf of flying imams — incapable of supporting the ritual necessities of its own community? Or is securing submission by fools such as the administration of Minneapolis Community and Technical College and the Star Tribune editorial board the point in issue?
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