We’ve followed the controversy involving the installation of ritual footbaths for Islamic students at public shools including the Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Today the Wall Street Journal devotes an editorial (subscribers only) to the installation of ritual footbaths for Islamic students at the University of Michigan Dearborn campus. After chiding the ACLU for its inconsistency in giving the footbaths a pass, and after mocking CAIR for invoking imputations of “bigotry” to condemn opposition to the footbaths, the Journal comes down on the side of the proponents:
For our part, we see no reason to object to University of Michigan’s gesture to some of its Muslim students. Freedom of religion has never meant freedom from religion, and making it easier for people of different backgrounds to practice their faiths is a perfectly American thing to do. Many schools have chapels on campus, a fact that bothers very few. And few places object to kosher offerings in school cafeterias — an accommodation for Jewish students causing no inconvenience to others.
A university is entitled to some discretion in how it serves its student body. Let’s hope the ACLU takes this case as an opportunity to cleanse itself of inconsistencies.
Among other things, I am struck by how the Journal takes the controversy at face value rather than as part of a larger phenomenon, how unseriously the Journal takes the the expenditure of public funds for sectarian religious purposes, and how cavalierly the Journal treats the legal issue. Along the way, though mocking it, the Journal treats CAIR as an over-the-top civil rights organization rather than as the Islamist front group we have come to know. CAIR’s involvement in the controversy — “ain’t nobody here but us chickens” — should provide a clue that a look past the discretion of school authorities might be warranted in this case.
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