More on Muslim foot-washing

(Note: also see the previous entry on Muslim foot-washing.)

Last November, Dennis Prager and Robert Spencer expressed horrified shock that a Muslim congressman wanted to take his oath of office on the Koran. I remarked, what did they expect, he’s a Muslim. It’s absurd to let Muslims into America (as Prager supports and as Spencer was supporting), then express shock about the presence of Islam in America.

The argument I made about the oath on the Koran is even more applicable to Muslim foot washing. An oath of office is an infrequent occurrence. The foot washings, as we are just realizing, are taking place constantly throughout America, in shared public spaces where non-Muslims must accept this intrusion of a totally alien custom.

I expanded on the meaning of this unhappy discovery in an exchange with Terry Morris posted at Webster’s Blogspot:

TM writes:

… I’ve thought a lot on the subject of the “contrasting similarities” between Islam and Christianity, wherein lies the incompatibility of the two belief systems and the reason for which there ain’t enough room for the both of ‘em in America. Have you ever thought of it in terms like that? Or in your opinion am I just totally off base here?

LA replies:

Sure, that’s true in many ways, from theological beliefs on down. And those arguments need to be made. But I think more basic to the question of assimilability is things like this foot washing business. No one has thought about this before. No one on our side, including me, had thought about what Muslims actually do as part of their daily routine. Maybe we figured they prayed or whatever in private. But now we suddenly realize that in institutions throughout America they are doing their Islamic thing in shared public spaces, and expecting everyone else to adjust. These issues never came up when we began letting Muslims immigrate; we never asked ourselves what their customs are and do we want these customs in America. The other day I stepped through the actual steps of both the washing and the prayer, as described at a Muslim website. It’s quite a complex procedure, for example, each foot must be washed three times, whatever that means. The person must “clean” his ears with his index finger and “clean” behind the ears with his thumb. The person must sniff water into his nostrils and blow it out. To think of people doing this in workplace restrooms or college dorm restrooms several times a day is simply appalling. Yet, as I’ve said, we’ve never heard about this before.

This is where the rubber meets the road in the assimilation question. No honest person can say that such customs are conformable with America and with any Western society. The Dennis Pragers and Norman Podhoretzes of the world, who want to us to wage war on “Islamofascists” abroad while we continue welcoming Muslims into America, cannot honestly maintain that Muslim foot baths belong in the shared public spaces of America.

So, this kind of issue may be simpler for people to understand and have a more direct on the debate than theological and moral questions.

But more information is needed. Basic journalistic legwork is needed, to find out how widespread these practices are. Are Muslims in public schools, universities, businesses, doing all this washing every day? Do they do all the prescribed steps (which are very complicated), or just a shortened version of them? How do they dry their feet? How much water is left on the floor? It seems any bathroom where this is happening is going to be mess. And how do their non-Muslim fellow students and fellow employees respond to all this? How come we haven’t heard anything about it before the last month when the news came out about the new foot baths at the University of Michigan in Dearborn?

So, now that we’re starting to get a glimpse of the existence and the scale of the problem, what do we do about it? If we are Dennis Prager, we insist that all religions are welcome in America, but that if the people we’ve let in actually practice their religion, that is terrible. In a follow-up VFR discussion on Prager from 2006, Should oath-taking on the Koran be allowed?, I got to the essential Prager contradiction on Islam and diversity, which is the central contradiction of liberal America on Islam and diversity:

To sum up, there are two consistent and principled ways of approaching this problem.

There is the consistent liberal path, which says that all people must be admitted equally into America, have equal religious rights in America, and can take their oath on the Koran and even institute sharia law if they want.

Then there is the consistent traditionalist path, which says we have a certain Constitution, a certain form of government, a certain form of society, a certain understanding of individual rights, certain common moral beliefs, and a certain culture. We do not include and tolerate all things equally, but only those things that are compatible with our actual culture.

Dennis Prager is caught between these two positions, and does not understand the nature of the contradiction or even the fact that he is caught in it, because he takes for granted his liberal principles AND his conservative attachments and he simply assumes he can have both. In reality he cannot have both. If he wants to preserve America as a Judeo-Christian society, then he must restrict citizenship to people who are compatible with such a society. And if he wants to have a truly liberal society, then he must let everyone in and not complain when the newcomers start to make America over in their image.

How does the above apply to the foot washing? If we want America to continue being a Western society, we must either ban public Muslim foot-washing, or remove Muslims from America. If we are not willing to assert America’s particularity and ban a particularity that is incompatible with it, then the Muslims will simply continue to Islamize America.

Renouncing liberalism and reasserting our particularity makes the salvation of America possible. Keeping liberalism and silencing our particularity makes the dissolution of America certain. There is no middle ground.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 05, 2007 08:45 PM | Send

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