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Muslim Foot Basin Update--ACLU says, "No Problem!"

Shocka! The ACLU has expressly stated that it will not sue the University of Michigan over its installation of Muslim foot basins in public restrooms with public dollars. I note that the present talking points seem not to include what (as I posted on Right Reason) my state representative told me: that the "foot washing stations" were not going to be installed with public dollars. Perhaps that story wouldn't fly because the money is coming out of the university's general fund. The new version of the excuse is that they aren't really religious. These guys should get their spin straight.

Anyway, here's the argument: The Muslims were using the sinks at U of M to wash their feet, which made a big mess of water splashing on the floor and put foot germs in the hand sinks. This created health concerns and maintenance problems, so really, the religious ceremonial foot basins are being installed for health reasons, so really they're not religious.

My favorite quotation from the story, from ACLU representative Kary Moss of the Detroit ACLU: "We view it as an attempt to deal with a problem, not an attempt to make it easier for Muslims to pray."

This argument reminds me of an old Peanuts cartoon I read when I was a kid. A new boy moves into Charlie Brown's neighborhood and tells everyone that his name is 5. His last name is some four-digit number like 3274 (for example). 5 to Charlie Brown: "My dad did this because he says our society is getting too number oriented. Everything is a number; everybody has a number." Charlie Brown: "I see. So this is his way of protesting?" 5: "No, this is his way of giving in."

Kary Moss also says that building permanent religious lavers into public bathrooms with public funds is just like providing police crowd control for a religious march. Yeah, it's just like that.

Let's do a thought experiment: Imagine that a bunch of devout Baptist students started holding large baptismal services for multiple people at once, clad in flowing white robes, in a state university swimming pool. This gets in the way of the swim team, and the robes create worries about the pool's cleanliness and headaches for pool maintenance, what with white cotton threads getting tangled up in the filters and all. So the university builds them a baptistry to do baptisms in. But they were going to use the swimming pool for baptismal services anyway, and this was creating health, crowding, and maintenance issues, so it's being done for health and maintenance reasons. And of course, the ACLU would never sue over that.


Comments (7)

So if the ACLU isn't stepping up to the plate, where is that other bastion of religious separation, the ADL?

Even the ACLU knows when to retract it's claws and sneak out the back door. Not that they haven't done so previously, however selectively.

As someone said of islam," this is a religion with teeth", against which people of purported principle make hasty decisions between discretion and valor.

Johnt, do you mean that the ACLU is afraid of some harm befalling its organization or people if it sues on this one? Are you thinking of violence, or just loss of the suit with consequent loss of face?

For my part, I don't think it's fear at all. Someone said to me about this story the other day, "Why don't CAIR and the ACLU just merge and save a few vowels?"

Lydia, I wasn't thinking so much of physical violence, although an office or two wrecked is not beyond possibility, but rather the apprehension of facing an adversary that doesn't back down in an environment, legal, journalistic, and in important quarters, cultural, that does.

It seems evident that the ACLU lacks some degree of will which for whatever other reasons may also be caused by a perverse similarity of aims, a sort of "strange new bedfellows" thing. But considering both the highly voluble nature of the islamic rights movement, the possibility of very public demonstrations and the pusillanimous nature of our current public square, this appears not to be a battle that the ACLU wants.

And in their minds I'm not sure that some considerations of violence haven't occurred. It's been known to happen.

I see your point, but in the case of this particular organization (ACLU) I'd tend to lean especially on the "strange new bedfellows" trope.

do you think the muslim world would give us a place to baptise some one? they won't even let us have a church in their world. no foot bath. this is our country, if they don't like our ways they can go home.

Let me tell you somthing. If I ever walk into a public bathroom and I saw with own two eyes somebody washing their dirty discusting feet in a sink where I would have to put my hands there!

They will not have a foot bath what they will get is a black and blue from me banging their head on the toilet bowl.

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