The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Friday, December 19, 2003
Those French headscarves
Joanne Jacobs picks up a piece from the Volokh's on the subject.
Abstaining from detailed comment before looking at the texts, I'd say that, in principle, it's a good idea, insofar as it's a forward policy, demanding that a public education stands for something more than mere crowd control.
(The French fetish for laïcité needs more careful teasing than I have time for right now.)
But it's overwhelmingly a bad idea, since it forecloses debate: while it would be unfair to hold a Jewish student responsible for the actions of Sharon or an Arab for those of Assad, it would be right to challenge vigorously the attitudes and beliefs of such students.
It's perfectly right that they be held to account as citizens of France - but shuffling them off into a ghetto merely lets them off the hook. Not to mention giving them plenty of time to worship at the feet of the plentiful supply of extremists of one sort or another.
[Nor should Christian students be exempt either: there's plenty of potential deviance from Republican values in adherence to the strictures of the present Pope!]
Secularism is a valuable standard: the thought of a thoroughly negative, faint-hearted version of secularism leaving five million or so French Moslems festering with resentment across 22 miles of water from England is not a happy one.
(A big problem for all Western nations is far too few whites are fluent in the languages and the customs, literature, history and so forth of the leading Moslem nations. Not only does this apparently wilful ignorance give something of a battle-cry for the fanatics in seeking to entice Moslem students; but it allows disaffected minorities to hide behind a language wall that teachers cannot penetrate, let alone manage to change minds.
How can a gringo teach a class of Hispanics if he's not fluent in Spanish?
I suspect that, apart from the enormous difficulty of learning Arabic (it's a diglossia into the bargain, of course!), French teachers would feel that to even speak a non-Republican language in a state school would imply some derogation from secularist principles.
This language-culture problem is completely of the white man's making - and needs to be treated with the single-mindedness (and budget!) that got one of them on the moon.)
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