Some French schools institute pork-or-nothing policies
As British schools increasingly ban pork, the opposite approach is gaining traction in France. Mayor Gilles Platret of Chalon-sur-Saône, a town in Burgundy, recently told parents that students who avoid pork for religious reasons will no longer be offered an alternative meat dish starting in September. This signals a "return to the principles of secularism," said Platret, a member of Nicolas Sarkozy's center-right Union for a Popular Movement. Sarkozy, the former French president, defended the much-criticized stance, asserting that "if you want your children to observe dietary habits based on religion, then you should choose private religious education." Officials in Arveyres and Sargé-lès-Le Mans previously announced similar changes in their cafeterias, and Marine Le Pen pledged that substitute meals would be pulled from schools in towns won by her nationalist party in last year's local elections.
Putting aside the issue of whether such rules are productive or merely vindictive, the hard feelings underscore how dependence on government services exacerbates cultural strife. The more people expect from government, the more they expect it to conform to their own values. Arguments about too much or too little accommodation are the inevitable outcome. If you want something done right, do it yourself — advice that applies equally well to those who consume pork and those who reject it. What is the French term for "brown-bag lunch"?
Left: If pork is on the menu, French mayors like Gilles Platret want students to eat it. Right: Politician Larry Haler, an example of how not to deal with CAIR.
State legislator blasts CAIR, then caves to it
When a Democratic colleague proposed repealing the state of Washington's Cold War-era law on subversive activities, Representative Larry Haler, a Republican from Richland, countered that it should be modernized to address radical Islam. He singled out the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). "We do have a group in this country called CAIR, which is basically run by the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. They are a political entity," he said. "And their goal is to overthrow the country." Indeed, CAIR was an unindicted co-conspirator in the case against the Holy Land Foundation, which financed Hamas, an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. Federal prosecutors named CAIR as one of the "individuals/entities who are and/or were members of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood's Palestine Committee and/or its organizations"; a judge backed the listing. Also note that the Brotherhood has described its mission as "eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within."
Yet after CAIR demanded evidence — readily available evidence — to support his remarks, Haler privately apologized. He "never provided information to CAIR on the alleged links to the Muslim Brotherhood or Hamas," one report claims. CAIR's emboldened allies then released a letter painting his comments as "long-discredited conspiracy theories" that "malign the whole of the American Muslim community" and thus endanger it. Although Haler declined their request for a public retraction, the damage is done. Engaging CAIR requires a stiff spine and command of the facts deeper than a sound bite. Haler was not up to the challenge.
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