by Robert Spencer, March 9, 2015
New York City officials announced last Wednesday that public schools in the city — the nation’s largest school district — will now be closed for the Muslim holidays of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Multiculturalist leftists, of course, are thrilled, and tarring anyone who isn’t as a racist, bigoted Islamophobe — but the decision may not have been as wise and commonsensical as its supporters are claiming.
Far-Left New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was, predictably, among those waving pompoms and lighting sparklers to celebrate (champagne, of course, was out of the question). “This is a common-sense change,” he declared, “and one that recognizes our growing Muslim community and honors its contributions to our city.”
What contributions to New York City have Muslims made? De Blasio, alas, didn’t say. He might have noted the sharp new security procedures that have made the simple act of walking into a building a much more complicated procedure than it was before September 11, 2001. He could have mentioned the inspiring new 9/11 Memorial and Museum. He could have pointed to architectural improvements: the new high-rise building that is marginally less ugly than the Twin Towers that it replaced. But on this key question, he was mum.
Others, meanwhile, had their mind on more practical matters. New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina said: “Muslim students and their families who observe Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha shouldn’t have to choose between an instructional day and their religious obligations. This new addition will also enable a teachable moment in the classroom for our students to learn about religious tolerance and the societal contributions of various cultures.”
This is absurd, of course. Missing a couple of days of public school is hardly a major catastrophe for any child, and people of all beliefs and perspectives and religions have to keep their children out of school now and again for various reasons, with no harm done. If these children wanted to observe these holidays by staying out of school, they could have done so, without imposing the holiday on the non-Muslim students.
The Muslim population of New York, while it is growing, is hardly large enough to justify this. If it’s discrimination against Muslims to have school on Muslim holidays, why isn’t it discrimination against Hindus to have school on Hindu holidays? Because Hindus don’t have loud, aggressive advocacy groups claiming victimhood status and trying to deflect attention away from numerous mass murder attacks and plots in New York City that were inspired and incited by their religious texts.
Instrumental in bringing this about was Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York. She called the decision “a win for our children and for future generations in this country. Muslims are a part of the fabric of this country. We make our country proud, and today, New York City made us proud.”
The centrality of the Islamic supremacist Sarsour, a close associate of de Blasio, to the effort demonstrates what it is really about: an attempt to reinforce the idea that Islam is in all respects the same kind of thing as Judaism and Christianity, completely benign and wholly and in all ways to be welcomed. (It also is an effort to obscure the Judeo-Christian foundations of this nation.) The implication is that there is just a tiny minority of extremists who are twisting and hijacking the real thing, but only “Islamophobes” care about them. This will have the effect of further discouraging any honest analysis of how Islamic jihadists use the texts and teachings of Islam to justify violence and supremacism, and of stigmatizing those who perform such analysis. And that’s the idea.
Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, etc. should consider flying planes into a couple of New York skyscrapers; then they’ll get their holidays off, too. Because one thing is certain: if Islamic jihadists hadn’t perpetrated the 9/11 attacks, Muslims wouldn’t be getting their holidays onto the school calendar now. Ever since 9/11, Islamic supremacist advocacy groups have labored to deflect attention away from the fact that 3,000 were murdered by people acting in accord with Islamic texts and teachings, and to prevent scrutiny of those teachings and of their communities, by claiming victimhood, claiming that they have been unfairly targeted by law enforcement, claiming that they’re victims of racism and bigotry. Leftist politicians have rushed to accommodate their demands and redress their claimed grievances. This is just another example of that.