Debra J. Saunders

My only complaint is that the French aren't quite being honest. The government boasts that France "has a strong tradition of hospitality and is open to all religions" -- without the caveat that all religionists not be too serious.

French Consul General Frederic Desagneaux explained, "Secularism is the common and the shared value of French citizens." Thus, other French citizens refer to the French "duty" to put state before God. When Chirac announced that "secularism is not negotiable," he was acting as the very pope of French secularism. The secular state is a religion.

Critics can scoff, as newspaper writers have, that it is wrong for lawmakers to assume that France's secularism is so shallow that it can't withstand girls in head scarves in public schools. It is a tenet of faith in modern punditry that any rule that limits religious practice creates a backlash -- unless it involves Bible thumping. Then, they think, the true believers get what they deserve.

Meanwhile, in these politically correct times, there's something refreshing about a European country standing up for its culture, its (in this case godless) traditions and deciding that its secular values are so important that they need not be sacrificed to the gods of diversity.

Debra J. Saunders

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