Swiss minarets


I have a few points:

1. Sooner or later an open referendum process will get even a very smart, well-educated country into trouble.

2. Given that the referendum came up, it was wise to root for its defeat.  The victory of the referendum is a symbol that prejudice can now advance a step.

3. That said, was there not some other way to sidestep this dilemma?  Washington D.C. doesn't allow tall buildings to compete with the Washington Monument, yet no one considers that a restriction on political freedom (though it may be a bad idea for economic reasons).  The Swiss cantons could have done the same for their town churches.  Note that a restriction on a minaret is not a restriction on a mosque.

4. I favor greater Muslim immigration into the United States and I think Muslim emigration to Europe is working better than most people think.  I am happy to see that Switzerland has become a more cosmopolitan society, in large part by taking in more emigrants, including Muslims.  Nonetheless, call me old-fashioned, but I don't think a Swiss town center should look like the photograph above.  I guess the Swiss don't either. 

5. I also don't have any problem with Mecca limiting the size of Christian churches in that town, or say if an American billionaire wanted to build a really big cross there.  (Oddly Dubai allows it.)

6. The United States is special and thus it allows a very, very large mosque not so far from Bowling Green, Ohio.  I am pleased we have the sort of polity which makes this possible, but I also recognize many other countries cannot inhabit this same political space.

7. The overall lesson is that knowing how and when to defuse an issue is one very large part of political wisdom.  The Swiss usually pass this test but this time they failed it.


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