Morgan, you are right in claiming that Muslim disaffection stems from feelings of religious exclusion. This is an important facet I left out of my first argument. To say nothing of culture for the time being, the fact remains that France is a much more secular nation than the United States. To see this contrast more clearly, we can look to each country’s statues. The U.S. Supreme Court has twice ruled that student-led religious groups have a right to meet in public schools. To do otherwise would be discrimination, the argument goes. France, on the other hand, has made it illegal for students to wear any sort of religious attire to school. To allow them to wear such attire would result in discrimination, even violence, the argument goes. In short, American public life rests on a notion of freedom of religion, while French public life rests of freedom from religion. It is easy to see which approach a community of strong believers would prefer.

To answer your question about what I meant by “high culture,” I was basically referring to France’s apparent cultural superiority in the areas of art, cuisine, fashion, and so on. I was interested in the tension between “high culture” and pluralism. Does one preclude the other?

Daniel Corbett

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