The Muslims are coming. They have footbaths. RUN!!!

WSN’s Sept. 24 article, “Muslims lacking a place to cleanse,” pointed out that footbaths might be a better option than the Bobst sinks for Islamic students washing their feet in observance of Salah, the daily prayer ritual. This provoked passionate debate in the online article comments, with many readers posting responses best described as bat-shit crazy.

Yes, the drama of our time – a footbath.

Some commenters thought footbaths would be an unnecessary cost. Others just found the whole foot-in-sink thing gross. And then there were your garden-variety “Muslims smell” threads.

When I read those comments, I get the feeling I’m in a Lifetime special presentation on “What It Means to Be Muslim in America.” Allah preserve us.

Despite all the upheaval, there’s been no actual demand, or even request, from NYU’s Islamic community for the footbaths. It’s more like, “Hey, they’d be nice, but no pressure.”

They’ve even quietly accepted being relegated to the Catholics’ basement in lieu of a center of their own. I get the feeling our school has remarkably chill Muslims.

Seems odd, doesn’t it, in a culture of complaint such as ours? We freak out about everything – the housing lottery, tuition, the broken escalators at Kimmel, goddamn Will Smith shooting movies in the park. There’s a crotchety streak that runs deep in the American soul. Is this anomalous complacency typical only of NYU’s Muslims, or are Muslim Americans not quite comfortable yet with organized public dissent?

Makes sense, when a Muslim can’t even wash his foot without getting called an “inconsiderate pig.” (Thanks, anonymous commenter.)

The paranoia this story inspired fascinates me. As if Islamic students were making the most brazen of demands, instead of, well, not making any demands at all. One commenter, who identified as Mormon, said, “I must insist that if the Muslims get their footbaths, the campus must be rid of places that sell coffee, tea, soft drinks and hot chocolate.” (MORE)


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