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With its school teachers targeted for threats or outright assassination if they champion free speech, and with homegrown terrorism an ever-present danger, France has passed a new law aimed at suppressing separatist, fundamentalist forces within the country.

It extends the requirement of strict religious neutrality beyond civil servants to anyone who is a private contractor of a public service — like bus drivers. It also creates a new offense of “separatism,” defined as threatening, intimidating or assaulting an elected official or a public-sector employee... It obliges community associations that receive public funds to sign a contract committing to the “principles of liberty, equality, fraternity, and respect of human dignity.” Any religious association receiving foreign funds will have to provide a strict accounting... Condoning terrorism becomes an offense that may lead to a ban on holding public office.

Most interestingly, it comes close to banning home schooling.

[I]t places severe limits on home-schooling without banning it, as originally proposed. Educating children at home is viewed by the government as a source of the “separatism” that undermines French values, as well as a means for conservative Muslim families to keep young girls from what they see as corrupting influences.

Obviously the education of children is where it’s at when it comes to increasing the likelihood of producing a democrat rather than a demagogue; any self-respecting secular state will want, with great urgency, to educate its citizens in the instinct to be free individuals with enlightened values. Secular countries unable to make separatist religious minorities teach their children the national curriculum will end up like Israel, with its disastrous, benighted, ultra-orthodox.

It’s not merely that the ultraorthodox have no loyalty to Israel; they have little to no conception of it as a state; and to the extent that they do have an image of it in their heads, they’re hostile – often violently hostile – to it.

Our own violent Christian tribalists mobbed the Capitol building not long ago, crosses locked and loaded, and we should take their insistence that they are the only true Americans as seriously as Israel should take the haredi insistence that they are the only true Jews.

Christian nationalism is the pursuit of tribal power, not the common good; it is identity politics for right-wing (mostly white) Christians; it is the attempt to ‘own and operate the American brand,’ as someone else wrote; it is an attitude of entitlement among Christians that we have a presumptive right to define what America is. I oppose identity politics of all kinds, including the identity politics of my tribe.

Might France’s escalating legislation aimed at integration so anger its separatists that they will en masse take to the streets? Maybe. Consider, though: Israel has done nothing but propitiate its separatists, and they’ve taken to the streets anyway.

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