POLITICS
03/28/2008 02:46 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Glenn Beck Watch: Some Religions Deserve To Be Accommodated More Than Others

When Harvard University announced that they had set up an accommodation for Muslim female students to exercise at their Quadrangle Recreational Athletic Facility in keeping with their faith -- which meant men could not exercise there during those set times -- I had a feeling that Glenn Beck would bring his disingenuous barnstorming act before long. Yesterday, he finally accommodated my prediction, comparing the accommodation to full-on Sharia Law, and worse:

Why are you trying to -- this is the beginning of Sharia law. Ask the people in the Sudan. They all said, oh, no, well, that would -- this is just a small concession; that's no big deal. It would never get to this. Look at the Sudan now. This is the way it starts over and over and over and over again. And why? Why just leave it as assimilate?

That's right, Harvard's decision is sure to be the beginning of a Sudan-style genocide. Ye gads. Of course, Beck's solution is steeped in insincerity:

Here's an idea. Why don't you build with your own money a Muslim-only gym. If you want to serve your population, serve your population and make money.

This sort of ignores the fact that Harvard is a private institution and, as such, spent their money accordingly in an attempt to serve their population. But who is Glenn Beck kidding? Were Harvard to build a state-of-the-art, Muslim-only gymnasium, is there any doubt that he'd take to the airwaves to ridicule that decision? Do you think for one moment that he wouldn't suggest that a Muslim-only gym was a breeding ground for al Qaeda? If you think not, you've probably been wisely avoiding Beck's show.

Of course, whenever Beck gets deeply into his worldview, there's all sorts of huge facts that he misses entirely. And what exceeds Beck's grasp here is the basic fact that Harvard University is no stranger to accommodating the diverse religions of its student body. Harvard alum Matthew Yglesias explains:

Harvard, like all American institutions of higher education of which I'm aware, shuts down and creates a holiday in late December that just so happens to coincide with an important familial and religious observance for Christians whereas no such allowance is made for Passover visits. Christianism? Worse, it happens in public high schools and elementary schools all across the country, the very same country in which no mail can be delivered on Sunday! Meanwhile, when I was a student at Harvard there was a ban on having anything on fire in a dorm room and also a movement to create an exemption so that Jewish students could light Hanukkah candles. I don't recall whether or not the exemption was granted, but if it was that certainly wouldn't constitute the dawning of a new era of Jewish theocratic rule at the university. I know for a fact that they allow students to reschedule exams for religious reasons, like a Jewish or Muslim obligation to avoid taking an exam on a Saturday (no exams are scheduled on Sundays).

Yglesias notes that the no-mail-on-Sundays policy of the Postal Service is a similar religious accommodation, but one that is "hardly some intolerable burden." Are there not multiple recreational facilities for Harvard students to enjoy during those hours set aside to allow Muslim women to get some fitness of their own? There are? Well, then, you'll forgive me if I dial back my expectations of a future Darfur on the Charles River.