Bathroom Privileges

Folks in Columbia Heights are demanding the resignation of school board member Grant Nichols. I sympathize with their irritation but disagree that having the rest of the school board remove him is the method to express their disapproval.

Evidently Mr. Nichols is accused of saying Muslims have unsanitary bathroom habits on his Facebook Page. He denies it but other Board members say he admitted having put this there himself. First the obvious conclusion I draw from this is whether he did or not he clearly knows now, belatedly, that this was a bad thing to have done. His denying he wrote this confirms it. If he lied about it shame on him but in his defense I’ve seen lots of other school board members too vain to admit their mistakes or apologize. This is hardly a hanging offense. For this sin I think the voters should be relied upon to do what they think best at the next election.

As for the notion that Muslims have unsanitary practices I recall a story from thirty years ago when Westerners were routinely imprisoned in Middle Eastern prisons for attempting to buy drugs. I recall the story of one American who bitterly complained that he was treated like an unclean dog by the Saudi jail inmates who discovered he wiped himself with his right hand. In Saudia Arabia this is the job of the left hand and those who are known not to use that hand are, or were 30 years ago to be unclean. This could be a much bigger deal in a nation with limited water resources for washing your hand several times a day.

Just in case defending Mr. Nichols draws fire I’d like to point to two items in my own defense. First, I had a Muslim roommate over forty years ago for a full school year. Second, As a school board member shortly after 9-11 I began inserting “Allah” into God’s place in the Pledge of Allegiance after I saw a really annoying anti-Muslim bumpersticker. Then I wrote a column for all of Duluth to read about it.