Pity the French, who are exhibiting signs of advanced dementia and increasingly becoming, in the epigram once reserved for the crumbling Ottoman empire, the sick man of Europe. All that is dangerous about Islam, the French strive to protect. All that is good about Islam they seek to undermine.

The French, whose Ambassador to Britain famously dismissed Israel as "a sh-tty little country," have also declared that suicide bombings in Israel, while regrettable, are understandable in light of Israeli provocation. And of course, they have done little more than verbally condemn the horrific wave of Islamic anti-Semitism that has arisen in their own country. But man, are they tough where it really counts.

I am referring, of course, to something far worse than terrorism, Islamic women's headscarves. A recent French government report called for a law banning these "conspicuous" religious symbols, and Jacques Chirac recently told high school students in Tunis that he saw "something aggressive" in the wearing of Muslim veils and pledged that he would get the French government to ban students from wearing, what he called "ostentatious signs of religious proselytism." Furthermore, a group of France's most famous women declared in an open letter in Elle, "The Islamic veil sends us all-Muslims and non-Muslims-back to a discrimination against women that is intolerable."

The French are also cracking down on the terrible danger posed by Islamic women who have the truly dangerous practice of demanding that they only be treated by female doctors. The French are absolutely correct that Islamic women refusing to undress in front of a male doctor is a threat to world peace.

Time for a reality check. The crisis of Islam, of course, has nothing to do with how Islamic women choose to dress, or their dignified desire to protect their modesty even in medical situations. I applaud those Islamic women in the West who exercise their free choice to cover their bodies and not participate in the increasing Western sport of women as male entertainment. The fact that they overdo it is a lot better than underdoing it. And who are the French, anyway, to lecture the world about women's rights when they are at the forefront of female exploitation and misogyny?

The New York Times recently reported that Galeries Lafayette, the French Bloomingdale's, brought in striptease artists as part of their promotion for their line of 80 different thongs, many "designed to be visible above low-slung pants or skirts." In France, even your family department store has become a strip joint. Young Parisian women are also wearing thongs that come in a see-through plastic ball and which is worn around the neck-just in case the men don't know that they're not wearing any underwear.

In France, according to the head of La Meute, a prominent feminist group, "The pornographic and the idea of woman as prostitute has become universal, ordinary."

Islam was once a great world religion, and some of that glory is still manifest in things the desire of its women to safeguard their chastity. It declined when it became synonymous with calls for murder, producing a high percentage of followers who have turned to terror and a low percentage of adherents who condemn their evil deeds.

There is a growing movement to demonize Islam as a murderous and false religion. This is pure bigotry unbecoming of a tolerant West. Every religion must be judged by one criterion alone, namely, the kind of believers it produces. Islam has had some wonderful, golden epochs of academic excellence, cultural excellence, and openness, but today it is a dark and sinister shadow of its former, glorious self. Only Muslims can rescue Islam and reinstate its peaceful purpose.

But we in the West can nudge our Muslim brethren along by praising their righteous practices and condemning their malevolent hatred. Islamic headscarves are noble, and should be protected and indeed praised. Islamic terrorism is repulsive and must be fought to the death before it takes down with it a lot more than merely a once-glorious faith.

How sad that such obvious truths seem well beyond the French.

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