Argumentative Essay

HW #15: Argumentative essay, due Wednesday, Nov 18

Write on ONE of the following prompts in a well-reasoned formal essay.   If there are several questions together within a prompt, YOU may choose whether to cover them all or focus on just one.  This homework is worth 30 points (2-4 times the amount of a typical homework) and is due in one week, if you choose to take some extra time.

You are encouraged to build on previous writing you did in discussion forums and other homework.  Outline your paper before you begin, to make sure you have enough points to reach the minimum word length.  Remember to begin your essay with an introductory paragraph that ends with a strong thesis statement (your thesis statement is a one-sentence summary of the argument you are going to prove in your paper, NOT a sentence about what your paper is about.)

Minimum length is 750 words, not including title or works cited list.  Double-space with 1” margins.  Give your paper a title and include, in proper bibliographic format, all sources you consulted.  Also make sure to correctly cite and/or document within the paper any specific quotations or information from sources.  I do NOT recommend that you use automatic generators to produce your works cited list; these often have not been updated and use an out-of-date style.  For information on how to format a Works Cited list in MLA format, and how/what needs to be documented, I recommend the useful Purdue OWL site, here (Links to an external site.).  It also contains information on other styles; depending on your major discipline, you may be more familiar with APA or another format and are free to use one of those.  If you do, please include a note at the end of your works cited list telling me what style you used.  The formatting/works cited portion is worth 5 pts (10% of the overall grade).

Note: Some of these are speculative questions.  I recognize that your knowledge is limited and I do not expect you to do extensive additional research for this paper.   However, you should not state anything as fact if you do not know it to be one.  You may of course search for additional statistical or factual information if you want to use it to bolster your argument, and include those sources in your works cited list.

  1. French apparel laws (most straightforward assignment):

Take a position either defending or arguing against the 2004 French law on ostentatious religious symbols in schools OR the 2011 law against face coverings.    (Do not cover both; choose one.). Whichever position you take, your essay MUST also (1) include reference to arguments from the other side and (2) suggest some solutions for the problems emanating from this law.  For example, if you defend the law, you must also suggest some way(s) to convince those French Muslim citizens who are against the law that they are accepted by French society; if you argue against the law, you must suggest some way(s) to preserve the majority French view that laïcité is an important value of the Republic.  If you haven’t yet done so, be sure to read the full Wikipedia article on the law before beginning your essay!  (2004 (Links to an external site.) religious symbols law; 2011 (Links to an external site.) face-covering ban [*also see note at bottom of page].

More speculative questions:

  1. Assuming that France is not willing to give up its core value of laïcité, is it possible for France to fully integrate its Muslim citizens? If so, what measures can be taken to produce such integration?  If not, what is the future of France?
  2. How have the years of terror attacks in France and Belgium “changed the equation” for French Muslims? Do you think most will feel more, or less, a part of French culture given the changing climate?  Do you think the current crackdown on “Islamism” is justified or unjustified? (Here are a few recent pieces you may wish to think about/react to: (a); (Links to an external site.) (b) (Links to an external site.))
  3. How do parallels between the situation of Muslims in France and of minorities in the United States enhance your ability to understand the former, OR to interpret the latter?
  4. Both France and the United States believe in religious freedom and in the separation of church and state. As we have seen, however, they interpret these values in very different ways.  As we have learned, Muslim-Americans are around 1% of the population, while French Muslims are 5-8% of the population.   A 2015 (Links to an external site.) poll showed that Americans rank religious freedom for Muslims as less important than religious freedom for Christians, while a 2017 (Links to an external site.) poll showed that US attitudes towards Muslims, though improving, are still below their “warmth” towards Christians and other religious groups.  Although the US Muslim population is expected to double by 2050, it will still be far below the French percentage.  Do you think that the US will change its attitudes as the Muslim population becomes more visible? If the US had the same Muslim population as France, do you think American attitudes or laws would more closely resemble French ones?  (If you choose this question, you might find this video on US Muslims interesting: ).



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