Category ►►► Islamarama

January 17, 2012

Tolerating the Intolerable

Injudicious Judiciary , Islamarama
Hatched by Sachi

On January 10th, a panel of the 10th Circus Court of Appeals refused to lift a district-court injunction against certifying an Oklahoma initiative constitutional amendment that received 70% support from voters. The initiative would ban the use of international law and sharia law in Oklahoma courts, but the 10th Circuit held that it violated the Establishment clause of the United States Constitution:

A proposed constitutional amendment that would ban Oklahoma courts from considering international or Islamic law discriminates against religions, and a Muslim community leader has the right to challenge its constitutionality, a federal appeals court said Tuesday.

The court in Denver upheld U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange's order blocking implementation of the amendment shortly after it was approved by 70 percent of Oklahoma voters in November 2010.

Muneer Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations [CAIR] in Oklahoma, sued to block the law from taking effect, arguing that the Save Our State Amendment violated his First Amendment rights.

"This is an important reminder that the Constitution is the last line of defense against a rising tide of anti-Muslim bigotry in our society, and we are pleased that the appeals court recognized that fact," Awad said. "We are also hopeful that this decision serves as a reminder to politicians wishing to score political points through fear-mongering and bigotry. "The amendment read, in part: "The courts shall not look to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures. Specifically, the courts shall not consider international law or Sharia law."

Sidebar by Dafydd: What the circus court actually ruled on was whether the trial judge, Vicki Miles-LaGrange (nominated by Clinton and confirmed before the 1994 Republican landslide), "abused [her] discretion when [she] granted a preliminary injunction to prevent [the Oklahoma State Election Board] from certifying the result." They did not rule on the merits of the underlying case.

Ne'ertheless, the appellate court's ruling itself was based upon a shocking category error: The court mistook use of a binding judicial system for religious worship.

The Oklahome initiative bans a particular and well-recognized system for trying legal cases, which many Islamic countries have adopted. But the judges on the Tenth-Circuit panel -- Terrence L. O'Brien (appointed by George W. Bush), Monroe G. McKay (Jimmy Carter), and Scott Milne Matheson, Jr. (Barack H. Obama) -- inexplicably imagined that preventing binding use of that judicial system, utterly antithetical to the American judicial systems, was the same as preventing Awad from practicing Islam. From the opinion, page 18, and emphasis added:

In this case, the Oklahoma Legislature did not simply adopt a non-binding resolution opposing the consideration or use of Sharia law in state courts, it proposed and the electorate agreed to enshrine such a prohibition in the state’s constitution. Mr. Awad is facing the consequences of a statewide election approving a constitutional measure that would disfavor his religion relative to others.

The panel's confusion is dumbfounding. Mr. Awad is not complaining that he cannot practice Islam; he is complaining that he won't be able to force a bunch of other people to effectively practice his form of Islam, willy nilly, whether they want to or not. For that is what will happen if some jurisdiction of Oklahoma chooses to sanction a sharia court: Even Moslems who don't want to submit to a council of mullahs (a college co-ed who wants to date, for example) will either be forced by law to kow-tow to Islam, or will at the very least come under tremendous, state-sanctioned pressure to "voluntarily" submit to the religion whose very name means "submission."

By banning such sharia courts, Oklahomans want to prevent such discrimination against Moslems who prefer to live under liberty and rule of law rather than theocracy and rule by religious fanatics.

But let's take it out of the hot-button controversy of radical Islamism. Imagine instead a "spiritualism court" that springs up within a number of Eurozone countries, a court that uses a witches' brew of bibliomancy plus the testimony of dead people, via spirit medium, to adjudicate disputes, find living people guilty or innocent of a crime, and to determine negligence in a civil case.

If that form of jurisprudence were banned in Oklahoma, would that truly violate the Establishment clause? To quote Mr. Bumble, "If the law supposes that, the law is a ass -- a idiot."

No, of course not. Believers in spiritualism could still pretend to communicate with ghosts and could still decide life events by blindly opening the Bible and putting their fingers down at a random verse, which they could still interpret to mean they get to do whatever they wanted to do in the first place. What such a law would prevent, however, is dragging other people, non-believers in spiritualism, into that bizarre alternate world against their will. And that is all that the Oklahoma initiate does.

Mr. Awad has no constitutional right to have his cases heard in a sharia court, anymore than he has a constitutional right to have them heard in a spiritualism court; nor has he the right to live under a different set of laws than everybody else. It's an absurdity to suggest that requiring every citizen of Oklahoma to live under the same jurisprudence somehow violates people's freedom of religion -- unless you're also prepared to argue that modern-day Aztecs should be allowed to murder people because human sacrifice is part of their religion, and to prevent them from doing so violates the Establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution.

This panel is both a ass and a idiot; the injunction should have been lifted because Muneer Awad has no standing; he has no standing because he is not "injured" by this initiative; and he is not injured because he has no right to demand he be tried by a court whose practices are utterly foreign to American jurisprudence, for cripes' sake.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blogpost by Sachi.

I don’t see how it can be considered unequal treatment, or even "anti-Muslim bigotry," for all Oklahomans to be governed by the same state and federal constitutions, the same law, and the same court procedures. This amendment does not prohibit practicing the "religion of peace" [actually, the religion of submission -- DaH]. So why would this violate anyone's rights, Moslem or otherwise?

True, the amendment mentions Sharia law in couple of places. I don't necessarily buy the supporters explanation that Sharia was used merely as an example; I am sure whoever proposed the amendment had the real threat of Sharia law in mind. I certainly hope he did!

But as long as the operative parts of the law do not single out Sharia -- for example, banning Sharia law in the Oklahoma courts while allowing, say, Catholic canon law or Jewish Talmudic law; and so long as the law bans all international, religious, tribal, or traditional laws that are not a part of American and Oklahoman jurisprudence (as it looks like it does), I don't see why that should be considered discriminatory or unequal protection.

Maybe it takes a lawyer to believe such a thing.

Awad argued that the ban on Islamic law would likely affect every aspect of his life as well as the execution of his will after his death. The appeals court pointed out that Awad made a "strong showing" of potential harm.

What aspect of Mr. Awad's life does this amendment affect so negatively? I am sure this amendment does not prohibit him from washing his feet before prayer, or pressing his forehead to a prayer rug five times a day. It does not prohibit his female family members from wearing burkas, unless the girls want to join JROTC -- wait, scratch that. So what upsets Awad so?

But perhaps he has other concerns. Is he discriminated against when the law prevents a future Oklahoma sharia court from allowing a Moslem father to kill a daughter who kisses a boy at school? Perhaps it's unequal protection under the law when devout radical Islamists are disallowed, despite sharia, from mutilating their toddler-daughter’s genitals. Or maybe Awad is concerned that his fellow CAIR-mates cannot practice their religion -- if their religion tells them to beat the living daylights out of a son for refusing to kill Mom, should Mom ever dare file for divorce against a violent Islamic husband?

Perhaps Mr.Awad demands only the right to stone to death some woman who was just gang raped, or a gay man who was caught in the act, or a female Christian or Jew who happened to wander into the sharia-ruled neighborhood without being veiled and swaddled and in the tow of a male relative. Awad is a reasonable man; he doesn't demand everyone become a Moslem... they can simply pay the dhimmi tax instead.

Yes, those quaint customs and laws enunciated by sharia courts around the world would certainly conflict with American-style jurisprudence. If banning sharia law would actually affect American Moslems’ lives in these ways -- and I hope it would! -- I am extremely glad that our federal Constitution and the Oklahoma state constitution are "discriminatory" against such savagery, bigotry, and anachronistic brutality.

Much of sharia law, Roman law, the Napoleonic Code, Talmudic law, the Code of Hammurabi, the Code Duello, and indeed contemporary, so-called "international law," is completely at odds with Americanism and the vision of the Founders, which we the people accept as our source of law, common law, and court procedures. And if Mr. Awad would like to live under such alternative codes, then perhaps he could move to any of a number of Islamist countries who will cheerfully accommodate his wishes.

But don’t force the rest of us to live under it.

What really upsets me is the hypocrisy of the appeals court. They say that "Awad made a 'strong Showing' of potential harm". But, Sharia law itself makes a strong showing of actually harming Moslems, especially Moslem women. If the state institutes sharia sectors within its territory, or allows mosques or Islamist madrasah to implement them, it will expand like a cancer until all Moslems in the state will be required or heavily pressured to live under sharia law; and that assuredly is discriminating (horrifically) against Moslems.

What happens to a woman who wants to marry a non-Moslem man, stay single and pursue a career, divorce her husband, or who is assaulted by her brother or father? The judges of the circuit court in Denver, as well as trial Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange (who issued the injunction against certifying the initiative), ruled that Moslem women need not be protected under the same law as other Americans. Again, only a lawyer could consider that to be constitutional.

Mr. Awad’s lawsuit reveals CAIR’s real intention: No matter what they say, their ultimate goal is to implement sharia throughout the United States, throughout the West, and ultimately throughout the entire world. CAIR fights through trickery, through "lawfare," through regulation and friendly legislation, and through our wackiest liberal judges. (This is collectively called Dawa, which is all elements of jihad short of full-scale war.)

The case now returns to federal court in Oklahoma City to determine the constitutionality of the proposed amendment. “My office will continue to defend the state in this matter and proceed with the merits of the case,” Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said in a statement.

CAIR pretends Oklahomans' decision was an overreaction caused by unfounded "Islamophobia." However, we Americans, including the 70% of Oklahomans who voted for the amendment, know how incredibly dangerous Moslem extremists are. We all saw the devastation of 9/11 and the subsequent 10-Years War in Iraq and Afganistan.

But Moslems in the US are not and never were rounded up, segregated, forced to live under discriminatory "Jamal Crow" laws, or herded into concentration camps. Rather, Americans believe everyone in a jurisdiction should live under the same laws, not that bellicose pressure groups should get to live under their own private laws. That is the real equality of rights under the law and the real America that 70% of Oklahomans voted for, the America that no activist judge will be allowed to take away from us.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, January 17, 2012, at the time of 8:34 PM | Comments (0)

November 12, 2010

That Pesky New Jersey Sharia Case

Constitutional Maunderings , Islamarama
Hatched by Dafydd

In our previous post, They Call the Win Sharia, we included a quotation from a source that referred to a case in New Jersey in which sharia law may have crept into a legal decision. A woman sought a permanent restraining order against her (current or ex-, it's not clear) husband on grounds of abuse; in particular, she alleged -- and the judge agreed -- that the husband had forced unwanted sex upon his wife on at least two occasions.

Here is what our quoted source wrote:

An equally troubling, but domestic, case of Sharia law superseding a domestic civil law, is the case of a New Jersey Muslim woman filing for a restraining order from her abusive husband. The judge denied the restraining order on the grounds that her husband “was operating under his belief that it is, as the husband, his desire to have sex when and whether he wanted to, was something that was consistent with his practices and it was something that was not prohibited.”

Plainly put, the judge ruled that the woman could be raped and tortured because the rapist was her husband and his religious beliefs give him the right to rape and abuse. Sadly, this woman had to live in this torment for more than one year before the case was overturned.

The only quibble I can find with the billyatwell.org conclusion is that the judge actually ruled that the husband's belief that sharia law authorized him to rape and abuse his wife meant he had no criminal intent, no "mens rea," when he raped and abused his wife. But that is a difference that makes no difference; the judge still held that the defendant's religion excused him from the laws against rape and assault that apply to everybody else.

However, some doubt has been raised about the accuracy of this New Jersey example, both by lefties hoping to overturn the wildly popular Oklahoma constitutional amendment, just passed, that seeks to prevent international law and sharia law from becoming authoritative in Oklahoma jurisprudence -- and also by conservatives who simply want to make sure that all of our examples and arguments are indeed accurate and factually correct, so that they don't blow up in our faces.

The point is well taken; I hunted around a bit to find out more about this case, and I stumbled into this piece from Eugene Volokh's the Volokh Conspiracy, which I consider to be one of the most authoritative legal blogs in the blogosphere. Volokh led me to the actual appellate-court decision, S.D. v. M.J.R. (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div.).

First the facts, as the appellate court recounts them [emphasis added]:

While recognizing that defendant had engaged in sexual relations with plaintiff against her expressed wishes in November 2008 and on the night of January 15 to 16, 2009, the judge did not find sexual assault or criminal sexual conduct to have been proven. He stated:

This court does not feel that, under the circumstances, that this defendant had a criminal desire to or intent to sexually assault or to sexually contact the plaintiff when he did. The court believes that he was operating under his belief that it is, as the husband, his desire to have sex when and whether he wanted to, was something that was consistent with his practices and it was something that was not prohibited.

After acknowledging that this was a case in which religious custom clashed with the law, and that under the law, plaintiff had a right to refuse defendant’s advances, the judge found that defendant did not act with a criminal intent when he repeatedly insisted upon intercourse, despite plaintiff’s contrary wishes.

The judge rejected the permanent restraining order and dismissed all of the temporary restraining orders. Some time later, the appellate court finally ruled on the appeal, overturning the judge's decision [emphasis added]:

Defendant’s conduct in engaging in nonconsensual sexual intercourse was unquestionably knowing, regardless of his view that his religion permitted him to act as he did.

As the judge recognized, the case thus presents a conflict between the criminal law and religious precepts. In resolving this conflict, the judge determined to except defendant from the operation of the State’s statutes as the result of his religious beliefs. In doing so, the judge was mistaken....

We are also concerned that the judge's view of the facts of the matter may have been colored by his perception that, although defendant's sexual acts violated applicable criminal statutes, they were culturally acceptable and thus not actionable -- a view that we have soundly rejected.

That is quite accurately described as allowing sharia law to intrude upon an American legal case -- not simply to be raised, but actually to have determined the outcome of the trial. Simply put, the trial judge held that the husband's belief that his religion gave him the right to repeatedly rape his wife trumped his wife's right not to be raped. That is sharia law and could have issued from any sharia court in the world. But it issued from an ordinary family-law court in the United States of America.

I consider the appellate court's take to be dispositive, as far as my own understanding of the initial judicial horror and subsequent appellate slapdown are concerned. I find the example to be quite appropriate, accurate -- and appalling.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 12, 2010, at the time of 1:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

They Call the Win Sharia

Constitutional Maunderings , Islamarama
Hatched by Dafydd

On November 2nd, voters in Oklahoma overwhelming approved State Question 755, an amendment to the Oklahoma constitution that proponents (and voters!) hope will restrict the state courts to deciding cases based upon the traditional authorities, constitutions and legislation, and not mucking about with "international law" (whatever that means) and sharia law (we all know what that means!)

Here is the operative part of the rewrite that the amendment evidently requires, once it's finally upheld by the courts:

C. The Courts provided for in subsection A of this section, when exercising their judicial authority, shall uphold and adhere to the law as provided in the United States Constitution, the Oklahoma Constitution, the United States Code, federal regulations promulgated pursuant thereto, established common law, the Oklahoma Statutes and rules promulgated pursuant thereto, and if necessary the law of another state of the United States provided the law of the other state does not include Sharia Law, in making judicial decisions. The courts shall not look to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures. Specifically, the courts shall not consider international or Sharia Law. The provisions of this subsection shall apply to all cases before the respective courts including, but not limited to, cases of first impression.

Sounds pretty straightforward and obvious, right? But it appears it is not; judges in Europe and at least one judge in New Jersey have already denied women their inalienable rights to equal protection under the law if those women happen to be Moslem. Moslem women -- but not Christian, Jewish, or Buddhist men and women -- have been shunted into the bowels of the perverted, vile, anti-American, anti-Western sharia system of (in)justice:

Sharia law is a legal code drawn from dictates and rules laid out in the Koran. In fact, Britain has 85 Sharia courts. Some are reporting that Muslim women who are being abused or raped by their husbands are turned away from British civil courts and are being directed to Sharia courts, which are often run by a local mosque and supervised by an Imam.

An equally troubling, but domestic, case of Sharia law superseding a domestic civil law, is the case of a New Jersey Muslim woman filing for a restraining order from her abusive husband. The judge denied the restraining order on the grounds that her husband “was operating under his belief that it is, as the husband, his desire to have sex when and whether he wanted to, was something that was consistent with his practices and it was something that was not prohibited.”

Plainly put, the judge ruled that the woman could be raped and tortured because the rapist was her husband and his religious beliefs give him the right to rape and abuse. Sadly, this woman had to live in this torment for more than one year before the case was overturned.

But yesterday, the director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Muneer Awad, filed suit in federal court to declare State Question 755 unconstitutional. Let me briefly address the claim and why it's ludicrous. Bear in mind that I am not a lawyer... I just play one in cheap rip-off video games. I can only speak from the common, lay understanding of rights and liberties that emerges from living in a free society all my life.

According to the Wall Street Journal, this is the cause of action Awad claims in his lawsuit:

The suit, filed by Muneer Awad, director of the state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, asks the federal district court to block officials from certifying the referendum. Mr. Awad says the measure violates the First Amendment, which protects "free exercise" of religion and prohibits official "establishment of religion." A hearing was set for Monday.

The complaint alleges Oklahoma has singled out Islam for "profound stigma," consigning Muslims such as Mr. Awad "to an ineffectual position within the political community...."

University of Oklahoma law professor Joseph Thai said that earlier this year, the state legislature commissioned "a monument to the laws of another religion"--the Ten Commandments--for the state Capitol.

"Oklahoma's apparent approval of the legal traditions of a majority religion and attempt to suppress the legal traditions of a minority religion" may conflict with the Constitution's requirement that government treat all religions equally, Mr. Thai said.

He said the new state law may forbid Oklahoma judges from citing the Ten Commandments, because they are "international in origin."

These arguments are lame, to say the least.

First, the Oklahoma ballot measure did not come as a bolt from the blue, singling out Islamic (sharia) law just to offend Moslems. As it happens, sharia and the entire regime of putative "international law" are the only two widespread, competing judicial systems that meet the following conditions:

  • Each constitutes the primary judicial system in many different countries and cultures.
  • Each has very broad support from legal intellectuals and judges worldwide.
  • Each alternative legal system proselytizes Western and American legal systems and attempts to colonize them.
  • Each is part of a conspiratorial effort to supplant and replace our own judicial system.
  • And each is utterly antithetical to Western and American legal traditions, constitutions, and legislation, offering none of the protections and recognizing none of the rights inherent in our own domestic legal system.

Given all that, it's perfectly reasonable to single out international and sharia law; it's not a sign of anti-Islamic bigotry, it's the recognition that those two movements directly threaten the American way of life and judicial system.

Second, the international-law amendment clearly doesn't violate the First-Amendment guarantee that Congress (and state legislatures) "shall make no law... prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]." How could it, when it neither prescribes nor proscribes any religious activity other than imposing Islamic law, willy-nilly, upon a population that has loudly and emphatically objected to it?

The measure doesn't tell Moslems how to exercise their religion; it only prevents them from foisting those religious precepts upon those of us who do not want to live under sharia.

And it clearly does not violate the First-Amendment guarantee that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion;" again, the measure does not set up any religion as the "First Church of America," or even the "Fundamental Church of Oklahoma."

Third, by contrast, forcing some plaintiffs and defendants into an alien and inferior (according to American standards of justice) legal system based entirely upon the professed religion of the judicial victim would patently violate the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee that, "No State shall... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

I believe these are all powerful arguments; and no opponent of State Question 755 that I've read has essayed to respond to them... other than to wave the magic "Islamophobia" card, as if it trumps all others in the deck.

The very fact that CAIR is suing to overturn the new law belies CAIR's claims that (a) no American Moslem wants to impose sharia in the United States, and (b) radical Islamism is a phony threat. If they had no desire to impose shaira -- why get so het up about a law preventing the imposition of sharia?

This lawsuit is another glaring example of Dawa, or "soft jihad," which only differs from its full-blown cousin by the fact that they avoid actually killing (for now) lawmakers or unfriendly judges:

Do we not finally comprehend, at some point in this crisis, that Moslem "outrage" is a calculated political tactic deliberately ginned up by Moslem leaders to pressure the West to make concession after concession? It is a form of Dawa, "soft jihad," playing upon our liberal guilt and conservative principles to gain for radical Islamism much of what they demand, without the radicals having to confront real armies that can actually obliterate them. When that revelation finally sinks in throughout the American people and their counterparts in the rest of the West, we shall abruptly find the bottom of our "sensitivity" to Moslems' perpeturally wounded feelings.

This lawsuit makes an excellent shibboleth, distinguishing between radical Islamists and their useful idiots on the one hand and real Americans on the other.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 12, 2010, at the time of 2:21 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 15, 2010

An Exchange of Note(s)

Islamarama , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities
Hatched by Dafydd

Friend Lee just sent me e-mail noting that Barack H. Obama has pretty much painted himself into a hole anent the "Ground-Zero Mosque," or Cordoba House, as it's actually dubbed. I responded with my own notation; and with my usual flair for modesty and self-effacement, I have decided the exchange is worth passing along to the world (like James Boswell's exchanges with Dr. Samuel Johnson, or Dr. John Watson's conversations with Mr. Sherlock Holmes).

"Don't hate me because I'm beautiful!"

(A six-pack of kudos to anyone who can identify the name of the ficticious character who said this, and in what venue.)

Obama brought it all upon himself when he said the following:

But let me be clear. As a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are. The writ of the Founders must endure.

As many have noted, this maudlin sentiment goes above and beyond -- or I should say beneath and between -- a simple commitment to freedom of religion... particularly coming from a man who admits to support only for freedom of worship. He enthuses that "all faiths" -- by which he appears to mean especially faiths that would if they could obliterate our country, our liberty and freedom, our ideals, and indeed, our entire way of life -- must be treated equally.

Obamunist morality demands that a faith that supports and nurtures individual liberty cannot be treated any differently by the United States government than one that seeks to overthrow that same government by force and violence! In other words, we must tolerate the utterly intolerant, even if doing so will allow them to take over -- and end all tolerance forever. I think the technical term for this philosophy of self-destruction is "mad as a hatter."

So Friend Lee sent me this note:

Subject: I think Obama's a huge loser on Cordoba House

Here's my two cents on this issue --

If he defends the project claiming this Imam is a moderate, then he becomes an apologist for the Imam's positions of record.

If he admits the Imam is immoderate but defends the project on grounds of American values of religious freedom, then he is not defending the constitution, but is defending those who would destroy it. For most people, tolerance is off the table at that point -- or at least, it is no longer paramount.

If he tries to de-link the project itself from the Muslims who are pushing it, then he still looks like a law professor, not a chief executive.

If he punts on the issue and says it is "local" he shows a failure of leadership.

If he changes the position he's already taken, he looks vacillating and insincere. How's that KSM trial going?

By the time this mosque is finished, I think he'll no longer be President -- but I won't be surprised if he eventually takes off his shoes and appears to pray there.

I particularly like that phrase, "and appears to pray there." I can only conclude that Friend Lee is suggesting that a Compleat Narcissist like Obama never actually prays, for he would have to pray to himself; but he has learnt how to ape the ritual, metaphorically holding his nose, for political gain.

Response by Dafydd:

Subject: Re: I think Obama's a huge loser on Cordoba House

Obama's only saving grace has been his self-destructive political instincts, which lead him into one unforced folly after another. He seems as addicted to offending Americans as Clinton was to sex with subordinates.

I cannot imagine that he will find a way to "fix" his personality defects between now and November 6th, 2012; he's a one-termer.

Colossal ego aside, I think Friend Lee nailed it: There is currently no card in the deck that will win the Cordoba hand for the Obamunist; he's drawing dead, as they say on the World Poker Tour. And of course, if he tries simply to drop the discussion and pretend he never said anything, he will be thwarted by GOP candidates playing Obama's quotes over and over in campaign commercials, ad infinitum.

The Obamic Dilemma reminds me of a reformulation of the three main laws of thermodynamics that is sometimes attributed to Sir Arthur Eddington (without any evidence, alas); in more or less original form, laws one through three state:

  1. In any process in an isolated system, the total energy remains the same. (That is, energy in an isolated system can neither be created nor destroyed.)
  2. Spontaneous natural processes increase entropy overall. (That is, taking all energy in a closed system as a whole, entropy increases over time.)
  3. As temperature approaches absolute zero, the entropy of a system approaches a constant minimum greater than absolute zero. (That is, the end-state of entropy is uniform distribution of energy, after which every natural process ceases.)

Eddington (or some other wag) rewrote the laws thus:

  1. You can't win.
  2. You can't break even.
  3. You can't even quit the game.

That quite succinctly describes Obama's Dilemma, in a nuthouse.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 15, 2010, at the time of 7:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 4, 2010

The Dawa Bums, and the Only Hope

Islamarama , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

The only hope for final victory in the war against radical Islamism is to turn the majority of the umma against the Islamists, against sharia, against jihad, against dawa.

The only hope to turn the majority of the umma is to bring about a reformation and enlightenment within Islam.

The only hope for reformation and enlightenment is to engage open-minded Moslems in a war of ideas and ideologies.

The only hope to engage open-minded Moslems is clearly to discriminate between Islamists and non-radical Moslems, and to offer persuasive arguments to the latter that radical Islamism is a colossal exercise in cultural suicide.

The only hope to single-out Islamists is to lead Westerners to understand what radical Islamism is; and to shine the light of truth, not only upon obvious terrorists but, much more important, upon the shadow-warriors who practice dawa -- promoting Islamist ideas by means other than violent jihad.

The only hope to lead Westerners to understanding is to speak honestly, forthrightly, and in plain words about the web of mass hatred, human sacrifice, nihilism, totalitarianism, and destruction of the individual that constitutes radical Islamism.

The only hope to expose the dawa-bums is to enunciate those truths again and again and again.

The only hope to speak honestly and enuciate the truths of Islamism is to have courage, determination, and American cussedness.

The only hope to develop courage, determination, and cussedness is to practice it... and that means taking advantage of every election to throw out the appeasers, obfuscators, accomodationists, bribe-takers and rent-seekers, and panderers who infest state legislatures and governors' mansions, Congress, and la Casa Blanca.

The only hope to throw the traitors out is to use our votes wisely: to vote for conservatives and Tea-Partiers in primaries where the state or district is probably going to go Republican no matter what; but not to nominate extremist conservatives in states or districts that are likely to lurch left if the Republican nominee is too right-wing.

And even being willing to vote for a Democrat with clarity on radical Islamism, in preference to a Republican who still thinks Islam is the "religion of peace."

The goal is to change the environment in the states, in Congress, and in the White House... not to "send a message." If you want to send a message, write a blasted blogpost; don't dump your vote.

That's the only hope; so don't blow it.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 4, 2010, at the time of 1:23 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 3, 2010

Calling Madam Tussaud's

Islamarama , Israel Matters , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

I read the headline --

"Helen Thomas may get statue in museum"

...And my first thought was, one more reason to steer clear of the wax museum's Chamber of Horrors!

Then I read on and discovered it was even worse, much worse -- but oh, so much more appropriate! -- than I originally envisioned:

Ahead of her 90th birthday, veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas, who resigned following her offensive remarks against Israel, may be getting a statue in her honor at the Arab American National Museum in Michigan....

But Thomas' remarks that Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go home" to Poland and Germany, which abruptly ended her 67-year-career, are not helping the cause.

Or perhaps they are?

The real question is why the Arab American National Museum in Michigan wants to honor a woman who believes Israel is "occupied territory" and should commit national suicide, with all those dastardly Jews packing up and going back to Europe, where (she evidently believes) they all came from -- Jews never having lived in the Middle East until the nineteenth century Zionist invasion, as every Islamist knows by heart.

Of course, "Palestine" is, in fact, occupied territory... long before modern Israel existed, and quite a few times over:

  1. It was occupied by the British at the end of World War I, 1918.
  2. The Brits took it away from the Ottoman Empire, which occupied that land by defeating the Mamluks, of both Persian and Turkish ethnicity, in 1517.
  3. The Mamluks had got it away from the Ayyubid dynasty of Saladin in 1250; for the three-year period of 1244-1247, "Palestine" had been first sacked, then occupied by the fierce, Russian Tatars; but that doesn't really count, having been only three years.
  4. Saladin, a Persian Kurd, himself had wrested it away from the crusaders in 1187.
  5. Prior to that, the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem had lasted for 88 years, from the success of the First Crusade in 1099.
  6. The only time Arabs ruled "Palestine" was from 638, six years after the death of Mohammed, until the crusaders wrested it back to the West.
  7. Prior to the Arab conquest, the land was subject to a relentless tug-o-war between the Byzantine Empire (the Eastern Roman Empire) and pre-Islamic Persian Sassanids.
  8. The Roman Empire (first unified, then the eastern, Byzantine branch) ruled over that land from about 63 BC, following the invasion of Pompey.
  9. Before the Romans, the ethnically Greek Seleucid Empire ruled "Palestine" from 134 BC to 63 BC.
  10. The Seleucids took it back from the Maccabees, a Jewish dynasty that had wrested their homeland away from the Seleucids back in 168 BC.
  11. Before the brief interregnum of the Maccabees, the Seleucids had run the 'hood since taking it away from the Ptolemaic Greeks in 198 BC.
  12. The Ptolemys, who had conquered Egypt and ruled from there, controlled "Palestine" from sometime in the 300s BC, following the breakup of the empire of Alexander the Great.
  13. Before Alexander, it was the Persians again; they seized it from the Babylonians in 538 BC.
  14. Babylon had taken it from the Assyrians in 586 BC.
  15. And the Assyrians conquered the Kingdom of Israel in 722 BC.
  16. From 1020 BC up to 722, it was the Hebrew Kingdom of Israel -- Jews didn't become "Jews" until they returned from the Babylonian exile in 538 BC -- originally unified, but split in 930 BC. However, Hebrew tribes certainly controlled that land for centuries before 1020 BC.

I'm not sure at what point so-called Palestinians are supposed to have controlled what is now Israel; possibly they're referring to the 461 years from AD 638 to 1099, when the land was under Arab (not "Palestinian") rule. But it's rather self-serving that modern-day Palestinians pick that one period of control out of two or three thousand years of conquest, and try to leverage it into modern-day land ownership.

It's just that old devil of Islamic supremacism and "sacred space": Any land once occupied by the Umma, no matter how long or how short a time, remains forever part of the Umma; and whoever seemingly owns it today must vacate immediately and make room for the "return" of the World Caliphate... evidently a doctrine supported and espoused by the Motown Shrew herself.

We seem to have wandered far afield, into a concise concatenation of conquest of one tiny corner of the globe. Back to Helen "Harpy" Thomas and her wandering mouth, and why the Arab American National Museum is so keen on having her likeness grace, if that is the word I want, their illustrious museum -- if illustrious is the word I want. My deep suspicion is that... well, just what prominent Michigan Jew Richard Nodel suggests:

Despite the difficulties in raising funds, unexpected support [?] of the initiative came from President of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Metropolitan Detroit Richard Nodel, who expressed "hope that the support for this memorial is there despite her anti-Israel and anti-Semitic views and not because of them."

Two quick observations:

  • First, unless there's more to that Nodel quotation than meets the screen, I would hardly call it "support" for the termagant.
  • And second, I believe Nodel put his nail on it: I believe Thomas is being honored precisely because of that statement and a slew of other similar ones that preceded it.

The Arab American National Museum honors Helen the Harridan for being an outspoken and usually unabashed Jew hater... a fact that the so-called mainstream media must have known for decades, yet which never deterred them from dubbing her "Doyenne of the White House press corps."

If true, that is deeply sad -- and goes a long way towards explaining, in Professor Bernard Lewis' immortal phrase, "what went wrong" with the Islam and the Islamic culture. At some point during the Middle Ages, I believe, perhaps in response to its humiliating defeat at the hands of crusading Christians, the religion of Submission became utterly defined not by what it loves -- but by who it hates. And by now, that list includes nigh everyone, including most of those who call themselves Moslems.

It's not for tendentious reasons that Dore Gold chose to call his book about Saudi Arabia Hatred's Kingdom; and that is likewise a good, functional description of the jackal's share of the Umma itself.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 3, 2010, at the time of 5:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 8, 2009

A Tale of Two Mentalities

Dhimmi of the Month , Domestic Terrorism , Islamarama , Liberal Lunacy , Military Machinations , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

There are so many categories for this post because it touches on so many hot-button issues; but I picked "Dhimmi of the Month" as the primary category. We never did get the polling software off the ground, so you can't vote on it... but I'll still use the category when appropriate.

Sadly, today it's appropriate.

The Chief of Staff of the United States Army, Gen. George Casey, has just uncovered the greatest threat exposed by the Fort Hood massacre, presumably committed by Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. Is it radical jihadism? A future Islamic terrorist attack in the United States? The use of political correctness as a human shield for potential murderers? The inability of the Army to notice that one of its members swam in currents of hate so strong, they seared his soul (as Winston Churchill put it)?

No. Gen. Casey has identified the real danger: a potential anti-Moslem backlash!

General George Casey Jr., the Army chief of staff, said on Sunday that he was concerned that speculation about the religious beliefs of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, accused of killing 12 fellow soldiers and one civilian and wounding dozens of others in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, could “cause a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers.”

“I’ve asked our Army leaders to be on the lookout for that,” General Casey said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union. “It would be a shame -- as great a tragedy as this was -- it would be a shame if our diversity became a casualty as well.”

General Casey, who was appeared on three Sunday news programs, used almost the same language during an interview on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” an indication of the Army’s effort to ward off bias against the more than 3,000 Muslims in its ranks.

“A diverse Army gives us strength,” General Casey, who visited Fort Hood Friday, said on “This Week....”

“The speculation could heighten the backlash,” he said on “This Week.” “What happened at Fort Hood is a tragedy and I believe it would be a greater tragedy if diversity became a casualty here.”

Losing our "diversity" would be "a greater tragedy" than the Fort Hood massacre itself? Does any rational human being actually believe this? And does any military historian believe that "a [religiously] diverse Army gives us strength?" I think it clear from context that Casey is claiming that having a tiny handful of Moslem soldiers -- 3,000 out of nearly 1.1 million soldiers -- somehow makes the Army "stronger."

This is ludicrous. I'm positive having Moslems in our ranks doesn't make us any weaker, but neither does it make us stronger, except marginally: If we banned all Moslems from the ranks, we might have to accept a lesser qualified Christian, Jewish, or Buddhist soldier instead of a more qualified Moslem. But the diminishment would be slight at best.

What really makes us stronger is:

  • The independence and initiative of our soldiers, especially officers and non-coms;
  • Our rigorous and realistic training (with live ammunition);
  • Our general population's familiarity with firearms through civilian gun ownership;
  • Our technologically advanced weaponry and other warfighting systems;
  • And most of all, our ideology of liberty, which gives our servicemen reasons to fight more powerful than "because I told you to."

Casey's remark is yet another example of transforming the criminal into the victim; it's political correctness run wild. And if George Casey cannot understand why Hasan's religion -- which appears by all reports to be a violent, extremist, jihadist sect of Islam -- could be the primary motive behind the otherwise senseless spree killings, then Gen. Casey should be removed as Chief of Staff. Immediately.

It's as stunning as if Eisenhower had said in 1942 that we should not "speculate" on the possible role National Socialism might play in the military aggression of the Axis, lest we create a "backlash" against soldiers with names like, well, Eisenhower. For heaven's sake, the ideology of National Socialism was the primary cause of World War II... just as the ideology of violent Islamic jihadism is the primary cause of global Islamic terrorism.

Or doesn't George Casey believe that? Of course, Casey also didnt' believe in the "surge;" he thought it would inevitably fail, leading to American defeat in Iraq. Fortunately for us (and the Iraqis), he was kicked upstairs, and Gen. David Petraeus took his place as Commander of Multi-National Force - Iraq.

I find it curious that Gen. Casey is so worried about a potential "backlash" against other, non-radical Moslems -- when has this ever happened, by the way? -- but he seems utterly unconcerned about the possibility of another massacre at another military installation by another radical [REDACTED]. I guess each of us must prioritize his own concerns.

Does Casey's response make him a "dhimmi," by which we popularly mean a non-Moslem who bends over backwards to explain away or excuse the excesses of radical jihadism? Yes, I argue it does... because Casey tries to deflect blame from the horrific ideology of jihad: "Nothing to see here, folks; let's just MoveOn!" We know that the jihadist mindset directly causes Islamic terrorism; this appears to be terrorism, perpetrated by a Moslem who increasingly appears to have been radicalized. But we can't "speculate" on this seemingly urgent question for fear of that putative "backlash."

Casey's delusional political correctness was echoed by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC, 82%), naturally enough:

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican of South Carolina, and Sen. Jack Reed, a Democrat of Rhode Island, took also pains on Sunday to say that Muslims have served honorably in the military and at risk to their lives.

“At the end of the day this is not about his religion -- the fact that this man was a Muslim,” Senator Graham said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

I wonder if Graham thinks that Osama bin Laden's hatred of the West and of Jews has anything to do with his religion; I'm afraid to ask.

In order to conclude that Hasan's religion had nothing whatsoever to do with the attack, one really must ignore an awful lot of evidence. For example (of both the evidence and how it can be brushed aside):

The San Antonio Express-News has reported that classmates in a graduate military medical program heard Major Hasan justify suicide bombings and make radical and anti-American statements. But investigators have said that Major Hasan might have suffered from emotional problems that were aggravated by the strain of working with veterans of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan and by the knowledge that he might soon be deployed to those theaters as well.

I think I would go along with the general premise that every radical Islamic jihadist "suffers from emotional problems;" but I understand the defense:

Only a lad
You really can't blame him
Only a lad
Society made him
Only a lad
He's our responsibility
Only a lad
He really couldn't help it
Only a lad
He didn't want to do it
Only a lad
He's underprivileged and abused
Perhaps a little bit confused

I note, however, that "understanding" is not the same as "exonerating."

Before we swing to the second "mentality," let's encapsulate the Casey mentality here:

On the base Sunday morning, mourners were asked [by the garrison chaplain] to pray for Major Hasan and his family, The Associated Press reported.

Yeah. That and not blaming the perpetrator are the most urgent tasks before us right now.

There is, however, another way to respond to the Fort Hood "tragedy" (man-caused disaster?); it was exemplified today by the man who is rapidly becoming one of my favorite senators:

A key U.S. senator called Sunday for an investigation into whether the Army missed signs that the man accused of opening fire at Fort Hood had embraced an increasingly extremist view of Islamic ideology.

Sen. Joe Lieberman's call came as word surfaced that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan apparently attended the same Virginia mosque as two Sept. 11 hijackers in 2001, at a time when a radical imam preached there.

God forbid we should "speculate" about how Hasam's religion might have slightly influenced his murderous actions. "This is not -- the radical imam -- I knew...!"

Classmates participating in a 2007-2008 master's program at a military college complained repeatedly to superiors about what they considered Hasan's anti-American views. Dr. Val Finnell said Hasan gave a presentation at the Uniformed Services University that justified suicide bombing and even told classmates that Islamic law trumped the U.S. Constitution.

Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, wants Congress to determine whether the shootings constitute a terrorist attack.

"If Hasan was showing signs, saying to people that he had become an Islamist extremist, the U.S. Army has to have zero tolerance," Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, said on "Fox News Sunday." "He should have been gone."

Couldn't we arrange for Gen. George Casey to be gone? He could be kicked upstairs again, this time to junior assistant deputy shavetail to the RINO Secretary of the Army, John McHugh. Then we could replace Casey with a new Chief of Staff, one with a mentality more like Joe Lieberman than George Casey.

Alas, that wouldn't work: The new Chief would have to be nominated by Barack H. Obama... and the One would probably name John Murtha!

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 8, 2009, at the time of 6:26 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 14, 2009

From CAIR's Congressman to CAIR's Interns

Domestic Terrorism , Islamarama
Hatched by Dafydd

Power Line (my fave blog) has kept close tabs on Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN, 100%), who they dubbed "CAIR's congressman" for his deep and suspicious connection with groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Muslim American Society (a front group for the Muslim Brotherhood), and Hamas. For the most recent example, see this post.

It's bad enough to have an openly radical Moslem in the House of Representatives... but what's flying under the radar might be even worse; four Republican representatives charge that CAIR is trying to sneak its own operatives into the vast population of aides and interns who really run Congress, analyzing and often even writing the bills that eventually become the law:

Republican members of the Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus said the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) have tried to plant “spies” within key national-security committees in order to shape legislative policy.

Reps. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.), John Shadegg (R-Ariz.), Paul Broun (R-Ga.) and Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), citing the book Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld that's Conspiring to Islamize America, called for the House sergeant at arms to investigate whether CAIR had been successful in placing interns on key panels. The lawmakers are specifically focused on the House Homeland Security Committee, Intelligence Committee and Judiciary Committee.

Surprisingly enough, CAIR denies the charge:

“God forbid American Muslims take part in the political process and exercise their rights,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a CAIR spokesman, in a telephone interview. “I suppose they’re going to investigate the Muslim Staffers Association next.

Hm. Not a bad idea, Mr. Hooper.

“If these people weren’t so hate-filled, it would be laughable, but unfortunately they have an audience and, given their positions, it’s going to get picked up by the hate blogs.”

I hope our readers don't cease reading our hate blog; I know there are an awful lot of other hate blogs out there, but please continue supporting this particular hate blog with your eyeballs and attention!

Hooper said that CAIR is in full federal compliance with its status as a 501(c)3 nonprofit group, and that the group devotes less in terms of resources than the maximum legal limit allowed.

“We’ve always stayed within our legal limits,” he said. “If anything, we don’t have enough staff to lobby as much as we legally can.”

CAIR was, of course, named an unindicted co-conspirator with the Holy Land Foundation, in a trial where the latter was convicted of funneling millions of dollars to Hamas; the HLF's two founders were sentenced to life in prison.

But the Capitol Hill newspaper the Hill is right on the job, having found the perfect way to discredit one of the authors of the book on which these four members of Congress rely. P.David Gaubatz, "a former federal agent, is a U.S. State Department-trained Arabic linguist and counterterrorism specialist who has held the U.S. government's highest security clearances," according to the Amazon.com page for Muslim Mafia. This would appear to be some hefty credentials; but the Hill isn't fooled, and it reports this crushing retort to its readers:

Gaubatz, the co-author of Muslim Mafia, could not be reached at press time. On his website, daveg.us, he asks supporters for money to “legally destroy CAIR....”

“Please support me in these eforts [sic] to help shut this terror supporting organization down. donate all weekend. We need to raise $25,000 to put more research in the field and to bring more intelligence agianst [sic] them … If you want to protect your children and America, then help me now.”

See? Not one but two typos on his website! How can we possibly take such a man -- or his charges -- seriously if he writes "eforts" and "agianst" and doesn't even use spellcheck? (The Hill even missed one: Gaubatz forgot to capitalize the letter "d" in "donate.") If there is any reason to quote this particular post on Gaubatz's website other than "impeachment by typo," I hope some enlightened reader can explain it to me.

Of course, in the Hill's article, it first treats CAIR as a plural noun -- "Republican members of the Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus said the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) have tried to plant 'spies' within key national-security committees in order to shape legislative policy" -- but later treats the same noun as singular: "While the Republicans said they did not know of specific legislation that CAIR had affected, Franks said he wouldn’t be surprised if it was trying to amend the Patriot Act." I hope this doesn't discredit the Hill!

(I'm actually more concerned that reporter Jordy Yager -- I rib you not, that's how the byline reads -- appears uncertain whether Hamas, which routinely engages in suicide bombings of Jews in Israel, is actually a terrorist organization; cautious Yager is willing only to go as far as writing "Hamas, which the U.S. has labeled a terrorist organization.")

Of course, Gaubatz is only the co-author of the book; the other author, Paul Sperry, "a media fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, is former Washington bureau chief for Investor's Business Daily, and author of Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington;" this would appear to bring an even more powerful set of credentials to the book. But perhaps we can find a typo on Sperry's website as well.

Is CAIR's steady infiltration of Congress part of the change we should believe in?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 14, 2009, at the time of 4:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 25, 2009

The Louse of Saud

Islamarama , Mysterious Orient , Palestinian Perils and Pratfalls , Terrorism Intelligence , Unuseful Idiots
Hatched by Dafydd

Foreign Policy magazine announced last week that a fellow named Chas W. Freeman, current (or former) president of the Middle East Policy Council (MEPC), will be President Barack H. Obama's pick to chair the National Intelligence Council, the lead group in creating the National Intelligence Estimates that drive policy on intelligence issues. The NIC reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), currently Dennis Blair; it is not an inconsequential group within the intelligence community.

Who is Chas W. Freeman, jr.?

He is a former ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the Clinton presidency. He serves on the MEPC with such luminaries as George McGovern, top executives from Boeing, ExxonMobil, and the Carlyle Group -- all of which have multibillion-dollar investments in Saudi Arabia -- a CIA consultant, and a Palestinian immigrant named Talat Othman, who came to our attention most recently in 2002, when he vigorously protested against the FBI raids of the International Institute of Islamic Thought, created in 1981 by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Freeman may not be the best fit for this critical job, however:

  • The MEPC, hence Freeman himself, is funded by the House of Saud to lobby on behalf of the Kingdom, which it does frequently in its journal, Middle East Policy.
  • Chas Freeman is of the opinion that China's real sin in dealing with the demonstators at Tiananmen Square was that they were too lenient and "overly cautious": "[T]he truly unforgivable mistake of the Chinese authorities was the failure to intervene on a timely basis to nip the demonstrations in the bud, rather than -- as would have been both wise and efficacious -- to intervene with force when all other measures had failed to restore domestic tranquility to Beijing and other major urban centers in China."

    To put it bluntly, Freeman is an authoritarian crank who believes that "domestic tranquility" is more important that freedom of speech.

  • Freeman and the MEPC were the first in America to publish the anti-Israel and antisemitic screed "the Israel Lobby" by Professors Walt and Mearsheimer; even one of Freeman's supporters, David Rothkopf of Foreign Policy magazine, calls that paper "frail intellectual framework" and a "jihad" against American support of Israel.

    Here is Freeman enthusing, crowing even, about his accomplishment in bringing this frail framework to American readers (from an interview with the Saudi-US Relations Information Service, SUSRIS): "Our Fall issue will contain a revised, updated, and unabridged version of the controversial paper by Professors John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt on "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy." No one else in the United States has dared to publish this article, given the political penalties that the Lobby imposes on those who criticize it. So we continue to do important things that are not done by anybody else, which I think fill some gaps."

The inner Freeman

But it's not simply that Freeman sucks up to Red China and King Abdullah of the House of Saud and opposes American support for Israel; he opposes Israel itself, seeing it as the source of all problems in the Middle East.

The MEPC website posts a speech Freeman gave to the Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs in 2007; the spech concludes:

[T]he problem of terrorism that now bedevils us has its origins in one region -- the Middle East. To end this terrorism we must address the issues in the region that give rise to it.

Principal among these is the brutal oppression of the Palestinians by an Israeli occupation that is about to mark its fortieth anniversary and shows no sign of ending. Arab identification with Palestinian suffering, once variable in its intensity, is now total. American identification with Israeli policy has also become total. Those in the region and beyond it who detest Israeli behavior, which is to say almost everyone, now naturally extend their loathing to Americans. This has had the effect of universalizing anti-Americanism, legitimizing radical Islamism, and gaining Iran a foothold among Sunni as well as Shiite Arabs. For its part, Israel no longer even pretends to seek peace with the Palestinians; it strives instead to pacify them. Palestinian retaliation against this policy is as likely to be directed against Israel's American backers as against Israel itself. Under the circumstances, such retaliation -- whatever form it takes -- will have the support or at least the sympathy of most people in the region and many outside it. This makes the long-term escalation of terrorism against the United States a certainty, not a matter of conjecture.

The Palestine problem cannot be solved by the use of force; it requires much more than the diplomacy-free foreign policy we have practiced since 9/11. Israel is not only not managing this problem; it is severely aggravating it. Denial born of political correctness will not cure this fact. Israel has shown -- not surprisingly -- that, if we offer nothing but unquestioning support and political protection for whatever it does, it will feel no incentive to pay attention to either our interests or our advice. Hamas is showing that if we offer it nothing but unreasoning hostility and condemnation, it will only stiffen its position and seek allies among our enemies. In both cases, we forfeit our influence for no gain.

There will be no negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians, no peace, and no reconciliation between them -- and there will be no reduction in anti-American terrorism -- until we have the courage to act on our interests. These are not the same as those of any party in the region, including Israel, and we must talk with all parties, whatever we think of them or their means of struggle. Refusal to reason with those whose actions threaten injury to oneself, one's friends, and one's interests is foolish, feckless, and self-defeating. That is why it is past time for an active and honest discussion with both Israel and the government Palestinians have elected, which -- in an irony that escapes few abroad -- is the only democratically elected government in the Arab world.

Remember, this speech was given in 2007 -- after several successive democratic elections in Iraq brought that government to power. Remember also that, while Hamas may have been elected, those elections were hardly fair and certainly not free... unless we imagine that gangland assassinations of one's political opponents creates no "fear factor" among those opponents' supporters.

So let's sum this up:

  1. Israel's "occupation" of Palestine is responsible for all the terrorism launched against the United States (which would be news to Osama bin Laden, who thought it was our presence on the holy soil of Saudi Arabia);
  2. Israel also controls American policy (Freeman has wholly absorbed the Walt/Mearsheimer thesis of the "Israel Lobby," through which the Jews pull the puppet strings of the world;
  3. That's why everybody hates America and cheers on Islamic terrorism;
  4. Israel is unreformable and must be destroyed;
  5. Hamas is Democratic, honest, and reasonable, and is only responding in a reasonable way to our "unreasoning hostility and condemnation," which is forced upon us by our Israeli puppeteers.
  6. (And by omission, Iraq is an undemocratic puppet government of the United States -- hence a grandpuppet of Israel.)

Mr. Freeman's Israel delenda est rant is not a one-shot; here he is in 2005, discussing (what else?) the "Israeli occupation":

[A]s long as such Israeli violence against Palestinians continues, it is utterly unrealistic to expect that Palestinians will stand down from violent resistance and retaliation against Israelis.

I certainly agree with that last point! But I draw my concurrance more from the nature of Palestinian and Arab mass psychosis than from the mad idea that Israel should commit national suicide so that people will think well of the Jews.

Freeman does not confine his hatred to Israel; he sees not only Israel's "American backers" as enemies to be reviled, but America itself; we, he says, are to blame for all the troubles in Iraq... Iraq was, one presumes, a calm and peaceful place -- before Americans mindlessly invaded:

In Iraq, the problem is not now – if it ever was – weapons of mass destruction, bad government, or even terrorism; it is the occupation. The occupation generates the very phenomena it was intended to cure. In that respect, the Anglo-American occupation of Iraq has come to have much in common with the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. In Iraq, as in Palestine, ending the occupation is the prerequisite for reversing the growth of terrorism and restoring peace.

Like Solla Sollew, there were no problems -- or at least very few -- in Iraq before we inexplicably invaded the peaceful Land of Two Rivers and overturned its democratically elected leader. On instructions from Israel, no doubt.

As to his perspicacity about events that are at the very core of his field of interest, here is Freeman's 2005 prediction of "the best outcome still possible in Iraq":

The best outcome still possible in Iraq, it now seems, is a Shia-dominated state with a largely autonomous southern region heavily influenced by Iran and a Kurdish region independent in all but name.

Or, perhaps, a stable democratic state with deep and widespread participation by every ethnic group and all tribes, firmly accepted by the people as representative of their interests. And with Muqtada Sadr driven into exile in (where is that again?) Iran. Oh, wait; that wasn't one of the buttons on Mr. Freeman's voicemail.

Mismatch point

The two most vital duties of the chairman of the National Intelligence Council are presidential gatekeeping and unbiased analysis: controlling what intel the president sees and what he thinks about what he sees.

But Freeman is not unbiased; he has a dog in the fight. He has chosen up sides. Freeman supports Saudi Arabia, the Hamas-led government in the Palestinian Authority, and Iran's primary source of military equipment, the People's Republic of China; and he vehemently opposes Israel and a strong American presence in Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East. Freeman's biases have already led him to make frankly risible pronunciamentos that sound like something from CAIR's website.

These interests are not only ideological but financial as well: Freeman won't be in government service forever, and he has once and future patrons to placate.

And this is the man who will determine what intel gets to the desk of President Barack H. Obama -- who is himself already ambivalent about Israel, the Arabs, and America's role in that volatile region. Suppose the NIC comes across intelligence of a looming terrorist attack on the homeland by a bunch of Saudis or Palestinians (this is not exactly a far-fetched scenario); but suppose the intel comes from Mossad, and it's hotly denied by Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the head of the Saudi intelligence service. Would Freeman pass it on to the president? Or would he roll his eyes, give a Chris Matthews-like "oh God," and bury it in the "nothing to see here, time to MoveOn" file?

How can we ever be sure that Chairman Freeman is being guided by an unbiased evaluation of conflicting intelligence claims, rather than by the hand of King Abdullah the Munificent?

I realize this may be a rhetorical question, but is this really who America wants heading up the main intelligence evaluating committee advising both the president and the DNI?

But at least Samantha Power and Zbigniew Brzezinski will have congenial company at the Durban II antisemitism rally; they can all sit about and discuss Palestinian resistance with the representatives of Iran, the KSA, Hamas, and Hezbollah.

UPDATE: Two thoughts with but a single mind between them... (But I like my title better!)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 25, 2009, at the time of 5:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 12, 2008

When a Man Stops Believing in God...

Dhimmi of the Month , Islamarama
Hatched by Dafydd
When a Man Stops Believing in God, he doesn't then believe in nothing; he believes anything.

-- A chestnut typically attributed to G.K. Chesterton, who never precisely said or wrote it.

(We never could get a reader voting system to work properly and securely on Big Lizards; so please pardon us if we hijack the "Dhimmi of the Month" category for an apropos post that includes no poll.)

The soon-to-be-ex-Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams -- the top dog in the Church of England (not counting the titular Queen) -- has essentially argued that Parliament should consider implementing some form of sharia law in Great Britain, in order to sooth the hurt feelings of British Moslems suffering under liberty and democracy. But his paralogical argument evinces the brain rot that comes from liberal extremism (a.k.a., liberation theology -- the theory that Christianity commands us to be socialists), as well as the cultural self-loathing and self immolation that is usually the result of creeping atheism: If Williams really believes that there is a God as depicted in the Old and New Testaments, and if God loves liberty and human freedom (having given us freedom of choice) -- then why would he argue that Britain should introduce a form of legal jurisprudence diametrically opposed to those virtues?

This leads me to wonder... Does Archbishop Dr. Rowan Williams still actually believe in God? Or does he now believe, rather, in anything?

Note: I shall put the full text of Dr. Williams' lecture in the "slither on," with each paragraph numbered for easy consumption and reference. When I refer to paragraph number 13 or 7 or somesuch, you can read the whole paragraph in the permalink.

Marxian maunderings

The axiomatic source of Williams' astonishing conclusion is not quite Marxist; but it is at least Marxian. He believes, along with Marxists, that all relationships are power-struggles between competing groups. In every such political struggle, there is a majority group -- which is "advantaged" by its majority power -- and a reflectively disadvantaged minority group.

There is a reason he needs this axiom: The simple fact is that he can only call for treating Islam as the equal of other forms of thought if he first supposes that Islamists who demand sharia courts in England act like other reformers; that is, they make logical arguments and abide by the democratic process.

But of course, they don't; they hurl charges of religious bigotry at anyone who disagrees with them; they declare fatwahs; they call for assassinations; they set off bombs in the tube. So how can Williams reconcile this dichotomy?

He turns to the argument made by many black supremecist demagogues, such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Like them, Williams clearly believes that only the advantaged (majority) group can commit racial (religious) bias. If the disadvantaged (minority) group does the same thing, it's totally different: Because the minority hasn't the advantage of power, they must engage in, let us say, asymmetrical warfare, having no other way to fight back. If a runt is fighting a giant, we don't call him a cheater if he grabs a two by four and kneecaps the brute. Thus, Williams argues, we should cut the Moslems some slack when they engage in what otherwise would sure look like extreme sectarian hatred and even violence against "infidels":

7 I have argued recently in a discussion of the moral background to legislation about incitement to religious hatred that any crime involving religious offence has to be thought about in terms of its tendency to create or reinforce a position in which a religious person or group could be gravely disadvantaged in regard to access to speaking in public in their own right: offence needs to be connected to issues of power and status, so that a powerful individual or group making derogatory or defamatory statements about a disadvantaged minority might be thought to be increasing that disadvantage. The point I am making here is similar. If the law of the land takes no account of what might be for certain agents a proper rationale for behaviour -- for protest against certain unforeseen professional requirements, for instance, which would compromise religious discipline or belief -- it fails in a significant way to communicate with someone involved in the legal process (or indeed to receive their communication), and so, on at least one kind of legal theory (expounded recently, for example, by R.A. Duff), fails in one of its purposes.

Having thus cast out Judeo-Christian philosophy as the basis of Western civilization, Williams has set the stage for special privileges for Moslems; after all, he isn't calling for special Catholic tribunals for the Irish or Napoleonic courts for French immigrants. He can now proceed to knock down the other legs of the stool of Western civ, starting with individualism.

Cockeyed communalism

What matters to Williams is not the will of the individual but what particular groups the individual represents. In this case, he cares about individuals primarily as cogs in the Moslem group.

He assumes that if the umma (broadly defined, "Islamadom," as the Moslem version of Christendom), as a group, demands sharia, then every member of the should want to live under sharia law. The group desire -- in Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, the Waziristan region of Pakistan and Afghanistan, the suburbs of Paris, and at Cronula Beach in Australia -- sets the standard for each individual, including those in the UK branch of the umma. In such a worldview, rights inhere in the group, not the individual. E.g., from paragraph 12: "recognition of the corporate reality and rights of the umma."

But how can a fuzzy-bordered collection of people have "rights?" Our own American courts have consistently ruled that "the right of the people" means an individual right that inheres in each individual person; we don't recognize collective rights (rather, we shouldn't).

Or from paragraphs 5 and 6, discussing people who are "belonging to the umma." This is not like belonging to a church, which requires the active consent of the individual; the umma comprises not only all believing Moslems but everyone who was born into Islam, whether or not he has renounced it: Apostasy is considered a horrific crime by sharia courts, which Williams acknowledges. He argues against allowing British sharia courts to enforce the penalties for apostasy -- but he does not object to them pursuing social punishment for apostasy within the community. Therefore, he accepts the basic premise that once a Moslem, always a Moslem; not even death will release you.

So when he talks about the umma, it includes many involuntary members who are lumped in with those who (he seems to believe) should want to live under some form of sharia.

Ideal or no ideal:

Williams also rejects the core Western cultural system of hypothesis, observation, and conclusion. He does not care what his own eyes tell him about the real human beings who compose the umma in Great Britain.

Williams argues is that there is some enlightened version of Islam (probably true) that allows the umma and Western civilization to mesh, but that "Islamic primitivists" keep mucking up the gears. His sharia courts would, of course, be of the enlightened kind of Islam (from 9):

There needs to be access to recognised authority acting for a religious group: there is already, of course, an Islamic Shari'a Council, much in demand for rulings on marital questions in the UK [its defect from Williams' viewpoint is that it has no legally binding authority -- DaH]; and if we were to see more latitude given in law to rights and scruples rooted in religious identity, we should need a much enhanced and quite sophisticated version of such a body, with increased resource and a high degree of community recognition, so that 'vexatious' claims could be summarily dealt with. The secular lawyer needs to know where the potential conflict is real, legally and religiously serious, and where it is grounded in either nuisance or ignorance. There can be no blank cheques given to unexamined scruples.

14 So the second objection to an increased legal recognition of communal religious identities can be met if we are prepared to think about the basic ground rules that might organise the relationship between jurisdictions, making sure that we do not collude with unexamined systems that have oppressive effect or allow shared public liberties to be decisively taken away by a supplementary jurisdiction. Once again, there are no blank cheques.

But the reality is that utopianism gives way to real-world power plays: Utopian Marxism gave way to practical Stalinism; utopian pacifism gave way to reflexive anti-Americanism and support for violent revolutions of the Left. A utopian sharia court may start as a "much enhanced and quite sophisticated version of such a body, with increased resource and a high degree of community recognition" -- though even that is questionable, considering who would be implementing it in the first place. But it would soon be supplanted by a more practical sharia court that simply enforced all the rules of Islam in the most literal and primitive way imaginable, rather than carefully picking what Westerners would consider the "sophisticated" -- that is, historically heretical -- interpretation of sharia.

The real problem with Williams' argument is that he clearly has no faith whatsoever in Western culture -- or even the Western God he professes to worship. There is no conflict between internal religious duties and Western jurisprudence; if an individual Moslem chooses to live his life according to the religious dictates of a sharia court, we allow him to do so, freely and without official prejudice or legal disfavor. (The reverse is never allowed by real sharia courts in the real world, of course.)

So-called "sophisticated" Islam is perfectly compatible with a fully Western legal system: Even today, some enlightened but non-official sharia court could rule that Achmed's daughter Sophia must marry Faisal, as Achmed decided. But then it is up to Sophia and Faisal to agree or reject this decision, because Western lands allow individuals to make their own choices.

Thus, since voluntary "submission" to Islam is already allowed by Western authorities under existing law, Williams' call for separate and overlapping legal jurisdictions -- one secular Western democratic system, and a separate sharia system with "supplementary jurisdiction" -- can only be a call for sharia courts having binding jurisdiction over the umma and all its members:

  1. They already have non-binding jurisdiction over anyone who chooses to obey;
  2. Williams calls for a change, for sharia courts with greater official power;
  3. Ergo, Williams must want to give sharia courts the only power they lack today: legal authority to enforce their decisions willy-nilly on whomever they see as part of the umma, whether the victim chooses to accept such jurisdiction or not.

In the real world of politics, the imam's fantasy will become some poor slob's reality in the time it takes to establish a British Islamic Commission for the Protection of Virtue and the Suppression of Vice.

And even if British law doesn't accept such expanded sharia jurisdiction in every location, the mere act of declaring that such "supplementary jurisdiction" exists -- at any officially recognized level -- will have the effect of emboldening the sharia courts, disheartening Islamic dissidents in Great Britain, and encouraging the "simple folk" in the British branch of the umma -- primitivists almost by definition -- to own slaves, beat their wives, order their daughters to marry the father's pick of suitors, or kill those daughters to protect the family "honor." And of course, it will encourage hirabis to commit acts of terrorism to push for even more empowered sharia zones in Britain, ultimately demanding that the entire U.K. become part of the umma. "Parliament surrendered once," they will say; "they will never fight for their corrupt and godless system!" Correct or not, it's a prescription for civil war within the entire Commonwealth.

The horrors of Islamic courts everywhere else in the world will not stop at the English Channel; if Britain gives Moslem radicals sharia-lite, then a demand for full-blown sharia will inevitably follow and be very hard to resist; folks get in the habit of surrendering. Thus, sharia law will not supplement but supplant the "unbreakable" golden thread of British law, whence our own Founding Fathers took the inspiration for our own Constitution and Bill of Rights.

The lions shall lie down upon the lambs

Here is Williams' key utopian fallacy:

17 The rule of law is thus not the enshrining of priority for the universal/abstract dimension of social existence but the establishing of a space accessible to everyone in which it is possible to affirm and defend a commitment to human dignity as such, independent of membership in any specific human community or tradition, so that when specific communities or traditions are in danger of claiming finality for their own boundaries of practice and understanding, they are reminded that they have to come to terms with the actuality of human diversity - and that the only way of doing this is to acknowledge the category of 'human dignity as such' -- a non-negotiable assumption that each agent (with his or her historical and social affiliations) could be expected to have a voice in the shaping of some common project for the well-being and order of a human group.

He simply doesn't understand that, when the possibility of some form of official jurisdication is dangled before any group hungry for power -- and in particular sharia-loving Salafists or Qom-school (Khomeini-ist) Shia -- their tendency will be to "say anything" to get the power... and then immediately set about expanding it beyond what was agreed. They will cheerfully promise to acknowledge "human dignity as such," and agree that the sharia courts will not have finality; but they will have no intention of making good on those promises.

Islam even has a special word for such "pie-crust promises," as Mary Poppins calls them ("easily made, easily broken"): al-Takeyya -- lying for the sake of Allah. Promising to keep their rulings within the context of a superceding legal authority is necessary to gain official recognition of Islamic courts within Great Britain; but true Islamists would never accept the sovereignty of a nation-state above that of the word of God.

Hence, they advance the cause of Islam by agreeing to the "Peace of Williams" and becoming a recognized legal authority; and then they further it even further by instantly reneging on that promise. They know that it's easy to create a bureaucracy but virtually impossible to extirpate one, especially amid charges of religious bias -- and when the sharia courts the seeming blessing of the de facto head of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury himself.

But in addition to flying in the face of observed reality (name a country where sharia courts have been granted such co-jurisdiction -- alas, there are many -- but where they have avoided abusing that authority -- alas, there are none), Williams' mullings and ruminations about the joys of communalism and religious co-jurisdiction also contradict his own earlier preaching (in this very lecture) in favor of the Marxian idea of power.

Specifically, Williams argues that individuals should have the free choice to "opt out" of their own rights... rights we here in America consider inaliable (where "to alienate," in both Leftspeak and as our Founding Fathers understood the term, means exactly that: to give away something that belongs to you, whether the fruit of your labor -- or your fundamental right of freedom of speech or association). Archbishop Williams in paragraph 19:

At the moment, as I mentioned at the beginning of this lecture, one of the most frequently noted problems in the law in this area is the reluctance of a dominant rights-based philosophy to acknowledge the liberty of conscientious opting-out from collaboration in procedures or practices that are in tension with the demands of particular religious groups: the assumption, in rather misleading shorthand, that if a right or liberty is granted there is a corresponding duty upon every individual to 'activate' this whenever called upon.

So individuals should be allowed to reject the freedoms and liberties that the United Kingdom would otherwise defend on their behalf.

But wait... didn't he argue earlier the Marxian belief is that all relationships are power relationships... and specifically, that the minority is always at a terrible power disadvantage to the majority? This is why leftists have cleverly managed to modify the English language to redefine "disadvantaged" to be a synonym for "minority."

Well, how then about a minority of one? What chance does a sixteen year old Moslem girl living within the umma (London branch) have to exercise her free will against the demands of the entire community surrounding her, that (for example) she marry who her father tells her to marry? Particuarly when that community, through its sharia courts, has been granted special recognition by the same government of Great Britain that formerly defended her rights to the hilt as inalienable elements of her individuality... rights that could not be taken away, even if she were cowed enough by her community to claim that she, herself, didn't want them anymore.

If we are to believe (as I'm sure Rowan Williams does) that the "consent" of a woman to sleep with her boss is inherently suspect, as he has so much power over her that she may well not be making a free choice but a defensive one in order to keep her high-paying job -- then how can we reject out of hand the possibility that the Moslem girl above is doing the same?

The Most Reverend and Right Honorable the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury cannot have it both ways: Either one believes that the individual is, or should be required to be, responsible for his own actions and for defending his own rights in the proper venue -- a Western court of law that actually recognizes those individual rights and does not recognize any putative "communitarian rights" against the individual... or else one must instead believe that the minority (including a minority of one) is always at such a disadvantage against the majority that we can never trust the acquiescence of the former to the latter's will... and must intervene willy-nilly against the majority wherever it is found, including the majority Moslem cultures surrounding smaller, weaker individuals or apostate minorities in neighborhoods of London, York, and Canterbury.

Yet by empowering those majority-minority Moslem cultures even more, Williams' does precisely the opposite of what his philosophy ought to suggest: He makes it even harder for apostate (or even dissenting) individuals or minorities within those communities to express themselves "in their own right." Not only need they fight the disapproval of the community itself, they will surely be hauled up before a sharia council... which, even if it lacks legal authority to conduct an official inquisition, will at the very least, be able to organize community disapprobation, condemnation, and eventually exile from a community that may still be important to the dissenter.

Williams himself (quoting "Jewish legal theorist Ayelet Shachar" in paragraph 13) warns against "the ultimatum of 'either your culture or your rights.'" Yet his scheme to give official recognition to sharia courts, even if they're restrained in the punishments they can mete out, will produce exactly such ultimata, over and over, as its most likely outcome.

He has fallen into the root reductio ad absurdum of using "tolerance" as the core value of society: Do you then tolerate the intolerant?

He believes that British society, and indeed Western civilization, should be less exclusionary and invite sharia courts into the official "social contract" -- for Moslems in Great Britain. But Islam itself is an exclusionary religion; hence the terrible punishments for apostasy, heresy, and blasphemy; and in particular, there is a strong strain of such "primitivist" Islam in Britain, as the Salmon Rushdie death threats from British imams and the July 7th bombings make clear.

Even if (on paper) these Williamsian sharia courts would not "actively interfer[] with liberties guaranteed by the wider society," they would substantially undermine such liberties by organizing social opposition to them under the new sharia authority. If the Islamic courts had no paper authority to strip Moslems in Britain of those rights, they would simply issue a fatwah -- and lynch-mobs within the community would do it for them.

I suppose that possibility never occurred to the holy naif. Well, it occurs to me.

Who was that mitered man?

We have seen earlier bizarre spiritual journeys, leftist radicalism, and unfathomable (and silly) applications of liberation theology to the real world by this particular Archbishop of Canterbury:

  • He was a radical pacifist protester during the 1980s;
  • He sees Capitalism as the great threat to the world -- not Communism or Islamism: "Every transaction in the developed economies of the West can be interpreted as an act of aggression against the economic losers in the worldwide game."
  • About al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, he is quoted in the same Wall Street Journal opinion piece as saying, "Bombast about evil individuals doesn't help in understanding anything."
  • He supports ordaining gay priests and he supports same-sex marriage.

So in a sense, coming out of the closet and calling for the implementation of sharia courts -- even if limited in their enforcement powers and having only "supplementary jurisdiction" (they must outsource their stonings and beheadings to angry committees of vigilance) -- seems right in line with his other positions; they all form part of the same mosaic of rejection of Western civilization and culture. Williams is not a total radical; he completely accepts his church's pro-life stance, for example. But he is clearly a radical socialist who accepts all the nefarious propaganda against the belief of Western exceptionalism.

Rowan Williams, whatever he may say if asked this question directly, undeniably manifests a strong belief in cultural relativism... the idea that each culture must be judged solely by its own axioms and beliefs: The cultural relativist would refuse to call any culture "evil," from the Nazis death-campers to the Aztecs human sacrificers to the Canaanite Moloch-worshippers. Except, perhaps, Western culture; cultural relativists have special dispensation to attack the West without regard to their general theory. (Gilbert and Sullivan wrote about such folk, who existed even in the 19th century: "The idiot who praises with enthusiastic tone all centuries but this and every country but his own.")

In which we swallow our own tail

So to sum up, Williams rejects the very idea that Western Judeo-Christian values are actually better -- more decent, more successful, more just -- than the values of the radical Islamists who want to blast back to the seventh century. He doesn't see individuals or individual activity as important, not nearly as much as masses of people organized into communities. He rejects the concept that people -- even Osama bin Laden -- can actually be evil. He rejects the supremacy of Judeo-Christian law, universal law, a law for all... the greatest gift the Jews ever gave the world. And he even rejects the evidence of his own senses as to what happens whenever countries allow "sharia-lite" into official jurisprudence.

It seems quite clear to me that if Rowan Williams ever really had faith in the core values of our culture -- or its theistic God -- he lost it long ago. He is a man who has stopped believing in God... and now, as Chesterton didn't say (but meant to), the Archbishop of Canterbury believes anything.

~

For further reading -- dare I say supplementary, if rather shallow -- consider these articles:

0 Full text of Archbishop's Lecture - Civil and Religious Law in England: a religious perspective
Full text of the lecture by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, that sparked controversy for advocating the adoption of parts of Sharia, or Islamic Law, in Britain

1 The title of this series of lectures signals the existence of what is very widely felt to be a growing challenge in our society -- that is, the presence of communities which, while no less 'law-abiding' than the rest of the population, relate to something other than the British legal system alone. But, as I hope to suggest, the issues that arise around what level of public or legal recognition, if any, might be allowed to the legal provisions of a religious group, are not peculiar to Islam: we might recall that, while the law of the Church of England is the law of the land, its daily operation is in the hands of authorities to whom considerable independence is granted. And beyond the specific issues that arise in relation to the practicalities of recognition or delegation, there are large questions in the background about what we understand by and expect from the law, questions that are more sharply focused than ever in a largely secular social environment. I shall therefore be concentrating on certain issues around Islamic law to begin with, in order to open up some of these wider matters.

2 Among the manifold anxieties that haunt the discussion of the place of Muslims in British society, one of the strongest, reinforced from time to time by the sensational reporting of opinion polls, is that Muslim communities in this country seek the freedom to live under sharia law. And what most people think they know of sharia is that it is repressive towards women and wedded to archaic and brutal physical punishments; just a few days ago, it was reported that a 'forced marriage' involving a young woman with learning difficulties had been 'sanctioned under sharia law' -- the kind of story that, in its assumption that we all 'really' know what is involved in the practice of sharia, powerfully reinforces the image of -- at best -- a pre-modern system in which human rights have no role. The problem is freely admitted by Muslim scholars. 'In the West', writes Tariq Ramadan in his groundbreaking Western Muslims and the Future of Islam, 'the idea of Sharia calls up all the darkest images of Islam...It has reached the extent that many Muslim intellectuals do not dare even to refer to the concept for fear of frightening people or arousing suspicion of all their work by the mere mention of the word' (p.31). Even when some of the more dramatic fears are set aside, there remains a great deal of uncertainty about what degree of accommodation the law of the land can and should give to minority communities with their own strongly entrenched legal and moral codes. As such, this is not only an issue about Islam but about other faith groups, including Orthodox Judaism; and indeed it spills over into some of the questions which have surfaced sharply in the last twelve months about the right of religious believers in general to opt out of certain legal provisions -- as in the problems around Roman Catholic adoption agencies which emerged in relation to the Sexual Orientation Regulations last spring.

3 This lecture will not attempt a detailed discussion of the nature of sharia, which would be far beyond my competence; my aim is only, as I have said, to tease out some of the broader issues around the rights of religious groups within a secular state, with a few thought about what might be entailed in crafting a just and constructive relationship between Islamic law and the statutory law of the United Kingdom. But it is important to begin by dispelling one or two myths about sharia; so far from being a monolithic system of detailed enactments, sharia designates primarily -- to quote Ramadan again -- 'the expression of the universal principles of Islam [and] the framework and the thinking that makes for their actualization in human history' (32). Universal principles: as any Muslim commentator will insist, what is in view is the eternal and absolute will of God for the universe and for its human inhabitants in particular; but also something that has to be 'actualized', not a ready-made system. If shar' designates the essence of the revealed Law, sharia is the practice of actualizing and applying it; while certain elements of the sharia are specified fairly exactly in the Qur'an and Sunna and in the hadith recognised as authoritative in this respect, there is no single code that can be identified as 'the' sharia. And when certain states impose what they refer to as sharia or when certain Muslim activists demand its recognition alongside secular jurisdictions, they are usually referring not to a universal and fixed code established once for all but to some particular concretisation of it at the hands of a tradition of jurists. In the hands of contemporary legal traditionalists, this means simply that the application of sharia must be governed by the judgements of representatives of the classical schools of legal interpretation. But there are a good many voices arguing for an extension of the liberty of ijtihad -- basically reasoning from first principles rather than simply the collation of traditional judgements (see for example Louis Gardet, 'Un prealable aux questions soulevees par les droits de l'homme: l'actualisation de la Loi religieuse musulmane aujourd'hui', Islamochristiana 9, 1983, 1-12, and Abdullah Saeed, 'Trends in Contemporary Islam: a Preliminary Attempt at a Classification', The Muslim World, 97:3, 2007, 395-404, esp. 401-2).

4 Thus, in contrast to what is sometimes assumed, we do not simply have a standoff between two rival legal systems when we discuss Islamic and British law. On the one hand, sharia depends for its legitimacy not on any human decision, not on votes or preferences, but on the conviction that it represents the mind of God; on the other, it is to some extent unfinished business so far as codified and precise provisions are concerned. To recognise sharia is to recognise a method of jurisprudence governed by revealed texts rather than a single system. In a discussion based on a paper from Mona Siddiqui at a conference last year at Al Akhawayn University in Morocco, the point was made by one or two Muslim scholars that an excessively narrow understanding sharia as simply codified rules can have the effect of actually undermining the universal claims of the Qur'an.

5 But while such universal claims are not open for renegotiation, they also assume the voluntary consent or submission of the believer, the free decision to be and to continue a member of the umma. Sharia is not, in that sense, intrinsically to do with any demand for Muslim dominance over non-Muslims. Both historically and in the contemporary context, Muslim states have acknowledged that membership of the umma is not coterminous with membership in a particular political society: in modern times, the clearest articulation of this was in the foundation of the Pakistani state under Jinnah; but other examples (Morocco, Jordan) could be cited of societies where there is a concept of citizenship that is not identical with belonging to the umma. Such societies, while not compromising or weakening the possibility of unqualified belief in the authority and universality of sharia, or even the privileged status of Islam in a nation, recognise that there can be no guarantee that the state is religiously homogeneous and that the relationships in which the individual stands and which define him or her are not exclusively with other Muslims. There has therefore to be some concept of common good that is not prescribed solely in terms of revealed Law, however provisional or imperfect such a situation is thought to be. And this implies in turn that the Muslim, even in a predominantly Muslim state, has something of a dual identity, as citizen and as believer within the community of the faithful.

6 It is true that this account would be hotly contested by some committed Islamic primitivists, by followers of Sayyid Qutb and similar polemicists; but it is fair to say that the great body of serious jurists in the Islamic world would recognise this degree of political plurality as consistent with Muslim integrity. In this sense, while (as I have said) we are not talking about two rival systems on the same level, there is some community of understanding between Islamic social thinking and the categories we might turn to in the non-Muslim world for the understanding of law in the most general context. There is a recognition that our social identities are not constituted by one exclusive set of relations or mode of belonging -- even if one of those sets is regarded as relating to the most fundamental and non-negotiable level of reality, as established by a 'covenant' between the divine and the human (as in Jewish and Christian thinking; once again, we are not talking about an exclusively Muslim problem). The danger arises not only when there is an assumption on the religious side that membership of the community (belonging to the umma or the Church or whatever) is the only significant category, so that participation in other kinds of socio-political arrangement is a kind of betrayal. It also occurs when secular government assumes a monopoly in terms of defining public and political identity. There is a position -- not at all unfamiliar in contemporary discussion -- which says that to be a citizen is essentially and simply to be under the rule of the uniform law of a sovereign state, in such a way that any other relations, commitments or protocols of behaviour belong exclusively to the realm of the private and of individual choice. As I have maintained in several other contexts, this is a very unsatisfactory account of political reality in modern societies; but it is also a problematic basis for thinking of the legal category of citizenship and the nature of human interdependence. Maleiha Malik, following Alasdair MacIntyre, argues in an essay on 'Faith and the State of Jurisprudence' (Faith in Law: Essays in Legal Theory, ed. Peter Oliver, Sionaidh Douglas Scott and Victor Tadros, 2000, pp.129-49) that there is a risk of assuming that 'mainstreram' jurisprudence should routinely and unquestioningly bypass the variety of ways in which actions are as a matter of fact understood by agents in the light of the diverse sorts of communal belonging they are involved in. If that is the assumption, 'the appropriate temporal unit for analysis tends to be the basic action. Instead of concentrating on the history of the individual or the origins of the social practice which provides the context within which the act is performed, conduct tends to be studied as an isolated and one-off act' (139-40). And another essay in the same collection, Anthony Bradney's 'Faced by Faith' (89-105) offers some examples of legal rulings which have disregarded the account offered by religious believers of the motives for their own decisions, on the grounds that the court alone is competent to assess the coherence or even sincerity of their claims. And when courts attempt to do this on the grounds of what is 'generally acceptable' behaviour in a society, they are open, Bradney claims (102-3) to the accusation of undermining the principle of liberal pluralism by denying someone the right to speak in their own voice. The distinguished ecclesiastical lawyer, Chancellor Mark Hill, has also underlined in a number of recent papers the degree of confusion that has bedevilled recent essays in adjudicating disputes with a religious element, stressing the need for better definition of the kind of protection for religious conscience that the law intends (see particularly his essay with Russell Sandberg, 'Is Nothing Sacred? Clashing Symbols in a Secular World', Public Law 3, 2007, pp.488-506).

7 I have argued recently in a discussion of the moral background to legislation about incitement to religious hatred that any crime involving religious offence has to be thought about in terms of its tendency to create or reinforce a position in which a religious person or group could be gravely disadvantaged in regard to access to speaking in public in their own right: offence needs to be connected to issues of power and status, so that a powerful individual or group making derogatory or defamatory statements about a disadvantaged minority might be thought to be increasing that disadvantage. The point I am making here is similar. If the law of the land takes no account of what might be for certain agents a proper rationale for behaviour -- for protest against certain unforeseen professional requirements, for instance, which would compromise religious discipline or belief -- it fails in a significant way to communicate with someone involved in the legal process (or indeed to receive their communication), and so, on at least one kind of legal theory (expounded recently, for example, by R.A. Duff), fails in one of its purposes.

8 The implications are twofold. There is a plain procedural question -- and neither Bradney nor Malik goes much beyond this -- about how existing courts function and what weight is properly give to the issues we have been discussing. But there is a larger theoretical and practical issue about what it is to live under more than one jurisdiction., which takes us back to the question we began with -- the role of sharia (or indeed Orthodox Jewish practice) in relation to the routine jurisdiction of the British courts. In general, when there is a robust affirmation that the law of the land should protect individuals on the grounds of their corporate religious identity and secure their freedom to fulfil religious duties, a number of queries are regularly raised. I want to look at three such difficulties briefly. They relate both to the question of whether there should be a higher level of attention to religious identity and communal rights in the practice of the law, and to the larger issue I mentioned of something like a delegation of certain legal functions to the religious courts of a community; and this latter question, it should be remembered, is relevant not only to Islamic law but also to areas of Orthodox Jewish practice.

9 The first objection to a higher level of public legal regard being paid to communal identity is that it leaves legal process (including ordinary disciplinary process within organisations) at the mercy of what might be called vexatious appeals to religious scruple. A recent example might be the reported refusal of a Muslim woman employed by Marks and Spencer to handle a book of Bible stories. Or we might think of the rather more serious cluster of questions around forced marriages, where again it is crucial to distinguish between cultural and strictly religious dimensions. While Bradney rightly cautions against the simple dismissal of alleged scruple by judicial authorities who have made no attempt to understand its workings in the construction of people's social identities, it should be clear also that any recognition of the need for such sensitivity must also have a recognised means of deciding the relative seriousness of conscience-related claims, a way of distinguishing purely cultural habits from seriously-rooted matters of faith and discipline, and distinguishing uninformed prejudice from religious prescription. There needs to be access to recognised authority acting for a religious group: there is already, of course, an Islamic Shari'a Council, much in demand for rulings on marital questions in the UK; and if we were to see more latitude given in law to rights and scruples rooted in religious identity, we should need a much enhanced and quite sophisticated version of such a body, with increased resource and a high degree of community recognition, so that 'vexatious' claims could be summarily dealt with. The secular lawyer needs to know where the potential conflict is real, legally and religiously serious, and where it is grounded in either nuisance or ignorance. There can be no blank cheques given to unexamined scruples.

10 The second issue, a very serious one, is that recognition of 'supplementary jurisdiction' in some areas, especially family law, could have the effect of reinforcing in minority communities some of the most repressive or retrograde elements in them, with particularly serious consequences for the role and liberties of women. The 'forced marriage' question is the one most often referred to here, and it is at the moment undoubtedly a very serious and scandalous one; but precisely because it has to do with custom and culture rather than directly binding enactments by religious authority, I shall refer to another issue. It is argued that the provision for the inheritance of widows under a strict application of sharia has the effect of disadvantaging them in what the majority community might regard as unacceptable ways. A legal (in fact Qur'anic) provision which in its time served very clearly to secure a widow's position at a time when this was practically unknown in the culture becomes, if taken absolutely literally, a generator of relative insecurity in a new context (see, for example, Ann Elizabeth Mayer, Islam and Human Rights. Tradition and Politics, 1999, p.111). The problem here is that recognising the authority of a communal religious court to decide finally and authoritatively about such a question would in effect not merely allow an additional layer of legal routes for resolving conflicts and ordering behaviour but would actually deprive members of the minority community of rights and liberties that they were entitled to enjoy as citizens; and while a legal system might properly admit structures or protocols that embody the diversity of moral reasoning in a plural society by allowing scope for a minority group to administer its affairs according to its own convictions, it can hardly admit or 'license' protocols that effectively take away the rights it acknowledges as generally valid.

11 To put the question like that is already to see where an answer might lie, though it is not an answer that will remove the possibility of some conflict. If any kind of plural jurisdiction is recognised, it would presumably have to be under the rubric that no 'supplementary' jurisdiction could have the power to deny access to the rights granted to other citizens or to punish its members for claiming those rights. This is in effect to mirror what a minority might themselves be requesting -- that the situation should not arise where membership of one group restricted the freedom to live also as a member of an overlapping group, that (in this case) citizenship in a secular society should not necessitate the abandoning of religious discipline, any more than religious discipline should deprive one of access to liberties secured by the law of the land, to the common benefits of secular citizenship -- or, better, to recognise that citizenship itself is a complex phenomenon not bound up with any one level of communal belonging but involving them all.

12 But this does not guarantee an absence of conflict. In the particular case we have mentioned, the inheritance rights of widows, it is already true that some Islamic societies have themselves proved flexible (Malaysia is a case in point). But let us take a more neuralgic matter still: what about the historic Islamic prohibition against apostasy, and the draconian penalties entailed? In a society where freedom of religion is secured by law, it is obviously impossible for any group to claim that conversion to another faith is simply disallowed or to claim the right to inflict punishment on a convert. We touch here on one of the most sensitive areas not only in thinking about legal practice but also in interfaith relations. A significant number of contemporary Islamic jurists and scholars would say that the Qur'anic pronouncements on apostasy which have been regarded as the ground for extreme penalties reflect a situation in which abandoning Islam was equivalent to adopting an active stance of violent hostility to the community, so that extreme penalties could be compared to provisions in other jurisdictions for punishing spies or traitors in wartime; but that this cannot be regarded as bearing on the conditions now existing in the world. Of course such a reading is wholly unacceptable to 'primitivists' in Islam, for whom this would be an example of a rationalising strategy, a style of interpretation (ijtihad) uncontrolled by proper traditional norms. But, to use again the terminology suggested a moment ago, as soon as it is granted that -- even in a dominantly Islamic society -- citizens have more than one set of defining relationships under the law of the state, it becomes hard to justify enactments that take it for granted that the only mode of contact between these sets of relationships is open enmity; in which case, the appropriateness of extreme penalties for conversion is not obvious even within a fairly strict Muslim frame of reference. Conversely, where the dominant legal culture is non-Islamic, but there is a level of serious recognition of the corporate reality and rights of the umma, there can be no assumption that outside the umma the goal of any other jurisdiction is its destruction. Once again, there has to be a recognition that difference of conviction is not automatically a lethal threat.

13 As I have said, this is a delicate and complex matter involving what is mostly a fairly muted but nonetheless real debate among Muslim scholars in various contexts. I mention it partly because of its gravity as an issue in interfaith relations and in discussions of human rights and the treatment of minorities, partly to illustrate how the recognition of what I have been calling membership in different but overlapping sets of social relationship (what others have called 'multiple affiliations') can provide a framework for thinking about these neuralgic questions of the status of women and converts. Recognising a supplementary jurisdiction cannot mean recognising a liberty to exert a sort of local monopoly in some areas. The Jewish legal theorist Ayelet Shachar, in a highly original and significant monograph on Multicultural Jurisdictions: Cultural Differences and Women's Rights (2001), explores the risks of any model that ends up 'franchising' a non-state jurisdiction so as to reinforce its most problematic features and further disadvantage its weakest members: 'we must be alert', she writes, 'to the potentially injurious effects of well-meaning external protections upon different categories of group members here -- effects which may unwittingly exacerbate preexisting internal power hierarchies' (113). She argues that if we are serious in trying to move away from a model that treats one jurisdiction as having a monopoly of socially defining roles and relations, we do not solve any problems by a purely uncritical endorsement of a communal legal structure which can only be avoided by deciding to leave the community altogether. We need, according to Shachar, to 'work to overcome the ultimatum of "either your culture or your rights"' (114).

14 So the second objection to an increased legal recognition of communal religious identities can be met if we are prepared to think about the basic ground rules that might organise the relationship between jurisdictions, making sure that we do not collude with unexamined systems that have oppressive effect or allow shared public liberties to be decisively taken away by a supplementary jurisdiction. Once again, there are no blank cheques. I shall return to some of the details of Shachar's positive proposal; but I want to move on to the third objection, which grows precisely out of the complexities of clarifying the relations between jurisdictions. Is it not both theoretically and practically mistaken to qualify our commitment to legal monopoly? So much of our thinking in the modern world, dominated by European assumptions about universal rights, rests, surely, on the basis that the law is the law; that everyone stands before the public tribunal on exactly equal terms, so that recognition of corporate identities or, more seriously, of supplementary jurisdictions is simply incoherent if we want to preserve the great political and social advances of Western legality.

15 There is a bit of a risk here in the way we sometimes talk about the universal vision of post-Enlightenment politics. The great protest of the Enlightenment was against authority that appealed only to tradition and refused to justify itself by other criteria -- by open reasoned argument or by standards of successful provision of goods and liberties for the greatest number. Its claim to override traditional forms of governance and custom by looking towards a universal tribunal was entirely intelligible against the background of despotism and uncritical inherited privilege which prevailed in so much of early modern Europe. The most positive aspect of this moment in our cultural history was its focus on equal levels of accountability for all and equal levels of access for all to legal process. In this respect, it was in fact largely the foregrounding and confirming of what was already encoded in longstanding legal tradition, Roman and mediaeval, which had consistently affirmed the universality and primacy of law (even over the person of the monarch). But this set of considerations alone is not adequate to deal with the realities of complex societies: it is not enough to say that citizenship as an abstract form of equal access and equal accountability is either the basis or the entirety of social identity and personal motivation. Where this has been enforced, it has proved a weak vehicle for the life of a society and has often brought violent injustice in its wake (think of the various attempts to reduce citizenship to rational equality in the France of the 1790's or the China of the 1970's). Societies that are in fact ethnically, culturally and religiously diverse are societies in which identity is formed, as we have noted by different modes and contexts of belonging, 'multiple affiliation'. The danger is in acting as if the authority that managed the abstract level of equal citizenship represented a sovereign order which then allowed other levels to exist. But if the reality of society is plural -- as many political theorists have pointed out -- this is a damagingly inadequate account of common life, in which certain kinds of affiliation are marginalised or privatised to the extent that what is produced is a ghettoised pattern of social life, in which particular sorts of interest and of reasoning are tolerated as private matters but never granted legitimacy in public as part of a continuing debate about shared goods and priorities.

16 But this means that we have to think a little harder about the role and rule of law in a plural society of overlapping identities. Perhaps it helps to see the universalist vision of law as guaranteeing equal accountability and access primarily in a negative rather than a positive sense -- that is, to see it as a mechanism whereby any human participant in a society is protected against the loss of certain elementary liberties of self-determination and guaranteed the freedom to demand reasons for any actions on the part of others for actions and policies that infringe self-determination. This is a slightly more gentle or tactful way of expressing what some legal theorists will describe as the 'monopoly of legitimate violence' by the law of a state, the absolute restriction of powers of forcible restraint to those who administer statutory law. This is not to reduce society itself primarily to an uneasy alliance of self-determining individuals arguing about the degree to which their freedom is limited by one another and needing forcible restraint in a war of all against all -- though that is increasingly the model which a narrowly rights-based culture fosters, producing a manically litigious atmosphere and a conviction of the inadequacy of customary ethical restraints and traditions -- of what was once called 'civility'. The picture will not be unfamiliar, and there is a modern legal culture which loves to have it so. But the point of defining legal universalism as a negative thing is that it allows us to assume, as I think we should, that the important springs of moral vision in a society will be in those areas which a systematic abstract universalism regards as 'private' -- in religion above all, but also in custom and habit. The role of 'secular' law is not the dissolution of these things in the name of universalism but the monitoring of such affiliations to prevent the creation of mutually isolated communities in which human liberties are seen in incompatible ways and individual persons are subjected to restraints or injustices for which there is no public redress.

17 The rule of law is thus not the enshrining of priority for the universal/abstract dimension of social existence but the establishing of a space accessible to everyone in which it is possible to affirm and defend a commitment to human dignity as such, independent of membership in any specific human community or tradition, so that when specific communities or traditions are in danger of claiming finality for their own boundaries of practice and understanding, they are reminded that they have to come to terms with the actuality of human diversity - and that the only way of doing this is to acknowledge the category of 'human dignity as such' -- a non-negotiable assumption that each agent (with his or her historical and social affiliations) could be expected to have a voice in the shaping of some common project for the well-being and order of a human group. It is not to claim that specific community understandings are 'superseded' by this universal principle, rather to claim that they all need to be undergirded by it. The rule of law is -- and this may sound rather counterintuitive -- a way of honouring what in the human constitution is not captured by any one form of corporate belonging or any particular history, even though the human constitution never exists without those other determinations. Our need, as Raymond Plant has well expressed it, is for the construction of 'a moral framework which could expand outside the boundaries of particular narratives while, at the same time, respecting the narratives as the cultural contexts in which the language [of common dignity and mutually intelligible commitments to work for certain common moral priorities] is learned and taught' (Politics, Theology and History, 2001, pp.357-8).

18 I'd add in passing that this is arguably a place where more reflection is needed about the theology of law; if my analysis is right, the sort of foundation I have sketched for a universal principle of legal right requires both a certain valuation of the human as such and a conviction that the human subject is always endowed with some degree of freedom over against any and every actual system of human social life; both of these things are historically rooted in Christian theology, even when they have acquired a life of their own in isolation from that theology. It never does any harm to be reminded that without certain themes consistently and strongly emphasised by the 'Abrahamic' faiths, themes to do with the unconditional possibility for every human subject to live in conscious relation with God and in free and constructive collaboration with others, there is no guarantee that a 'universalist' account of human dignity would ever have seemed plausible or even emerged with clarity. Slave societies and assumptions about innate racial superiority are as widespread a feature as any in human history (and they have persistently infected even Abrahamic communities, which is perhaps why the Enlightenment was a necessary wake-up call to religion...).

19 But to return to our main theme: I have been arguing that a defence of an unqualified secular legal monopoly in terms of the need for a universalist doctrine of human right or dignity is to misunderstand the circumstances in which that doctrine emerged, and that the essential liberating (and religiously informed) vision it represents is not imperilled by a loosening of the monopolistic framework. At the moment, as I mentioned at the beginning of this lecture, one of the most frequently noted problems in the law in this area is the reluctance of a dominant rights-based philosophy to acknowledge the liberty of conscientious opting-out from collaboration in procedures or practices that are in tension with the demands of particular religious groups: the assumption, in rather misleading shorthand, that if a right or liberty is granted there is a corresponding duty upon every individual to 'activate' this whenever called upon. Earlier on, I proposed that the criterion for recognising and collaborating with communal religious discipline should be connected with whether a communal jurisdiction actively interfered with liberties guaranteed by the wider society in such a way as definitively to block access to the exercise of those liberties; clearly the refusal of a religious believer to act upon the legal recognition of a right is not, given the plural character of society, a denial to anyone inside or outside the community of access to that right. The point has been granted in respect of medical professionals who may be asked to perform or co-operate in performing abortions -- a perfectly reasonable example of the law doing what I earlier defined as its job, securing space for those aspects of human motivation and behaviour that cannot be finally determined by any corporate or social system. It is difficult to see quite why the principle cannot be extended in other areas. But it is undeniable that there is pressure from some quarters to insist that conscientious disagreement should always be overruled by a monopolistic understanding of jurisdiction.

20 I labour the point because what at first seems to be a somewhat narrow point about how Islamic law and Islamic identity should or might be regarded in our legal system in fact opens up a very wide range of current issues, and requires some general thinking about the character of law. It would be a pity if the immense advances in the recognition of human rights led, because of a misconception about legal universality, to a situation where a person was defined primarily as the possessor of a set of abstract liberties and the law's function was accordingly seen as nothing but the securing of those liberties irrespective of the custom and conscience of those groups which concretely compose a plural modern society. Certainly, no-one is likely to suppose that a scheme allowing for supplementary jurisdiction will be simple, and the history of experiments in this direction amply illustrates the problems. But if one approaches it along the lines sketched by Shachar in the monograph quoted earlier, it might be possible to think in terms of what she calls 'transformative accommodation': a scheme in which individuals retain the liberty to choose the jurisdiction under which they will seek to resolve certain carefully specified matters, so that 'power-holders are forced to compete for the loyalty of their shared constituents' (122). This may include aspects of marital law, the regulation of financial transactions and authorised structures of mediation and conflict resolution -- the main areas that have been in question where supplementary jurisdictions have been tried, with native American communities in Canada as well as with religious groups like Islamic minority communities in certain contexts. In such schemes, both jurisdictional stakeholders may need to examine the way they operate; a communal/religious nomos, to borrow Shachar's vocabulary, has to think through the risks of alienating its people by inflexible or over-restrictive applications of traditional law, and a universalist Enlightenment system has to weigh the possible consequences of ghettoising and effectively disenfranchising a minority, at real cost to overall social cohesion and creativity. Hence 'transformative accommodation': both jurisdictional parties may be changed by their encounter over time, and we avoid the sterility of mutually exclusive monopolies.

21 It is uncomfortably true that this introduces into our thinking about law what some would see as a 'market' element, a competition for loyalty as Shachar admits. But if what we want socially is a pattern of relations in which a plurality of divers and overlapping affiliations work for a common good, and in which groups of serious and profound conviction are not systematically faced with the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty, it seems unavoidable. In other settings, I have spoken about the idea of 'interactive pluralism' as a political desideratum; this seems to be one manifestation of such an ideal, comparable to the arrangements that allow for shared responsibility in education: the best argument for faith schools from the point of view of any aspiration towards social harmony and understanding is that they bring communal loyalties into direct relation with the wider society and inevitably lead to mutual questioning and sometimes mutual influence towards change, without compromising the distinctiveness of the essential elements of those communal loyalties.

22 In conclusion, it seems that if we are to think intelligently about the relations between Islam and British law, we need a fair amount of 'deconstruction' of crude oppositions and mythologies, whether of the nature of sharia or the nature of the Enlightenment. But as I have hinted, I do not believe this can be done without some thinking also about the very nature of law. It is always easy to take refuge in some form of positivism; and what I have called legal universalism, when divorced from a serious theoretical (and, I would argue, religious) underpinning, can turn into a positivism as sterile as any other variety. If the paradoxical idea which I have sketched is true -- that universal law and universal right are a way of recognising what is least fathomable and controllable in the human subject -- theology still waits for us around the corner of these debates, however hard our culture may try to keep it out. And, as you can imagine, I am not going to complain about that.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 12, 2008, at the time of 7:31 PM | Comments (25) | TrackBack

November 27, 2007

Moslems, Mormons, and Mitt

Islamarama
Hatched by Dafydd

Everybody seems to be jabbering about this supposed faux pas of Mitt Romney in response to a question by Mansoor Ijaz; but no such judgment can be made without knowing not only the exact question Ijaz asked... but also the preceding conversation, which set the context of the question.

Power Line was the first place I read it; now it's been discussed on Captain's Quarters (and here, too), Real Clear Politics, National Review, and goodness knows where else, mostly but not exclusively to Romney's discredit.

Here's the buzz. According to an opinion piece by Mansoor Ijaz in the Christian Science Monitor, the following exchange took place at a Mitt Romney fundraiser in Las Vegas earlier this month:

I asked Mr. Romney whether he would consider including qualified Americans of the Islamic faith in his cabinet as advisers on national security matters, given his position that "jihadism" is the principal foreign policy threat facing America today. He answered, "…based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration."

Romney, whose Mormon faith has become the subject of heated debate in Republican caucuses, wants America to be blind to his religious beliefs and judge him on merit instead. Yet he seems to accept excluding Muslims because of their religion, claiming they're too much of a minority for a post in high-level policymaking. More ironic, that Islamic heritage is what qualifies them to best engage America's Arab and Muslim communities and to help deter Islamist threats....

He, and other candidates for the presidency from both political parties, should actively begin searching for American Muslims and Arab Americans who can serve in primary decisionmaking cabinet level posts. To do otherwise is to risk promulgating policies that once again put the US straight in the sights of the terrorists who seek to bring America down.

Who is Mansoor Ijaz? He's a fiscally (free-market) conservative, anti-terrorist, pro-war against global hirabah, native-born American of Pakistani descent. He is a Moslem, but not a radical one. Yet several things about this accusation of "aggravating hypocrisy" aggravate me:

  1. To Ijaz's core point, he accuses Romney of "excluding Muslims because of their religion." But the only thing Ijaz actually shows is that Romney rejected Ijaz's call to "actively begin searching" for people to appoint to the cabinet because they are Moslem. Isn't Ijaz's call for hiring people specifically because of their religion just as religiously biased as excluding people based on their religion would be -- even if Romney were saying he would do that?
  2. Don't you wonder, as do I, about the elipsis that begins Ijaz's alleged quotation of Romney's answer? What did Romney say before he said "based on the numbers of American Muslims in our population?"
  3. I'm also curious what Romney said after the quoted passage; did he clarify his position at all? We have no idea, because Ijaz -- the only witness -- doesn't see fit to tell us.
  4. Likewise, I am always skeptical when a person is attacked for an answer to a question -- yet we're not given the exact question. Ijaz purports to have memorized or written down the exact words that Romney used to answer the question; but evidently, Ijaz either doesn't remember what he, himself asked... or else he doesn't want us to know.

Suppose, for example, his question were actually, "Gov. Romney, we have special cabinet officers to deal with energy, commerce, the environment, education, and defense. Would you consider putting a qualified Muslim into your cabinet in order to handle domestic Muslim issues?"

And perhaps that missing section, hinted at by the elipsis, was "You mean a sort of Muslim czar? No... based on the numbers of American Muslims in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified."

If that were more or less the exchange, then what they were really talking about would have been a Moslem czar, a cabinet-level position like "Secretary of Islam." In that case, the easiest way to answer the question would be to gently point out to Ijaz that the entire panoply of domestic Moslem issues does not rise to the level of a cabinet-level appointment. I mean, we don't have a Secretary of Christianity, and most of the country would call itself Christian of one kind or another.

These are fanciful, made-up quotations, of course (hence the blue highlighting); I have no evidence either party said these. I'm simply showing how easy it would be for a natural flow of conversation to create a context in which Romney's answer was neither an example of religious bigotry nor even "aggravating hypocrisy."

(I call question (4) above the "primary polling fallacy," by the way; PPF occurs whenever a newspaper reports on polling results without telling readers the actual wording of the questions... which is critical to understanding those poll results.)

I'm not simply scrambling for some way to rescue Romney from a (supposedly) religiously bigotted remark; I'm neither a Romney supporter nor detractor... I like much of what he says, but I can say the same about Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, and John McCain; but I also dislike some things about him -- which I can also say of Giuliani, Huckabee, and McCain.

Here is the problem: Ijaz is a "good Moslem," meaning that as regards public policy (not personal devotional habits), he is an American first and a Moslem second. But he is, nevertheless, a Moslem activist.

Unlike the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Mansoor Ijaz certainly does not have an agenda of overthrowing the United States government and instituting a theocratic caliphate. But like CAIR, Ijaz does focus fairly obsessively on Moslem issues (since 9/11), and he does tend to cast anyone who doesn't agree with his expansive views on affirmative action for Moslems as a religious bigot.

To me, Ijaz seems perfectly capable of twisting Romney's response to make it appear clearer that the governor is a bigot -- as Ijaz believes of everyone who disagrees with him about Moslem issues... and Ijaz might not even realize that's what he's doing.

The same memory phenomenon occurred when Vice President Al Gore's said, "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet" -- which is bad enough, since it was "created" long before Gore was first elected to Congress in 1976 (at least as far back as the first working ARPANET connection in 1969); and indeed, Gore did not really get involved in internet-related committee work until the 1980s.

But many conservatives went farther, actually misremembering it much worse than Algore said. They transformed the statement, in their own minds, into Gore saying "I invented the internet."

I think there is actually a psychological term for this phenomenon -- intensification, or somesuch: When a person has a very strong reaction to something he heard someone say, he will tend to remember what he heard in an altered form... changed in order to intensify whatever feeling he had. Thus, if he really, really likes what someone said, he will tend to remember it phrased much better, pithier, wittier than it really was. Likewise, if he really hated what the speaker said, he will tend to remember it as worse, more vicious, or more egregious than it really was... many Democrats actually, literally "remember" George W. Bush saying that Iraq was an "imminent threat," whereas the transcript shows he said just the opposite.

These are just local variants on the generalized phenomenon that we all tend to remember important events, not as they actually happened, but as they should have happened.

This applies to the circumstances of the situation, too; many Republicans literally "remember" that when Bill Clinton said "I did not have sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky," Clinton was sitting right there in the Oval Office. In fact, he was standing in a press room, either at the White House or elsewhere, I don't recall which. The meme of "sullying the office of the presidency" is intensified by falsely remembering that it occurred in the sanctum santorum of the American government itself.

Anent the Romney "Moslem in the cabinet" claim, there are simply too many problems with it to take it seriously:

  • It happened without video cameras rolling, so we cannot watch it ourselves;
  • It happened far from any microphones (if there were even any present), so we cannot hear it;
  • No other witness has stepped forward to corroborate it;
  • Not even Mansoor Ijaz says that he literally took the answer down in shorthand while Romney spoke; he may be operating entirely on his memory of what each said;
  • Ijaz doesn't give us the question he asked;
  • He doesn't give us Romney's complete answer;
  • He doesn't give us the specific context they were speaking about;
  • And he admits engaging in the same religious targeting -- on behalf of Moslems -- that he accuses Romney of engaging in against Moslems.

Ijaz is a Moslem-rights activist... and like all activists, it's hard to know when he's promoting his issue and when he's just accurately reporting in an unbiased fashion. As Captain Ed put it, Ijaz is "playing identity politics" himself.

Given these known unknowns, all of them critical to understanding the conversation, it is simply impossible to form any rational conclusion about what Mitt Romney said. Any "conclusion" drawn is in reality merely projection, based upon the concluder's own feelings in the matter.

So let's all stop trying to read the Romney tea leaves; there is no "there" there.

Lizardly Instant Update Feature: Real Clear Politics (linked above) links to an MSNBC blog called First Read, which reports a presser with Mitt Romney at which he clarified what he remembers of that conversation:

At an availability with reporters here, Romney answered questions about today's report suggesting that he would not appoint Muslims to his Cabinet. "No, that's not what I said. His question was, Did I need to have a Muslim in my Cabinet in order to confront radical jihad, or would it be important to have a Muslim in my Cabinet?' And I said no, I don't think you need a Muslim in the Cabinet to take on radical jihad any more than we needed a Japanese American to understand the threat that was coming from Japan or something of that nature."

Romney continued, "It's something I rejected, number one. And number two, point out that haven't given a lot of thought to the people I would have in my Cabinet. I don't have boxes I check off in terms of ethnicity, and it's not that I need a certain number of people representing ethnic groups. Instead, I would choose people based on their merits... I'm open to having people of any faith, ethnic group. But they would be selected based on their capacity and capabilities and what they could bring to the Administration, but I don't choose people based on checking off a box...."

A search of FEC records, finds that a Mansoor Ijaz has given $23,000 to Democratic candidates and committees from 1997 to 2000, including $2,000 to Hillary Clinton’s 2000 Senate run and $15,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

I think it reasonable to take that last paragraph into account when evaluating Mansoor Ijaz's CSM column.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 27, 2007, at the time of 2:46 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 7, 2006

Moderate Moslems Found!

Islamarama
Hatched by Dafydd

For those who insist that there are not "moderate Moslems," here's a post from Michelle Malkin that links to a story in the Australian.

It seems that several naughty boys at a Melbourne Islamic school got a little out of control with the Holy Bible:

The Bible desecration took place last week at a school camp held near Bacchus Marsh, about 50km west of Melbourne, attended by 33 teenage Muslim boys ranging in age from Year7 to Year 10.

A school report of the incident, obtained by The Australian, says it happened late at night and involved three students and another two watching.

"The main perpetrator (a Year 7 student) urinated on the Holy Bible, tore some pages from the Holy Book and burnt them then finally spat on the Holy Book," the report says.

The second boy, from Year 9, "tore pages from the Holy Book and burnt them", while a third student, from Year 7, "tore pages from the Holy Bible and then he rolled it up like a cigarette and pretended to smoke it".

So far, it seems like something straight out of Mark Steyn's newest book, America Alone. But here's the kicker:

Mr Doutie, whose school receives about $3.9 million in state and federal government funding each year, told The Australian yesterday that both he and the school community were appalled by the Bible desecration and that he had expelled the first two boys and suspended the third.

In a letter to all staff on Monday, Mr Doutie wrote: "The school unconditionally apologises for this horrible act as conducted by some illiterate and ignorant students while under the care of EPIC [East Preston Islamic College] teachers.

"We regard the desecration of the Bible in a very serious light and therefore we have taken serious action against the offenders.

"The Bible is an important book both for non-Muslims and Muslims and should be treated as a holy book by all religions."

In fact, Doutie went even farther than simply punishing these particular boys:

Mr Doutie said he did not believe that the boys realised the significance of their act.

But to ensure it did not happen again he had called in the assistant imam of the Newport Mosque, Oman Haouli, to tell the students that the Bible was a sacred book. "My lesson to them was to respect their neighbours and respect all religions," Mr Haouli said yesterday.

I say we give three big cheers for Moslems policing their own. Little kids will act out; they could even be doing the sorts of things they hear their friends (or parents) talking about. But one school, at least, let them and the other 648 students know that such behavior is not acceptable in a civilized society.

There are many others out there like the teachers and administrators of EPIC. Among the many possible reasons why we don't hear about them could be that our wonderfully unbiased drive-by media, which is just interested in the facts, ma'am, doesn't see how such incidents fit "the Story" that they want to tell.

The news would rather tell stories like this one, from the same article:

Many Muslims remain angry about the public humiliation suffered by their spiritual leader, the mufti Taj Din al-Hilali, after the Sheik likened female rape victims to pieces of meat who brought the attacks on themselves.

I do not believe that the elite media is trying to make Moslems look bad; rather, I think they're trying to inflame Moslem communities -- because the elites see Moslems as "the oppressed," and the West as the oppressors... and they want the ummah to rise up against Western Christian oppression for the same reason the same news editors and publisher, when they were young college men, championed the cause of the Viet Cong, the Communists in Chile, and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.

Always keep in mind the possibility -- when you read others say or imply that all Moslems are either radicalized or at least support those who are -- that we do not know whether, by reading newspapers and watching TV, we're really getting a representative sample set of all Moslems.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 7, 2006, at the time of 5:25 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

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