I took a bunch of undergraduate courses in religious studies back in college–at one point I considered a minor in the subject, but I went to a school that discouraged minors and deliberately made them hard to get, requiring 30-40 units for an essentially worthless distinction. In any event, I (unlike the dittohead running Ahmed Mohammed’s town) actually do know a thing or two about Shari’a Law. Hardly an expert, but my recollection is that it’s about 90% unobjectionable love thy neighbor, give to the poor type of stuff, and about 10% stuff that is problematic from a secularist’s perspective–it does do things like proscribe how the judicial system is supposed to work, so it’s fair to say that under strict Shari’a Law, a separation between church and state is not really a thing that exists (though few Islamic countries implement the entirety of Shari’a Law in their legal codes), and it must be stated that for quite a long time the idea of church-state separation was marginal in the Christian sphere as well. And if you ever listen to Mike Huckabee for more than twenty seconds, you’ll find that it’s still not universal there either.
However, despite whatever misgivings one might have with those issues, what Shari’a Law does not have are (a) some kind of forced conversion to Islam on pain of death, (b) commandments to kill the infidels (a Latin-derived term, FWIW), (c) burka requirements, (d) fifty lashes for eating pork, or whatever else the fevered mind of right-wingers might ascribe to it. When you read these stories about the graying of the Republican Party and the conservative movement, I think the fact that large swathes of them are terrified of a legal code that they don’t understand anything about needs to be interpreted as a need for a substitute for Communism to make their whole right-wing paradigm work for septuagenarians who grew up terrified of the reds. However, it is ridiculous to equate it to Communism because the USSR actually did work to infiltrate, penetrate and take over various labor organizations, newspapers, and to a huge degree the intelligence services created to watch them (read this if you want to read the so-scary-it’s-funny story of that). Right-wingers of the era, of course, held inaccurate and silly views of Communism, and in the case of Joe “Precursor to Ted Cruz” McCarthy, you clearly had a demagogue who did not have the goods on this phenomenon, but was just trying to use fear of it to beat on liberals. But at least there was a central force that was doing some of the things they said they were doing in some of the ways they said they were doing them, however exaggerated. The whole “creeping Shari’a Law” thing, though, is simply stupid. Nobody knows what it is or what it does. There is no central actor in this conspiracy, no idea that can be communicated, no evidence, no known figures, no argument, just panicked email forwards by elderly shut-ins. And while right-wingers famously refused to accept the various rifts among the Communist sphere back in the day, it’s a lot harder to deny them in the Islamic world when they’re fighting to kill each other each and every day. Aside from Vietnam invading Cambodia in the late 1970s, there was simply nothing like this back then. There’s no reason to believe that radical Islamists are even trying to penetrate institutions to the same degree that the Soviets did back in the day, or that they’d have much success if they tried. The Shari’a freakout is something that exists because septuagenarian Republicans (such as Charlie Daniels) are used to thinking of enemies compromising America from within, period, end of paragraph.
Always this talk of the threat militant Islam poses to the West. I don’t deny that Europe has real things to worry about, but for America I just dunno. I mean, there is the threat of sporadic attacks, which I’m not minimizing, but apart from that, what is it were terrified of again? Farfetched scenarios where they acquire a nuclear bomb? Nonexistent fifth columnists secretly plotting to implement Shari’a Law? (A worry, by the way, that is utterly banal if one has studied Islam a little and knows what Shari’a consists of.) The implausible notion of militant Islam becoming a mainstream political orientation?
It really is like people just want to live in fear. There’s no reason to.
Recall that, just last year, the president touted the “Arab Spring” – which any high school history buff could have predicted would devolve into the utter chaos it has – as “an extraordinary change taking place,” wherein, “Square by square, town by town, country by country, the [Muslim] people have risen up to demand their basic human rights.” (You know, like the Quran-given right for Muslim men to beat or kill women and homosexuals with impunity; or like the human right for both Iran and the Palestinian Authority to “wipe Israel from the face of the earth.”) Whether due to naiveté, foolishness or pure dishonesty, President Obama’s bungling of the Middle East crisis – let alone his unprecedented attacks on our constitutional freedoms stateside – has disqualified him to lead the free world. And so, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stepped forward to answer the call. He has become de facto leader of the free world – chief defender of Western civilization. [emphasis mine] As America’s light fades under the Obama regime, Israel has become – for now at least – “the shining city on the hill.” With a nuclear Iran perhaps only months away, Western civilization needs defending now more than ever. Israel needs defending now more than ever. Consider these words from top Hamas cleric Muhsen Abu ‘Ita: “Annihilation of the Jews here in Palestine is one of the most splendid blessings for Palestine.”I realize this is Bircher claptrap to the extreme, but sometimes you just have to take a step back. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that Iran is indeed close (only months away!) from acquiring a nuclear bomb that can be delivered by a missile. Which is not at all the interpretation supported by the facts we know, but okay. Apparently pledging to use force only in the event that Iran acquires one single nuclear weapon not only makes Obama weak, incompetent, practically Carter-like, but also apparently an enemy of freedom itself? Only by being willing to use force well ahead of the development of such a device counts as strong, patriotic, and freedom-loving? I guess, by this logic, George W. Bush not only revoked his leadership in the fight for freedom when North Korea developed nuclear weapons, but he very nearly destroyed the whole free world, leaving such freedom-loving patriots like China President Hu Jintao to assume the heavy burden of leading the free world. Right? Also, while I’m hardly going to waste my time thoroughly fisking this thing, it’s worth noting that the Qu’ran does not, actually, give men the right to beat women. Muhammad did, in fact, believe in gender equality to a striking degree for someone who lived 1300 years ago. Clearly his own view isn’t carrying the day among many of the supporters of the faith he founded, but neither have Jesus’s invocations to live in peace with your neighbors and to help the poor. Not entirely fair to hold those guys responsible for what people make of their message over a millennium later, now, is it? As with many things, the problem with domestic violence in the Middle East isn’t a “values” problem, it’s a poverty problem. Being poor with little work, less opportunity and no way to change it typically leads to free-floating anger and violence of many kinds, including violent crime and domestic violence. This is such an obvious point it shouldn’t be necessary to cite something, but here’s something anyway. In general, generalizing the behavior of poor people as some broader indication of local attitudes is silly–humans are humans and the pathologies are the same everywhere. The caricature of a liberal would say not to judge people under those circumstances, which is incidentally always good advice. But unless you’ve seen just how crushing poverty can be to people–and my experiences are admittedly limited to only a couple of weeks in my own lifetime–it’s rather icky for well-heeled pundits to talk about other people as if they have a clue who they’re talking about. Poor people are just as much an abstraction to Barber as Muslims are.
There isn’t much that blows my mind more than the followers of some particular strain of irrational religious mythology denouncing the followers of another irrational strain of religious mythology.
I mean, is the belief that Catholics literally eat the transubstantiated body and blood of Christ any weirder than Magical Mormon Underpants™? I know most God-fearing “modern” Christians in this country like to bitch about Islam’s treatment of women, but isn’t “modern” Christianity just a cafeteria-style approach to the Bible’s real teachings on the subject of male-female parity?
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church. . . .” — Ephesians 5:22–23
“These [redeemed] are they which were not defiled with women; . . .” — Revelation 14:4
“In pain shall you bring forth children, woman, and you shall turn to your husband and he shall rule over you. And do you not know that you are Eve? God’s sentence hangs still over all your sex and His punishment weighs down upon you. You are the devil’s gateway; you are she who first violated the forbidden tree and broke the law of God. It was you who coaxed your way around him whom the devil had not the force to attack. With what ease you shattered that image of God: Man! Because of the death you merited, even the Son of God had to die. . . . Woman, you are the gate to hell.” Tertullian, early Church father.
For my money, people that believe in redemption through celestial tap-dancing leprechauns reveal themselves as pretty silly when they go around dissing people who yearn for the day when God’s army of divine space chipmunks brings about The Rapture.
First case in point: “Real” Christian Hosts on Fox News dissing Mitt Romney’s form of Space-God worship:
A recent Gallup poll had Texas Gov. Rick Perry trailing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney 4 percent to 13 percent among Republican voters.
But the hosts of Fox & Friends said Sunday that Perry would have an advantage if he decides to get in the race because Romney is “obviously not a Christian.”
“Only 13 percent of those people said Mitt Romney is their guy,” noted Fox News host Dave Briggs. “It looks perfect for someone like Rick Perry to get in.”
“Well the Christian coalition, I think he could get a lot of money from that,” host Ainsley Earhardt predicted. “Because Romney, obviously not being a Christian — Rick Perry, he’s always on talk shows — on Christian talk shows. He has days of prayer in Texas.”
Second case in point: GOP Presidential Contender Herman Cain On Dirty Mooslems and the First Amendment:
WALLACE: [C]ouldn’t any community then say we don’t want a mosque in our community?
CAIN: They could say that. Chris, let’s go back to the fundamental issue that the people are basically saying that they are objecting to. They are objecting to the fact that Islam is both religion and of set of laws, Sharia law. That’s the difference between any one of our other traditional religions where it’s just about religious purposes. The people in the community know best. And I happen to side with the people in the community.
WALLACE: So, you’re saying that any community, if they want to ban a mosque?
CAIN: Yes, they have the right to do that. That’s not discriminating based upon religion — against that particular religion.
Let he who is without ignorant, militant faith throw the first stone, right?
Update: The Herman Cain hits just keep on coming:
In an editorial board interview with the Washington Times, Herman Cain expanded at length on why he believed Mitt Romney could not beat Barack Obama. Among other factors, Cain noted that Romney has not done “a good job of explaining his religion,” which he asserted would be a major liability in the South. Cain said the fact that Romney is a Mormon “doesn’t bother me,” but “it is an issue with a lot of southerners.”
Yes, those Crusades:
Rick Santorum launched into a scathing attack on the left, charging during an appearance in South Carolina that the history of the Crusades has been corrupted by “the American left who hates Christendom.”
“The idea that the Crusades and the fight of Christendom against Islam is somehow an aggression on our part is absolutely anti-historical,” Santorum said in Spartanburg on Tuesday. “And that is what the perception is by the American left who hates Christendom.”
He added, “They hate Western civilization at the core. That’s the problem.”
After asserting that Christianity had not shown any “aggression” to the Muslim world, the former Pennsylvania senator — who is considering a 2012 run for the White House — argued that American intervention in the Middle East helps promote “core American values.”
Is any parody capable of being as funny as the self-parody they foist on themselves?
Roger Stockham, a 63-year-old Army veteran from California who was reportedly angry at the U.S. government, was arrested by police in Michigan and charged with allegedly threatening to blow up a Mosque in Dearborn. Dearborn police allegedly found Stockham inside his vehicle outside the Islamic Center of America with a load of M-80s in his trunk and other explosives, the Detroit News reported. Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Counsel on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), told the newspaper that police told him the suspect was drinking in a Detroit bar on Monday and threatened to do harm to a mosque in Dearborn. An employee at the bar followed the man outside and wrote down his license plate, which he reported to police, Walid told the newspaper. The 63-year-old grandfather is charged with one count of a false report or threat of terrorism and one count of possession of bombs with unlawful intent, according to the newspaper.Let us always be wary of the threat that Decoy Muslims pose to America:
I really just can’t put it any other way: the reactionary right in this country are dangerous, insane fucktards that wreak havoc with every paranoid delusion that invades their primordial, largely inactive brain cells:
David Narcomey, a business owner and member of the Seminole Nation, said he sees dangers beyond just the religious issues at stake over the controversial Sharia law state question.
Narcomey agrees with several law experts that tribal relations and international trade within the state could feel the unintended consequences of State Question 755. Voters overwhelmingly approved the ballot measure last week that bars judges from considering international or Islamic Sharia law when deciding cases.
“This could blossom into a major threat to the sovereignty of our Indian nations,” Narcomey said. “There really is just a remote chance it could happen, but Pandora’s box can be opened with just that one case.”
Oklahoma University law professor Taiawagi Helton, along with many other legal experts, said he thinks there are First Amendment problems by singling out the one religion. But Helton said the lesser-discussed language created by the state question that courts cannot look to the “legal precepts of other nations or cultures” could pose a problem if it is applied to tribal legal cases.
Helton, who specializes in American Indian law, said the “ambiguous” language could be interpreted in a way for the state to reject rulings based on tribal laws. He said an “opportunistic” person could argue tribal laws do not apply in arbitration cases or when the state is called to resolve a dispute.
Barbara Warner, executive director of the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission, said she too has heard concerns the state question could carry a “detrimental” impact to tribes.
Doesn’t anyone find it just a little ironic that teabaggers and other associated fuckwits love to cry about the jackbooted thugs of gubmint while simultaneously pushing to pass referenda like this that drastically pervert the role of government in people’s lives?
If Sarah Palin really does get elected in 2012, can someone recommend a nice city in Canada? I hear Vancouver BC is nice this time of year. Or maybe Mallorca!
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