Religious vs. Political Islam
Americans take many things for granted. One of them is a rather brilliant decision made by the Founding Fathers, who were among the many settlers coming to the New World to escape religious oppression by state-affiliated faiths. The Founders decided that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Hence, while people were free to worship as they please, church and state would remain separate entities. Islam makes no such distinction, and America is in desperate need of a forthright conversation regarding the differences between religious and political Islam.
“Some Muslims come to the United States to practice their religion peacefully, and assimilate into the Western tradition of tolerance of other people’s liberties, including religious liberty — a tradition alien to the theocratic societies in which they grew up,” writes National Review’s Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor who led the case against the 1993 World Trade Center bombers. “Others come here to champion sharia, Islam’s authoritarian societal framework and legal code, resisting assimilation into our pluralistic society. Since we want to both honor religious liberty and preserve the Constitution that enshrines and protects it, we have a dilemma.”
Dilemma indeed. As McCarthy further explains, the overwhelming majority of people emigrating from Muslim-majority countries to Western nations are coming from societies where “Islam is a comprehensive ideological system that governs all human affairs, from political, economic, and military matters to interpersonal relations and even hygiene.” And while Islam does have religious tenets, McCarthy argues “these make up only a fraction of what is overwhelmingly a political ideology.”
At the center of that political ideology is Sharia Law, a system of governance that embraces such concepts as discrimination against women, homosexuals and non-believers, the suppression of free speech and unfettered economic activity, and the denial of due process and protection against cruel and unusual punishment. As recently as last week, while the world was acknowledging International Human Rights Day, the Obama administration’s Iranian “allies” announced a woman had been sentenced to death by stoning. Thus 21st century Muslim societies still countenance burying people up to their shoulders and pelting them with stones until they die. According to the International Committees against Execution and Stoning, Iran has meted out that particular punishment at least 150 times since 1980.
Now, one might think Muslims emigrating to nations that view such barbarity with contempt might be inclined to heartily embrace more enlightened views of their new countries. Not exactly. A poll released last June by the Center for Security Policy reveals that 51% of Muslims believe “Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to shariah.” By comparison, 86% of the broader U.S. population held that Sharia should not replace the Constitution. Even more ominously, nearly 25% of Muslims surveyed insisted violence is legitimate “to punish those who give offense to Islam by, for example, portraying the prophet Mohammed,” and nearly a fifth believed violence was justified to turn America into a sharia-based nation.
Such thinking can be characterized as many things. A commitment to assimilation isn’t one of them.
And not just here. The United Kingdom has already abided the establishment of at least 30 Sharia Councils, responsible for the issuance of Islamic divorce certificates and the offering of advice on other aspects of religious law. They have existed since 1996, courtesy of the Arbitration Act allowing various religious laws to be applied in cases such as divorce. They are abetted by cultural surrenderists, such as the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who insisted in 2008 that some aspects of Sharia Law would be beneficial in terms of social “cohesion”; former senior judge Baroness Butler-Sloss, who chaired a two year commission that ultimately decided Britain is no longer a Christian country and should stop acting as if it is; and Britain’s Labour Party leader who vowed he would outlaw “Islamophobia” had he become prime minister in last May’s election.
They’re not alone. Demonstrating an equal amount of ignorance and appeasement, a bipartisan majority of U.S. senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee adopted an amendment by Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) aimed at preventing the federal government from considering religion as part of the process in immigration and entrance decisions, because “such action would be contrary to the fundamental principles on which this Nation was founded.” Such consideration is currently the law for those seeking asylum.
Not only do these senators completely ignore the political aspect of Islam, their proposal runs completely contrary to the thinking of Founding Fathers such as James Madison, who stated “those who acquire the rights of citizenship, without adding to the strength or wealth of the community are not the people we are in want of.” Likewise, Alexander Hamilton asserted that the “safety of a republic depends essentially on the energy of a common national sentiment.”
The alternative? “To admit foreigners indiscriminately to the rights of citizens the moment they put foot in our country,” Hamilton warned, “would be nothing less than to admit the Grecian horse into the citadel of our liberty and sovereignty.”
To their credit, there are Muslims who recognize the difference and reject Sharia Law. A Muslim Reform Movement has been established whose adherents declare they “are in a battle for the soul of Islam, and an Islamic renewal [that] must defeat the ideology of Islamism, or political Islam.” Toward that end they “reject interpretations of Islam that call for a violent jihad, social injustice and political Islam” and declare loyalty “to the nations in which we live.” On Dec. 4, 2015, the group produced a Declaration for Muslim Reform and posted it on the door of the Islamic Center of Washington, DC.
It was quickly taken down. In an article for Front Page Magazine, Dr. Steven M. Kirby expressed profound skepticism, labeling the movement “Fantasy Islam” because, while well-intentioned, it is utterly inimical to the tenets of the Koran. “If folks are serious about religious reform, one thinks they would like to maintain some connection to their own religious traditions as a basis for that reform,” Kirby writes. “But the Muslim Reform Movement has apparently decided otherwise and seems more interested in establishing a connection with the non-Muslim Western world as the basis for their reform.”
Middle East Forum president and historian Daniel Pipes explains the underlying problem with modern-day Islam. “The trauma of modern Islam results from this sharp and unmistakable contrast between medieval successes and more recent tribulations,” he writes. “Put simply, Muslims have had an exceedingly hard time explaining what went wrong.” The search for an answer has precipitated “three political responses to modernity — secularism, reformism and Islamism.”
Secularism is an effort to emulate Western values, reformism an effort to selectively appropriate them, and Islamism is the effort to thoroughly reject those values as a means of transforming “faith into ideology.” “Islamists espouse deep antagonism toward non-Muslims in general, and Jews and Christians in particular,” Pipes notes. “They despise the West both because of its huge cultural influence and because it is a traditional opponent — the old rival, Christendom, in a new guise. Some of them have learned to moderate their views so as not to upset Western audiences, but the disguise is thin and should deceive no one.”
Unfortunately, virtually the entire American Left and a considerable number of Republicans are more than willing to be deceived, because a stultifying political correctness demands it. Thus we are assured a vetting process that allowed San Bernardino terrorist Tashfeen Malik entry in the United States despite years of radicalization — discovered after the atrocity, of course — can be used to vet Syrian “refugees” emigrating from a country embroiled in a civil war where no reliable databases exist. We are assured the continuing emigration of more than a quarter of a million Muslims per year, helping to make them the fastest growing bloc of immigrants entering the nation, poses no threat to the Republic. And anyone who disagrees embraces the “racism behind the agenda of the right wing on immigrants and foreigners [that] has long been plain as day,” states The New York Times editorial board.
Following Paris and San Bernardino, such assertions ring increasingly hollow. Moreover, they might very well be obliterated by “events on the ground”: a terror plot discovered last Friday reveals that Chicago, along with Geneva and Toronto, may be targeted by the Islamic State.
McCarthy explains, “If we continue mindlessly treating Islam as if it were merely a religion, if we continue ignoring the salient differences between constitutional and sharia principles — thoughtlessly assuming these antithetical systems are compatible — we will never have a sensible immigration policy.”
Make no mistake: There is no “right” to enter our nation. And a progressive ideology that willingly ignores the difference between religious and political Islam — for political correctness' sake — is utterly anathema to national security and national sovereignty.