Islamification & The Libertarians: The Dutch Quandary

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I’ve been trying to think of a good way to discuss a serious problem, which is the ongoing conflict between libertarians and conservatives in the United States over the proper response to the challenges as well as the threats posed by the Islamification of the West, which is well underway in Europe, has made inroads in Canada and Australia, and has not yet impacted the United States – at least until this ground-zero mosque controversy.

I follow the Campaign for Liberty’s updates on Facebook, and it is here that I witness some of the most troubling political conflict. There are many liberty-minded conservatives who follow C4L, who agree with its perspectives on many issues, but who become irate at the manner in which some C4L contributors address the issue of radical Islam (as well as illegal immigration, and the topics are not entirely unrelated). Conservatives are concerned, almost by definition, with cultural preservation and national security. Libertarians are quite naturally concerned with preserving liberty and treating everyone equally before the law. These concerns sometimes overlap, and sometimes diverge.

Though I agree with Ron Paul and other prominent libertarians on a number of issues, and even take their side on issues over which they typically disagree with conservatives, such as the war on drugs or even the “war on terror” – if by that is meant the occupation of foreign countries by American troops and the formation of an domestic police state – when it comes to the challenges posed to the West by radical Islam, many of them are, to use the most accurate and charitable word possible, naive.

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61 Responses to Islamification & The Libertarians: The Dutch Quandary

  • posed by the Islamification of the West, which is well underway in Europe, has made inroads in Canada and Australia, and has not yet impacted the United States

    2% of Canadians are Muslim.
    1.7% of Australians are Muslim.
    No country in Europe other than Russia, Montenegro, and Bulgaria has more than 10% of its populations as Muslim. They aren’t Western Europe.
    The US is at 0.8% Muslim. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_Muslim_population

  • I think the key on the right at least is there has got to be a effort of real engagement with normal American Islamic folks that are not involved in radical politics. I am sure they exists but I never see them on TV

    Assimilation in many regards in this matter needs to be a partnership. There is a disturbing theme from some conservatives that when you point out differences in Islam the refrain back is they are not true Muslims then but just wait if they take their faith seriously. Well that is not productive. So while true I think Libertarians do need to get a sense of reality we on the “right” do need to do a better job of calling out political allies and in fact allies in Faith that cross a line.

    I have found the posts here on the subject to be pretty sane. Yet we rarely want to call out own that cross a line. I understand it. It is political tribalism and no one wants to call out or police friends.

    To give a concrete example of that was the Obama remarks on the Mosque. I think the legal community found them well pretty straightforward and unremarkable. However I am seeing tons of tweets and posts “Obama are you on Islam’s side or Americas”. None of that was helpful

    Again a balance of tone is hard. I think this got of hand in what I viewed as a FAUX Dubai Terminal Port Deal controversy and it is slightly getting out of hand here.

    Part of this reminds me of tiresome Confederate Flag debates in South Carolina where it is demanded for some odd reason every person running for President every fours years must take a position. Though it has been clear to me it just inflames the issue and should be left to the local folks

    This Mosque issue seems the same. It has a tinge of National interest and Trade Towers of course have a lot of National ID. But in a sense as I think Darwin was saying we seemed to be being dragged into yet another almost manufactured National Conversation which because it seems manufactured gets more inflamed.

    At the core of this is people on both sides that I don;t think are interested in the underlying issue but just want to the back and forth game of political gotcha.

  • It’s not strictly a demographic tendency. I mention Canada and Australia because even those relatively small minorities are attempting to use the court systems to promote a backwards, radical version of Islam.

    I can’t find a link now, but I recall reading of at least one case in which an Australian court took seriously a “cultural background” defense of a Muslim “honor” killer.

    And in Canada, Muslim groups have been using the country’s Orwellian “hate speech laws” to silence Mark Steyn, and presumably anyone else who is sufficiently critical of Islam.

    Those are steps towards Islamification. Small steps, and hopefully not successful steps, but steps all the same. Through bad laws and corrupt courts, a tiny, evil minority can wield disproportionate power.

  • No country in Europe other than Russia, Montenegro, and Bulgaria has more than 10% of its populations as Muslim.

    Absolutely. Raw numbers are not our problem, and not Europe’s. Troublesome public policy will not arrive through demographic weight. There is another problem.

    Richard Rodriguez put it thus:

    Americans were romanced by the moral authority of the outsider, and the benefits of claiming outsider status.

    Not Americans in general, but Americans in gatekeeper positions. They will manufacture problems we need not have, as they have done in Canada.

  • Conservatives are concerned, almost by definition, with cultural preservation and national security.

    Everyone’s concerned with national security. How does the Burlington Coat Factory Cultural Center prevent you from preserving your culture? Especially if you think building it farther away from Ground Zero is okay?

    Also, I’m involved in many cultural organizations and they’re full of liberals. Conservatives are hard to find. The reason is that they’re not American cultural organizations. Liberals are concerned with preserving minority cultures. Sometimes overly concerned. So what you really mean is that conservatives are concerned with preserving the dominant culture, i.e., the culture that needs the least preserving.

  • I think (dangerous) “libertarians” are cuckoo.

    I think liberal hate the dominant (evil, racist, unjust – private property!!) culture and the America way of life. So, they side with and sympathize with terrorists and call it tolerance ofr religious freedom.

    Time for discussion is over.

    Remember in November.

  • conservatives are concerned with preserving the dominant culture, i.e., the culture that needs the least preserving.

    I disagree that conservatives are trying to conserve the dominant culture; on the contrary, I think they’re radicals for going against the grain. I don’t know where you live, but having more than 2 kids and going to church every week is extremely countercultural. So is homeschooling, or not having cable TV, or not having a Wii by the time you’re 3 years old, etc. How this is preserving the dominant culture, I don’t see it.

  • RR,

    “How does the Burlington Coat Factory Cultural Center prevent you from preserving your culture?”

    Huh? Who made any claims about anything preventing anyone from doing anything?

    “So what you really mean is that conservatives are concerned with preserving the dominant culture, i.e., the culture that needs the least preserving.”

    Our dominant culture is always in need of the most preserving, since it is the foundation of the values and ideas make our civilization great.

  • So far the evidence of Islamization is people looking for trouble, like Stein, finding it. This is hardly shocking. As you’ve conceded, demographics aren’t the issue. So what is the issue? I’m really at a loss trying to find it.

  • Sam, if you’re reading this, THIS is why I dislike your blog.

    M.Z.

    I have most certainly NOT conceded that demographics is not the issue.

    I simply said it wasn’t strictly a demographic issue, meaning, yes, in some places, demographic changes are a part of the problem.

    If you don’t get it, you don’t get it.

    ” it later emerged that five sharia courts are already operating mediation systems under the Arbitration Act, and that the Government allows Islamic tribunals to settle the custody and financial affairs of divorcing couples and send their judgements to civil courts for approval.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/4631128/Archbishop-of-Canterbury-Society-is-coming-round-to-my-views-on-sharia.html

    “For me it is clear: if two-thirds of the Dutch population should want to introduce the Sharia tomorrow, then the possibility should exist,” according to Donner. “It would be a disgrace to say: ‘That is not allowed!’.”

    http://www.nisnews.nl/public/130906_2.htm

    “France has overhauled elements of its domestic tax law in a move that will allow the rules of Islamic finance to be followed without attracting tax penalties, therefore viewed by the tax authorities in the same way as their western counterparts.

    “The term ‘Islamic finance’ pertains to the ways that business and personal financial matters are handled while respecting Sharia law. Sharia forbids gambling and interest and so many of the transactions which are regarded as normal to conventional financial institutions – ranging from mortgages to interest bearing savings accounts to insurance – have to be structured differently and can in the process attract a tax penalty.”

    http://www.homesoverseas.co.uk/news/Sharia_law_enters_France/8971-1002

    This is the tip of the iceberg.

  • So you are opposed to binding arbitration (meaning people freely enter the arbitration process rather than adjudicate through the courts) that works under the guise of Sharia. You are opposed to reforming tax laws to bring about greater equity. You are opposed to Islamic finance which is a very decent application of Catholic strictures against usury.

  • His name is spelled ‘Steyn’ and he was hauled before a series of administrative star chambers over articles he wrote in Maclean’s. He writes topical commentary and theatre criticism. Just plying his trade is not ‘looking for trouble’.

  • Sam, if you’re still reading, this is why I still dislike your blog.

    M.Z.,

    I never said a word about being “opposed” to anything of those things in particular. You asked a question, and I attempted to answer it.

    That said, yes, I am opposed to anything that “works under the guise of Sharia”, whatever that means – I don’t think the Muslims see it as a “guise.” I am opposed to allowing independent “Islamic tribunals” any authority in Western society.

    And yes, I am opposed to banning interest bearing saving accounts, mortgages, insurance, and other basic financial features of modern civilization. Whatever people wish to do voluntarily is their own business. The problem is that as the influence of Islam grows, it will not be a minority that is simply keeping to itself – it will attempt to impose its views with greater boldness in whatever ways it can.

    I’m also opposed to domestic abuse. And yet in Germany…

    “Instead, the judge argued, the woman should have “expected” that her husband, who had grown up in a country influenced by Islamic tradition, would exercise the “right to use corporal punishment” his religion grants him.

    The judge even went so far as to quote the Koran in the grounds for her decision. In Sura 4, verse 34, she wrote, the Koran contains “both the husband’s right to use corporal punishment against a disobedient wife and the establishment of the husband’s superiority over the wife.”

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,474629,00.html

  • You are opposed to Islamic finance which is a very decent application of Catholic strictures against usury.

    You work in that trade too?

  • “To have a whole generation of people just indoctrinated with this jidhadist mentality and for us to do nothing about it, and then every time there’s a terrorist attack, we panic—it’s not viable.” — Ayaan Hirsi Ali

    http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/05/21/why-christians-should-try-to-convert-muslims/

  • Joe: I don’t have a blog. Most people ignore me and my writing at Vox-Nova completely.

  • If you weren’t opposed to them, you wouldn’t be opposed to ‘Islamification’, since they are after all the evidence you gave of its existence, and your opposition ot Islamification in the West is manifest. It is nice however that you go on to state explicitly what any idiot knew implicitly.

    The problem is that as the influence of Islam grows, it will not be a minority that is simply keeping to itself – it will attempt to impose its views with greater boldness in whatever ways it can.

    You do realize that you are seeking to impose your views upon a minority. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with that, but populism works both ways.

    I am proud of you coming out against domestic abuse. Having heard arguments that the Catholic Church is institutionally sexist for a while, I’m downright dubious of assertions that Islam is pro-domestic abuse.

  • I’m downright dubious of assertions that Islam is pro-domestic abuse.

    Hi, ostrich.

  • I’m downright dubious of assertions that Islam is pro-domestic abuse.

    The woman slain in this honor killing might like to have a word with you.

  • You do realize that you are seeking to impose your views upon a minority. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with that, but populism works both ways.

    Laws are enacted (or should be) by majority decision and are bound to be incongruent with the preferences of minorities in one respect or another. That is not populism; that is how statutory law works. (Unless you propose to create parallel law codes for communal populations, rather innovative in this country).

    While we are at it, I thought you said Muslims were demographically unimportant. How can you have a ‘populism’ that works one way, the other way, or both ways when the minority in question is less than 10% of the total (your figures)?

  • You see, Paul, those honor killings have nothing to do with *Islam*. They might have something to do with culture or ethnicity, but the Religion of Peace? No way. That would be like saying ideas have consequences, or something. And we all know for a fact that ideas, philosophies, worldviews, metaphysical assumptions — whatever you want to call them — are meaningless. And equivalent in their meaninglessness, I might add.

    Just ask the guys at Vox Nova. Nominalism, Calvinism, materialism, neoconservatism are all incapab– er, wait a minute.

  • MZ,

    “If you weren’t opposed to them, you wouldn’t be opposed to ‘Islamification’, since they are after all the evidence you gave of its existence, and your opposition ot Islamification in the West is manifest. It is nice however that you go on to state explicitly what any idiot knew implicitly.”

    Logic always escapes you and your colleagues.

    I could very well find merit – as you seem to do – in various Islamic financial set-ups and still view them quite objectively as evidence of Islamification, and oppose them for that reason alone.

    There’s no necessary connection between presenting evidence of Islamification, and being opposed to, or in favor of, individual segments of some Islamic practice. At which point quantity becomes quality, I can’t say. If you find half of Sharia appealing, I’d say you’re in favor of Islamification. If you limit yourself to admiration of their usury prohibition, I’d say you can still oppose Islamification without entering into an absurd contradiction. Only you know where you stand.

    “You do realize that you are seeking to impose your views upon a minority.”

    Yes. What of it?

    “There is nothing intrinsically wrong with that, but populism works both ways.”

    Better to oppose Islamification sooner rather than later, then.

    “I am proud of you coming out against domestic abuse.”

    Gee, thanks. Just what I was going for.

    “Having heard arguments that the Catholic Church is institutionally sexist for a while, I’m downright dubious of assertions that Islam is pro-domestic abuse.”

    We ought to know better, don’t you think? Our knowledge that the Catholic Church is not “sexist” is no reason to be skeptical of the claim that Islam actually is. Islam is a much different religion than Catholicism.

    Only to the modern secularist is all the same, it’s all “medieval” and “ancient”, and naturally its all “pre-our enlightened ideas about women.” We don’t allow women to be priests – they don’t allow women who deviate from their ideals of womenhood to live. Meh. It’s all “sexism.”

  • It seems to me that there ought to be some middle ground between penalizing muslims for not charging interest on loans and exempting them from laws concerning domestic abuse.

  • Well, if Islam was like, say, Mennonism, then I’d be in favor of granting it unconditional tolerance.

    But it isn’t. Every one of these little laws that gets passed is seen by the jihad as a step forward in its ultimate goal. It is seen as a concession, as a sign that the West is weak.

    If we proselytized in a Muslim country, we would be killed and anyone we converted would be killed.

    When they come to the West, they get mosques, minarets, welfare checks, and most of the academic and media establishment making excuses for every barbarous thing they do. They get courts to recognize their peculiar ways of doing things, from domestic disputes to finances.

    They can see quite clearly who is weak, and who is strong, in cultural terms. And that’s what matters in the end.

  • So, I say for now, just grant them nothing. They can either use our institutions or use nothing. No special favors. No handouts. They can assimilate and adapt their religious/cultural practices to our societies, or go home.

  • But it isn’t. Every one of these little laws that gets passed is seen by the jihad as a step forward in its ultimate goal. It is seen as a concession, as a sign that the West is weak.

    I’m not a fan of these type of give’em-an-inch-they’ll-take-a-mile style arguments. It could be true that for Muslims of a triumphalist bent that any movement towards accommodation is perceived as some type of ‘victory,’ but it also could be true that its a step towards inculturation and a more widespread acceptance of Western norms by Muslims. These things rarely work in only one direction. Additionally, it often seems to me that making reasonable accommodations is simply often the right thing to do morally – even if the effects are not entirely beneficial. Granted, it depends on the issue, but I don’t see the need to draw an arbitrary line in the sand where it isn’t necessary.

  • Joe: How will you make them go home, exactly?

  • Sam,

    And here I thought you were attempting to move beyond these fallacious readings. My mistake, obviously.

    I never said anything about making anyone do anything.

    I said, “they can go home”, meaning, if they don’t like the fact that we won’t warp our institutions to meet their backwards practices, or allow them to establish their own, then they can choose for themselves whether to a) adapt to our civilization and our values, or b) return to their countries of origin.

    No one has to “make them” leave. We simply have to refuse to give them what they want. Though in a tiny, vulnerable countries such as Holland, maybe more extreme measures are required. I can’t say for certain.

    John Henry,

    “I don’t see the need to draw an arbitrary line in the sand where it isn’t necessary”

    Nothing is arbitrary in war. Whatever they can do within the boundaries of our laws and values, they can do. But we must say, categorically and for all-time, NO to Sharia, to its establishment or its recognition in the West. We must do the exact opposite of what Piet Hein Donner suggested.

  • When they come to the West, they get mosques, minarets, welfare checks, and most of the academic and media establishment making excuses for every barbarous thing they do. They get courts to recognize their peculiar ways of doing things, from domestic disputes to finances.

    It seems to me that there ought to be some middle ground between penalizing muslims for not charging interest on loans and exempting them from laws concerning domestic abuse.

    If you want to equalize tax treatment for sharia-compliant banking, that seems unobjectionable. If you propose to replace probate courts with confessional tribunals (as is done in Lebanon, for example), you’d best be very careful lest you open up a wretched can of worms.

    Mark Steyn has made reference to problems both in Europe and Canada from public policies that are dubious quite generally: long/term doles for people who are able bodied and of working age and doles generally for immigrant populations that have not made baseline contributions to the pension-n-transfer system.

    The exercise of discretionary authority would (one imagines) produce some passable if imperfect policies in this vein. The difficulty is that that work is likely to be disrupted by the appellate judiciary in its usual collaboration with the public interest bar.

  • Joe,

    Being able to build houses of worship or make contracts or receive welfare when eligible aren’t special rights granted only to Muslims. They are rights and privileges granted to all Americans. Denying someone the same rights and privileges we give to everyone else in not only unamerican, it’s a curious way to try and get Muslim immigrants to assimilate to our culture and values.

  • How will you make them go home, exactly?

    I dunno. Arrest them and deport them, perhaps?

  • It seems to me that there should be room for allowing perfectly harmless religious or cultural practices (non-interest-bearing accounts, building of places of worship, halal food venues, etc.) while at the same time granting no acceptance at all to clearly unacceptable and illegal activities such as domestic abuse or honor killings. (And government benefits like wellfare or unemployment have nothing to do with religion or culture anyway.)

    This would also have the salutory effect of imposing no extra burdens on those who simply want to live out their lives peacefully under a more classically liberal legal regime than is available in Muslim-majority countries, while imposing heavy penalties on those who commit crimes or seek to pursue “jihad” in some explicit way. Dividing those bent on misbehavior from the quiet majority would seem the better course than uniting all in common frustration.

    It seems to me that granting the same latitude given the Mennonites or Orthodox Jews (and then punishing any actual law breaking — rather than allowing “cultural background” to be some sort of mitigating factor) would provide a strong incentive to be a well-behaved (if odd) cultural minority: much like Mennonites and Orthodox Jews are.

  • “Being able to build houses of worship or make contracts or receive welfare when eligible aren’t special rights granted only to Muslims.”

    I’m sorry if I gave the impression that that’s what I was arguing, but I wasn’t.

    That was just to show the contrast between what we can expect if we go to a Muslim country, and what they can expect if they come here.

  • Denying someone the same rights and privileges we give to everyone else in not only unamerican, it’s a curious way to try and get Muslim immigrants to assimilate to our culture and values.

    One of the screens of American immigration policy of considerable pedigree is assessing whether or not someone is likely to be a public charge. It is not ‘un-American’ to insist that claims on common provision be earned.

  • same latitude given the Mennonites or Orthodox Jews

    What latitude are these groups given? My sources in the Shenandoah Valley tell me the Mennonite kids attend high school with everyone else.

  • Darwin,

    ” Dividing those bent on misbehavior from the quiet majority would seem the better course than uniting all in common frustration.”

    This where I am skeptical, to say the least. Like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and others, I am asking, I am wondering – where does this “quiet majority” really stand? Is their silence good or bad? Does it signify tacit agreement with the jihad, or the opposite, or indifference?

    These are questions we’re not really certain of. We don’t really know what the supposed “moderate Muslim” thinks. Even if they denounce acts of political violence, we’re not sure where they stand on the broader goals of the jihad. We haven’t really seen mass protests against this, have we?

    I tend to agree with Wilders on the idea that what we see as the “good Muslims” is seen by other Muslims as “the bad Muslim.”

    And there is a difference moreover between political terrorism and just barbaric cultural violence. I don’t think every honor-killer is also part of Al Qeda, and no one else should either. I think it conceivable at any rate that even a denunciation of political terroristic violence in the name of Islam would not necessarily equal a denunciation of say, violence against women who violate the Muslim idea of womanhood.

    Until these issues are sorted out, I remain skeptical and cautious.

  • For those that didn’t read the linked piece, there was not a dispute over whether domestic abuse should be criminalized. What was at issue was whether a divorce should be expedited over the wife’s allegation of abuse.

  • I tend to agree with Wilders on the idea that what we see as the “good Muslims” is seen by other Muslims as “the bad Muslim.”

    Well, yes. And those we see as “the bad Muslims” are also seen by other Muslims as “the bad Muslims.”

  • What latitude are these groups given? My sources in the Shenandoah Valley tell me the Mennonite kids attend high school with everyone else.

    Some Amish/Mennonite communities have been granted exemptions from paying into Social Security and Medicare (they don’t receive benefits either). They’re also granted some exemptions from child labor laws, minimum wage laws, and product safetly laws in order to allow them to live according to their religious laws. They’re also allowed to drive vehicles on public roads that would not necessarily otherwise be considered road-appropriate. Given that it’s harmless, I see no problem.

    Similarly, Orthodox Jews are allowed certain exemptions from standard US food safety and processing laws so that they can operate Kosher food prep and food sales facilies according to their religious laws. Again, I see no problem in that it’s pretty harmless to us and them.

  • But BA, it’s not just which group perceives the other group as “bad.” Otherwise, ceteris paribus every daily communicant is just as much a “bad Catholic” as the one who says, “Go to Mass? Meh.” The doctrinal yardstick might not be obvious, but there has to be some kind of objective standard.

  • This where I am skeptical, to say the least. Like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and others, I am asking, I am wondering – where does this “quiet majority” really stand? Is their silence good or bad? Does it signify tacit agreement with the jihad, or the opposite, or indifference?

    These are questions we’re not really certain of. We don’t really know what the supposed “moderate Muslim” thinks. Even if they denounce acts of political violence, we’re not sure where they stand on the broader goals of the jihad. We haven’t really seen mass protests against this, have we?

    I guess my reponse would be: It doesn’t really matter what the “quiet majority” thinks so long as they’re quiet. I don’t care if people hate our culture or like it, so long as they don’t express their feelings either way through large scale attacks. So as long as the people and/or organizations responsible for terrorists attacks are always punished clearly and unambiguously (and other things we consider crimes such as honor kills are punished with the full strength of the law) I’m perfectly happy to ignore those who don’t offend our laws in these regards no matter what they think.

    And indeed, making it clear that religiously (or otherwise) motivated violence is unacceptable may eventually help turn a group away from a tendency towards such violence, if only through a sort of natural selection.

    If you can lay your hands on a copy of Empires of Trust, I’d be really curious to hear your reaction to the last third where Madden discuses how Rome dealt with Ancient Isreal, and it’s tendency towards religious insurrection.

  • Darwin,

    You wrote,

    “I don’t care if people hate our culture or like it, so long as they don’t express their feelings either way through large scale attacks.”

    I understand the genuinely liberal sentiment here, and I am not entirely unsympathetic.

    But I fear that this attitude right here is the very cancer eating away at Western civilization. “We don’t care.” We should care. I don’t know how far we should go in terms of policy, but we should certainly care that masses of people of a certain religion/ideology hate our culture.

    The book sounds interesting. What’s the jist?

  • It doesn’t really matter what the quiet majority “thinks” so long as they’re quiet.

    This is uncomfortably close to the secularist attitude, “We don’t care how you Christians privately pray, just don’t carry your faith into the public square.”

    Short of inspiring violence, I think there are many pathways that ideas lead to action, and I’m not entirely comfortable with giving the world’s largest religion a pass so long as it doesn’t break the law.

    I mean: What if they were Calvinists!?!?

  • Madden argues that the US is building an empire, but that it is different from the recent colonial empires that we typically think of. He compares it instead to the building of the Roman Republic into an empire from 500BC through 60BC.

    In the process, he talks a lot about how the Roman Republic dealt with the client states and foreign cultures.

    Madden wrote a quite decent recent short history of the Crusades, and though history as analogy is always tricky, I think Empires of Trust is definitely worth a read. (Though he may be a little neo-con for your taste in some ways…)

    The last third or so is about Rome’s confrontation with Israel, which he compares in some ways to the confontation between the US and Al Qaeda.

  • They can see quite clearly who is weak, and who is strong, in cultural terms.

    I’ve made this point before, but I’ll do so again. The country that has to threaten to kill anyone who converts to another religion is not culturally strong anymore than a government that has to suppress political demonstrations to prevent being overthrown is politically strong.

  • BA, it’s not just which group perceives the other group as “bad.” Otherwise, ceteris paribus every daily communicant is just as much a “bad Catholic” as the one who says, “Go to Mass? Meh.” The doctrinal yardstick might not be obvious, but there has to be some kind of objective standard.

    I can see this for the case of a true religion. But if it’s all made up anyway, why does it matter (what would an objective standard even mean in such a case)?

  • I guess my reponse would be: It doesn’t really matter what the “quiet majority” thinks so long as they’re quiet. I don’t care if people hate our culture or like it, so long as they don’t express their feelings either way through large scale attacks.

    Having a resentful and passive-aggressive crew in your midst is a state-of-the-world you have to tolerate, not one you elect to bring about through discretionary public policy.

  • Madden argues that the US is building an empire, but that it is different from the recent colonial empires that we typically think of. He compares it instead to the building of the Roman Republic into an empire from 500BC through 60BC.

    Sometimes, everything looks like a nail.

  • Here are some interesting findings summarized from Gallup’s new book : Who Speaks for Islam? What a billion Muslims really think.

    1)Muslims and Americans are equally likely to reject attacks on civilians as morally unjustified.

    2)Muslims who do condone acts of terrorism are a minority and no more likely to be religious than their peaceful counterparts.

    3)In an open ended question both Muslims and Americans said they admired the same two things most about the West: Liberty and Technology.

    4) Muslims and Americans share the same criticism of the West: both groups dislike its perceived moral decay.

    5) Muslims do not see the West as monolithic and criticize individual countries based on their policies–not their culture.

    6) Muslims favor using religious sources as an inspiration for legislation, but do not want religious leaders to serve as legislators. This echoes the majority of Americans who want the Bible to serve as a source for legislation, but do not support theocracy.

    If we can trust that data provided by the Gallup poll, we can conclude that Muslims are as a group moderate and peaceful. We are not so much fighting Islam in some abstract sense, as violent and extreme Islamists.

  • Internally consistent logic, at least. Star Trek is all made up, but if one group of Trekkies says that Capt. Kirk commanded the Enterprise, and another group of Trekkies says it was Capt. Zork who commanded the Yorkshire Pudding, one group would be “wrong.” And it would matter greatly to me if one of those two groups wanted to kill real, living people with something more real than photon torpedoes. If it’s the former group, then there might be something seriously wrong with Star Trek. I might actually ban it from TV. If it’s the latter group, then it’s not the franchise I have a problem with.

  • “The country that has to threaten to kill anyone who converts to another religion is not culturally strong anymore than a government that has to suppress political demonstrations to prevent being overthrown is politically strong.”

    Death for converts to other religions has been the rule in Islam since there has been an Islam. Islam, by and large, produces extremely durable cultures and societies. Comparing Islam to tyrannies like Communism, Fascism or some military despotism is a mistake. Islam is a much more formidable competitor to the West and always has been.

  • I am not sure what benefit is given by interest free loans? If they want to give interest free loans, whose stopping them? Are you saying that they should be exempt from paying taxes on the imputed income the tax code forces on the rest of us? If that’s the case, then I say – no way. If non-Muslims are subject to an imputed interest tax on tax free loans, then Muslims should be as well. Why should they get different tax treatment? They can still give the interest free loan under their sharia, just like we can under contract, but they should also have to apy a tax if others have to under the same circumstances.

  • Maybe the term culturally weak is not the best -how about culturally vulnerable?

  • Where did gallup find these billion Muslims?

  • Star Trek is all made up, but if one group of Trekkies says that Capt. Kirk commanded the Enterprise, and another group of Trekkies says it was Capt. Zork who commanded the Yorkshire Pudding, one group would be “wrong.”

    Trekkies recognize that Star Trek is fiction. If one group though that Captain Kirk was a real divinely inspired person while another thought Zork was, there would be nothing to choose between them as far as that goes.

    And it would matter greatly to me if one of those two groups wanted to kill real, living people with something more real than photon torpedoes.

    Well, sure. But the view I’m criticizing says that it’s the ones who *don’t* want to kill real living people that are bad.

  • Listen to this crap.

    They’re doing exactly what Geert is criticizing them for.

    “Islam will come! Islam will dominate!”

    “Islam will be implemented!”

    “Islam will come, and it will conquer, it will conquer Holland, it will conquer Rome, it will conquer the world!”

    And they chant and they cheer with every one.

    “We will see Israel destroyed!”

    “Whoever insults the prophet, kill him.”

    “If we had an Islamic state today, his head would be on a stake.”

    I don’t care if they’re 5% or 50% – they’re the ones out there protesting, they’re the ones out there shaping opinion.

    Listen to these confused fools. The last guy calls for Wilders to come out to face the death penalty from a Muslim mob, and then asks “where did all the freedom go” for Muslims. These demented mobs scream for “democratic rights” while threatening people who disagree with them with death. This can’t be tolerated.

  • If one group thought that Captain Kirk was a real divinely inspired person while another thought Zork was

    Then both groups would be “bad Trekkies” by the internal logic of the franchise. In that case, we have a pretty good idea what the “holy texts” of Star Trek are: the TV shows and movies. In the case of Islam, it gets a little trickier to decide what is “orthodox” Islam, but it’s not without its signposts.

    The point is, it’s worthwhile to consider the possibility that it’s not just a matter of “extremists” in Islam. The policy implications are not equivalent.

  • j. christian,

    I think that a lot of conservatives take a kind of “originalist” position with regard to Islam. That is, they assume that 1) Muhammad developed a systematic and internally consistent belief structure, and that 2) and that one is a good Muslim consists in adhering to that structure.

    From what I can tell, 1) isn’t true. Muhammad seems to have been more or less making it up as he went along, and the various parts of the Koran (from what little I know of them) appear to be more about the exigencies of the moment than they are elaborations of a well thought out belief system. I want protection from some Christian rulers, so God told me that Muslims and Christians are both people of the book. Some Christians have attacked me (or I want to attack them? Well, God just told me that they are infidels and should all be slaughtered. That girl over there is attractive, so God just told me…. You get the idea.

    Second, even if there were some coherent thing that was the original understanding of Islam, I see no reason why we should care, or consider someone a “bad Muslim” if they don’t follow it. The Mormon faith originally counseled polygamy. Then they rejected it. It would be silly to say that someone was a bad Mormon because he didn’t accept polygamy. Things change.

    Originalism is fundamentally a normative doctrine. As such, it only makes sense if you think the original understand is somehow valuable. If it’s just man made nonsense, then if people want to substitute some other man made nonsense and call it by the same name, then who cares?

    The implicit counter to this seems to be the idea that if, say, Bin Laden’s brand of Islam is more in keeping with the original understanding that, say, Imam Rauf’s, then that means most Muslims must deep down accept Bin Laden’s version, or, if they don’t, they are always in danger of doing so unless they abandon Islam completely. In other words, in a battle between historically accurate Islam and ahistorical Islam, historically accurate Islam is destined to win. But that’s not right. There are many more Reform Jews than there are Orthodox Jews, even though Reform Judaism isn’t historical Judaism. It’s true, of course, that a given Reform Jew might become Orthodox, but it’s also the case that an Orthodox Jew might become Reform, and in fact that happens more often.

  • If I am not mistaken, Reform and Conservative Jews predominate among the observant in the United States, not in Israel and not in Britain either.

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