Friday, January 6, 2012

Further thoughts on “Judeo-Christian Sharia”

Yesterday I stripped apart a post by comedian Dean Obeidallah on CNN, in which he regurgitates the boilerplate liberal “establishment of religion” red herring under the label “Judeo-Christian Sharia”. 

My main focus was on the examples he brought up of the horrible dhimmitude Rick Santorum, if elected President, would somehow manage to force on an unwilling electorate all by himself … almost all of which social conservatives of every religious background have been calling for, including some atheists and agnostics.  No porn!?  No federally-funded contraceptives!?  No gay marriage!?  O the inhumanity!!!

Particularly objectionable is how Obeidallah equates a law based on traditional Judeo-Christian morality with Sharia to play upon American anti-Islamic feelings:  “Santorum wants to base laws on the Bible; Arabs want to base laws on the Qur’an; what’s the difference?” [Not his exact words, I add in honesty.]  Sharia creates oppression; Sharia is based on a particular religion’s sacred scripture; laws based on religious scripture oppress; Santorum wants our laws to be based on Christian scripture; therefore Santorum wants to create a Christian Sharia.

Not only is this kind of “see Spot run” association implicit in Obeidallah’s argument, it’s illogical, counterfactual and reprehensible.  And as his examples of “Judeo-Christian Sharia” demonstrate, like most pampered children of the West since the “baby boom”, Obeidallah has no real grasp of what oppression is.

Part of the problem is that very few non-Moslems know much about Sharia except for brief mentions in news clips and occasional oblique references in news and opinion blogs.  Unfortunately, I don’t know much more than the average American except what I’ve gleaned through Wikipedia (not a fully authoritative source) and a few websites here and there.

Another part of the problem is that our view of Sharia has been influenced by over sixty years of anti-American hatred, at first due to our support of the state of Israel, but more recently inflamed by almost a decade of military intervention and experimentation in bringing our vision of democracy to the Middle East.  Our concept of democracy grows out of our cultural Judeo-Christian belief in the fundamental dignity of the human person, and therefore entails a concept of human rights that Islam has not fully embraced.

Several major, predominantly Muslim countries criticized the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) for its perceived failure to take into account the cultural and religious context of non-Western countries. Iran claimed that the UDHR was “a secular understanding of the Judeo-Christian tradition”, which could not be implemented by Muslims without trespassing the Islamic law. Therefore in 1990 the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, a group representing all Muslim majority nations, adopted the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam.
Ann Elizabeth Mayer points to notable absences from the Cairo Declaration: provisions for democratic principles, protection for religious freedom, freedom of association and freedom of the press, as well as equality in rights and equal protection under the law. Article 24 of the Cairo declaration states that “all the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic shari’a[bold font mine.—TL].[1]

Still, there are several schools of thought on Sharia; “reform” schools do their best to incorporate human rights into them.  Writes Eric L. Lewis:

Religious groups often compete to have their notions of morality enacted into law.  Indeed, religious Catholics, Jews and Muslims often agree on such hot button issues as abortion or gay marriage. Moreover, Sharia law, like other religious laws, is not monolithic.  There are numerous schools of Islamic law and, although there are common threads, the laws in Muslim countries differ greatly and there is great scope for judges to exercise their conscience and their discretion.  The specter of stonings and amputations is a caricature of Islamic law.  In any event, American Muslims are not agitating for veilings or beheadings (although the U.S. alone, among modern democracies, shares approval for the death penalty) [bold font mine.—TL].

My point isn’t that “Sharia isn’t all that bad”, but rather that, by calling a legal code based on Judeo-Christian morality a “Sharia”, Obeidallah is exploiting our ignorance and prejudice to create a “threat” out of whole cloth.

The fact is, there is no “secular morality”.  Irreligion doesn’t come packaged with a moral code; secular humanism is what’s left of Christian humanism after the irreligious pick out what they don’t like.  Nor is Judeo-Christian morality so different from the morality of other religious traditions that Buddhists, Hindus or Taoists find our ideas of right and wrong incomprehensible.  Most atheists and agnostics are “cultural Christians” or “secular Jews”, adhering to most if not all Judeo-Christian mores.  Indeed, the only people who complain about conservatives imposing morality on the country are the lefties who want to impose a hedonist (im)morality on us all … even using the laws to educate kids into decadence.

As we’ve all been seeing the last few months, the democratic “Arab Spring” has meant that Christians are not only being squeezed out of representation in the governments but also being driven out of their countries.  This isn’t the result of Sharia but rather of a growing anti-Christian sentiment caused in no small part by inept Western meddling in Middle Eastern affairs.  In the US, in a democracy informed by human rights that are a Christian legacy, Moslems of good will can participate with Christians and Jews to shape the laws of our country … as can Buddhists, Taoists, atheists and agnostics.  At least theoretically.

The only obstacle is an aging liberal hierarchy, formed in the moral chaos of the Sixties, doing everything in their power and using every semipodexed legal theory to shut social conservatives out of the public square and the democratic process so they can finish wrecking Western civilization.  And they don’t really care whether the conservatives in question are Christian or not.

Which is the best reason I can think of to vote for Rick Santorum.  I’ll happily take a “Judeo-Christian Sharia” over this Randian mess any day.

[1] Ann Elizabeth Mayer, Islamic Law and Human Rights: Conundrums and Equivocations, chapter 14 in Carrie Gustafson, Peter H. Juviler (eds.), Religion and human rights: competing claims?, Columbia University seminar series, M.E. Sharpe, 1999; cit. in Wikipedia (2012, January 3). Sharia. Retrieved January 6, 2012 from, f. 180.