From Mother Jones:
By now you’ve probably read about the ongoing legal wrangling over Oklahoma’s constitutional amendment to ban Sharia. There are plenty of reasons to pick on Oklahoma, but it turns out the state actually has plenty of allies in the fight against Islamic law. …
Although Oklahoma’s law is the first to come under court scrutiny, legislators in at least seven states, including Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah, have proposed similar laws, the National Conference of State Legislatures says.
For good reason, Oklahoma’s move to ban sharia law has lead to endless mockery and ridicule, largely from the left. A remarkably homogeneous state some 80% of the population white and 85% Christian, it is readily apparent that Oklahoma does not stand in imminent danger of being plunged into Sharia law. Yet as is strangely the norm in today’s world of doublespeak politics and shameless corporate-media-driven propaganda, the right seems in favor of restricting religious practices, while the left seeks to uphold religious freedom.
Partially, this is due to the nature of being a self-professed Republican. Unless a person is substantially wealthy, voluntarily affiliating oneself with the Republican party is essentially tantamount to an admission of unfathomable ignorance. It really is that simple: the disgustingly rich and the embarrassingly uninformed represent the entirety of the Republican base. Sadly, an integral part of being uninformed in this country seems to include being viciously prejudiced. Thus, white Christian Republicans invariably despise – whether secretly or openly – those of other ethnicities, religions and/or sexual orientation.
Those on the left, generally better educated and slightly more informed, tend to be much more inclusive and accepting of people who differ from themselves. And so we observe the strange paradox mentioned previously, where the pseudo-right embraces government restrictions on religious practice, while the pseudo-left advocates complete freedom. However, I am somewhat dismayed to admit that this is one particular issue in which I find myself, to a severely limited extent, in agreement with the right-wing bigots. Allow me to explain.
Having spent more than half a year trapped in the “kingdom” of Saudi Arabia, I have witnessed firsthand the destructive forces of religion in general, and fanatical Islam in particular. Proponents of Sharia law are – how can I put this delicately – absolutely insane. Sharia law represents a ruthless, barbaric set of laws spawned in a primitive, pre-science civilization (if such a term can be used) struggling to survive in the harsh, unforgiving deserts of the Arabian peninsula. An illiterate child-molester stumbled into a cave and, after some serious hallucinating, regurgitated an incoherent conglomeration of plagiarisms from various Judeo-Christian sources – with important, brutal alterations – which this yokel claimed was the word of his god, or “Allah.”
Regrettably, this disturbing collection of inhumane and unthinkably brutish laws has somehow survived to the present era, literally enslaving tens of millions of people. And the most fervent adherents to Islam firmly believe that Sharia law is the only way to live: prayer five times per day, women covered from head to toe, men with up to four wives, humans beheaded for rejecting Islam, stoned to death for adultery, hands chopped off for theft — this is the way of Sharia law.
One of my colleagues in Saudi Arabia was a Canadian convert. We had a discussion one day about the prospect of bringing Sharia law to the West. At that time, I was of the opinion that moderate Muslims had no interest in imposing their belief system onto others, and the scaremongering among the rightwing bigots was merely another instance of ignorant prejudice. But this colleague of mine, born and raised in the West, responded by passionately asking, “If the majority of people in a democracy vote to enact Sharia law, what’s wrong with that?”
This is the view of many zealous Muslims, and it is not to be taken lightly. Yet the real issue here is not restricted to Islam. I condone a ban on Sharia law only because I also condone a ban on religious laws of any kind. My agreement with the rightwing nutters ends here, as their hypocrisy is shockingly obvious. The Bible Belters have made it clear that Islamic law is unacceptable, yet they endlessly strive to force their own interpretation of Christian law onto the rest of society. So as a result we have seemingly perpetual debates about teaching “creationism” versus evolution in school, and the need to have Christian prayer in school, and the tragedy of removing “Christ” from Christmas.
Islam is perhaps the most destructive religion in the world today, but that is only because it is the most active. In Christianity’s heyday, it reeked devastation and wanton slaughter that would make even the most sadistic serial killers cringe. And should the Christian fanatics within our own nation realize their dream of imposing their own set of ancient superstitions on the rest of us, all of humanity will likely suffer as a consequence (consider, for example, the ban on federal funding of stem cell research). The Oklahomans are correct in banning the possibility of fundamentalist Islamic law, but they haven’t gone quite far enough. Religious laws of any kind have no place in modern society, and should be viewed with well-deserved suspicion and disdain.