21 September 2015

Dr. Carson: Front-runner for the Islamophobic nomination

When you're being reminded by the likes of Ted Cruz that there's no religious test for public office, and when you're saying you can't accept the idea of a Muslim President while Donald Trump is saying he'd readily consider putting a Muslim in his Cabinet, you've clearly moved, as they used to say, to the right of Attila the Hun. That would make you Dr. Ben Carson, who may be more the Uncle Ruckus than the Uncle Tom in the field of candidates for the Republican presidential nomination. Dr. Carson, a renowned surgeon and proponent of a by-your-bootstraps social philosophy, told one of the weekend talk shows that he could never "advocate" a Muslim President because he deemed Islam incompatible with the U.S. Constitution. Here's an easy-to-remember definition of an Islamophobe: it's someone who can't tell the difference between Islam and Islamism. Carson is an Islamophobe; he could not say such a thing as he did say unless he made that very mistake.

Islamism is incompatible with the Constitution since it holds the shari'a as the supreme law of the universe, but not all Muslims are Islamists. Islamophobes and Islamists share the belief that the "true" Muslim is an Islamist. But while the Islamist knows better and, resenting it, questions whether non-Islamist Muslims are Muslims at all -- the implicit excommunication is called takfir, hence the takfiri label mainstream Muslims often use for Islamists -- the Islamophobe simply assumes, out of either pure stupidity or the conspiracymonger's form of faith, that all Muslims are Islamists, and that those who deny it are lying, as Islam purportedly authorizes them to do. Dr. Carson would be as accurate if he said that he couldn't advocate a Christian President on the assumption that all Christians are Christianists -- but I doubt the word "Christianist" is in his vocabulary.

Christianists are as incompatible with the Constitution as Islamists, and yet Dr. Carson was heard recently saying that the federal government ought to have exempted Kim Davis from issuing marriage licenses to homosexual couples in Rowan County, Kentucky, because of her religious scruples. By his logic Davis should not have to resign because she was elected to her job before the Supreme Court forbade restrictions on gay marriage. In other words, when the law changes Christians shouldn't have to accommodate themselves if the new rule contradicts their dogma. If you suspect a double standard, that may be because Dr. Carson depends less on the Constitution when setting his standard than on his conviction that this is a "Judeo-Christian" nation with which, naturally, Islam of any sort would be incompatible. The Founders, however, had a very narrow understanding of what "Christian nation" would mean, and while they can be quoted at length on the value of a Christian upbringing or the utility of Christian moral teachings, they probably would deny overwhelmingly that they meant the U.S. to be a Christian or Judeo-Christian nation in any legally exclusive sense, and their generation did deny the premise explicitly in the famous Treaty of Tripoli. To assume that Muslims, in the face of Islamist pressure, are less capable of accommodating themselves to secular citizenship than Christians have been in the face of more constant Christianist pressure is to deny the evidence of generations of law-abiding Muslim citizenship in the United States. Islamophobes always want to argue that Islam is different, uniquely incompatible with civil society in some way or other, but if we change the subject from religion to people -- and nobody is ever going to elect a religion President --  Muslims have proved them wrong time and again.  Christianists -- not to mention a lot of plain old Christians, atheists and people in between -- won't be satisfied until Muslims say what Christians supposedly do, that their kingdom is not of this world. But if that's the standard Christians want to hold Muslims to, shouldn't Christians themselves live up to it? As Jesus himself might observe, if Islamism is the sty in the Muslim's eye, Christianism in any form, from the obstructionism of Kim Davis to the moral-majoritarianism of many others, is the beam in the Christian's. Maybe Dr. Carson should have his rival Dr. Paul take a look at that for him.

Update, 22 October: Since this was posted Dr. Carson has attempted a clarification, saying what he presumably meant all along -- the presumption is admittedly generous -- that a Muslim presidential candidate would have to renounce the shari'a or at least affirm the paramountcy of the Constitution. Meanwhile, Trump elaborated on his comparatively Islamophilic position, stating that he'd have "no problem" with a Muslim President who'd been properly "vetted" over the course of a campaign. Both candidates, and the rest of the Republican contenders, their ranks reduced again by the welcome withdrawal of Gov. Walker of Wisconsin, should be asked whether Kim Davis, who still claims that marriage licenses issued to homosexual couples by her deputies are invalid, should be obliged to renounce the anti-homosexual verses of the Bible, and her general belief that the "word of God" overrides the supreme law of the land, in order to remain a public official.


hobbyfan said...

"Uncle Ruckus"? Don't you mean Uncle Remus (Song of the South), Sam?

Samuel Wilson said...


Anonymous said...

Recently a high standing member of C.A.I.R. was caught publicly stating that "If you are a practicing muslim, you are above the law."
It was also reported (but not confirmed) that 8 years ago, one of the founders of that same organization stated that Muslims come to America to make Islam the dominant religion.

I have to agree with the repugs on this one, though I'll take it a step further and say EVERY muslim should have to sign a sworn oath that they will put the Constitution of the US and the laws of the land above their religious laws. Those who refuse should be immediately put out.

Don't call it Islamophobia - fear of Islam. Call it what it is: Hatred of a patriarchal, barbaric set of beliefs that place women as second-class citizens, women and children as property of the "patriarch" of the family, that condones violence and death against "sinners", "infidels" and, pretty much, anyone who refuses to submit.

As much as I detest all religion for the lies they are based on, I hold Islam, above all others, as being the one religion which should be stamped out of existence by every means necessary.

Samuel Wilson said...

Calling it hate instead of fear makes it better? Depends on your definition of fear, I guess. And two people (or one organization)speak for all American Muslims? As for the second quote, doesn't every missionary religion have that same aspiration, or do you assume that the speaker, being a Muslim, must mean they'll do it by the sword? If you detest all religion, why don't you make all believers (e.g. Kim Davis and her supporters, including at least two presidential candidates) swear your oath?

Samuel Wilson said...

On the other hand, when you hear news like the latest from Mecca, you could argue for suppressing Islam as a threat to the safety of Muslims. Between this stampede and that crane accident a few weeks ago, Mecca is turning into a death trap!

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with making every single person take such an oath, religious or not, including myself. Because, in that case, any conservative religionist would have to refuse and, American citizen or not, they'd be booted. I don't think that would be such a bad idea, if push came to shove.

But here's the thing. So far, on various online troll-gatherings, like youtube, I've actually found exactly one person who claims to be a muslim and defends a non-believer's "right" to offend muslims by drawing mohammed. One. I'm not saying it's a great basis for a statistic, but there it is. I will also say I've only seen a couple of death threats from someone claiming to be muslim, but I have a reason to suspect they're not being exactly truthful.

Most seem to feel that there should be a law enforcing respect for religion in general. I've also found one muslim who, after much prodding, finally blurted out that, although most muslims no longer stone a woman to death for committing adultery, that the common practice now is to lock them in a room by themselves until they repent their sins. When I asked what happened if they refused to repent, he said they stay there until they die.

I imagine there are probably any number of extreme conservative christians who do the same, that doesn't excuse such practices, it only condemns the religion, as a whole, for allowing such practices to continue among any of its adherents.

Anonymous said...

Calling it hatred instead of fear makes it truthful. Not better, merely more accurate. If it were fear, people wouldn't be goading them on. If it's hate, on the other hand, it makes sense. Goad until someone does something that compels one government or another to declare war.

That's why I think religion, in general, should simply be stomped out. It won't happen, and I understand that. It doesn't change the fact that religion causes more problems than it solves; is used for a justification to divide more often than to unite; does nothing to address the real problems facing humanity, while claiming to have all the answers.

Samuel Wilson said...

1:42. I see the point of your distinction, but it's arguably still "fear" if they feel threatened by Islam or Muslims, even if they're not scared of Muslims actually killing or enslaving them. Fear isn't necessarily only what cowards feel; it can also be whatever impels people to lash out rashly or blindly at something they -- and here I mean the majority of Islamophobic trolls out there -- don't exactly understand. As for religion in general, I think history will confirm your judgment, the more so as the 20th century and its exceptional "atheistic" violence recede further into the past.