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.