Private Arbitration and Islamic Law

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Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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  1. Avatar Transplanted Lawyer
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    says:

    …proponents insist on targeting Islamic law by name in the legislation and expanding that target to include not just the portions of Islamic law that would be Constitutionally abhorrent if adopted by American courts, but instead target the entirety of Islamic law.

    Of course they do. The point is not to protect the equal rights of Muslim litigants before arbitrators, nor to educate the public about the moral principles and commands of Sharia. No, the point is to demonize Muslim litigants in front of the voters and to reinforce the distinction between Muslims and non-Muslims in a way which is not done for, say, Jews.Report

    • Of course, such a motive would be quite clearly unconstitutional and probably wouldn’t have quite the electoral cachet. So women’s rights becomes a useful pretext, and one that requires a decent amount of nuance and explanation to see through. Democracies don’t do nuance and explanation very well.Report

  2. Avatar Transplanted Lawyer
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    says:

    It may also interest you to note that less than a week after voters passed it, the court is skeptical about its Constitutionality.Report

  3. Avatar ScrubAssChump
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    says:

    Islam is poisonous. To get to the position where the Left defend Islam purely because the Right oppose it is ridiculous.
    Islam is an oppressive, homophobic, xenophobic, misogynistic religion. Normally the left would be against all of these things but all I’m reading lately is how this poor religion is being persecuted. One must applaud the intellectual gymnastics which the Left obviously apply in order to defend such an ideology.
    It is ultimately ironic when the religion itself needs no help whatsoever persecuting gays, women and freedom of speech.Report

  4. Avatar Ken
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    says:

    “At a minimum, enforcement of such decisions would run afoul of the equal protection clause or would be void as against public policy under existing laws against sex discrimination”

    I have a suspicion that many of the people who voted against Sharia in Oklahoma are also not too fond of the equal-protection and sex-discrimination laws. In fact, I would expect a poll to show a variation on Kip’s Law as discussed in another thread: Everyone is in favor of a theocracy, provided they get to be the theocrat.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Ken
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      says:

      Therefore, we need to protect against Christian bigotry but allow for Muslim bigotry.

      This is called “tolerance”. Both times.Report

      • Avatar Transplanted Lawyer in reply to Jaybird
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        says:

        I know you’re being sarcastic, Jaybird. The earnest response is that we need to practice and promote the concept of separation of church and state. All churches, whether they are called “churches,” “temples,” “mosques,” “congregations,” “zendos,” “stakehouses,” “synagogues,” “presbyters,” “assemblies,” or whatever other name you want to attach to them. Voters need to stop rewarding politicians who offer their outward piety as a credential for elective office and start punishing politicians who meddle in matters of spirituality from a position of temporal authority.

        When it becomes a matter of indifference what, if any, religion a politician subscribes to, then we will be a tolerant society. We aren’t there yet.Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to ScrubAssChump
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      says:

      No one here denies that sharia law, as practiced in much of the world, is completely and utterly unconscionable and savage. But that’s a far cry from saying that those practices are what all, or even a majority, of Muslims believe to conform with sharia, and an even further cry from saying that those practices would be condoned if Muslims in the USA set up arbitration systems such as those at which the Oklahoma resolution is aimed. If a hypothetical Islamic arbitrator in the US ordered or oversaw the execution of anyone based on alleged blasphemy, they’d be readily prosecuted for first degree murder.

      All that the Oklahoma resolution does is to make it so that decisions of Islamic courts of arbitration (to whose jurisdiction both parties will have had to accede) are unenforceable by civil courts, since arbitrators don’t have the authority to impose criminal sanctions to begin with. In other words, as practiced in Islamic courts in the US, sharia law can only impose certain civil sanctions (monetary damages and perhaps certain varieties of injunctions) and have those sanctions enforced by the formal judicial system. If a sharia court in the US ordered a party to receive, say, 50 lashes, or have their hand cut off or whathaveyou, that party can turn to the courts to vacate the decision as it is.

      Then of course there’s the other issue, which has to do with the question of contract interpretation, where the parties agree to have their contract interpreted under sharia law, which will have a particularly distinct meaning for those parties. If a dispute arises in the contract, under the Oklahoma resolution, the parties are deprived of their contractual bargain, because the language in the contract will be interpreted through a lens it was never intended to be interpreted through.Report

  5. Avatar ScrubAssChump
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    says:

    In one of my posts on this topic, I forget where it is, I link or quote from British human rights campaigners who seem to confirm that the nature of these religious courts is not benign, by the very fact that women in the Muslim community feel obliged, whether by a sense of duty or cultural pressure to attend a Sharia court and could very well be being forced to do so. American law can’t legislate against cultural pressure, it is far to entrenched, nuanced and largely hidden.

    My sense of unease comes from this basic revelation- that whatever the nature of these courts, and you are right, they deal mainly with civil cases and are not usually part of the Islamic penal code, thereby eliminating the lashes/hand cutting off/stonings of much of the Islamic world, whatever the civil law nature, the voluntary nature of female attendance is under dispute, and this comes from ex Muslims who oppose the courts and from women themselves who recognise that Islam by its nature is androcentric and heavily weighted in all legal matters in favour of the male.

    Therefore in allowing Sharia courts one is effectively abandoning without adequate and fair legal protection some of the most vulnerable people in American society – Muslim women.Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to ScrubAssChump
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      says:

      A few things here:

      1. I’m wary of the quotes you’ve provided because they are ultimately anecdotal quotes from people with an ax to grind and who of necessity are basing their statements solely on their personal observations, which will inherently be limited to a small portion of the Muslim community in a given country. That doesn’t make them wrong, it just means that I’m skeptical about their claims about how widespread this particular issue is. Moreover, and this is important, there seems to be a sizable difference between the Muslim community in the US and the Muslim community in the UK, so there’s a very real need to be wary about extrapolating from one to the other.

      2. Even if everything is as alleged, however, it still doesn’t justify the Oklahoma resolution, and in fact undermines it. The Oklahoma resolution does not ban sharia courts; instead, it prohibits the state courts from enforcing sharia-based arbitration rulings. Someone who was going to turn to the sharia courts before will thus continue to turn to the sharia courts….except now, they’ll have nowhere to turn for enforcement if the sharia court actually renders a favorable decision to them and the other side refuses to comply. I indeed suspect that there’s a pretty good reason that both American cases in which sharia law was relevant and in which a man was opposed by a female, the female was victorious.

      More importantly, a woman who obtains an unfavorable decision will likely now have even less incentive than previously to seek to overturn it via the legitimate court system – indeed, the legitimate court system may well toss the appeal out on the grounds that there is no decision to overturn since it doesn’t recognize sharia-based arbitrations. Even if the woman would be able to get the case heard, though, filing the case now takes even more courage than before since she’s now turning to a court that effectively refuses to recognize her religion at all. Meanwhile, the odds of her successfully getting the court to overturn the decision are no greater than they were previously, assuming for our purposes that her treatment was every bit as unacceptable as you allege it would be. Why? Because under existing law in the US (which, it must be emphasized, is not necessarily the same as law in the UK), such treatment would already render the decision moot.

      But again, if the concern is solely one of protecting women, why target sharia law in general (which includes a wide array of things that are truly benign) rather than just targeting issues of women’s rights and making those targets sufficiently broad to include all religions?Report

  6. Avatar Rob
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    says:

    It’s actually more important that they banned judges from siting or considering foreign laws when deciding cases.

    For instance if a judge thinks the UN small arms ban is neato, that’s fine as long as he keeps that opinion to himself, and until there is a US small arms ban such a law shouldn’t cross his mind, much less be cited in a decision.

    Also, with a properly worded contract Muslims can still enter agreements that conform to Sharia law, they just need better lawyers and better wording as long as the contract doesn’t break any law.

    Frankly the only laws, or cases, that any judge should ever consider or cite are the laws of the nation, state, county ect… that he presides in, and if it is legal to begin with, you can construct a private contract to conform to what ever ridiculous beliefs you hold, and if it breaks the laws of the land then obviously no judge should honor it to begin with.Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Rob
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      says:

      1. Re: foreign treaties, international law, etc. While that concept may have some surface appeal, there’s really quite a bit more to it than that. How does one write an opinion interpreting a contract that uses a French choice of law clause, for example, without referencing French law? How does one interpret an international treaty, whose operative provisions have been signed, executed and codified without reference to the international treaty itself? How wise is it to decide an issue of first impression without being allowed to even look at how jurisdictions that have passed on that issue have ruled? And, finally, it’s impossible to discuss any kind of history of the common law without ultimately referencing and considering British common law, upon which the entirety of the American legal system is ultimately based. And so on and so forth.

      2. Regarding “properly worded contracts,” this is simply not the case. No one has ever drafted a perfectly unambiguous contract of more than a few dozen words in the history of man. Choice of law clauses are not merely gap-fillers, but they instead tell a court what source to look to in order to interpret those ambiguities. Even if it were possible to write a contract that listed all the relevant rules of contract interpretation from a chosen source of law, it would be so long and convoluted as to be utterly impossible to understand. To obtain a sharia-compliant contract would also be prohibitively expensive, etc., etc.Report

      • Avatar Rob in reply to Mark Thompson
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        says:

        “Even if it were possible to write a contract that listed all the relevant rules of contract interpretation from a chosen source of law, it would be so long and convoluted as to be utterly impossible to understand.”

        They aren’t now? You should see how many pages it takes for me to do a simple four-thousand dollar job for ConocoPhillips.Report

  7. Avatar ScrubAssChump
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    says:

    Mark, in that case it is simple enough to find unbiased, independent organisations which come to the same conclusion as the human rights campaigners I cited. I’ll list two, but there are many more, in fact a whole body of evidence which suggests that Sharia law is not a fair way to administer justice. One can also find many websites that will say Sharia is wholly fair and just and not discriminatory. However if this were the case, why does England have a campaign opposing it? Why bother? If the human rights campaigners only had an axe to grind, there would be no supporting evidence backing their opposition. But there is. And a lot of it. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck….

    The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)
    http://www.cfr.org/publication/8034/islam.html

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7783627.stm

    Your second point: Sharia courts are meant to arbitrate as stand alone courts. There is no reason for the Imam to apply to a British court or an American court for enforcement. The law the Sharia courts apply comes directly from Allah, or so they believe. There is no higher authority. Thats the whole point of them. They are used as an alternative to civil law with community religious leaders standing as judge and jury, speaking for *God*. By banning Sharia courts a State or country is asserting its right to administer justice to all its citizens, regardless of religion, which in my view is a meaningless category where legal matters are concerned. It is necessarily a subjective matter – if I can quote Lord Justice Laws (one of my favourite quotes actually, as I think it is beautifully written)

    ” …in the eye of everyone save the believer religious faith is necessarily subjective, being incommunicable by any kind of proof or evidence. It may of course be true; but the ascertainment of such a truth lies beyond the means by which laws are made in a reasonable society. Therefore it lies only in the heart of the believer, who is alone bound by it. No one else is or can be so bound, unless by his own free choice he accepts its claims. The promulgation of law for the protection of a position held purely on religious grounds cannot therefore be justified. It is irrational, as preferring the subjective over the objective. But it is also divisive, capricious and arbitrary.” ~ Lord Justice Laws (29th April 2010) who refused permission to Gary McFarlane to have his case heard before the Court of Appeal. Mr McFarlane, a relationships counsellor from Bristol, was sacked by the Relate Relationship organisation after he refused to provide sexual counselling to homosexual couples because of his Christian beliefs.

    I think this principle can be applied to any religiously held beliefs which seek to encroach on State or National law, Sharia being an example of such.

    Your last point, why not just eliminate the possibilty of discrimination by outlawing the discriminatory process? If there is a suggestion that Islamic law is discriminatory (which there is) then why allow it to be practised in a democracy?Report

    • The answer to your question, @ScrubAssChump, is that Islam must be tolerated in a free society because people voluntarily choose to practice it, and the government may not favor one religion to another, or favor religion to non-religion or non-religion to religion.

      It is already the law that arbitration results, whether based on a religious choice of law or not, are unenforceable by a court if the results were derived in a manner that violates a fundamental Constitutional policy such as equal protection. If an Islamic arbitrator issues a finding of fact that Male Muslim Witness’ testimony is credited over Female Non-Muslim Witness’ testimony by virtue of the gender and religion of the witnesses, that is already good cause for a court to throw out the arbitration award and make the parties start over — and the arbitration award will not become a legal judgment but rather will simply remain the imam’s opinion on the matter.

      But not every arbitration will be determined on the basis of the morally objectionable, discriminatory provisions of Islam; some will be decided on neutral or at least tolerable principles, which a court can and should affirm for the very good reason that those principles were agreed to by the parties in advance.

      It is already the law that if fraud, coercion, or other wrongful means were used to obtain someone’s ostensibly voluntary agreement to an arbitration (or a term thereof) then the arbitration is not truly voluntary and the court cannot enforce an arbitration award. If Litigant A tricks or forces Litigant B into agreeing to a Sharia arbitration, then the arbitration agreement is void. We didn’t need Measure 755 to get that result, we were there already.

      Note that unequal economic bargaining power, social or family pressure, failure to secure independent legal counsel, or lack of education or sophistication about other legal rights are generally not grounds to void a secular arbitration agreement. The law should treat religious arbitration the same way it treats secular arbitration because the government should be indifferent to individual religious choices.

      If we’re going to allow people to arbitrate their disputes at all, then we have to understand that some people will choose this manner of arbitration. Your choices are to prohibit arbitration entirely under all circumstances, or to permit, under at least some circumstances, courts to confirm arbitration awards derived by imams applying Sharia principles.

      This is not the United Kingdom, which very foolishly has allowed the creation, by the government, of religious courts to handle family law matters. Nor is anyone even suggesting the creation of such courts here. Parties can mutually opt out of the general judicial system and submit their disputes to arbitration, but that is a private matter and not one in which the government’s coercive power is involved.

      Why do we tolerate Islam? Because respecting liberty means allowing other people to use their liberty in ways you dislike, so long as you are not harmed thereby. So let’s say Mark Thompson and Transplanted Lawyer have a dispute. For whatever reason, they privately agree to resolve their dispute under Sharia principles. How does that hurt ScrubAssChump? If Mark Thompson then wins that Sharia arbitration, and applies to a court to confirm that arbitration award as a judgment so he can levy on Transplanted Lawyer’s bank account, how does that hurt ScrubAssChump? A mere generalized distaste for Sharia on the part of ScrubAssChump is not a concrete enough harm to justify preventing the litigants from resolving the dispute as they see fit.Report

      • Avatar Emma in reply to Transplanted Lawyer
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        says:

        I’m not asking why we tolerate Islam. The blase tolerance of homophobia, xenophobia and misogyny by the Left baffles me, because, make no mistake, when the Left (or anyone) defends Islam, that is what they are defending. But I well understand the concept that if these oppressions are housed under the umbrella of religion, then we are supposed to somehow overlook them. It’s just that I can’t. I can’t reconcile my mind with the intellectual dishonesty it would actually take me to even begin that process.

        I’m asking why we allow an alternative means of justice e.g. Sharia Law within a society when there is very good evidence to suggest this is not a fair or equitable way to administer justice and it could be argued that it does not even constitute justice, in the sense we would normally define it given that the source of the “justice” is a supernatural force interpreted by religious proponents with no legal qualifications.

        Sharia law does not impact on me. But that doesn’t stop me from finding it abhorrent or from arguing that I find its use morally suspect.Report

        • Avatar Transplanted Lawyer in reply to Emma
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          says:

          Then I believe that I answered your question, above: we allow it because people voluntary elect to submit to it.

          The question of whether the government should allow people to voluntarily adhere to belief system “X” is a different question than whether belief system “X” is one which a majority finds morally praiseworthy. It is perfectly possible, and even desirable, to allow people to adhere to an unpopular belief system. I refer you to the “Act for Establishing Religious Freedom,” in Virginia (authored by Thomas Jefferson) and a speech given in support of that Act by James Madison, “A Memorial and Remonstrance.” Those are easy to find on the Internet and the arguments made by Jefferson and Madison are no less correct today than they were in 1786.Report

          • Avatar Emma in reply to Transplanted Lawyer
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            says:

            Thank you for refering me to the Act for Establishing Religious Freedom. I reject it entirely because I reject religion entirely. The word “‘religion’ takes on a whole new meaning when one examines its root, religare, ‘to bind’, which in turn means ‘to hold, to make prisoner, to restrain.”

            Where is the freedom there? Where is the nobility in passing an Act which gives reliance on a superstition, a phantasm of the mind, such credence, such protection ? Why should I think this is a good thing? I believe the rational minds of men and women who have thought about this to the extent that we have, have rejected the notion of faith in phantoms. Faith is nothing more than an abrogation of reason. I’d rather read Carl Sagan. Deriving truth from religious thought is fallacious. It is built on the false premise designed by ancient peoples with little to no understanding of the world and no understanding of science that there is a God, whether it be Allah, Yahweh, Thor, or Zeus. The notion of God is a man made construct designed to explain the world and, more importantly, maintain power.

            “The world has seemingly awaited the advent of heroic souls who once again should dare all things for the truth. The woman who possesses love for her sex, for the world, for truth, justice and right, will not hesitate to place herself upon record as opposed to falsehood, no matter under what guise of age or holiness it appears.” (Matilda Jocelyn Gage, Woman, Church & State, 1893)Report

            • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Emma
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              says:

              Not that it matters, but while I’ve heard this claim before, I find it hard to believe that “religion” derives from the Latin religo, religare (to bind, fasten, tether, etc) and not from religiose, (piously, with reverence towards the gods, morally conscientious, or even just scrupulous) or the abstract noun religio (conscientiousness, moral obligation, sense of right or duty).Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Emma
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              says:

              This is a bridge too far for me.

              Folks ought to be able to engage in whatever constructs that tickle their fancy.

              The notion of God is a man made construct designed to explain the world and, more importantly, maintain power.

              Most notions are. Notions of “rights” are man-made constructs for that matter. It’s a two-edged sword to sweep man-made constructs out with the bathwater. You never know what you’ll be left without.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                I agree with you that it’s a sensitive subject and utilizing some apparatchik in gummint as the arbiter only compounds the ticklish nature of the subject. However, Islam has clearly illustrated its desire to kill Americans and have been quite successful in the execution of their objectives. Personally, given the history of the issue I don’t think we should tolerate their presence among us. Finally, it boils down to how many American murders at the hands of Jihadi Muslims do we tolerate?
                Twenty per year? One thousand?
                Does gummint have any responsibilities here? If so, what are they?Report

              • Avatar Emma in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                “Folks ought to be able to engage in whatever constructs that tickle their fancy.”

                Then I assume, then, you would have had no objection to the Dover School Board members incorporating Intelligent Design as an alternative to evolution?

                Abandoning our critical thinking abilities and our common sense because of some Lefty liberal don’t kill my buzz, man, everythings cool hippy bollocks ? Thats worse than, well I can’t think what its worse than. Its just a symptom of how the Left has let itself slip into reckless abandonment of the truth in favour of political correctness and some failed notion of libertarianism at any cost.

                I wrote: “The notion of God is a man made construct designed to explain the world and more importantly maintain power.”

                I am nonplussed as to which part of that senstence is incorrect.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Emma
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                says:

                Then I assume, then, you would have had no objection to the Dover School Board members incorporating Intelligent Design as an alternative to evolution?

                Then you assume correctly, then.

                I have written an entire essay explaining the difference between reciting Scientifical Facts by rote (“There are nine planets!” “There are eight planets!” “There are four lights!” “There are five lights!”) and using the scientific method to determine what the state of affairs actually are.

                On top of that, I pretty much came out and said that if we’re just making people repeat stuff like little parrots, it doesn’t matter if we make them repeat stuff by rote that has no impact on their day to day life.

                How many planets are there? Who cares!? There’s one and we’re on it, it’s time to eat.

                If we aren’t going to teach people the method, we may as well be teaching them Lysenko as Darwin as Young Earth Creationism.

                Because it doesn’t matter in 99% of folks’ day to day life whether the Ogygoptynx was Jurassic or Paleocene. It doesn’t.

                I have heard folks scream about the importance of teaching evolution who could not explain punctuated equilibrium to me and who could not explain why Lysenko was wrong to me.

                Science is not screaming “THERE ARE FOUR LIGHTS” in response to someone else screaming that “THERE ARE FIVE LIGHTS”.

                And if all we are doing is teaching children to parrot things by rote, then, no. I don’t give a damn if “the Dover School Board members incorporating Intelligent Design as an alternative to evolution”.

                Because even if they taught evolution, they would not be teaching *SCIENCE*. They’d just be teaching students which bubbles to fill on a scan-tron form to get them to graduation.Report

              • Avatar Emma in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                It matters whether we are taught the truth or lies though.

                It matters to America whether it has a scientifically literate population who can compete with the rest of the scientifically literate world or whether it has an illiterate Young Earth belief population who can barely compete with Islamic Madrassahs.

                I would matter to me. I did matter to me and I’m not even American. I just see it as foolhardy to defend the Dover School Board. One would be defending absurdity.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                What is truth?Report

              • Avatar Emma in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                I read a book last year called “Why Truth Matters” by Jeremy Stangroom and Ophelia Benson. In it they write:

                “Truth is evaded or concealed when it is inconvenient, criminalized when it is ‘insulting’, denied when it contradicts religious beliefs, tampered with when it is conflict with ethnic or national self esteem, ignored when it is irritating to the powerful. Truth is always potentially a stumbling block because it is of the nature of truth that it is what it is, regardless of anyone’s wishes”

                Its a very insightful book. I’d recommend it.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Yes, but the history of “Truth” is a fairly sordid one.

                It’s full of yesterday’s lies becoming the new conventional wisdom becoming tomorrow’s universal truths before some new fad floats downstream.

                Things we knew, absolutely knew, scientifically yesterday are tomorrow’s phlogiston.

                And this keeps happening. Over and over and over.

                And those who hammer about how, no, this time it’s different?

                I suspect that they haven’t done enough research.Report

            • Avatar Transplanted Lawyer in reply to Emma
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              says:

              I agree with substantially everything you said here, @Emma, as a personal matter.

              As a matter of political and legal policy, however, I believe in what @Jaybird said more:

              Folks ought to be able to engage in whatever constructs that tickle their fancy.

              If it’s okay for you and I to impose our rationalism on the rest of society, there would be no barrier against a religionist from imposing her religious preferences on us.

              The task is for rationalists to persuade others to abandon their irrational, anachronistic beliefs in moon gods, demons, and djinni.Report

              • Avatar Emma in reply to Transplanted Lawyer
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                says:

                “As a matter of political and legal policy, however, I believe in what @Jaybird said more:”

                @Transplanted Lawyer I don’t believe that what Jaybird said is correct. I don’t agree with it. Personally I think there are far too many idiotic, uneducated people out there to be left alone to work things out for themselves. It is absurd to pretend that everyone has the same abilities to make sense of the world. Either you think thats elitist or true. I think its probably both, but it is definitely true.

                I am not advocating a totalitarian state (although sometimes I dream of it, with me as supreme Ruler) but I am advocating that the Left take a much more hard line stance than they currently do. We are hoist by our own petard. We have made ourselves impotent. The Left are scaredy cats.

                We play directly into the hands of Islamists (its not just Americans, Europeans do it too, much to my chagrin) I read an entirely absurd piece by Michael Moore yesterday that basically said everyone should stop criticising Islam because they had had a bad press and he referenced some ancient battle that turned out wasn’t factual, as evidence that Islam is not in fact a violent rleigion predicated on violent overthrow and submission of all non-Muslims. Is he kidding? I’m sorry Michael but sober up for a second and start again, or better still let me write your diatribes from now on) And the prosecution of Geert Wilders is an absurdity of staggering proportions.

                I’m not sure what the American phrase is but I believe its Hardass. The Left in America needs to get Hardass. There is no God.Report

              • Avatar Transplanted Lawyer in reply to Emma
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                says:

                “Liberal” ≠ “Atheist,” viz., Barack Obama.
                “Atheist” ≠ “Liberal,” viz., Karl Rove.

                Both the Left and the Right tend to forget the Constitution when pushing for policies they advocate, particularly when they suffer from a desire to be very forceful in their advocacy — as did the former majority on the Dover Township School District, and as you have done here.

                I agree with you that there is no god. Others must be allowed to disagree with us. The government cannot take sides in this issue, not even ours.

                Are you sure you’re not a totalitarian? If not, why are you so eager to do other peoples’ thinking for them?Report

              • Avatar Emma in reply to Transplanted Lawyer
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                says:

                Okay here goes again. I lost my former utterly brilliant reply. Hopefully I can stop pressing random self destruct buttons until I pos this one.

                “Are you sure you’re not a totalitarian? If not, why are you so eager to do other peoples’ thinking for them?”

                Because I’m right. If I didn’t think I was right I would be insane to go on thinking I was right. Or at least mildly confused.

                I subscribe neither to Left or Right, but I lean more toward the Left. However I find some Leftists wishy washy. I admire some Conservatives because of their absolute refusal to see sense. It takes conviction to be that certain. I admire that strength of will even if I disagree totally with the content.

                Of course I despise anything that limits my personal freedom or that offends my sense of justice. I fully see the irony in my wanting to impose my views on others whilst simultaneously wishing those I disagree with to shut up and go away.

                However I do think most people are this way, its just they keep it quiet. But I have no tact. If most people are not that way then its just me and I am a megalomaniac and should probably be ruling North Korea right now.

                I was forced a few years ago to attend an evening with my Christian mother called “The Toronto Blessing”. This consisted of a lot of evangelical Christians being visited by the Lord in his guise as holy spirit. I was unfortunately not visited. I think my cynical demeanour put him off trying to possess me. Others were not so cynical and ended up flailing about, speaking in tongues (although they just sounded hammered to me) wailing, weeping, sinking to their knees, falling over in a clean faint, wailing. Weeping. You name it. The Lord was making them do it. I think the laughing was the worst. You kind of expect Christians to wail and weep, but laughing apropos of nothing is an eerily Satanic thing to do. At least I think so.

                My point in relating this story is that I do not wish to prevent these people from meeting and wailing and weeping and even laughing, although that is seriously creepy. I just do not want to socialise with them or have them get into positions of power where they could possibly affect policy, laws and ultimately, my life.

                I will therefore oppose anything I deem to significantly go against my sense of justice and fairness, which currently includes Sharia Law and the proliferation of speed cameras (which is simply a Government ploy to rake in revenue) and clamping. (same).

                The thing that really got me about Sharia Law was when Rowan Williams (the Archbishop of Canterbury, famously smacked down by Richard, Lord of Dawkins in one of his beautiful polemics denouncing religion, but I digress) Anyway, Williams really got on my nerves for his speech in which he said that Sharia Law should be allowed under the British legal system.

                He believes a supernatural entity talks to him. I just can’t take him seriously. I’m sure he’s a lovely man, but come on. He just needs to shut up. And the Pope. He really needs to shut up.

                So I agree with your last comment. Yes people should be allowed to disagree with me and you. But I am not happy about it and won’t pretend otherwise in order to be politically correct or to fit in.Report

              • Avatar Emma in reply to Transplanted Lawyer
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                says:

                @Jaybird, it won’t let me reply to your last truth post so I am having to reply underneath Transplanted Lawyer.

                There may be sordid history in the hstory of truth but then human affairs are always sordid and messy. I don’t see the sordidness (is that even a word) sordidity? sorditude? as something to distract us from seeking truth.

                I see it as a process wherein it starts out cloudy and dirty and gradually becomes clear. I’m happy to argue about everything because it clarifies my own position in my mind. I don’t pretend to know what ultimate truth is – I don’t believe in absolutes – I think if one wants absolutes then one goes and hides in religion.

                By the way it is so eery that you should mention phlogiston in your post! I had this discussion about scientific truth with the author, Jeremy Stangroom, and we ended up discussing phlogiston!Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Emma
                Ignored
                says:

                We use the method to seek truth… or, in the more Popperian sense, to pare away the things that aren’t accurate.

                We pare and pare and pare and readjust.

                It’s a process.

                If we are not willing to teach the process but instead want to teach children mnemonic devices that will let them get through the test, I posit that it doesn’t matter whether we teach them that there are eight planets or nine.

                It doesn’t matter if we teach them that the world is six thousand years old or billions and billions.

                It might matter to people hoping to create more members of the in-group…

                But that has nothing to do with Truth and is more likely to obscure future discoveries than actually help the process along.Report

      • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Transplanted Lawyer
        Ignored
        says:

        Dear Lawyer: I argue that Islam, is both a religion and a culture (if I said that correctly?) and its doctrine advocates the violent overthrow of the state (USA). Why should we tolerate a people whose doctrine expresses the violent overthrow of the state to dwell among us?Report

        • Avatar Transplanted Lawyer in reply to Robert Cheeks
          Ignored
          says:

          You can make that argument. I’ve heard it before (here, from you, among other places and authors). I do not agree with it. I don’t consider failing to recognize Islam as an existential threat or a necessarily anti-democratic ideology to be a “leftist apology” for it. I see Islam as the most easily corruptible of the three abrahamic monotheistic religions, all of which are anachronistic relics of the bronze age middle east and which have little place in contemporary rational society. The difference between your condemning it for a different reason than I is that I am willing to permit that someone else may feel differently about religion than I do.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Robert Cheeks
          Ignored
          says:

          Why should we tolerate a people whose doctrine expresses the violent overthrow of the state to dwell among us?

          “What is one of Benedict Arnold’s most well-known quotations, Alex?”Report

          • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            Which raises the question, how do we know which Muslims don’t want to blow us up (the so-called ‘good’ Muslim)?
            Perhaps it isn’t important to determine which Muslims will live with us in peace.
            Is there a test? Or would it be worse to have the gummint do some test and risk violating civil rights?
            Or, should we just fuggetaboutit?Report

        • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Robert Cheeks
          Ignored
          says:

          Bob, what is this doctrine you’re referring to?Report

          • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Rufus F.
            Ignored
            says:

            R-man, it’s in the Koran re: dealing with the infidels during jihad e.g. either killing them or making dhimmini outta them.Report

            • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Robert Cheeks
              Ignored
              says:

              Bob, I’m going to ask you this seriously, and remind you of the commandment against lying- have you read the Koran in its entirety?Report

              • Avatar Emma in reply to Rufus F.
                Ignored
                says:

                Devout Muslims believe that only the Arabic version of the text is the actual Koran, as dictated to Mohammed by Allah. All translations are therefore considered bastardisations of the original “uncreated word of God.” This is why most Muslims simply learn the Koran by rote, in Arabic, in Madrasahs without fully understanding what it is they are reciting. Some learn only select verses on wooden tablets. It is akin to Christians simply memorising the bible in Latin. It is as if it were Medieval England wherein all books were produced in Latin, which ordinary citizens could not read, is being played out in some Islamic states right now, with Arabic. An uneducated population is easier to control. Female children are forbidden from attending school in Afghanistan and other hardline Islamic states. Schools are burned down and the children who try to go to school are attacked by insane Taliban with acid. Keep the girls uneducated, they will be much more subservient.

                Read “Why I am not a Muslim” by Ibn Warraq or “A God Who Hates” by Wafa Sultan – or indeed any book on Islam to find that Arabic is considered the holy language of Allah. Appaently he can’t speak any other.

                Also I assume you are being sarcastic regarding the commandment not to lie. Taqiyya : http://www.faithfreedom.org/articles/islamic-jihad-articles/islamic-principle-of-taqiyyah-or-holy-deception/Report

              • Avatar Transplanted Lawyer in reply to Emma
                Ignored
                says:

                Just curious, Robert; do you distinguish taqiyya from the Christiane doctrine of mentalis restrictio? Or the moral exoneration of the Marrano? It seems to me that all three doctrines are restricted to instances where the religionist is under duress or serious threat.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Transplanted Lawyer
                Ignored
                says:

                TP, no I don’t. However, to be honest if my life were threatened I can’t say that I wouldn’t lie like a rug, scream like a little girl, or run like hell. Sin, my wife oft infoms me,is sin.
                Correct me if I’m wrong, and keep in mind we have the erudite and lovely Emma reading this but isn’t the Muslim dictum to ‘lie’ related to overthrowing the Infidel in his country.
                However, perhaps we can get an authority on the subject. Preferrably one more interested in objective analysis and less interested in the obligations of political correctness.Report

              • Avatar Emma in reply to Transplanted Lawyer
                Ignored
                says:

                “mentalis restrictio” This is undoubtedly a Harry Potter spell.Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Emma
                Ignored
                says:

                Emma, your comment is largely unrelated to what I wrote. I asked Bob, who is not a Muslim, if he had read the Koran, since he often makes sweeping statements about its content, and I thought a textual discussion might be interesting. I then made a joke about Bob having to tell the truth because he’s a Christian. We give Bob a hard time here because he gives all of us a hard time here. It’s par for the course.

                But none of that has to do with the fact that Islamic scholars in Saudi Arabia claim that “devout Muslims” have to read the text in Arabic since none of us are Muslims, nor devout, nor are we in Saudia Arabia. I think it’s safe to say that all of us reject that interpretation anyway. And the discussion of Taqiyaa has even less to do with me, Bob or you. Honestly, it’s hard at this point to believe that you’re interested in having a discussion at all, since your preferred mode of discourse seems to be the monologue, or maybe just the harrangue. You know, it’s fine to disagree with every word I say, but actually listen first, instead of responding to what people say in Saudi Arabia.

                As for the argument that the Koran must be read in Arabic, I reject it entirely. It’s complete nonsense, totally at odds with the passages in the Koran that call for every reader to come to their own conclusions about its content- with no clear definition of the “official” language- and serves only to perpetuate the power of a self-appointed elite of “experts” over the minds of uneducated populations. So I guess I agree with what you wrote in your lecture there, although it’s really common knowledge about Muslim countries anyway. And, since I reject that argument, I have no problem whatsoever with reading the Koran in translation, and have a number of times, and wanted to know why Bob’s reading was so different from my own, if he had read it, which apparently he has not.

                You’ll pardon my frustration, but we’ve had this same discussion here with at least five other people, and it is usually endless. How it starts is that someone comes on like Kevin McCarthy in ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ yelling “The Muslims are among us! And the things they believe are really horrible! We must take a stronger stance against them!” Many of the people here are libertarians or worse, and so tend to be generally opposed to open-ended calls to take ‘stronger stances’, which inevitably mean the state taking stronger stances against some part or all of the population. So, Mark or Jay or someone will say “I agree that the Koran says some scary stuff, but I disagree with your second point there”, usually pointing out that the Old Testament actually says scarier stuff than the Koran and we’re not talking about taking stronger stances against the Jews. Inevitably, the first person will ignore that point entirely and respond with, “What Muslims believe is really, really, really horrible!” And then the process just gets repeated in comment after comment. It’s like they want to be arguing with someone who’s not here.

                What’s more annoying for me is when commenters say, “But, the Koran says X, Y, and Z!” and X, Y, and Z aren’t actually in the Koran. Then I want to know if they just read the book very differently from myself, in which case maybe I’d learn something from their interpretation; or if they’re just repeating something they read on Islamsucks dot com. The Koran is very open to interpretation, and I reject a lot of those interpretations- especially the Salafist interpretation, which isn’t scholarship so much as a lying justification for anti-democratic political ideology- and so I’m at odds with a great number of Muslims. But it’s a textual debate and I like debating the text, and really any text, with people who have read the text.

                To be honest, after reading the Koran several times, I have many good reasons not to be a Muslim. But, you know, the same thing happened after reading the Old Testament and nobody ever comes on here demanding that “the left” be more strongly opposed to the Jews or Christians. Maybe that’s your argument, though. It seems that the difference between us is that I’m more athiest than anti-theist and it’s definitely a different interpretation of religion and religious people.

                But, you know, if you want to have a debate with some generic liberal who thinks the Koran is really swell and Muslim countries are models of good government, so that you can confront them with the truth, there really aren’t any here that I know of, and that ain’t me anyway.Report

              • Avatar Emma in reply to Rufus F.
                Ignored
                says:

                I can’t pardon your frustration, Rufus because I am not entirely sure what you are frustrated about.

                Everything I’ve written about Islam is informed from personal experience dealing with Apostates who have sought asylum in the UK or from what I have read. I’m not sure why that offends you or should provoke this remarkably vitriolic response.

                “Honestly, it’s hard at this point to believe that you’re interested in having a discussion at all, since your preferred mode of discourse seems to be the monologue, or maybe just the harrangue. You know, it’s fine to disagree with every word I say, but actually listen first, instead of responding to what people say in Saudi Arabia.”

                I wasn’t aware I had been having this discussion with you. I have been having a discussion with Mark Thompson and Transplanted Lawyer. So I’m nonplussed as to why you should think I disagree with every word you say since this is the first time I’ve actually replied directly to you. I thought the post regarding Taqiyaa, interesting. Perhaps you did not.

                You are obviously proud that you have read the Koran. Well done, I’m proud of you too. But only because I would not have the patience. How did you stay awake would be my first question. My point that it is believed only to be the true version when read in Arabic stands. You are studying a bastardised version. You may think that reading a 7th century story book is admirable and points you out as some kind of scholar but I have to disagree.

                You like to debate text which was allegedly dictated to Mohammed, an illiterate desert tribesman, by Allah, a suprnatural entity. Go Rufus! I find that intellectually ridiculous.

                I’m not au fait with the “office politics” in sway here yet, so was unaware of you giving Bob a hard time because he gives you a hard time. I suppose I stepped on someones toes. Oops.

                I don’t think I’ve mentioned Saudi Arabia once in any of these posts.

                I don’t much like the bible either, just out of interest. Not that that has anything to do with this, but you brought it up and in any discussion on Islam, it is always held up as just as bad.

                Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go and beat up some Muslims.Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Emma
                Ignored
                says:

                I think I explained my frustration . If not, the short version is: I was asking Bob a question and you interjected what I saw as an
                unrelated tangent, which gave the impression that you were changing the subject, while ignoring my question to Bob. A secondary gripe was about the past discussions we’ve had on the evils of Islam, and the somewhat obtuse condescension of those who come to save us from those evils as well as their authoritarianism. I’ve read about the oppression in Islamic countries on numerous threads here and, most often, it was unrelated to my comments. I thought I was clear though that that particular gripe was unrelated to your comment, or to you, but hopefully explained why I want to stick to the topic at hand instead of discussing the oppression in Afghanistan or whatever other hardline Islamic country that you had in mind that wasn’t Saudi Arabia. I have no interest in defending Islam or the Koran- I just wanted to know what Bob made of the content, if he had actually read it.

                But you believe the issue of Arabic-vs-translation is related. And fair enoough. Again, I reject the idea that the content of the book is only true if it’s in Arabic, but if that’s what you believe, or what other people believe, then okay, that is related to what I asked Bob. I assumed that because you gave the example of the clergy elite in the Middle Ages claiming that the Bible must be read in Latin, largely in order to maintain their elite status, that you reject that same claim about the Koran. I do. Since I do, I think we can have a discussion about the content in English, which was relevant since Bob had just made statements about the content.

                I’m not interested in lording it over people that I’ve read a book. However, when people make sweeping statements about the content of a book, I’d like to know if they’ve actually read the book in question. That was my question to Bob. It’s something I’ve asked other people who condemn “Muslims” or “Islam” or “the Koran” for the beliefs therein, and I’ve yet to have one of them respond that they’ve actually read the Koran. You can say it’s intellectually ridiculous to have a dicussion about those sweeping statements (but not to make them) given the inherent ridiculousness of religious texts, and maybe so. Somehow though you don’t find it intellectually ridiculous to make sweeping statements about what the followers of a particular book believe without actually having read that book. If your point is that none of us has read the real Koran because we don’t read Arabic, I just disagree. I also disagree with the self-appointed Islamic experts that make that claim.

                The snark about beating up Muslims is genuinely unrelated to anything I wrote. As for the Bible, the question wasn’t whether you reject it or consider it as bad as the Koran. I understand that you do. I wanted to know why people will call on “the left” to take a hardass stance against the followers of one scary ancient book and not against the followers of another more ancient scary book which says all the same things, and which the newer book largely plagiarizes.

                The vitriol was unnecessary and I apologize for that.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Rufus F.
                Ignored
                says:

                No!
                I don’t lie…sometimes exaggerate and sometimes engage in hyperbole.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Robert Cheeks
                Ignored
                says:

                …and, thank you Emma. My own opinion is that Islam is a gnostic distortion, a subject I’m addressing in a series of papers.Report

              • Avatar Emma in reply to Robert Cheeks
                Ignored
                says:

                you’re welcome, Robert.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Robert Cheeks
                Ignored
                says:

                I’ll be interested in it, especially if you play it straight.

                My thought is that Islam is the spiritual expression of the tribalism of Middle Eastern society from which it originated. In particular, that survival is a collective (not individual) accomplishment, and therefore the individual must submit to the collective (or Allah’s) mind.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Koz
                Ignored
                says:

                My reference to Islam will be that it represents an example of the gnositic phenomenon and your short comment is most interesting. My thesis is simply that Voegelin was right in that there’s a ‘web’ or a connection or a spiritual concinnity that moves through stuff in anti-thesis to God, specifically the love of God and rests in Schelling’s analysis of the Deus Revulatus (sp). I’ve got the initial paper done and I’ll learn shortly if the referees have passed it. Whatever happens I’m doing the second and possibly a third.Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Robert Cheeks
                Ignored
                says:

                I never thought you lie Bob, and now that you mention it, this is the first time I’ve noticed you use hyperbole.Report

              • Avatar Emma in reply to Rufus F.
                Ignored
                says:

                Firstly, I’m pleased you agree the vitriol was unnecessary, because it was. It was less a response to the discussion as a personal attack on me. Everybody else managed to be perfectly reasonable, I suppose you were having an off day. Or maybe you were upset that I had ignored you, again. I saw your previous comment on the root of the word religion but did not think it significant enough to warrant a reply. And your assertion that I had disagreed with every word you said when in fact I had never replied to any word you’d said, was just plain bonkers and really quite puzzling. My interjection to your post to Robert was nothing unusual – its usually taken as a normal part of posting, people interject, like in a conversation. Its what happens. Usually people just go with it, reply or ignore. Whatever it was that compelled you to attack, and I am positive you will deny it anyway, you got my attention, but not for the right reasons.

                Secondly, how you can hold me responsible for the past discussions you’ve had on Islam on this forum, when I only joined it a few days ago, is also beyond my comprehension and frankly absurd. Even if you don’t hold me responsible, your mentioning that those past discussions irked you, as if that was somehow my problem, is a little weird to say the least.

                I was discussing this with my friend Jeremy Stangroom (whos book, “Why Truth Matters” I quoted above in a reply to Jaybird) He is something of a mentor of mine and advised me to tell you this with regard to the Koran:

                “There are a number of big differences between how the Qur’an and the Bible are viewed by Muslims and Christians, respectively. Not least, the Qur’an is supposed to be the *literal* word of God (to the extent that a common view amongst Islamic scholars is that the Qur’an is uncreated and eternal); and there is no tradition within Islam of seeing it as being merely metaphorical or whatever (although, of course, it is accepted there are issues to do with interpretation).

                The other thing is that Islamic law – as I’m sure you know (this is Jeremy to me, not you) – isn’t derived solely from the Qur’an. The ahadith, sirah, scholarly consensus and analogy from previous cases and rulings are also significant. You should tell Rufus he needs to read some Islamic jurisprudence. He could start with “The Reliance of the Traveler” – (it’s actually an interesting read!):

                http://www.nku.edu/~kenneyr/Islam/Reliance.html

                Finally, and this is the funniest thing you wrote:
                “The snark about beating up Muslims is genuinely unrelated to anything I wrote.”
                (you have to be kidding me, right) Yes. I know. I was joking about beating up the Muslims.Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Emma
                Ignored
                says:

                Okay, thanks for the comment. Take care.Report

  8. Avatar Emma
    Ignored
    says:

    I forgot to add, I am the user formerly known as ScrubAssChump. From now on I’ll be using my real name.Report

  9. Avatar Robert Cheeks
    Ignored
    says:

    I like Emma better.Report

  10. Avatar Emma
    Ignored
    says:

    I know Transplanted Lawyer replied somewhere aound here but I can’t find it!Report

  11. Avatar Robert Cheeks
    Ignored
    says:

    Emma, anytime you want to cover my back re: our Islamic bros, please have at it. I do believe you quieted, nay silenced, your interlocutors and took the game and match. I do hope you continue here.Report

    • I don’t know about that, Bob; at least as to my role in the exchange, Emma didn’t change my mind and I didn’t change hers. Nor do I think pronouncing a “victor” is necessary and it’s silly to tear apart what each said to the other to look for minute concessions as indicators of “victory.” We talked about the issues, educated and challenged one another, presumably we each enjoyed the process, and the horse got beat until we all independently decided it was dead.

      I retain sufficient competitive instinct, though, to not remain silent in the face of having been pronounced a defeated party. I sure don’t feel defeated. (Of course, neither should Emma.)Report

      • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Transplanted Lawyer
        Ignored
        says:

        TP, dude I was paying tribute to Emma’s posts that rather impressed me. Your posts are always well done, though we are often at odds…but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I have always enjoyed the exchange.
        But, I like Emma’s more because we are in the same pew!Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Robert Cheeks
      Ignored
      says:

      Silenced?

      Dude! My posts languish with an untouched “reply” button underneath them!

      That’s a sign of neither victory nor defeat. It’s just what it is.Report

      • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        JB, et tu?
        No one beats the near immortal Jaybird. Surely you didn’t think I would ever say that you’d been ‘defeated’ in oral combat?
        You might reference my comments to TP regarding the lovely, vivacious, and erudite Emma.Report

  12. Avatar Emma
    Ignored
    says:

    At this point I don’t give a flying fuck whether America becomes a Caliphate. You fucking deserve it for being so liberal and a bunch of pussies (except Robert., BarrettBrown, that Lawyer fella and possibly Mark Thompson although I think he holds back, oh and Jason cuz I just like Jason, and Jaybird because he is SO SILLY) Rufus, I think you need anger management therapy. 🙂

    I came across this on a website somewhere last week, pasted it somewhere on my computer, lost it and found it again just now and will now reproduce it like magick. Its about the Oklahoma law (gasp) and I think it deserves further investigation (by someone) only I can’t be bothered because I have to get drunk.

    “Mr. Awad, who filed the lawsuit, claims this amendment abrogates his right to practice his religion. Yet it is only when his religious law comes in conflict with the law of the land that a problem arises. Is Mr. Awad then suggesting that in instances when Sharia and the Constitution are in conflict, his religious law should take precedence?

    It is of particular interest that Mr. Awad is also the professional head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Oklahoma. CAIR has been linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood is an organization dedicated to establishing an Islamic caliphate with the Quran as its constitution.

    It will be interesting to see how the debate around this amendment develops. Will it be primarily centered on cries of Islamophobia, or will attention be paid to the basis for voter concern even if this amendment is overturned?”

    I deem that worthy of a Mark Thompson-like totally new post and then we can all start fighting again. Its been an absolute pleasure, love Emma xxxReport

    • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Emma
      Ignored
      says:

      Emma, I hope Mr. Thompson replys. In the meantime, young lady, your language is really rough. You make your point much better with the King’s regular English, you don’t need to use vulgarities.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Emma
      Ignored
      says:

      This one wasn’t even one of my silly periods…Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Emma
      Ignored
      says:

      Emma:

      I seem to have found the origin of that quote you cite, which appears to be the statement of a “community volunteer.” That volunteer does not appear to be a lawyer or to have any understanding of what she’s talking about.

      As explained at length above, the Oklahoma resolution abrogates religious freedom of Muslims in any number of ways independent of conflicts between sharia and the “law of the land.” But one more hypothetical that occurs to me just now may be useful: consider the case of a Muslim who relies on a merchant’s claim that they provide Halal food. It turns out that in fact the merchant does not even attempt to provide Halal food. Under the Oklahoma resolution, the Muslim customer has no recourse for this fraud since there would be no way for a court to determine whether the food was in fact Halal without some sort of reference to sharia law.

      Finally, the full quote from this “community volunteer” indicates that she thinks the law “generally applied” is in fact quite possibly unconstitutional and that she thinks it is superfluous because “The U.S. Constitution is the basis for the law in our country and nothing has changed that.”

      In this respect, she is quite correct.Report

  13. Avatar Emma
    Ignored
    says:

    You see I attached that quote as a starting point for further investigation. Whether the person I quoted is a Community volunteer or a Binman or a roadsweeper is beside the point. They make a point which flashed in my mind a signpost to finding out more about the motives behind the Oklahoma/Sharia debacle. (Obama started out as a Communty Organiser, remember, a career path much derided by the Republican media, do you wish to be compared to Republicans? shock!… just sayin)

    Anyway I was really hoping somebody would take the bull by the horns, or the pig by its trotters, or the woman by the Burka or something, and look into the background of CAIR, and Mr Awad. But nobody did so I had to. Just a cursory google will bring up all sorts of warnings of links to HAMAS, terrorist this and Islamists that which should ideally be flashing up in big red letters. If this was my internet they would.

    Whatever you may think is the benign intention of those cute little Muslims to not have their poor religious rights trampled over by the bad Americans, I can assure you it is not benign and they are not cute. But more on that later.

    But firstly. If the Halal meat buyer wants to check the meat he is buying is Halal then he needs to do what every other suspicious Halal meat buyer does and visit the slaughterhouse and make sure the animals are killed while still alive and allowed to slowly bleed to death. (Animal cruelty laws versus religiously mandated laws is a whole other area of massive argument and morally dubious cultural relativism which it would do well to leave out of this one) Other than that any Halal meat sold in the US must be certified by the Islamic Services of America. Sharia law is not needed to determine Halal meat disputes because there are already adequate Halal meat production laws in place in the US. In fact one could widen that analogy and say there are already adequate laws covering just about every dispute which Sharia determines is unique to it. Sharia is not unique. It is biased and marginalises half the population it supposedly seeks to ameliorate. The US already has a perfectly robust legal system. The debate (I think) has to widen to examine exactly what Sharia law means, where it comes from, whether it is fair and why it is seen as an infringement of *rights* if prohibited. (who’s rights one might ask, certainly Muslim women are better served under American law)

    Back to the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) of which Muneer Awad is Executive Director.

    This is from 2006 : http://www.meforum.org/916/cair-islamists-fooling-the-establishment

    This may be of interest, since it reveals that not all Muslims are exactly happy with CAIR:

    “Of particular note are the American Muslims who reject CAIR’s claim to speak on their behalf. The late Seifeldin Ashmawy, publisher of the New Jersey-based Voice of Peace, called CAIR the champion of “extremists whose views do not represent Islam.”[8] Jamal Hasan of the Council for Democracy and Tolerance explains that CAIR’s goal is to spread “Islamic hegemony the world over by hook or by crook.”[9] Kamal Nawash, head of Free Muslims Against Terrorism, finds that CAIR and similar groups condemn terrorism on the surface while endorsing an ideology that helps foster extremism, adding that “almost all of their members are theocratic Muslims who reject secularism and want to establish Islamic states.”[10] Tashbih Sayyed of the Council for Democracy and Tolerance calls CAIR “the most accomplished fifth column” in the United States.[11] And Stephen Schwartz of the Center on Islamic Pluralism writes that “CAIR should be considered a foreign-based subversive organization, comparable in the Islamist field to the Soviet-controlled Communist Party, USA.”[12]”

    There is plenty to mull over in that one report alone. To dismiss it is foolish, in my opinion. Whatever Awads motive for seeking to have the law include Sharia (whether its for his will, as stated or whatever) one cannot overlook the fact that as soon as he became Exec Director of CAIR, (in fact, one month later) he became prominent and took on the American legal system. Coincidence? I don’t know but political affiliations are important and should be investigated, imo.

    Of course it took the FBI 3 years to catch on : http://www.investigativeproject.org/985/fbi-cuts-off-cair-over-hamas-questions

    Oklahoma may be a Conservative stronghold. Rex Duncans amendment could arguably be termed as unwise, especially since he called it Save our State, and especially when Oklahomas Muslim population tops a “massive” 1% or 30,000 in a state of 3.7miliion. A slight over reaction on Duncans part, maybe and one which is easy to pick on. Frankly, he could have been more subtle. But I think that America is sadly hoodwinked and divided by partisan politics and unless one is overtly this side or that, Left or Right, it seems unlikely ones views will be heard, hence Duncans Us and Them attitude.

    However political correctness is still allowed to make a mockery of reality in the US and those sensible people on the Left have a tendency to allow PC to rule them at the expense of common sense. You have your partisan media – you are either a Maddow fan or you watch O’Reilly. Either way you are having your views spoon fed to you. Republican Christians hate Muslims and Islam (unfair) so Democrats love them and it (unwise). You have to choose your side and stick with it.

    Or not. One could always retain skepticism and reserve judgement. In the meantime, any criticism of Islam is met with cries of “racist”, effectively silencing anyone with a less than vigorous grip on reality. Which is absurd. Only the intellectually weak conflate race and religion.Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Emma
      Ignored
      says:

      I never said that I thought CAIR was cuddly or that Islam was all rainbows and sunshine, though. Frankly, I think of it much as I think of any other religion – neither inherently good nor bad, except to the extent it is captured by fundamentalists, in which case it is wholly bad. In some notable countries, Islam has clearly been captured by fundamentalists, which is abhorrent. In other Muslim dominated countries, fundamentalism does not appear to be nearly as much of an issue. Nor does Islam as practiced by the overwhelming majority of Muslims in the United States appear to be captured by fundamentalists.

      As for CAIR’s motives…..I can’t say that I really care. Whether their motives are good or evil doesn’t affect whether their arguments are correct, which they quite clearly are.Report

      • Avatar Emma in reply to Mark Thompson
        Ignored
        says:

        Oh dear. Mark, this bit:” I never said that I thought CAIR was cuddly” So you begin by being defensively irrelevant rather than addressing the actual points.

        I haven’t made any comment on your personal view of CAIR. How could I. This is the first time its come into conversation. I brought CAIR into the debate. But regardless, why, indeed, is your personal view of Islam pertinent here? You don’t like it. Well we all think its a crock but I thought we’d got past that to the real meat. (Halal or no)

        I’m making a valid point, a number of valid points actually, which you have ignored, totally. For instance the fact that the instigator of this whole debacle is the Executive Director of CAIR. The fact that CAIR has links to terrorist factions. “Moderate” Muslims denouncing CAIR and the FBI dissociating itself from them. These do not strike you as important?

        It is quite obvious that whatever I say, whatever evidence I present you are determined to ignore it and carry on with your stance that Islam in America is benign and there is absolutely no reason for concern. Maybe so, except its not. And there is.

        It is disingenuous to maintain a position that has so effectively been demolished by my posts. And that last sentence is possibly the most nonsensical of the lot. (give or take the prior Halal meat example which I answered perfectly and you did not even acknowledge as completely refuting your whole point) But that pales into insignificance compared to this. Whether CAIR are in the pocket of terrorist organisations doesn’t bother you? I repeat for my own clarification: you do not care whether the Council for American Islamic Relations (which in its mission statement purports to be Americas largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organisation) are in the pocket of terrorist organisations. The largest Muslim civil liberties organisation in America is a front for fundamentalists. And you don’t care. The FBI does. MI6 does. I do.Report

        • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Emma
          Ignored
          says:

          No. My point is that whether CAIR has ties to terrorist groups is irrelevant to whether the Oklahoma resolution is an unacceptable infringement on religious liberties. As for whether Islam in America is benign, I don’t recall CAIR being elected representatives of the Islamic community in the US. Indeed, their annual budget is only about $3 million, much of which is raised abroad. Moreover, I actually know a fair number of Muslim-Americans, not one of whom could be described as a fundamentalist.

          To be sure, there is often more support for Hamas than I am altogether comfortable with; then again, that support isn’t terribly different from the support for the IRA that long existed amongst a much larger portion of the population. Yet no one tried to use that support as justification for crackdowns on Catholics or canonical law, and I think everyone recognizes that such a crackdown would have been unacceptable. Indeed, it bears mentioning that one of CAIR’s foremost critics was himself one of the most prominent supporters of the IRA in the United States.

          The bottom line is that truth is truth regardless of the motives of the speaker.Report

          • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Mark Thompson
            Ignored
            says:

            As for your point on the halal example, the fact of making a member of a religious community undertake additional steps because of an intentionally discriminatory law is itself an undeniable infringement on religious liberty, no different from imposing a tax on halal foods.Report

  14. Avatar Robert Cheeks
    Ignored
    says:

    Bravo Emma but let me take issue.
    Mark, I don’t agree with this “except to the extent it is captured by fundamentalists, ..”

    Islam is a Gnostic religion/culture. There are three types of Muslims: A. Those in Jihad, B. Those who contribute in one way or another to Jihad, and C. Those awaiting the spiritual epiphany to move to Jihad. It isn’t Islamic “fundamentalists” that’s the problem, it’s Islam.Report

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