Proposed ban on Sharia law is out of ignorance

Scott examines the implications behind the proposed ban against Sharia law.  He argues that this very proposal proves prejudice is still  prevelant in  society. Of all of Mark Twain’s great quotes, “history doesn’t repeat itself,

Zachary ScottScott examines the implications behind the proposed ban against Sharia law.  He argues that this very proposal proves prejudice is still  prevelant in  society.

Of all of Mark Twain’s great quotes, “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme,” has always stuck out to me as especially insightful.

In the wake of House Bill 2029, this quote is even more relevant. This bill, proposed by Rep. RoseMarie Swanger, aims to prevent “the application of foreign law which would impair constitutional rights.” Behind those carefully chosen words lies the real goal: to ban Sharia law.

To most Americans, Sharia law is some terrifying and foreign thing. That’s because, quite frankly, they have no idea what it is. Political science professor Sean Yom who specializes in the region, gives a great explanation.

“At heart, [Sharia law] is a set of principles that cover personal conduct, such as criminal punishment and family matters,” Yom said. “It is not a freestanding ‘code’ like we assume in the West. There is no ‘book of Sharia law’ because little is written in stone.”

Furthermore, there is no system of implementation in America.

“Because the supreme law of America is predicated upon the Constitution, no judge–even if he were a conservative Muslim trained in Sharia law–could ever promulgate Sharia law into existence,” Yom said.

So if a ban on not only Sharia law but all “foreign law,” as Swanger calls it in her bill, is inherent in the American legal structure, why is it necessary to legislate it? She argues that one of her primary objectives is protecting the rights of women.

“My main concern is rights for women because I know that under some foreign law, women certainly don’t have the rights that they have here in our country, under our Constitution,” Swanger said in an interview with Philadelphia Weekly.

While this may sound pleasant and appealing, it merely masquerades behind those pretenses.

“A symbolic bill against foreign laws does nothing to protect the millions of women in this country who are raped and beaten by American citizens, not foreigners,” Yom said.

The excuses that American law needs to be granted supremacy over Sharia law or that women need to be protected clearly have no reality behind them. There is only one reason why this bill was proposed, and it is as ugly as it is simple: Prejudice still exists in America.

Let us not forget that the past decade has been bursting at the seams with examples of American action in the Middle East. When the average American adds all this up, they come to only one conclusion: America is really at war with the entire Arab world.

When Mark Twain said “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme,” he was absolutely right. As has frequently happened during wartime, the title of “enemy of America” has been handed out and there are some willing to act under the guise of patriotism. What we are seeing right now is history rhyming with German-Americans being forced to buy war bonds to prove their loyalty in World War I and the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

If you think that this kind of thing is impossible in our modern day, then look no further than the recent protests over the TLC show “All-American Muslim.” Some “Christian-values” organizations such as the Florida Family Association, have written thousands of letters to advertisers to get them to pull funding. They believe it is “propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law.”

Here, let me paraphrase. “I believe all Muslims are terrorists. This show portrays most Muslims as not terrorists. Quick! Get it off!”

What truly angers me is that I can guarantee that I know what the people of FFA or Swanger think they are doing. They probably believe that they are “defending America” from some sort of threat. When they look in the mirror, they probably see a hero.

I saw the real face of xenophobia when I was in the fifth grade. There was a Muslim girl in our class, and I remember a time when she didn’t come to school for several days. Our teacher sat the entire class down and explained that her family had gone to McDonalds, where they were called terrorists and told to leave. Those who didn’t partake applauded when they left.

I remember trying to figure out what the difference between her and me was. Everything I thought of just seemed so superficial.

Introducing a bill to ban Sharia law or protesting a show on the same channel that brought us “Sister Wives” may be to a different degree, but it is still the same motivation as what that poor girl was forced to bear.

We live next door to Muslim-Americans. We shop at the same grocery store with them. We sit next to them in our classrooms. And now, it is time to stand beside them and demand that the ignorant people who speak the loudest do not speak for all of us.

Americans today regret our actions towards our own brothers during World War I and World War II. History has once again rhymed and presented us with a situation to avoid making the same mistake. If we don’t, and instead allow the spreading xenophobic attitude to curtail Muslim-American rights, it will go down in history as another black eye for this country.

Zachary Scott can be reached at zack.scott@temple.edu.

13 Comments

  1. Thank you Enlightened One!

    It never ceases to amaze me the lengths to which Americans will go to rationalize self loathing. I can only assume that much of this piece was provided by political science professor Sean Yom because it takes a lot of practice to be able to twist logic into the metaphorical pretzel above.

    So let me understand this….

    Americans are prejudice towards Muslims because a member of Congress wants to pass a law that we don’t really need to prevent Sharia law from being considered in US courts which basically means we have to follow our own constitution.

    Americans are acting out of paranoia because Sharia law doesn’t actually exist in any written form (we will ignore the Quran for a moment) and couldn’t possibly be used as a legal reference, despite the fact that it is currently being practiced in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iran, Oman, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Turkey, Brunei, Jordan, Syria, Djibouti, Nigeria, Kenya, Bambia, Qatar, Uganda, Algeria, Bangladesh, Kuwait, Libya to name a few places.

    Sharia law would literally set women’s rights back to the Stone Age, but we can’t care about that because violence against women still happens in the US.

    Americans who interned foreigners during a period of declared war are xenophobes, but totalitarian Arab states where citizens themselves are subjugated under authoritarian rule are OK.

    We should be so ashamed.

    Yes it should be ridiculous to have to pass a law stating that foreign law should have no precedence in the US. Hopefully part of your basic (unspoken) premise is that you consider such legislation as superfluous. So then I guess it would surprise you to know that we have had numerous proponents of the “consideration” of foreign law and precedent in the US legal system, including former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. While I prefer to optimistically believe that House Bill 2029 is unnecessary I can certainly understand where this sentiment is coming from.

    The prospect of adopting Sharia law should be terrifying to anyone who believes in our constitution and our form of government. In America we believe that everyone has the right to their own belief system and there should be a separation of church and state. In Arab regimes under Sharia law, the Church IS the State. Under our constitution there can be no official religion established by the government. Under Sharia law there is only ONE true religion, and that is the one recognized by the government.

    It isn’t that we don’t understand it. It’s that Sharia is incompatible with our form of government.

    We shouldn’t have to worry about foreign law affecting US courts, but we seem to be inundated with self loathing citizen’s who obsess over the possibility that anyone could say anything remotely offensive to anyone while rushing to embrace any culture other than “American Culture”.
    And while you are condescendingly considering the “quaint” notion of an “American Culture” remember you are the one who brought up Mark Twain.

  2. Thank you yahya merchant for supporting my point by providing the link to the Sharia sales pitch.
    It does a great job of demonstrating the conflict that exists between the practice of Sharia Law (that does actually exist – who knew?) and US Citizenship. To its believers Sharia law is prescribed by the creator of life and that it takes precedence over man made laws (Constitution), and that their divine guidance is the only one, true law. “It is a way of life for all times and all places”.
    As US Citizens we pledge allegiance to the Constitution.
    If Muslim Americans can agree that although they believe in adherence to Sharia law they will comply with American law, just like Christians and Jews subjugate their beliefs, then there is no problem and therefore no need to consider Sharia in the application of US Law.

  3. Great article. Don’t acknowledge the Hasbara spammers in the comments section. Their idiocy and blatant hate knows no bounds.

  4. Right, direguard history and ignor 1500 years of the same ole same ole.
    Islam is to freedom as cancer is to man. Want another middle east here in America? keep writing this poison. Because your bringing here alright. Zach is worse than ignorant…..he’s blind…..history doesn’t lie and look at all the antisemitism here in America now with Islam spreading it love…Wake up Zach…..don’t be a fool. Who’s writing your checks buddy?

  5. Just think of it Americans we could be like the Islamic Republic of Iran, or the Sharia state of Saudi Arabia, or better still like Sudan where Sharia law is practiced! How exciting!

    Thanks Zach for promoting such wonderful changes to our Constitution. How do the women of Penn feel about these exciting prospects!

  6. The United States Constitution was created by Christians. It is as incompatible with Islam as it was with Nazism and Soviet Communism.

    The Bill of Rights guarantees to all law-abiding citizens the freedoms of religion, speech, and assembly and the right to bear arms, among others.

    Islamic law — shari’a — denies those rights to non-Muslims and Muslim apostates, women, and little girls. Because shari’a is founded on the words and deeds of Muhammad, whatever he said and did is prescriptive for Muslims. This means that murder, sedition, treason, religious and gender apartheid, wife-beating, polygyny, and pedophilia are not only institutionalized, they’re “sacralized.”

    It is time that all free people inform themselves regarding the tyrannical, fascist, intolerant, murderous, and depraved nature of Islam and resist it with all moral, rhetorical, political, legal, and — as necessary — martial force.

    Freedom of Religion does not protect “kill the pagans wherever you find them” (Qur’an 9:5).

  7. Zach,

    Did you hear the Islamists in Libya are demanding Sharia law? Now that is something you should be draned excited about. No doubt the gays, Jews, women, atheists and other minorities in Libya are looking forward to Sharia with great anticipation (of their death).

  8. Either way, Sharia law will never happen here in America, period. It’s like the Nazi or the Communist Party of America, it sounds great in theory. But once everyone gets a whiff of that BS, its going to be squashed. Nothing like going to Afghanistan and seeing a little girl’s nose chopped off because she let her hair out in public. Would you want your sister or mother to be brutalized in a such a way? Would you not want to be able to hold in hands in public with your girlfriend or boyfriend? Or how about being forced to grow a beard, or not fly a kite, etc? How about not having the right to vote or hold office? Rosy O’Donnell would have a field day, not to mention that million’s of american’s that are just as fantical if not more than the want to be future Usama’s… Good luck.

  9. Well than I guess America is prejudice than. So be it, as long as Sharia law is just some haji’s wet dream.

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