Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Josh Marshall, owner of Talking Points Memo and a prominent liberal blogger, has discovered that the threat of creeping Sharia is real:

In our investigation into the growth of Sharia Law in the USA we came across some surprising findings. Numerous American cities now have one or more Muslim ‘religious courts’ in operation where believers go to adjudicate family law disputes, real estate transactions and various other matters according to Sharia Law by binding arbitration. These religious court verdicts can then be enforced by civilian American courts. Various states have also passed laws to codify Muslim dietary laws, though a few of these laws have been struck down. And numerous national corporations now process foods to suit Muslim dietary standards. Finally, one jurisdiction in New York has been settled entirely by devout Muslims; no candidates run for office except those approved by the local imam; road signs in the town are all printed in both English and Arabic; and various local practices have been brought into line with Sharia.

Oops. Not so fast:

Actually, there’s one detail I didn’t mention. The law here isn’t Sharia; it’s Halakhah, Jewish religious law. And all the above are true if you change ‘Muslim’ to ‘Jewish’ and ‘Arabic’ to ‘Hebrew’. (Actually, Yiddish written in the Hebrew script, to be specific.)

I don’t pretend that this is a perfect apples to apples comparison. The population of Jews in the US will almost certainly continue to decline in relative terms whereas the population of Muslims in the US seems certain to rise. And the fullbore extremist version of Sharia practiced in Saudi Arabia (though virtually nowhere else in the Islamic world) is … well, pretty screwed up and a lot more threatening than not being able to shave your sideburns or eat pork. And let’s be frank, even though it’s true that only a minuscule fraction of American Muslims have any sympathy with terrorist attacks in US, there doesn’t seem to be any record of any American Jews planning any local terrorist attacks (though the JDL did some in the 1970s.)

All true. And yet I think it’s a pretty good example of that fact that the kinds of things (with Muslims) that are supposed to make us run around with our hair on fire, are already happening and have been for decades with Jews and no one seems to care because, frankly, why should they?

I am always amused when one of the wingnut commenters shows up here and accuses me of defending — or even advocating — Islamic radicalism if I criticize the right wing’s paranoid overreactions and distortions of reality. As I’ve said many times, radical Islam is the most dangerous and barbaric ideology in the world today. It is the enemy of everything I consider good.

But it is a bizarre leap from that assessment to the idea that radical Muslims are taking over America; they could not do so in their wildest and wettest dreams, whether through invasion and conquering or through internal cooption. And anyone who thinks that is going to happen is paranoid to the point of near-schizophrenia.

Our way of life is far more threatened by an overreaching national surveillance state and an unbounded executive branch than by anything Osama Bin Laden could dream up.