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01 March 2011

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Grumpy

Dr. Silverman,

A well written piece, between you and I, I sincerely hope you're right. In fact, I would hope you would be able to laugh me right off of this planet. My concern rests not just with America, but with our allies. 1. How does the Sharia impact our Allies? We don't have control in those nations. 2. With those very same Allies, are you saying the Sharia has no impact. As the nations become more and more under the influence of the Sharia, then there is an impact on there relationship with America.

Norman Rogers

"The simple fact of the matter is that this is one more in a long line of invented, hysterical, and virtually fact free controversies designed to demonize all Muslims, scare largely uninformed Americans[4], and to be perfectly honest, raise lots of money."

Beautifully said. This core group of Americans is a permanent resistance group, aimed at countering common sense and decency. No matter who is President, their "marketing plan" is to stampede Americans into thinking there is a tremendous Muslim menace that is going to establish Sharia Law down at the mall.

William R. Cumming

Dr. Silverman thanks for the post. Have no worry any state passing these laws will lose when they are tested under the 1st Amendment as applied to the STATES by the 14th.
The critical language of course is "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" in the 1st Amendment and the post Civil War 14th Amendment clearly made applicable the entirety of the US Constitution including the prohibition on slavery to the STATES.
AS always the Constitution source is "WE the people" not those who argue for STATES rights.

Basilisk

Bravo, Dr. Silverman.

JTCornpone

Adam

Nice work. No quarrel with your thesis. However, if we look at Sharia in a broader context, as law based on religious text or practice and not strictly tied to Muslim theology, it's possible to believe we are closer to a form of sharia-type law than one might think. For example, anti-abortion zealots are bent on imposing religious based law in the US. In their extreme rhetoric they have inspired right-to-life death squads comparable to those who have attacked people who have offended Muslims and attracted death orders from extreme Muslim clerics.

As for Muslim (or Catholic, Orthodox Jewish or evengelical Christian) practices being mandated in US law I agree with you, it's a tempest in a teabagpot manufactured by the barkers to draw in the rubes. It's disappointing to me that Americans living in "the home of the brave" can be led to be afraid of almost everything.

Paraphrasing Yogi, if the founding fathers were alive today they'd be turning over in their graves.

JT

Patrick Lang

Grumpy

"are you saying the Sharia has no impact"

I assume that you mean NATO. Ally is a much over worked word.

In what way do you think that "Sharia" has affected any NATO country other than Turkey?

Is it the Islamic religious law that bothers you or is it the number of people in Europe who are of Islamic faith or heritage? Is it their difference in culture that bothers you? If that is so how do you feel about Latinos? pl

Jake

Ditto @ both Silverman and Cummings...

Yes its being proven that many people are dumb, panicky dangerous animals. To be honest, it is getting very scary out there.

Roy G

Thank you Dr. Silverman, for your intelligent takedown of this dumb argument. It is interesting, but not surprising, to note that most of this noise is being generated in Red states with minimal Muslim populations, the kinds of places where the populace wouldn't know a Sikh from a Muslim.

As for the hate group leading the charge in New York, all I can say is that it is sad to see how New York has been victimized repeatedly since 9/11, by those who seek to profit – politically and monetarily.

It's obvious that what we really have to fear is the 'dimmitude' of our elected officials and population, who have dimmed down our national discours, into Kabuki theatre, where fanciful monster masks are held up to scare the audience, to the profit of the actors and puppetmasters, while the real problems are ignored.

One final related thought, I wonder what the response would be from Wall Street about Islamic banking? Oh yes, that would be a huge threat to 'our' system... because Islamic banks were by and large too wise to jump down the greedhole during the financial meltdown.

Nancy K

I don't think it is Sharia law these people are afraid of, it is those of Islamic faith and/or anyone who thinks differently than they do. Zenophobes live in a very scary world.

Cal

I thought the only two countries with official Sharia law were Iran and Saudi..are there others?

Phil Giraldi

I have been reliably informed by those who follow such issues that there are only two nations on earth that have Sharia law - Saudi Arabia and Iran. The other 56 Muslim majority countries have criminal codes that derive from "colonial" i.e. French or British models of Roman Law and Common Law. In their civil law, many Mulsim countries do indeed have elements of Sharia in legislation relating to families, divorce, inheritance etc for obvious reasons. Exploiting the non-existent threat of Sharia overwhelming America is like the earlier proliferation of the much abused expression Islamofascism, dedicated to creating fear by short circuiting any possible rational discussion.

Bill H.

"...the retired general officer in question has the absolute right to believe whatever he wants, etc."

The military, however, quite properly places limits on what he may do in public and while wearing the uniform. When in uniform he is representing this nation, and his actions are constrained by the policies of this nation.

Sidney O. Smith III

This is very good analysis. Dr. Silverman accurately depicts nativistic trends that threaten the religious freedoms of the US, and, just as revealing, this essay reflects what aspects of history Dr. Silverman will highlight and diminish, which in turn, reflect the American pathos at work, particularly in academia. But, all in all, the essay is most certainly on the right track and we certainly need more of the same.

As for the first point -- the drift towards nativism -- right now, I would call it a victory if those with a narrow view do not try to raze the Fox theatre in Atlanta simply because it reflects a melding of Islamic and Egyptian architecture.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fox_Theatre_(Atlanta,_Georgia)

So, yes, the drifting towards nativistic extremism does cause cultural cringe, Southern style, until one looks at Pamela Geller of Long Island, NY. She may be the worst racist in the United States. If she lived in Arkansas, we would already have had an Academy Award winning film depicting her story.

This leads to the second point. Silverman focused almost exclusively on Oklahoma and SC -- as he should -- but those leading this nativistic charge include many who should know better. This includes an amazing number who are well educated, in particularly Neoconservatives and those who either now or in the past considered themselves part of the progressive tradition. Goldberg is actually fairly good about first amendment freedoms in the US. But Kristol…

And please note that Silverman did not focus on Pamela Geller to the same extent as SC and Oklahoma. Both deserve equal treatment, in my opinion. And the fact that Dr. Silverman fails to engage in this kind of self reflection, in turn, suggests an over-reliance of the notion of American exceptionalism. After all, those who are using American exceptionalism to wreak havoc in the Middle East are the same ones who are generating xenophobic trends in the US.

No doubt, the Leo Frank trial was in an injustice that should be memorialized, but there was a hero in that story that should also be mentioned -- the Georgia Governor John Slaton -- to give the story some balance.

But I see the memorializing of the Leo Frank injustice as a model for remembering the injustice that occurred to the USS Liberty vets, as long as one remembers the Touro Covenant, to which Silverman obliquely refers (without mentioning the USS Liberty incident). By Touro Covenant, I am referring to the exchange of letters between Washington and rabbi of the Touro Synagogue.

I assume, since Dr. Silverman represents the USM, he would agree with my thesis in the following article titled “The Touro Covenant must survive the USS Liberty incident”.

http://tinyurl.com/no582b

In my opinion, those who best reflect the Touro Convenant, at this time in history, are the Satmar Rabbis and those assimilated Jews who reflect their Judaic values and I hold this belief for an extremely important reason: right now, these values are giving us our best analytical assumptions for “strategic intel anlysis” to safeguard the US and the US soldier in the Middle East. (If the 2 state solution becomes a legimate alternative, then other assumptions may arise).

As for religious freedoms, I was little disappointed that Dr. Silverman failed to point to the views of the 10th President of the United Sates -- John Tyler. Tyler was a Virginian (and later a Confederate at the Peace Conference) and his view of religious freedom not only would seem to support Dr. Silverman’s views, but also present a “transcendent” view, if you will, that could help the nation overcome religious, regional,racial, and cultural divides.

It is a great tragedy that the nativists, from all parts of America, have ignored John Tyler’s quote to the same extent as Dr. Silverman, and at that point we have an intersection of analyses between the two (nativists and academia) that, in turn, may point to the blind spot in the American pathos. And increasingly, this pathos is unable to process properly historical change in such a way as to benefit the American people.

But here is Tyler’s quote on religious freedom -- I find it quite beautiful and a model for the American vision. Hope Dr. Silverman does too:

"The United States have adventured upon a great and noble experiment, which is believed to have been hazarded in the absence of all previous precedent -- that of total separation of Church and State. No religious establishment by law exists among us. The conscience is left free from all restraint and each is permitted to worship his Maker after his own judgement. The offices of the Government are open alike to all. No tithes are levied to support an established Hierarchy, nor is the fallible judgement of man set up as the sure and infallible creed of faith. The Mahommedan, if he will to come among us would have the privilege guaranteed to him by the constitution to worship according to the Koran; and the East Indian might erect a shrine to Brahma if it so pleased him. Such is the spirit of toleration inculcated by our political Institutions.... The Hebrew persecuted and down trodden in other regions takes up his abode among us with none to make him afraid.... and the Aegis of the Government is over him to defend and protect him. Such is the great experiment which we have tried, and such are the happy fruits which have resulted from it; our system of free government would be imperfect without it." -- letter, 10 July 1843

VietnamVet

Dr. Silverman,

“Sharia Law Takeover” is propaganda from right wing billionaire’s think tanks. Muslims are the latest scapegoats. A population so small they don’t even make a wedge in Wedge Politics.

There are three basic reasons:

1) The media does not fact check the propaganda. At best they present a he said she said argument; therefore, giving credence to the propaganda. Or worse with a disbelieving sneer they present any opposition to their agitprop that America is the best of all possible worlds; i.e. the Oscar acceptance speech “Forgive me, I must start by pointing out that three years after our horrific financial crisis caused by financial fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail and that is wrong.”

2) Americans still believe that corporate media are truth tellers. Watch Republican Rep. Allen West of Florida. He is a True Believer. He knows that cutting government spending in the face of 17% real unemployment will create jobs. Cutting Billionaire taxes is much more important than workers union representation. Stimulus funding failed. The real world is more complicated but if he gets his way one thing is certain; the economy will stall, slow down, and eventually fall into a Depression. Underpaid and unemployed workers and a dead housing market are the reality now. More unemployed civil servants, teachers and cops will make it worse.

3) Finally, no one ever mentions that Billionaires and Multi-National Corporations have seized the USA Federal Government. The President and Congress serve only its Stakeholders not its citizens.

Green Zone Cafe

Good article, Dr. Silverman, although I agree with Vietnam Vet above. The argument against "Sharia" in the USA is not a serious one, but a cynical one made to exploit the fears and hatreds of the ignorant for political purposes.

Charles I

VV, I watched Allen West last night. I found him kinda creepy, very studied demeanor, but he did let out a smirk once or twice that belied everything he said. Balance balance balance, but not a peep about the income side of ledger, except it must be reduced.

These types - studiously calm steadied oozers of The Party Line discomfited only by the microexpressions smug arrogant liars betray - always remind me of a character from an Allan Drury novel, gee they were good, I think he was a reporter, or a Limbaughesque talking head, aptly named Frankly Unctuous.

A real turd.

LeaNder

And please note that Silverman did not focus on Pamela Geller ...

Sidney, let me first admit, the arabo/islamophobic obsession in some neoconservative, or hawkish pro-Israel circles, startled me too and may in fact be the main reason I got interested in politics and the military.

But, do I as a Catholic/Protestant/Muslim/Jew/Buddhist/Hindu/Taoist first have to single out all the bigots in my group first? Talk about them exclusively? Would you?

Plus aren't the people you talk about heavily represented in this statement:

I’m not going to link to the people who put these arguments out then, one of whom was also a primary instigator of the invented Ground Zero Mosque controversy last year.

Grumpy

Col. Lang,

You are right on a couple of different fronts. Yes, my concern was NATO. The other one, was the word, “Ally”. When we look at this term, “Ally”, what do we see? Can we see one way traffic or two-way traffic? To be honest, both sides need to see responsibility, their own. I need to remember one thing, especially about Turkey, they have always in one way or another, been problematic. Case in point, Desert Storm I, they refused us overflight privileges. This caused problems between us and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis, based on the Sharia, wanted to impose a list of restrictions on our military forces. It was at this point, there was a meeting between the Command and the Royal Family and things were dealt with. The issues were all Sharia-based, non-Muslim chaplains and the place of female soldiers. The issue are basically revolving around the application of particular “Sharia Understandings” and tribal in nature. This is the reason I raised the point. The really big thing that “Grumpy” must realize is this, they live there.

Thank you.

Patrick Lang

Grumpy

It appears to me that you object to and fear the cultural separateness of Muslims and are shorthsanding it as "sharia." It is Islam that you don't like. pl

steve

Regarding New York Get Law--

The statute only allow a court to consider the financial effects of a refusal to grant a get in the distribution of maritial assets in a civil divorce.

I would not particularly characterize that as embracing Orthodox marital law. It is just a recognition of a financial bind that one party puts another in, and could just as easily be based on any number of secular reasons and circumstances.

In the example referred to I believe the man was imprisoned for contempt by failing to abide by the court's financial order--not for refusing to grant a get.

And as far as I know, no civil court in the US recognizes the validity of a religious divorce in terms of the couple being legally divorced, and free to remarry.

The religious entity may recognize the religious divorce, but the state doesn't.

I believe as well that all states require a state license to marry regardless of the religious ceremony.

Sidney O. Smith III

Hi LeaNder

Thanks for the comment.

Here is my point: there is correlation between Likud Zionism, prevalent in academia, and the rise of nativism.

For whatever reason, Dr. Silverman elected not to fully explore this relationship, instead it was weighted only to one side -- the rise of nativism.

So the importance of Dr. Silverman’s essay is not only what he described so very well but what he elected not to describe at all.

And the failure to explore this correlation signals the distortion of the American pathos and explains why the prevailing narratives -- in academia and the msm -- will not serve US interests, imo.

Once this blind spot is articulated, then one must search for the proper analytical assumptions that best serve US national interest while safeguarding the US soldier.

Gotta’ jump outside the narratives, so to speak.

And yes, I have at least tried to talk about the bigots in my group (although I am not much of a group person). I tried to in the above comment (see above reference "cultural cringe" in Atl.) And, if you are really interested, check out an essay that Col. Lang kindly posted awhile back, Jackson Circle.

I am fairly certain my family history has done the same.

But you do make a point, we could always do better.

It is all about looking within first. American exceptionalism has lead to a hubris in which our nation will not look within. As an example, if we don’t listen to people such as Brig. Ali, odds increase we will experience unnecessary suffering.

Adam L Silverman

Grumpy: I think when you dive into the demographic data the threat of Muslims out breeding Europeans and taking them over what we see is that its really not an issue at all. Here's a good report on it, the original study was done by Pew:
http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2011/01/27/will-pew-muslim-birth-rate-study-finally-silence-the-eurabia-claim/

The only NATO ally that is also a Muslim majority state is Turkey and I think what we've seen over the past several years is that their major Islamic political party is both pretty responsible and pretty mainstream.

Adam L Silverman

General Cornpone (ole September morn pone...) : I don't disagree that the theonomists and Christian Reconstructionists would like to impose their version of biblical law. And I certainly agree that there will be problems, and likely both equal access and potential 1st Amendment religious challenges to bans on abortions, contraception, and several other items. Much of the federalization of the Bill of Rights was the result of challenges by Jewish and Catholic parents of school board requirements for sectarian bible or religious study.

I think I may have overwritten the accommodations for certain religious rituals and for clergy to perform them. I wouldn't say its mandated in US law, it is permitted. And that gets to Steve's clarification, which is spot on. In the case I referenced the husband's spite, as I referred to it, was wrapped around not having to pay alimony, support, split assets. He decided he'd rather punish her and stay rich and sit in jail then be a mensch.

Adam L Silverman

Cal and Mr. Giraldi:

This site has a pretty comprehensive rundown:
http://www.islamic-world.net/islamic-state/assessing_consti.htm

I think the ambiguity has to do with a number of Muslim majority states have made Islam the official state religion or partially ground their legal codes in Islamic Law.

Adam L Silverman

BillH: You are absolutely correct. And it is one, of several, high profile examples some serious civil-military relations issues over the past decade.

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