Monday, September 06, 2010

The New York TImes on Islamaphobia

The NYT has an article in today's edition called American Muslims Ask, Will We Ever Belong?   While it is an interesting question, I am not sure it is the right one.   At least in the part of the country where I live Muslims are accepted as are many other faiths.   However, even among the most tolerant of our citizens there are legitimate questions which need to be resolved.  To the extent that Moslems are being targeted for hate, that should stop.  The idiotic proposal to burn Korans should be condemned by anyone with sense.  But there are three questions that need to be considered to understand how Muslims should fit into this society.

#1 - Is the proposed Center near where thousands of Americans were killed an appropriate thing to build?  This is not, as the President tried to define it, a legal question.  There is no legal question here but a moral one.  I agree with those who raise the question of taste here - the Pope recognized that it was inappropriate for the Catholic church to build a nunnery near a Nazi death camp.  This may be a similar example.

#2 - How do practicing Muslims in the US want to relate religious law with civil law?  In Minnesota and other areas of the country, some Muslims have demanded special treatment so they can adhere to their religious beliefs.  That has included demands by cab drivers to not carry passengers who are carrying things like alcohol, which Islamic rules forbid.  The local transportation commission wisely told the cab drivers, you are publicly licensed, so either stop your protest or get into some other kind of business.

Our own Judeo-Christian heritage has a tradition of separating religious law from civil (Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's - in Matthew).  It is an essential underpinning of our civil heritage and also allows for the tolerance inherent in the First Amendment.

#3 - What should be said about the extremists?  Groups like the Council for American Islamic Relations that purport to attempt to bridge whatever gap there is between Muslims and others seem noticeably silent on the extremes of some adherents to the faith.  There is a fundamental conflict for "civil rights" organizations as CAIR proclaims itself to be as to how to approach political issues.  The group needs to understand principles that made the country what it is and work within those limits.

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