Inside Job

Among the myriad wavelets in last week’s conservative electoral tsunami was a measure passed in Oklahoma banning the application of sharia, or Islamic law, in that state.

Sharia, you say? In Oklahoma?? Fair enough. But the referendum was inspired, no doubt, by a look around at other theoretically secular Western polities such as England, in which the steady and stealthy process of dawa jihad has progressed somewhat further than it has in America, and where there are already official sharia courts. The ounce-of-prevention measure was clearly intended to send a “don’t even think about it” message to Islamists working behind the scenes here in the dar al-Harb. Yes, it should go without saying — I quite agree — that there will never be sharia law in Oklahoma. Once upon a time it would have gone without saying that there would never be sharia law in England.

Not a few coastal sorts objected that the bill unfairly singles out Muslim law, while saying nothing other religious traditions. But this is plainly disingenuous: there is no worldwide struggle underway between modern secular nations and those who would impose a global regime based on Jewish law, Hindu law, Buddhist law, Zoroastrian law, or, indeed, anything but sharia. Islam differs from other religions in that it is more than a religion.

Others complained that the law was entirely unnecessary — comparable, say, to outlawing the hunting in Oklahoma of Komodo dragons, or the sale of Ford Pintos with more than 150,000 miles on the odometer. But if so, no problem: the law mandates no new government bureaucracies, does nothing to restrict the liberties of Oklahomans, and drains not a dollar from the Sooner fisc.

But there is one group that is adversely affected by the new legislation: those who actually would like to see sharia become the lex Americana someday, and who struggle tirelessly toward that holy aim. Among that number is the prominent Muslim Brotherhood front group known as the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Predictably, it did not take them long to push back, in the form of a lawsuit based on the fanciful proposition that the Oklahoma measure restricts religious freedom — and it took them no time at all to find a willing abettor in federal magistrate Vicki Miles-LaGrange, who promptly issued a blocking injunction.

The new Oklahoma law, as well as Arizona S.B.1070, should be seen as entirely natural defensive responses, by a living cultural organism, to genuine environmental threats. That the government of the United States should act to suppress its own immune system in this way — as it has in Arizona — is further evidence of a grave and potentially lethal dysfunction.

Story here.

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  1. Dom says

    “It’s a ridiculous and offensive stereotype, an attempt to capitalize on the fears of people who don’t know anything about Islam,” says Awad. “We already have laws that prevent violence against women: You can’t engage in a crime and consider it somehow related to your faith.”

    How odd. The bill was passed because in NJ, a judge said he must defer to Islamic law in a case in which a woman was repeatedly beaten and raped by her husband. The only caveat, and it’s an important one, is that the judge was over-ruled by a higher court. Still, it makes sense to clear things up, if only to make sure later judges do not make a similar mistake. And since people like Awad agree — or at least say they do — the bill makes perfect sense.

    Posted November 9, 2010 at 8:30 am | Permalink
  2. the one eyed man says

    There is a downside in the antics in Oklahoma. The chief competitive advantage we have as a country is our ability to attract some of the world’s best minds to come here and start companies. Some of these minds happen to be Muslim. If the next Sergei Brin happens to be born in Pakistan or Turkey, he may very well look at pointless and offensive legislation like this and decide to stay put, or go somewhere else.

    I had not intended to comment here, other than to say that I liked the line about the Ford Pinto.

    Posted November 9, 2010 at 9:41 am | Permalink
  3. Dom says

    “Some of these minds happen to be Muslim.”

    A country that has banned Sharia laws will probably attract such minds. Look, even Muslims are getting sick of this:

    Posted November 9, 2010 at 11:12 am | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says

    What you say may be true, Peter, but if the good people of Oklahoma wish to amend their state constitution in such a way as to discourage foreign immigration to their state, that’s their business, and is hardly a matter for the Federal courts.

    I also don’t share your rather offensive sentiment that the only natural advantage the American people have is a knack for seducing foreigners.

    I remember a bumper sticker that used to be popular for Pintos. It said “Hit me easy! I’m full of gas.”

    Posted November 9, 2010 at 11:57 am | Permalink
  5. Malcolm says

    Good point, Dom. And that so many of the world’s most gifted minds “happen to be Muslim” — along with the stimulating effect of sharia, of course — would explain why the Muslim world is such a conspicuous leader in scientific research, patents, technical innovation, Nobel prizes, etc.

    Posted November 9, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Permalink
  6. the one eyed man says

    I didn’t say it was the “only natural advantage.” I said it was the “chief competitive advantage.” There is a global competition for the best and the brightest, and America’s reputation as a country which welcomed immigrants has long been the primary reason many of them came here.

    Moreover, it’s not only at the highest levels. Here in Silicon Valley, about 40% of the workforce at companies ranging from start-ups to Google and Apple are foreign born. For whatever reason, these companies found immigrants from (mostly) third world countries to be superior to homegrown talent. The guy who lives next door to me is an Iranian biotech engineer at Genentech. Presumably he has skills which Genentech couldn’t find locally. My dentist is also from Iran. I’m sure there are lots of good American born dentists, but this guy is really good too.

    My point is simply that none of these people came here to start a fatwa or institute Sharia law – they came for the same reasons that immigrants have historically come here. They add enormous value. The spectacle of Oklahomans banning Sharia law, preachers burning the Koran, or national politicians wetting their pants over a Muslim peace center on the hallowed ground of a shuttered Burlington Coat Factory presumably would discourage many others who can also add value from deciding to emigrate.

    Posted November 9, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Permalink
  7. Malcolm says

    Ah. So seducing foreigners is not the American people’s only advantage; it is merely our foremost advantage. Hardworking, talented, ambitious people who want to become Americans should always be welcome, of course, but it sure is a good thing we don’t have to fall back on doing things ourselves.

    Well, then, if a referendum about preventing the implementation of sharia comes up in California, you can simply vote against it, and the legions of superior Muslim intellects without whose contribution the US is obviously doomed (kind of makes you wonder how we ever amounted to anything without them!) will end up enriching your home state, leaving Oklahoma to wither in benighted, self-inflicted deprivation, nursing its balanced budget in sullen isolation while the Golden State continues to enjoy the rich harvest of Diversity that has already lifted its economy to such enviable heights of prosperity and disposable fiscal surplus.

    Posted November 9, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Permalink
  8. Dom says

    Again, passing this law seems reasonable, given what happened in NJ. And banning Sharia is likely to attract Moslem workers, especially women. I didn’t see Hirsi Ali fleeing to Saudi Arabia. And in any case, no one ever argued that “The Life of Brian” would discourage immigration from Ireland.

    But the point of Silicon Valley importing workers because Americans just don’t make the grade hit a nerve with me. These workers are called H-1B workers. I have seen first hand (I work in IT) how they are mistreated, and the lies that are used to recruit them. Economists like Matloff and Miano have all noted that the H-1B workers have unusually low skill sets, and that companies hiring them generally lay off higher paid and better skilled Americans at the same time. To hire the H-1B employees, companies must show that they have tried and failed to recruit similarly trained Americans. Most have lied about this. Microsoft was caught advertising its jobs in an Auto-sales magazine.

    This is eye-opening:

    Posted November 9, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Permalink
  9. the one eyed man says

    The “rich harvest of Diversity” has, in fact, “lifted (California’s) economy to such enviable heights of prosperity.” Silicon Valley companies are enormously successful, world-beating enterprises. Apple, Cisco, HP, Intel, facebook, Google, and Oracle are all industry leading companies which generate enormous profits and prosperity. The joke is that the Valley was built on IC’s (not integrated circuits, but Indians and Chinese).

    California’s fiscal problems have nothing to do with the success engines here in the Valley, or those who work there. Our insolvency is attributable to things like Prop 13, which caps real estate taxes, and a government-by-proposition where the electorate continually votes for expensive goodies and refuses to vote for the taxes to pay for them. Add to that a dysfunctional state government, and you’ve got a system which is systemically incapable of operating rationally or effectively.

    Believe it or not, immigration is not the source of all of our problems. In this case, it is the key to one of the most effective solutions to those problems.

    Posted November 9, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Permalink
  10. Malcolm says

    Ah, Indians and Chinese. I’m sure the prospect of never being able to implement sharia would keep them away in droves.

    But yes, you’re right, of course. If a state isn’t allowed to tax itself into prosperity, it’s hard to have any real hope. And the fault, of course, lies with those stupid voters, who have somehow found out that they can vote themselves money, and always seem to want more and more government services. Who could have foreseen that? I mean, where are these people coming from?

    Perhaps the answer is some sort of balanced-budget amendment to the state Constitution, to make sure that the government can’t spend money it hasn’t got. (Something like what, say, Oklahoma has.) It’s kind of a radical idea, but that way you can be sure that there will always be new taxes to go with the new goodies.

    And of course smart entrepreneurs are always looking for places where the taxes are good and high, and going up, to decide where to build their corporate headquarters. So they’ll be flocking in. Things will be fine in no time.

    Posted November 9, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Permalink
  11. bob koepp says

    “And of course smart entrepreneurs are always looking for places where the taxes are good and high, and going up, to decide where to build their corporate headquarters. So they’ll be flocking in.”

    Traditionally, entrepreneurs have, indeed, viewed the “tax environment” as an important variable in decicisions about where to locate operations. But studies of the phenomenon that we call Silicon Valley suggest that in this case, at least, the ready availability of human resources was a much more significant factor.

    Posted November 9, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Permalink
  12. Malcolm says

    Well, Bob, if so, it’s in spite of the high-tax environment, which when onerous enough drives business away. It is doing so in California as we speak; businesses are fleeing in droves, as they have been from other high-tax states like New York and New Jersey (though New Jersey’s governor Chris Christie is doing his best to reverse the trend, and even New York’s Democratic governor-elect Andrew Cuomo seems to understand the problem).

    But even in Silicon Valley it goes both ways; the presence of those companies in that small geographical area draws in bright Asians and Indians to the region. (When companies leave, and take their jobs with them to places like Utah, all those engineers will go too.) And I am in no way opposed to admitting the best and brightest; an immigration policy that screened for high intelligence and other desirable qualities would be perfectly rational, I think.

    But as for California’s “human resources” generally: as Dennis Mangan has pointed out just today, California has both the highest proportion of foreign-born residents, and the highest per-capita welfare load, of any state in the nation. Perhaps that is more than mere coincidence.

    All of this is rather a huge digression, anyway: the topic here, if I remember correctly, was Oklahoma’s law regarding sharia, and Federal action pertaining thereto.

    Posted November 9, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Permalink
  13. Malcolm says

    Peter, sorry to be so sarcastic. It bordered on incivility.

    Posted November 10, 2010 at 12:53 am | Permalink
  14. bob koepp says

    Malcolm – I was simply pointing out that entrepreneurs have other concerns besides the tax environment that play a significant role in determining where they locate their operations — not presenting a brief for inviting all sorts of immigrants to move in next door. In fact, in the case of Silicon Valley, it was the proximity of a couple top drawer research universities, not a foreign-born workforce, that seems to have been the attractor. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

    Posted November 10, 2010 at 7:48 am | Permalink
  15. Malcolm says

    Yes, Bob, I think I did misunderstand you. Certainly having Stanford and Cal nearby was a major factor. (I think Xerox PARC, and NASA’s Ames Research Center, were anchors as well.)

    Posted November 10, 2010 at 9:21 am | Permalink