Saturday, May 5, 2012

Islam and multiculturalism in Canada

Interesting comments from Muslim Canadians:
Arjomand, who calls herself a "victim" of sharia law -- a strict set of rules based on Islam's holy book, the Qur'an, that subjugates women, as well as allows for the chopping off of hands for theft etc. -- says part of the reason she decided to immigrate to Canada was because she had heard about official multiculturalism.
"I thought how wonderful, but not anymore," she declares.
"I came here for Canadian values, not sharia values. I fled Iran on horseback because the values there threatened my very life. If people want to live under sharia or the way they lived back home, let them go back," she said.
Kanwar agrees. He says the time has come for the Canadian government to tell new immigrants "once you're in Canada we expect you to be totally devoted to Canada -- no divided loyalties."
"This country," added Kanwar, "is a democracy and democracy is founded on Christian principles.
"Canada is -- like it or not, take it or leave it -- a country founded on Christian principles where the vast majority of citizens are Christians," said Kanwar.
"Yes, there's separation of church and state but even that was a principle founded by Christians and Christianity.
"If Muslims, or anyone else, doesn't like living in a land filled with Christians or in a democracy they should get the hell out."
A commentor on that page writes that Kanwar has chosen a devotion to humanity over a devotion to Allah. I disagree that Kanwar is an apostate. I think that as many Christians have discovered you don't have to choose one over the other. I don't believe, and I hope the Muslims don't believe some of our modern interpretations of the 1st Amendment are the only school of thought on this, that the choice between a secularized society and a theocracy is a false dichotomy based on a distorted view of Jefferson's "separation of church and state".
The criticism of Canada's bend-over-backwards policy toward immigrants is especially noteworthy coming from these Muslims that are invested in their democratic liberties. This criticism seems to be denounced as racism in America, but then that is the easiest way to shut down an argument, but Europe generally doesn't do this (except in the last 10 years for Muslims) and when Americans expect a European country to do this, the response is predictable. As some commentators have pointed out, some ideologues will look to Europe's laws to interpret our Constitution on any matter but this one.
I do think that the attack on polygamy reaction to communities based on shariah in place of the law of the land is a misplaced problem. To me, the attack on Mormon or Muslim polygamy has a strong anti-religious basis. A country shouldn't have to modify their marital legalities to deal with it, but we should be wary of completely ignoring these people in our recent reevaluations (or dismissals) of common law.   In the recent criticisms of DOMA, a conservative commentator recently inveighed that before DOMA there was no precedent of federal involvement in state marital law.   Really?   He's apparently unaware of the Reynolds vs. US decision from the days when anti-Mormon sentiment was National Republican Party platform?  This Supreme Court decision is unreversed, and it establishes the U.S. (i.e., the federal entity) as the final authority on what is good for the social order.  

 As good a case as can be made for states deciding what is appropriate, this decision has created a hopeless muddle in terms of how the Fed is involved vs. how "full faith and credit" should be interpreted. As Constitutionally flawed as DOMA may or may not be, it follows from the effect Reynolds had on the reach of our federal government. (The Court made its decision based on the expert advice of a sociologist who told them polygamy was unhealthy for everyone.) Unfortunately, an amendment that protects the states from an unlimited "full faith and credit" interpretation while also protecting a state's right to determine their marital particulars will require a compromise -- a thing present at the founding of this country but now extinct. It is not our elected officials that will determine policy -- it's our Supreme Court that will decide whether a progressive or traditionalist vision is the right way for the whole country, which was founded on uniformity.

However... the thing that offends some people about Muslims is that more than one woman will be allowed to live under one house -- like in Charlie Sheen's house. Who do these polygamists think they are?  Overpaid actors?  The very idea!

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