Monday, September 21, 2015

Ben Carson's "Islamophobia"

Not that Dr. Carson's candidacy was ever going anywhere, but if he'd have majored in history instead of wasting his time becoming a brain surgeon, he could have hidden behind the skirts of Alexis de Tocqueville:

Muhammad professed to derive from Heaven, and he has inserted in the Koran, not only a body of religious doctrines, but political maxims, civil and criminal laws, and theories of science. The gospel, on the contrary, only speaks of the general relations of men to God and to each other - beyond which it inculcates and imposes no point of faith. This alone, besides a thousand other reasons, would suffice to prove that the former of these religions will never long predominate in a cultivated and democratic age, whilst the latter is destined to retain its sway at these as at all other periods.


13 comments:

Art Deco said...

He's placing 2d or 3d in some polls. The top candidates as of this moment include three people who've never held public office before and a freshman member of Congress who called Addison Mitchell McConnell a liar on the floor of the Senate. That's a flunking grade delivered to the GOP Capitol Hill nexus, and, of course, Lindsey Graham exemplified that nexus by making a nuisance 'demand' that Carson apologise.

JMS said...

This quote by Tocqueville, a man who struggled with Catholicism his entire life, tells me he was rather uninformed about Islam: “Tocqueville criticized the Koran for being merely a compromise between spiritualism and materialism, saying that although the Koran was an advance over polytheism, it was far inferior to the Gospel.”
31 Tocqueville, letter to Kergorlay, March 21, 1838, (Euvres completes, V, 354. http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/286138.pdf?acceptTC=true

Sadly, Carson’s Muslim-bashing is in line with the long American traditions of anti-Catholicism and anti-Semitism, where the Catholic (JFK in the 1960 election) and Jewish (when Father Coughlin addressed the Democratic National convention in 1932) faiths were either incompatible with American principles and values, and/or inherently disloyal to our nation. Fortunately, Carson, Jindal et al and the Republican base are out of step with the general electorate, where 60% of Americans said they could vote for a Muslim president, while only 58% could vote for an atheist candidate.

From what I have seen and read, most of the media has missed the crucial exchange with Chuck Todd where Carson displayed his historical and constitutional ignorance.

CHUCK TODD: So do you believe that Islam is consistent with the Constitution?
DR. BEN CARSON: No, I don't, I do not.

AC readers know that the Constitution’s Article VI, section 3 clearly includes all or no faiths: “No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” And yes, we all know that back then this only applied to the federal government, and not the states.

But this issue was thoroughly debated and ultimately carried the day during the 1788 state-by-state ratification convention debates. Let’s take a rather “forgotten founder” like Federalist delegate James Iredell from North Carolina. He asserted that: “America has set an example to mankind to think more modestly and reasonably—that a man may be of different religious sentiments from our own, without being a bad member of society.” Later he would become a Supreme Court Justice appointed by President Washington. Unlike Ben Carson, he knew what was at stake with the constitutional principle of “no religious test”: “how is it possible to exclude any set of men, without taking away that principle of religious freedom which we ourselves so warmly contend for?”

Tom Van Dyke said...



The left keeps repeating this as some sort of trump card, but it's not what Carson was saying. He was saying he"wouldn't advocate" a Muslim as president, wouldn't vote for one.

No different than saying you wouldn't vote for a JW or a Scientologist--or a young-earth creationist.

As for Islam's compatibility with Western liberal democracy, that could be argued cooly and informatively, but that's not going to happen. What we can say is that Christianity's compatibility is proven--liberal democracy is the defining characteristic of the West, whereas it is not anywhere else in the world.

That Islam is theologically incompatible with Western pluralism [pluralism being a necessary foundation of liberal democracy] is at least an arguable point; liberals tend to empty religions out of their theological content, as though one size fits all. This is intellectually sloppy. Frankly, I don't expect a society that comes to a screeching halt 5 times a day to pray would want to be pluralistic, and neither do I think that's wrong. Western liberal democracy is not the only valid means of securing the consent of the governed, which is the only true standard of legitimacy.

Tom Van Dyke said...

And "struggled with Catholicism" does not do justice to the issue. If his religious fervor flagged, his enthusiasm for it as an institution and a political theology did not.

http://www.crisismagazine.com/2007/tocquevilles-catholic-america


The irony was that Protestant England and America, if they lacked the joie de vivre of a Catholic culture, nevertheless had retained the great Catholic, medieval tradition of the liberties of Magna Carta, of independent subsidiary institutions and divided powers that the triumphant centralizing power of the state had wrested from France (and was wresting from much of the rest of Europe).

Tocqueville hated socialism and despotism, and fought his entire life to "persuade men that respect for the laws of God and man is the best means of remaining free, and that liberty is the best means of remaining upright and religious . . . ." Critics, he concedes, say this cannot be done, and "I too am tempted to think so. But the thing is true, all the same, and I will say so at all costs."

As Tocqueville never lost his faith in liberty, he never lost his faith in God, even during that sudden and frightening (for him) moment in adolescence when he felt he could no longer believe the dogmas of the Church. Yet, on his deathbed, he willingly returned. As Brogan notes, Tocqueville’s "doubt had never been intellectually radical: it was a difficulty for him rather than the foundation of a new outlook; he was no philosopher, and Pascal was his favorite author. The surprise, perhaps, is that he ever left the Church rather than that he returned to it."

Michael (limmu^wd) said...

I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Carson on this, as well as his stance on most other topics, including foreign policy, limited government, reducing entitlements, and religion. Recently finished reading his book, "America the Beautiful." The more I become familiar with this man, the more I like him.

Our Founding Fathers, who used principles gleaned from the Judeo-Christian Scriptures in drafting our Constitution and Bill of Rights, knew the dangers of Islam, and would agree with Dr. Carson's position.

John Adams, our 2nd President, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1814, after Tripoli broke its truce and began attacking U.S. ships again, advising that Islam’s founder and prophet was “a military fanatic.” In another writing, he condemned Islamic law as “contemptible.”

"His son and future president, John Quincy Adams, went further, arguing that the essence of Islam is “violence and lust: to exalt the brutal over the spiritual part of human nature.” He suggested the Quran’s commands to fight and conquer other lands “in the cause of Allah” were at odds with democracy, peace and the Judeo-Christian ethic on which America was founded.

“The precept of the Koran is perpetual war against all who deny that Muhammad is the prophet of God,” he added. “The vanquished may purchase their lives by the payment of tribute; the victorious may be appeased by a false and delusive promise of peace; and the faithful follower of the prophet may submit to the imperious necessities of defeat: but the command to propagate the Muslim creed by the sword is always obligatory, when it can be made effective. The commands of the prophet may be performed alike by fraud or by force.”

Embracing, or even allowing, Islam to gain a foothold in this nation is dangerous to say the least.

Ben Carson gets my vote!

Tom Van Dyke said...

Politically incorrect, historically accurate. See also Hitchens

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/fighting_words/2007/01/jeffersons_quran.html

That this might not be so easy was discovered by Jefferson and John Adams when they went to call on Tripoli's envoy to London, Ambassador Sidi Haji Abdrahaman. They asked him by what right he extorted money and took slaves in this way. As Jefferson later reported to Secretary of State John Jay, and to the Congress:

"The ambassador answered us that [the right] was founded on the Laws of the Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have answered their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise."

JMS said...

Tom – you are incorrect in stating that, “it's not what Carson was saying,” and it has nothing to do with political left, right or center. I quoted what Carson said from the interview transcript. It is the media in general who are misleadingly reporting that he only said that he "wouldn't advocate a Muslim as president, wouldn't vote for one.”

And to reiterate my point, Carson continues to “double-down” on unilaterally imposing a religious test on any Muslim presidential aspirant. In a subsequent interview he says, someone from any religious background could become president, but (and referring specifically to Muslims) only if they “are willing to subjugate their religious beliefs to our constitution.”

Wow! To “subjugate their religious belief” is as inimical a position as anyone could have to the constitutional bedrock of “no religious test.” Clearly Carson would not “ preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Tom Van Dyke said...

And to reiterate my point, Carson continues to “double-down” on unilaterally imposing a religious test on any Muslim presidential aspirant. In a subsequent interview he says, someone from any religious background could become president, but (and referring specifically to Muslims) only if they “are willing to subjugate their religious beliefs to our constitution.”

Wow! To “subjugate their religious belief” is as inimical a position as anyone could have to the constitutional bedrock of “no religious test.”


Dunno what you're talking about. Jack Kennedy promised exactly that in 1960.

And your invocation of Article VI, no religious tests, is still irrelevant, which is why I wrote a rebuttal to your comment in the first place. Carson was never talking about eligibility.

Again,

No different than saying you wouldn't vote for a JW or a Scientologist--or a young-earth creationist.

which I still doubt that you or most anyone else on the left would.

That said, as I wrote elsewhere, this shows why being a "professional" politician isn't a bad thing. This was a Politics 101 blunder, and one a president cannot make. Todd set the trap. and Carson blithely walked into it.

JMS said...

Thomas Jefferson foresaw Carson and his ilk before "no religious test" became the law of the land.

Well aware that the opinions and belief of men depend not on their own will, but follow involuntarily the evidence proposed to their minds; that Almighty God hath created the mind free, and manifested his supreme will that free it shall remain by making it altogether insusceptible of restraint; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments, or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, who being lord both of body and mind, yet choose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do, but to exalt it by its influence on reason alone; that the impious presumption of legislature and ruler, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time: That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical; … that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry; and therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust or emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religions opinion, is depriving him injudiciously of those privileges and advantages to which, in common with his fellow-citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing with a monopoly of worldly honours and emolumerits, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed these are criminals who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, … and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself; that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate ; errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.
• Thomas Jefferson, A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, Bill No. 82 (1779)

Tom Van Dyke said...

Nice, but all Carson said was that he personally wouldn't vote for a Muslim for president--a completely different issue. After his own personal experience with the Tripolitan ambassador in 1786, I'd say Jefferson might have had grave reservations himself.

"The ambassador answered us that [the right] was founded on the Laws of the Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have answered their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise."

JMS said...

Tom- JFK did not promise to "subjugate" his religious beliefs in 1960. He stated that, “I believe in an America … where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.”
Again, that is at total odds with what Dr. Carson said.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I have no idea how that quote is relevant to anything here.

JFK said he wouldn't let the teachings of the Catholic Church dictate his actions as president. I suppose Carson might soften his position if a Muslim said that he'd ignore the Quran, but let's see that happen first.

As if leftists like yourself would vote for a good Catholic. Let's be serious here. A bad Catholic, sure. I suppose Carson might vote for a bad Muslim, but that's even less politically correct than what he actually did say.

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