Palin Fear-Mongers on Iran, Sharia

Republican gadfly Sarah Palin said in an interview with Newsmax Tuesday that Russia should be warned against helping Iran because if Iran got a nuclear weapon it would bring about Armageddon.

She also warned against the imposition of what she called Muslim sharia law on Americans and said they would never put up with it.

Give me a break. No one is working harder to impose a religious law code on Americans than Palin herself. Palin is one of those people who says she would like to forbid abortion even in cases of rape or danger to the mother’s life. Palin’s hostility to pro-choice positions derives from her belief in the supremacy of Christian law, which she wants to impose on all Americans. For more see my classic Salon essay on how many of Palin’s stances track with sharia or actually are more rigid.

Iran does not have a nuclear weapon, and says it does not want one and would not accept one. There is no evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program, and the International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly certified that no nuclear material is being diverted to military purposes from Iran’s civilian nuclear enrichment facilities in Natanz near Isfahan.

In contrast, the United States and Russia each has thousands of nuclear warheads, and smaller nuclear arsenals are possessed by Britain, France, China, and Israel.

It is difficult to see how Iran, a poor weak state with virtually no air force to speak of, and which is defenseless against a nuclear-armed superpower, could possibly cause an ‘Armageddon’ or show-down battle ushering in the Last Days

As for sharia, this allegation that Muslims are conspiring to impose their religious law on the United States is just propaganda from an American right wing that has destroyed the US economy and weakened the constitution, and has no one to blame for it but themselves. So they have nothing to run on but fear. They tried making Americans afraid of Latinos, but there are so many Latino voters that the tactic caused them to crash and burn. They needed a small group to position as threatening to middle America. They really miss the Communists. You could always run against the Communists, and there were hardly any in the US, so there was no down side.

So now they are coming after the some 6 million American Muslims.

Sharia does not have a fixed meaning. It is the living tradition of Muslim religious law. It is analogous to Roman Catholic canon law. What Palin is doing is similar to raising an alarm that the country’s 80 million Catholics have a secret plan to make canon law the law of the land and impose it on clueless Protestant Americans.

Ooops. The one place where attempts are being made to make the US conform to canon law is law around abortion, which is forbidden in Roman Catholic law but allowed in American law.

And guess what. Sarah Palin agrees with the imposition of canon law in that area of forbidding abortions.

US law already overlaps with Muslim sharia in the essentials. Sharia law forbids murder. It forbids theft. Etc.

Most of the elements of sharia to which Americans might object are traditional and are being reformed by Muslims themselves. Thus, sharia traditionally allowed a man to take up to four wives. But in many Muslim countries that practice has been curtailed. Or people think about harsh punishments such as stoning for adultery. But the Qur’an does not mention stoning anyone, and stoning adulterers is actually a feature of Jewish law or halakha that was probably brought into Islam by rabbi converts in the 8th or 9th century. Egypt has made the age of marriage 18, even though Muslim legal tradition allowed marriage at a much earlier age. But then Roman Catholic canon law in the medieval era set the marriage age at 12, as did Jewish religious law. All religious systems of law in the medieval period tended to allow marriage with the onset of puberty. Americans who get all high and mighty about sharia should remember that 18th century British law prescribed hanging for minor theft.

There is no mechanism whereby Muslim religious law could be imposed on Americans (it would have to be legislated by Congress, which is much more likely to make us live by Leviticus). The US Supreme Court has ruled that a law may not be passed if it does not have a secular purpose (that is why we can work on Sundays now; blue laws don’t have a secular purpose.

But since the United States has an Anglo-Saxon, common law legal system that privileges custom as a source of law, it is inevitable that judges will occasionally have to take sharia into account when adjudicating disputes among American Muslims. US judges can take precedents from anywhere, and have occasionally cited rulings of, e.g., the Indian Supreme Court. The only way to avoid this situation would be to adopt the Napoleonic code and give up on custom and precedent as contributors to law. That would be a much bigger break with American legal traditions than merely occasionally citing Muslim legal practice in settling disputes among Muslims.

Nevada politician Sharon Angle attracted a sharp rebuke from the mayor of Dearborn, which has a large Arab-American community, when she made a similar charge about the imposition of sharia.

WXYZ in Detroit reports:

21 Responses

  1. Clearly some of the Republican leadership still support the grand strategic conquest A list. Afghanistan,Iraq,Iran. If after November these these nut jobs appear to be close to the Presidency the first signs of political panic will start to appear in Europe. By enlarge Europeans are more frightened of right-wing American Presidents than of Sharia law. The number of Europeans who call label themselves atheists continues to grow. But the historically significant growth in Europe is the tens of millions of Europeans whose lives never intersect with any organized Religion. A modern political culture that allows any number of politicians to affirm their belief in ‘End of Days’ appears from over here bizarre in the extreme. And one of many signs that American political culture and structures contain rigidities that make it slow to adapt to a changing world.

    • I so, so wish this were true. I keep looking for the proof that Europeans were ready to make the sacrifices needed to throw off US hegemony. But Europe is ultimately capitalist. Who is propping up the US? The Chinese and Arabs have objective reasons to prop up the US $. Yet it seems to be getting a lot of help and cover from all the banks, corporate media and investors all over the capitalist world. And Europeans are used to letting their countries’ foreign policies be controlled by a ministerial elite, which in turn defers to NATO, which in turn is run from the Pentagon.

      If you got a debate going about a unified European military, a lot of voters would be forced to consider matters they would rather not. Like whether US doctrines of power are completely obsolete scams. Like whether France’s small nuclear arsenal is in fact plenty to deter a state-launched attack on all of Europe. Like whether Western troops actually are needed to ensure trade flows – as opposed to hegemonic profits from same. Look at Japan, after all.

      It would be best if a democractic, socialist European superpower stood in stark contrast to America’s creaking global war machine. Instead, the truly independent corporate empires like China will move into the power vacuum of American decline and senility. The world has gotten too complicated for democracy to have a say.

  2. There is a trait which psychologists use called “projection.” The deal is that I will accuse you of having my faults so that I do not have to recognize and deal with those fault within myself. I have seen that at work many times in people recovering from addiction, so I can vouch to some degree for its validity.

    Seems to me that the people most fearful of the Islamic culture imposing Sharia law in the US are people who would impose fundamentalist Christianist law in this country if given a chance to do so. The people most fearful of Iran getting a nuclear weapon and attacking Israel are the people who advocated attacking Iraq and Afghanistan and who now want to attack Pakistan and Iran.

    And we claim the “self awarness” is what sets us apart from animals.

  3. Juan,
    The Palinistas will never let logic or facts get in the way of emotions and hyperbole.
    They actually seem mindless and zombie like.

    • I don’t think they’re so much like zombies as they are like the people of the slave states circa 1859. They know they will lose the numbers game to the non-white hordes unless democracy is terminated, and it would take extreme acts to create the conditions that would enable this. So they stand there in a mob and try to provoke each other into lighting the cannon pointed at Fort Sumter by escalating lies about how awful their lives will be if someone doesn’t do it. I’ve read the newspaper editorials from the South in 1860 and they’re just appalling, truly Goebbels-esque.

      Now note that this game was also being played during the fight against the Civil Rights Movement – if we don’t stop Dr. King, surely the Reds will win. So we have to look at their personal risk/reward calculations in 1860, 1960 and today. To put it bluntly, in 1960 it made sense to accept sharing a fast-growing pie in a sound economy. Are we now at the point where instead we expect there to be less to go around, so we look to push each other out of the lifeboat?

  4. Thanks…the “Christian Shariaists” need to be called out more often and more loudly.

  5. Isn’t Armagadden what she and the American right Christians are anxiously waiting for to fulfill Christ second coming? Now she is against what brings about Armageddon? Sheesh…make up your minds already!

  6. People like the moose killer a far greater threat to freedom than even the most fanatical of Muslem extremists.And whats worse is the number of sheep who follow them.

  7. Is there a greater idiot on the political stage? I think not, although there’s always others that will be vying for the position. Sarah is the anointed queen of the lunacy.

  8. I think it’s a mistake to conflate Sharī‘ah and fiqh and thus the former is in many respects analogous if not quite similar to the Catholic Natural Law tradition (hence Anver M. Emon’s recent book, Islamic Natural Law Theories, 2010) rather than canon law. I have a philosophically-inclined introduction to Sharī‘ah here: link to

    It is important that we appreciate the “transcendent” dimension of Sharī‘ah, for it is THAT which allows for an intra-traditional normative (hence principled and rational) critique of fiqh or any positivization of Islamic law, an important fact in light of some unduly constricted or ideologically motivated conceptions of Sharī‘ah by both Muslims and non-Muslims.

    • No…obviously Palin weighs more than a Duck, therefore she will not float; therefore we should build a bridge out of her.

  9. that is why we can work on Sundays now; blue laws don’t have a secular purpose.

    That kind of logic led to significantly more work hours and correspondingly less free time in the U.S. than in Europe, with no apparent advantage in overall productivity. In the middle ages, every third day was a festival of some kind. With industrialization, workers were forced to slave away pretty much all the time. Organized workers and classic liberals brought us the 50 and then the 40 hours week. What is the secular purpose you ask?

    btw it is a coalition of churches and organized labor that so far has curtailed repealing the Sunday legislations in Europe. Religion can be used for good or bad, right or left…

  10. She implies and other right-wingers say that Bin Laden is attacking America mainly because they’re not Muslim. To them, its not just “convert or die,” but “adopt sharia or be terrorized.” It’s a total Straw-Man Argument.

  11. any person can take advantage of americans living in darkness, a woman who cannot get the difference between the continent Africa and the country south africa is the like poor fellows listen to, what hope is there for America?

  12. Armageddon would be a GOOD thing cause then the Rapture would happen DON”T GET LEFT BEHND oh yeah and read the Bible too

  13. The ignorance of so many Americans in their unswerving support of even more ignorant Americans such as Sarah Palin, Rupert Murdoch’s sycophants who plague your media, and so many others who were obviously born brain dead, just amazes us who live in the real world.

    • After two world wars are fought on American soil, I expect the survivors will be much more careful about who they give power to. Assuming, of course, that there’s any soil left.

  14. 1) We do not have to appeal to old European custom or canon law or halakha to illustrate that the issue of early marriage is a straw man. When I was living in the state of New Mexico (that is, within the United States, lying between the states of Texas and Arizona) in the 1970s, the legal age of consent for young women was 13. It is now 16, which is still pretty young.

    2) As a matter of course, the United States tacitly and even overtly recognizes and by implication enforces Islamic law. For example, in Egypt, and I would hazard the guess that this obtains in other predominantly Muslim states, things like marriage, divorce, inheritance, child custody fall under what are called “personal status laws,” which are governed by the dictates of one of the major schools of Muslim jurisprudence (usually Hanafi, sometimes Shafai). The United States recognizes personal arrangements made under the legal systems of other countries as valid (with the proviso, of course that they do not contradict United States law). That means that anyone marrying in Egypt (or elsewhere) and then moving to the United States does not have to remarry under United States law (although I have heard of people who do such a thing – rather like gilding the lily). The terms of their marriage are valid. A simple indication of this is that under Egyptian law, non-Egyptians wishing to marry Egyptians must obtain a statement from their embassies indicating that the sovereign governments that the embassies represent do not object to the union. The United States embassy in Cairo regularly and as a matter of course signs such statements (they even have a form for it). That means that the United States government does not object to its citizens marrying (or divorcing or other such things) according to the terms of Muslim law.

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