A proposed alternative to my anti-Islam amendment

Kristor writes:

I’ve been thinking about your proposed Constitutional amendment that would proscribe Islam in the United States. I’ve always been bothered by it. Not that I wouldn’t like to see Islam vanish from these shores. Nor do I think we ought to tolerate Islam, solely on account of the fact that, whatever else it may be, it is definitely a religion. No. I think my problem with the amendment is that it doesn’t go far enough. After all, 150 years from now, Islam may be just gone. It’s possible, right? I mean, Zoroastrianism is gone; Arianism is gone; Aztec religion is gone. These things do happen. And, likewise, new religions arise all the time. There is no reason why some other religion might not arise in the future that, like Islam, is inherently and profoundly inimical to any constitutional republic. Why single out Islam? Why not broaden your amendment to cover any anti-constitutional religion? The First Amendment, then, would protect any religion that did not preach against the First Amendment.

Your amended amendment might then read something like this:

Section 1. Religions that advocate laws contradictory to the articles of this Constitution, as amended, shall not be practiced or propagated within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction; and are not protected by the First Amendment hereof.

Section 2. This article supersedes any contrary provision of this Constitution and of the laws of the United States.

This would have the practical political advantage that the amendment would not be perceived as singling out Islam for persecution—religious persecution being a deeply unpopular public policy among both Christians and Jews, with very good historical justification. It would, that is to say, have a snowball’s chance in hell of being ratified.

Many dangers accompany this proposal, of course, and I am not altogether happy with it. What do you think?

LA replies:

Let me ask you this. What specific laws does Islam advocate that are contrary to the U.S. Constitution? Offhand, I’m not aware of Islam advocating any laws in the U.S., let alone laws that contradict the Constitution. Yes, there is the sharia. but except for a few extremists, the Muslim community is not advocating the institution of sharia in America. They’ve sought things like head coverings for Muslim women, the use of halal foods in institutional cafeterias, the installation of foot basins in institutional washrooms, arbitration procedures that recognize sharia rules on marriage, and things of that nature. I don’t see offhand how any of those things are contrary to the U.S. Constitution.

Now you may reply that the full sharia, if institutionalized, would obviously be contrary to the U.S. Constitution. But many Muslims would reply that they don’t believe in the institutionalization of the full sharia in America. Thus it seems to me that your amendment would peter out into endless litigation and have no effect.

The problem with your amendment is that it makes a propositon that still must be backed up. The enforcers of the amendment would have to demonstrate that such and such religion advocates laws contrary to the U.S. Constitution. And that would require years of litigation and probably not get anywhere.

My amendment doesn’t present that problem. My amendment says that the practice of the religion of Islam shall be prohibited in the United States. There is nothing to figure out or resolve by further argument or litigation.

Your amendment thus partakes of the classic American mistake of using language that is too abstract and general. The First Amendment for example immunizes “religion” from Congressional restrictions. It doesn’t make any distinction between religions that fit in our society and religions that don’t.

My amendment is specific. It names Islam as the thing that is to be prohibited.

Another problem with your amendment is that it reduces the entire problem of Islam to that which contradicts the U.S. Constitution. But the danger posed by Islam is far broader than that. It affects our entire existence, not just the Constitution.

Finally, why would you want to avoid naming Islam as the problem? There simply is no other religion that poses the threat that Islam poses, nor is there likely to be. Islam is sui generis. That is why an amendment aimed at Islam is needed and appropriate.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 12, 2011 09:48 AM | Send

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