Sure, people ask it all the time about Barack Obama, but what about New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg? His latest intrusion into the lives of individual New Yorkers — the banning of large sugary drinks, as well as popcorn and milkshakes – resembles in its spirit nothing more than the recent whipping of smokers in the new Islamic state that has just been established in northern Mali.
Bloomberg, in fact, may be more Muslim than the Malians. Mali’s Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa hasn’t yet banned large soft drinks, but Big Gulps are not all that common in Timbuktu, anyway. And he is way ahead of their smoking ban, having already banned smoking indoors everywhere in New York City, and in large portions of the outdoors as well, including Central Park. Bloomberg doesn’t have defiant nicotine addicts whipped as of yet, but you never know; he might decide it’s a good idea to give his anti-smoking laws some teeth.
Of course, Bloomberg isn’t turning New York City into the world’s largest day-care center and nursery school because smoking and drinking a big soda while standing in Central Park is “un-Islamic,” but because he contends that such practices endanger the public health. But that is essentially the same thing; the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa believes that it is better for the public health for the public to follow Islamic law, and ensures the truth of this claim by whipping or otherwise brutalizing those who dare to step out of line. Both Bloomberg and the Islamic supremacists believe that individuals are generally too stupid to be trusted to make decisions for themselves, and think that they have to be forced into doing the right thing as they see it.
This is the quintessential totalitarian impulse: to exalt the collective over the individual, and to control every aspect, every detail, of the individual’s life, from birth to death, from waking in the morning to going to sleep at night. The struggle against Sharia is a struggle for individual rights, and hence for freedom par excellence. Islamic law mandates denial of basic rights to women and non-Muslims, severe restrictions on the freedom of speech, death for apostates, warfare against unbelievers, stonings for adultery, amputations for theft, female genital mutilation, and polygamy.
Above all, however, it grants to the religious authority a measure of control over the individual that Americans in earlier, more robust ages would have found abhorrent. After so many decades of the welfare system, however, a politician like Michael Bloomberg has become possible; and with his every new and more absurd nanny state measure, he continues to erode our ability to stand up for ourselves and for the individual against state control.