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.
The real question, then, is not so much whether Bloomberg is secretly a Muslim — of course he isn’t — but whether Islamic law is inherently totalitarian and inimical to the spirit of respect for individual rights upon which this nation was founded. And despite all the increasingly frantic mainstream media attempts to obscure Sharia’s true contents and nature from the American people, it is increasingly clear that it is. Sharia legislates for every aspect of human life, such that the pious Muslim faces no ethical difficulties, no moral dilemmas, no hard choices, no tough judgment calls: everything is set out for him to the last detail, and all he need do is obey. This results in a stunting of the moral character that leads not only to the atrophy of the individual’s abilities of ethical discernment, but also to a diminishment of both the value of the individual and the power of the individual in society. Human beings are not individual moral actors, but only subjects of the authoritarian power, who directs them in every detail of how to behave. The human will is cheapened, and human life itself is cheapened.
This is a key reason why anti-Sharia laws in the U.S. are so urgently needed. The United States at its founding accorded an extraordinary and largely unprecedented respect for the individual; the struggle against Sharia is yet another episode in the never-ending war of the bullying authority against the individual will. What played out in National Socialist Germany, as well as in the Soviet Union and other Communist states, will play out again in America as we decide in the coming months and years how much Islamic law we’re going to accommodate, and when (if ever) we’re going to resist the imposition of more: the struggle between the individual and the collective.
Bloomberg and other foolish Western collectivists and soft authoritarians only weaken our ability to resist Sharia, for they accustom us to the coercive impulses it manifests so ruthlessly. But ultimately, the battle has already been won: the human spirit simply does not and will not bear slavery indefinitely. In an indelible image, Alexander Solzhenitsyn likened the survival of the individual will against the all-powerful collective to blades of grass poking through the concrete; our job in the present age, as Islamic supremacist groups do everything they can to halt anti-Sharia initiatives all over the country, is to see that those concrete slabs never get laid down in the first place.