Benghazi and Willful Sharia Blindness

(Note: This speech from Andrew Bostom was part of the panel discussion “U.S. Foreign Policy and the Influence of Shariah Doctrine” at The Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship, Hillsdale College, Washington, D.C., on November 13, 2012.)

J.B. Matthews, who renounced a career as a Communist front operative to become one of the world’s foremost anti-Communist authorities on such groups, observed in his 1938 Odyssey of a Fellow Traveler:

"It cannot be denied that Communists and their sympathizers object not only to a denunciation of Communism but also to a calm and critical examination of its principles and practices. Strange as it may seem, Communists denounce those who merely cite the things of which Communists themselves openly boast in their own public statements."

Matthews’ observations from nearly 75 years ago are apposite to the discussion today because he captures the shared reactions by both advocates of, and apologists for, two totalitarian ideological systems which are eerily similar: modern Communism and still unreformed, pre-modern Islam. Indeed, a humorist contemporary of Matthews had cogently highlighted the striking similarities between Islam and Communism, referring to the Communist creed with this aphorism:

"There is no G-d, and Karl Marx is his prophet."

Alas, in our present stultifying era, which increasingly demands only a hagiographic view of Islam, even such witty, illuminating aphorisms may become verboten. Witness President Obama’s stern warning during his Tuesday, September 25, 2012, speech to the UN General Assembly, when he proclaimed:

"The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam."

The travails in Libya -- and among the broader Muslim Middle Eastern participants in the Orwellian-named “Arab Spring” -- demonstrate graphically how enforcing bowdlerized views of Islam, which ignore Islamic doctrine and history, engenders a policy debacle.

First I will summarize the salient features of Sharia, Islamic law, and its appeal as demonstrated by recent polling data from Libya’s North African Muslim neighbors, Morocco and Egypt. Then I will trace briefly how what my colleague Diana West has aptly termed our “Making the World Safe for Sharia” policymaking mindset operated, and continues to prevail, in Libya.

Derived from Islam’s most important canonical texts -- the Koran and hadith -- and their interpretation and codification by Islam’s greatest classical legists, Sharia, Islamic law, is not merely holistic in the general sense of all-encompassing, but totalitarian, regulating everything from the ritual aspects of religion to personal hygiene to the governance of a Muslim minority community, an Islamic state, bloc of states, or global Islamic order. Clearly, this latter political aspect is the most troubling, being an ancient antecedent of more familiar modern totalitarian systems. Specifically, Sharia’s liberty-crushing and dehumanizing political aspects feature: open-ended jihadism to subjugate the world to a totalitarian Islamic order; rejection of bedrock Western liberties -- including freedom of conscience and speech -- enforced by imprisonment, beating, or death; discriminatory relegation of non-Muslims to outcast, vulnerable pariahs, and even Muslim women to subservient chattel; and barbaric punishments which violate human dignity, such as amputation for theft, stoning for adultery, and lashing for alcohol consumption.

But is this ancient, brutally oppressive totalitarian system still popular amongst the Muslim masses, particularly within North Africa? In a word, “yes.”

Polling data were released April 24, 2007, from a rigorously conducted face-to-face University of Maryland/ interview survey of Muslims conducted between December 9, 2006, and February 15, 2007. Seventy-one percent of the 1000 Moroccans, and 67% of the 1000 Egyptians surveyed, desired this outcome: “To unify all Islamic countries into a single Islamic state or Caliphate.” The internal validity of these data about the present longing for a Caliphate was strongly suggested by a concordant result. Seventy-six percent of Moroccan Muslims and 74% of Egyptian Muslims approved of the proposition: “To require a strict [emphasis added] application of Sharia law in every Islamic country.”