Sunday, February 27, 2011

More Sharia Shenanigans

Back in September, I wrote a piece (subsequently re-posted at Huffington) wherein I chided certain Republican luminaries for their scaremongering vis-à-vis the supposed threat of "encroaching Sharia." Now, Sharia, a.k.a. Islamic jurisprudence (of which my labeling as "benign" lead to a hit piece against me by this guy -- fun stuff), has long been a boogieman on the right, less because of any actual threat it poses to our American way of life (it doesn't) or even any actual knowledge they may have about it (they don't) but rather because certain electioneering politicos (not to mention increasingly-crazed pundits) have found the "button" issue with which to excite the dullards and dimwits within their base.

And thus, rather than putting forth substantive solutions to serious issues, we get nonsense like this from Tennessee this past week, wherein two state officials advanced a bill that would make it -- wait for it -- treason to practice Sharia in Tenn. In other words, treason to pray, treason to give charity, treason to live as a Muslim. Subtle, no? There's so much stupid going on there -- just on a constitutional level, forget all the other stuff -- that it's hard to imagine this thing getting very far. Then again, whenever I think that, I'm reminded of Henry Mencken's truism -- of which this anti-Sharia wave sweeping the far-right fringe is surely an exemplar -- about no one going broke underestimating intelligence of the American public.

What these folks seem unable to grasp (or, more likely, willfully ignore) is that there is no be-all, end-all concept of Sharia. It's far too broad a concept, encompassing far too many subtleties, with far too much room for human interpretation -- both for good and for ill -- to ever be easily quantified. Still, a little knowledge in the right hands can be a very useful thing, and while Congressman Judd Matheny, one of the authors of the Tenn. anti-Sharia bill, has admitted he doesn't even know much about what he's railing against, Salon's Justin Elliot took the opportunity to track down an actual expert on Sharia law, NJ attorney Abed Awad, who provides a very useful FAQ about its whys-and-wherefores. Very worthy of a read.

No comments: