Herman Cain is unlikely to be the Republicans presidential nominee. Still his views are disturbing, at least for someone who claims to believe in liberty. If we are to be suspicious of or fear Muslims, the occupy movement and Liberals, we are left in a very isolated place. As observed by Valkyrie Ice, isolation is the antithesis of liberty.
“Tyranny relies on isolation. It relies on control of information and making those tyrannized have a worldview that makes them feel isolated and alone. A tyrant wants everyone to be suspicious of everyone else, and to believe that rebelling is pointless because they would be one lone voice that would be quickly silenced. They want people to feel terrified of the “world outside” of the tyranny so that people will tolerate the “lesser of two evils.” But that’s impossible to do with the internet. When people can connect without borders and can talk to people all over the world, isolation is impossible.”
In part, one wonders if that is behind the Islam phobic thinking espoused by Herman Cain and others. According to Cain, in July, 2011,
“Islam is both a religion and a set of laws −Sharia laws. That’s the difference between any one of our traditional religions where it’s just about religious purposes.”
One could argue, as Cain did at one time, that his objection to Islam is that it violates the principle of separation of church and state as he said in this video:
Cain, like his ideological siblings Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann and Allen West (among others), is spreading the words of fear which we have seen for years. I wonder if Cain’s followers are aware that several foundations invested $40 million over the past 10 years to promote hatred and misunderstanding of Islam.
In fact, the source of Cain’s rhetoric can be reduced to the following organizations and people, identified by CAP in their analysis.
Donors Capital Fund, the Board of directors is a who’s who of conservatives from various right wing think tanks, including but not limited to: Cato Institute, State Policy Network, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI), The Philanthropy Roundtable, Pacific Research Institute, John M. Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs at Ashland University.
Richard Melon Scaife Foundations which has links to, The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy research and other right wing institutions.
The Russell Berrie Foundation is engaged in a number of causes. Ironically, it claims to promote religious understanding, while being part of a group that seeks to promote religious misunderstanding.
Newton D. & Rochelle F. Becker foundations and charitable trust
Anchorage Foundation/William Rosenwald Family Fund. Thinkprogress provides some background info on this organization.
The Fairbrook Foundation
The fear campaign has succeeded in meeting the investors’ objective of increasing the unfavorable view of Islam, in America. The increased fear/hatred of Islam in America has increased to disturbing levels, as reflected in a Study by the Center for America Congress. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s analysis offers similar conclusions.
There are real consequences that stem from this decade long hate campaign, be it bombings, as occurred in Jacksonville Florida in 2010, the increase in hate crimes directed at Muslims, or just your run of the mill effort by so called advocates of liberty to suppress constitutionally guaranteed rights.
It comes as no surprise then that several of the GOP’s presidential candidates speak the language of fear and disinformation that was so carefully cultivated over the past decade. The long term conditioning is what makes it possible for some people to accept what would be otherwise unacceptable. This is what makes it possible and acceptable in some circles for Herman Cain to make the following statement:
“Islam is both a religion and a set of laws −Sharia laws. That’s the difference between any one of our traditional religions where it’s just about religious purposes,”
When combined with the decade of disinformation designed to instill fear in America, a statement like this will get an enthusiastic yes from the conservative base. When one thinks about it, while the statement does not make sense for several reasons, it does play on the fears carefully cultivated over the past decade.
How many times have we heard or read about Sharia law invading American law. What proof, if any exists that Muslims are trying to use Sharia law to influence American courts?
Herman Cain claimed: “Muslims tried to use Sharia law to influence court decisions in New Jersey and Oklahoma.” In the New Jersey case, a woman was seeking a temporary restraining order against her husband. A New Jersey Supreme Court Judge asked the couple’s Imam how Islamic law applies to sexual behavior. The Judge denied the restraining order on the basis that the husband’s “desire to have sex when and whether he wanted to, was something that was consistent with his practices and it was something that was not prohibited.” The Judge’s ruling was reversed on Appeal, because his decision contradicted U.S. and state Supreme Court precedent on conflicts between criminal law and religion.
As noted by PolitiFact:
“Since the issue of Islamic law arose only when the New Jersey judge questioned the couple’s imam, it is unfair to accuse Muslims of trying to “influence court decisions with Sharia law.” The judge raised the subject.”
In Oklahoma, voters sought an amendment to the State constitution preventing the use of Sharia law. Supporters of the amendment “found no instance where Muslims did try to influence court decisions with Sharia law,”Voters did pass an amendment to the state constitution that would prevent the use of Sharia law in state courts, but supporters found no instance where “Muslims did try to influence court decisions with Sharia law.”
In other words, one part of Cain’s statement was completely false and other part, even when interpreted in the broadest possible way was barely true. So, in the name of solving a problem that really doesn’t exist what has been done? According to the American Society of International Law (ASIL), several states have taken measures specifically intended to preclude Sharia law from even the most remote form of consideration by the courts.
As noted in ASIL’s analysis:
“Several bills and resolutions specify that foreign law includes “religious law” or “Sharia law.” A recent Iowa bill, for example, defines “foreign law” to include religious law, international or foreign judicial decisions, and international organization decisions or informal guidance.”
Here is a partial list of the states that sought to legislate such laws Iowa (twice) Mississippi, Utah, Oklahoma and New Jersey. Louisiana, in fact, passed their version of a bill intended to ban Sharia law. Indiana’s senate passed a bill similar to that of New Jersey in a roll call vote of 50-0. Alabama, Arizona, Missouri and Wyoming went the route of joint resolutions to prohibit their courts from considering international law, foreign law and, of course, Sharia law.
Some of the more extreme bills such as one proposed in Arizona call for impeaching judges whose decisions: “(U)se, implement, refer to or incorporate a tenet of any body of religious sectarian law into any decision, finding or opinion as controlling or influential authority” or “use, implement, refer to or incorporate any case law or statute from another country or a foreign body or jurisdiction that is outside of the United States and its territories in any decision, finding or opinion” as either “controlling or influential authority” or “precedent or the foundation for any legal theory.”
The six politicians who proposed this (all Republicans) are not afraid of “foreign or international law” that are inherited from Britain or are based on “an Anglo-American legal tradition.” Ironically, Cain asserts that Islam is a “set of laws” unlike our traditional religions. Someone should introduce Cain to “biblical law” or “Christian Natural Law.” Perhaps Cain could just look at Conservapedia’s entry on David Barton (whom Michele Bachmann chose to teach the Tea Party Caucus about the Constitution).
A theme of Original Intent would be Barton’s view that the rights of American citizens are “God-given.” If people can be convinced that faith in God is not foundational to our American government and way of life, then God-given rights are no longer protected but given and taken at will by the government itself. (My emphasis)
In other words, Christian reconstructionism is both a religion and a set of laws, thus contradicting Cain’s assertion that Islam is unlike at least one of America’s religions that at least one of the GOP’s candidates subscribes to. Michele Bachmann subscribes to this version of Christianity, as noted by Mike Appleton in his article, Michele Bachmann, Christian Reconstructionism and the Law.
Perhaps Mr. Cain is unaware of Reconstructionist theology and its influence on Michele Bachmann’s beliefs.
“Michele Bachmann’s religion is grounded in the Christian reconstruction theology of A.J. Rushdoony, the late pastor and neo-Calvinist theologian. At the center of Mr. Rushdoony’s teaching is the idea that the source of all human knowledge is God, and that the acquisition of knowledge must come through the truth revealed by God in the sacred scriptures. This belief required that he reject the rationalism of the Enlightenment as a sort of idolatry, the worship of autonomous human reason independent of God. It follows from this thesis that the legitimacy of government requires its submission to the sovereignty of God through compliance with God’s law as outlined in the Bible, particularly the Mosaic law of the Old Testament.” (My emphasis)
The reality is that Mr. Cain’s “reasons” to fear Islam are based on the very expensive fiction the Center for American Progress warns about in its report. This doesn’t have anything to do with respect for the First Amendment. In fact, two of Cain’s rivals who also express disdain for Islam, have as much disdain for the separation of church and state, at least when it comes to Christianity.
During a speech in March, New Gingrich made this promise:
“I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, [my grandchildren] will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.”
Here is what Michele Bachmann had to say on the specific question of Separation of Church and State, “[Public schools] are teaching children that there is separation of church and state, and I am here to tell you that is a myth. That’s not true.”
Rick Santorum is quoted as being concerned about what he called “the growing secularization of American public life.” He attributed the “problem” to a speech made by John F. Kennedy in 1960, in which he said: “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.”