Monthly Archives: July 2011

Herman Cain: Brave or Bigoted?

Herman Cain has been taking a lot of heat for his comments on FOX News Sunday about communities banning mosques (the entire interview can be found here):

Cain: “Our Constitution guarantees the separation of church and state. Islam combines church and state. They’re using the church part of our First Amendment to infuse their morals in that community, and the people of that community do not like it. They disagree with it.”

and later…

Wallace: “So you’re saying, any community, if they wanted to ban a mosque…”

Cain: “Yes, they have a right to do that.”

Predictably, these comments sparked outrage among Muslims and leftists generally. U.S. Representative Keith Ellison called Cain a “religious bigot” and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) demanded that Cain “apologize.” But are these reactions warranted? What exactly about Cain’s comments is controversial?

According to the dictionary, a bigot is “a person who strongly and unfairly dislikes other people, ideas, etc.” Cain’s description of Islam, that it is a blend of church and state, is accurate: In addition to its creeds and personal moral codes, Islam includes a system of government and law, called Sharia, which is binding upon all people. Because Sharia emanates from the Quran (the holy word of God), it can be the only legitimate law in the world, and it is incumbent upon Muslims to spread Sharia globally. Islam and Sharia are inextricably linked, which is one of the reasons people are averse to the presence of a mosque in their community.

Cain’s characterization of the situation in Tennessee is no less accurate. The people of Murfreesboro, like the people in communities across the country, are fearful of the implementation of Sharia in American courts. This fear is not baseless, as such a phenomenon has occurred many times already in the United States.

Finally, because Sharia is an integral component of Islam, Cain is justified in his assertion that the mosque is similarly integral in the promulgation of Sharia Law, even its more violent aspects, within a non-Muslim community.

For the purposes of labeling someone as a bigot, it is possible to disagree over what constitutes an “unfair” dislike of “other people, ideas, etc.,” but given Cain’s impeccable knowledge of Islam, I can only assume that the left’s smearing of him as a bigot has less to do with the veracity of his comments than it does with a sheer disapproval of his opinions, and the unabashed nature with which he expresses them.

Cain’s comments shed light on a larger issue as well: The First Amendment has, with increasing frequency, become an excuse for people to affront the laws of their community, state, or country. “Freedom of religion” has hijacked the hiring, firing, and general operations of private businesses, and it has even been used as a vessel to silence so called “hate speech” (though ironically, always in the name of tolerance). A line must be drawn between spirituality, which is merely a contemplation of the supernatural world, and actions which infringe upon the rights of others. Religion offers no more prerogative for unbridled action in the public square than the nonexistent “right to privacy” offers in one’s own home. That is the price of self-government and life in a civil society.

These days, one need only uphold the values and achievements of western civilization to earn the title of “bigot” from the Left. However, if it is bigotry to oppose a religion which demands the subversion of communities which do not comport with it; if it is bigotry to oppose a religion which treats women, Jews, Christians, homosexuals, and many others as (at best) second-class citizens; if it is bigotry to oppose a religion which has neither a concept of equality under the laws, nor freedom from a theocratic state, then consider me a bigot. Is this an unfair characterization of Islam? Or has the Left simply bastardized the English language, using it as a weapon against those bold enough to espouse opposing views? If Herman Cain has shown us anything, it’s not that he’s a bigot, but that bigotry is the new bravery.