Volume 26, Number 4 (Summer 2016)
Issue theme: “Islam in America”
Donald Trump drew heavy fire from America’s “enlightened” classes when he suggested a temporary ban on Muslim immigration. That’s “un-American,” they all hissed in unison.
From their bent perspective, they have a point. America for our proper-thinking elites is not a homeland for a particular people with a distinctive culture and heritage. No, in their minds America is a land without any distinct character. Indeed, their America really isn’t a country at all; it’s just the name of a social experiment where a constant flux and chaos of peoples and cultures will usher in some wonderful utopia.
Thus it would be “un-American” in such an “America” to exclude any group for any reason. After all, every culture is equal and equally enriching. On the other hand, if you happen to think that America is a country of a particular kind, some varieties of exclusion make sense. From this reality-based viewpoint, the United States of America is an extension of Western civilization, and its cultural forms are European and Christian. Given that understanding, it is hard to imagine a religious and cultural entity more incompatible with America than Islam.
If anyone doubts this assessment, let him consider the increasing discord that large and growing Muslim populations are causing in Europe, the cultural heartland of the West. In so many fundamental ways Western values and Islamic values are antithetical. To cite just a few: the division of religion and state, the source of law, democracy, and freedom of expression.
In Islam, religion and the state are one. And the word of God (Allah), expressed through Islam’s sacred texts, the Koran and the Haddits [see also Hadith], affirms what the laws of society should be. Sharia is the name of this legal code. Thus from an Islamic perspective it is blasphemous to imagine that mere mortals should have the freedom to decide through elections the laws that should govern them. In 2001, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Sharia is not compatible with democracy. Freedom of expression, not surprisingly, does not fare well under such a code.1
More worrisome still is the fact that many passages in the Koran and the Haddits strongly suggest that Muslims have the right—and indeed the duty—to impose their faith by force on those who don’t share it. Apologists for Islam note passages in the Koran which offer tolerance for nonbelievers, but most of these are Mecca verses, which in Muslim theology are superseded by the more bellicose Medina verses.2 Ominously, Islam declares that the lands not (yet) controlled by Muslims are Dar al-Harb, the zone of war.3
Far from being a “religion of peace,” as former President George W. Bush so ludicrously described it, Islam has always been an aggressive warlike creed. And as Europe is now discovering—with no-go zones, threats to artistic expression, and crime including terrorism—a significant Muslim minority in one’s country is not conducive to social harmony.
So why can’t we Americans observe Europe’s problems, and prudently avoid them by stopping or greatly curtailing Muslim immigration, not just temporarily as Trump suggests, but permanently? The more sensible opponents of such a policy point out that we already have a fairly large Muslim population of about three million, although that total amounts to less than one percent of the population. This population, they maintain, is generally not causing problems, and many of its members are good citizens. In recent years, Muslim immigration has increased, but by 2050—according to current projections—it will only increase the Muslim percentage to a bit more than two percent.4 So, they ask, why worry?
One answer comes from Dr. Peter Hammond, author of Slavery, Terrorism, and Islam. Citing examples around the world, Hammond maintains that an Islamic population of less than two percent tends to live in harmony with a host population, but between two percent and five percent Muslims reach a critical mass where they feel they can assert their identity against the rest of society. Examples he cited (2010 figures) were Denmark (2 percent), Germany (3.7 percent), United Kingdom (2.7 percent), Spain (4 percent), and Thailand (4.6 percent).The problems these countries were having with even these small Muslim minorities should give us cause for caution.
Actually, failure to restrict Muslim immigration could give us a much higher Muslim percentage in the coming decades than the projected two percent. It doesn’t appear that the Middle East is going to become stable any time soon, and this will mean increasing pressure to accept more immigrants from that largely Muslim region.
Another potential source of many more immigrants is sub-Saharan Africa, where Islam has a very strong presence. While birth rates throughout most of the world have fallen in recent years, population growth in sub-Saharan Africa is still surging.5 To illustrate, the population of Nigeria is now around 160 million, and close to one-half Muslim. By 2050, it is projected to rise to 397 million—almost the same as the projection for the United States.6 Somalia, which now sends refugees to the U.S., is 99 percent Muslim. Its current population of 10.5 million is on track to reach 27 million by 2050.7 The population of Africa, now 1.1 billion, is expected by mid-century to hit 2.4 billion. Almost all this growth will occur in the sub-Saharan region.8
Another factor to consider is conversion of native-born non-Muslims to Islam. In recent years the percentage of Americans identifying as Christians has declined, and the percentage professing no religion has increased. Islam, as an aggressive proselytizing faith, could fill this spiritual vacuum. Muslim citizens, of course, have every right to share their faith, but we are not obliged to admit and naturalize more Muslims from abroad who will proselytize.
Those who oppose restriction of Muslim immigration often claim that it would be “unconstitutional.” But the Constitution is primarily a document concerned with the rights of American citizens, and it offers not the slightest suggestion that foreigners have a constitutional right to come to the U.S. Supreme Court cases have set a precedent called the Plenary Power Doctrine which holds that constitutional protections don’t extend to immigration law.9 Furthermore, the president has powers of authority under existing statutes to exclude people who he believes, for whatever reasons, may be detrimental to U.S. interests.10
Accordingly, we have excluded people holding totalitarian ideologies such as Communism and Nazism on grounds that these ideologies conflict with American values. The same principle may be applied to Islam in that it is not just a religious faith but also a comprehensive ideology for governing society—one at odds with our national character. On at least one occasion we passed immigration legislation, the Lautenberg Amendment , which excluded Muslims.11 Enacted during the Cold War, it facilitated refugee status for Soviet Jews and certain groups of Christians who wanted to leave the Soviet Union. The author of the amendment did not feel compelled to include Muslims, even though they also suffered persecution under the atheistic Soviet regime.
Yes, it is legally permissible and prudent to curtail Muslim immigration, and we should do so permanently, and not just temporarily as Trump suggested. But this idea, once again, is anathema to America’s elites. They are totally committed to the proposition that America primarily exists to bestow equal opportunity upon every human being on Planet Earth, and that the special concerns of mere U.S. citizens are just barely incidental to this grand design.
They pride themselves on their tolerance, enlightened attitudes, and superior education. Yet for all their erudition, they don’t seem to appreciate that many of the values they espouse are not universal but derive specifically from Western culture. Even if they don’t make this connection, it should be plain to them that Islam is a threat to their specific convictions, such as aversion to religious dogmatism and support for women’s rights.
A possible explanation is the secular myopia of our elites. They don’t take revealed religion seriously, and they can’t imagine that anyone else would either if given suitable opportunity to reject it. If Muslims come to America, they reason, the allure of shopping malls, TV entertainment, smartphones, and all the other wonders of our American Babylon will wean them away from Allah and make them good little consumers and taxpayers—just like everyone else. Their myopia keeps them from seeing through history the depth and fervency of Muslim conviction.
For at least one segment of our dominant classes, there is another explanation—one far more sinister—for wanting to welcome Islam. This faction is the politically correct left, with its obsessive hatred of all things Western and Christian. Yes, the P.C. people might have to hold their noses with respect to some Muslim views, but they could hardly find a better weapon to wreck the West than Islam, its historic enemy. The basic strategy of leftist radicals is to balkanize Western societies with immigration, and then manipulate the ensuing chaos to impose their totalitarian rule.12 Presumably at that point they would suppress Islam, but in the meantime they promote it as a useful ally.
A final issue is the often-heard statement that many Muslims are good people, and we shouldn’t penalize them for the acts and attitudes of the bad ones. Indeed there are good Muslims who, for whatever reasons, don’t adhere to the harsh and intolerant dogmas set forth in Islamic scriptures. Even so, those dogmas still will exert a certain pull on them, and a strong and growing Muslim community will increase that pull with outward pressure to conform to the hard doctrines. Once again, as Dr. Hammond pointed out, Muslims become strident as their percentage of the population grows.
Our country would do loyal American Muslims a favor by sparing them a situation where they might feel compelled to choose between their faith and their country. If they can reconcile Islam with American values, all will be well. If America means something to them, they should respect the concerns of their fellow citizens about Muslim immigration creating an adversarial community.
Preserving our country as America, as a real and distinct country, is hardly un-American. What is un-American is the “enlightened” notion that America is a formless proposition open to anyone and everyone. This elitist viewpoint which welcomes Islam is even more dangerous to the future of our country than Islam itself. Traditional Americans have to contend with this home-grown ideology on our own soil. With Islam we still have the option to keep it abroad.
8. http://www.prb.org/publications/datasheets/2013/ 2013-world-population-data-sheet/data-sheet.aspx