The Mysterious Case of Ben Shapiro and the Radical Muslims

I know I’m late to the “Are all Muslims terrorists?” game.  This video below and the clip that inspired it are almost a year old now, and it’s been a few months since Bill Maher has said anything too egregious about Muslims or Islam. However, there was some flair up after the tragic Chattanooga shootings , which is likely why this video showed up on my Facebook news feed.  You only need to watch about the first three minutes before it just gets monotonous.

I’ll let this article address his skewed numbers. http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2014/nov/05/ben-shapiro/shapiro-says-majority-muslims-are-radicals/.  Unfortunately, I can’t really grasp numbers over 5 so I’m not going to argue his statistics. Instead, I’m going to take aim at his totally nonsensical criteria for what constitutes a radical Muslim.

In the video Shapiro says repeatedly that X% of Y country are in support of “strict sharia law.”  This belief, apparently, makes them radical.  This would make sense if Sharia Law was some sort of written law code; a satanic inversion of Torah law that read something like:

  1. Thou shalt have no other Gods before me, shoot them, shoot them dead
  2. Thou shalt kill Christians
  3. Thou shalt definitely kill Jews
  4. Thou shalt chop off the hands of robbers
  5. Remember Eid al-Fitr, to shoot people on it
  6. Honor thine dictators and thine war lords
  7. Thou shalt give thine daughters clitoridectomies
  8. Thou shalt smash all cassette tapes, cds, and mp3 players
  9. Thou shalt sell thine sons as child soldiers
  10. Thou shalt inconvenience everyone at the YMCA swimming pool

The thing is, there are no 10 Islamic commandments, no Islamic equivalent to Jewish Halakha, and they certainly wouldn’t read like that if there were.[1] There are the four pillars, but even those are less universal than Religion 101 classes would have you think.

As explained to me by prominent sociologist of religion Dr. Mohamed M. Abdelaziz Mohamed, the word “sharia” shares a root with words for “path” and “river.”  Sharia is not a set in stone thing, as the 10 commandments literally were.[2]  Rather sharia flows from Imams working closely with their local communities.  Their Fatwas (legal decisions not death sentences) are issued to an individual taking into account: the Qur’an, the Hadith,[3] legal precedence, the needs of the individual, and the needs of the community.  There’s no standard to strictly adhere to.  I’m not really sure what Pew thought it was asking when it posed the question “do you think X country should follow strict sharia law,” nor what the individuals thought they were answering.  Sharia is not clear enough of a concept for a questions like that to mean the same thing universally to every Muslim.  Therefore, Shapiro’s interpretation really makes no sense.  This is not inherently a radical sentiment.

Further, whatever this “strict sharia law” that strikes fear in Shapiro’s heart is, I’m sure it would disallow gay marriage, abortions, prostitution, pornography, drug use, things like that.  These are all things the American Right also wants to ban.  How does this make Muslims uniquely radical and in need of fearing compared to the GOP?

Maybe Shapiro think “strict sharia” is radical because there’s not a sharp separation between church and state.  Who dares mix secular and religious law?

Very often the state of Israel.

israel

London Ultra-Orthodox Jews trying to keep women and men on different sides of a public street:

london jews

Or the millions upon millions of Americans who insist that US is, in fact a Christian nation subject to God’s law:

Jesus Constitution

Sharia law is really a decentralizing process.  There is no Islamic Pope.  To institute sharia law as the only law of the state, would effectively dissolve the state.  Maybe that’s not a bad thing.  The nation-states of the Middle East are all just weird franken-states left over from British colonialism anyways.  They make no sense and only create political strife.  John Oliver and Jon Stewart explain:

Let sharia win, it actually will give power back to the people.

Shapiro throws out other criteria for what makes a Muslim radical that might actually more sense.  He cites percentages of people who don’t totally condemn Osama Bin Ladin.  Bin Ladin was a terrible man, he killed a lot of undeserving people.  Radically violent, indeed.  But then again, Andrew Jackson also killed a lot of innocent people and we put him on our money.  Short of serving under Bin Laden, I don’t know if halfhearted approval can really be counted as radical.  Or else, I’m committing a seditious act every time I hand a cashier a 20 dollar bill.

twenty dollar bill

Shapiro also gives some statistics about violence towards women.  Apparently, there’s a staggering amount of Muslims ready to honor kill their women at any moment.  Violence towards women is a terrible thing.  A radically violent thing.  But once again, I’m not so sure his criteria paint a uniquely radical Islamic world compared to the West.  I don’t think there’s many Americans who would ever say the words “I think sometimes it’s ok to honor-kill our women.”  Instead they’ll just place the blame of rape on the woman while our treasured “liberal media” mourns the now ruined football careers of her rapists.  They’ll tackle bikini clad women to the ground, or drag them out of their cars for smoking cigarettes.  If violence against women is a marker for radicalism then it’s not an Islamic problem, it’s a global problem.  We are all radical.

Mckinney swim party

Apparently a lot of Muslims said they thought there could be times when suicide bombing might be proper.  Again, the question is so vague as to be meaningless.  If ISIS suddenly invaded the US and the only option was suicide bombing them, I’m pretty sure Americans wouldn’t think twice about it.  They’d say “yes!”  Of course, the US has enough money that they don’t need suicide bombers, we can have robots do our mass killings (and let’s not forget that time we nuked Japanese civilians for reasons still beyond me).  Once again, if comfort with killing people in some situations is a mark of radicalism, it’s not an Islamic problem.  It’s a global problem.  We are all radical.

Shapiro’s criteria for what constitutes a radical Muslim are just sloppy.  On one level he’s two steps away from saying “100% of Muslims in Indonesia believe there is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his prophet.  Are you scared yet?”  And then at the same time he’s so focused on what could be violent tendencies in the Muslim population that he’s mysteriously blind to the West’s own overt violence.  So what is it Ben Shapiro?  Are all Muslim’s radical by virtue of having beliefs neither Secular, Judaic, nor Christian or are all humans radical because of our unilateral comfort with violence?

Also, Ben Affleck is a perfectly fine actor.

Ben Affleck

[1] Anton LaVey does lay down 11 Satanic Rules for the Earth.  You can read those here: http://www.churchofsatan.com/eleven-rules-of-earth.php

[2] Well they are literally set in stone in the story.  I don’t know if you take the story literally.  Or if you do take the story literally but also don’t believe the story.  We have options here.

[3] Stories of the life of the prophet meant to serve as moral exemplars, which have varying degrees of verifiability.  Their verifiability must also be taken into account in the Sharia process.

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