In “Why the Left Hates Democracy,” my longtime sparring partner Dinesh D’Souza expresses his attachment to the democratic principle: an attachment so strong and unyielding that he says, If they want Sharia, let them have it!
So why does the left hate democracy in the Muslim world? The reason is simple. Muslims are socially conservative and generally want a greater role for Islam in their private and public lives. Consequently Muslim democracies are likely to be more conservative socially than they are when secular despots rule them. The left fears Muslim democracy because it is terrified of Muslim values, especially sharia or Muslim holy law. Feminists and gays are not likely to fare very well under Muslim holy law.
When Iraqis rejected secular candidates and voted for a party that pledged to have sharia, at least in some forms of domestic law, the New York TImes howled that democracy could be “consigning Iraqi women to a life of subjugation.” Columnist Maureen Dowd warned that “the Iraqi election may actually be making things worse” because “it is going to expand the control of the Shia theocrats.” These complaints might have some plausibility if women or Sunnis were not permitted to vote. But women and men both voted for the Dawa party, and so essentially the Times and Dowd were arguing that if Iraqis don’t want equal roles for men and women, their democracy is a sham.
All this puts me in mind of that great American statesman, Stephen A. Douglas, the originator of the concept of popular sovereignty. Regarding slavery in Kansas he said, “I care not whether they vote it up or vote it down,” as long as the will of the people was expressed and carried out. And now D’Souza casts himself as the great Douglas of Dhimmitude, who cares not whether the people of Iraq vote Sharia up or down, as long as they express their almighty popular will. And look, he says: even women voted for it, so how oppressive can it be?
Well, some slaves fought willingly on the side of the Confederates during the Civil War, too, but I don’t think that proves anything about slavery itself. And as for popular sovereignty, we have too many Douglases today, and no Lincolns. “Feminists and gays” are indeed “not likely to fare very well under Muslim holy law,” but that’s just the beginning. All women, feminist or not, will be subject to restrictions on the value of their testimony (cf. Qur’an 2:282) and their inheritance rights (cf. Qur’an 4:11), and made vulnerable to religiously-sanctioned beating (cf. Qur’an 4:34). Non-Muslims will be subject to restrictions on their freedom of worship and made to pay a special tax — and you can see from the links that where hardliners gain control, this is already happening. Non-Muslims would not be considered equal to Muslims before the law.
D’Souza has thus placed himself in a paradoxical position: he believes in the rights of man, from which come the concept of popular sovereignty. He believes in the right of self-determination so strongly that he advocates that Iraqis and other Muslims exercise it even to the point of disenfranchising and relegating to inferior status large segments of their societies.
To break this paradox, we need a leader with the courage, the insight, and the will to say that he or she believes in the rights of the individual as delineated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (for all the limitations of that document, it enshrines Judeo-Christian principles of human rights as universal, including the freedom of conscience and the equality of dignity of all people, both of which are denied by Sharia), and thus opposes Sharia.
And finally, D’Souza completely ignores the fact that wherever Sharia is imposed, the jihad ideology and Islamic supremacism have not been far behind, and have set large segments of the Sharia society (if not its leadership, although the House of Saud is a highly questionable case) against the U.S. and the West. So he is advocating, in sum, the adoption of a system that will ultimately make the United States more enemies.
There is no easy solution. I am certainly not advocating that the U.S. topple Sharia regimes around the world. I do think we should adopt a defensive anti-Sharia posture, and oppose its encroachment in the U.S. and Europe. As for Iraq, I don’t think there is anything we can ultimately do to keep it from being adopted, but we certainly should not be aiding and abetting that adoption. That would be like selling the Reds the rope they will use to hang us.