I’m sick to death of debating whether Islam is good, bad, malignant or benign. It’s like arguing whether Ford, GM or Dodge makes a better pickup. If you aren’t willing put it to an objective test, all that is left is an airing of opposing opinions. Just so we are clear – I am willing to put Judeo-Christian tradition to that test because I do believe that it is superior to any other religion, especially in the context of America.
In the end, what Islam is or is not – for that matter what any culture, theology or ideology is or is not- is only relevant in the context of a question that nobody is asking – and that is this:
Is the culture, the theology or the ideology compatible with what America is?
Some will say that this begs the question of exactly what America is to each of us.
My answer to that would be that America is well defined by the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers and the Constitution…and why do I believe that? Because everything else flows directly from these documents – all of our laws, our courts and the administration of public duties, all flow from the principles enumerated in these documents. Whether you agree or disagree with this definition – that is a different debate. For the purpose of this post, I’ll ask you to accept it as a basis for my point.
I woke up this morning at around 3 am with the lines from this sonnet by Emma Lazarus in my head. You will recognize the words as they are on a plaque bolted to the base of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. The poem is called “The New Colossus”:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Many people only remember hearing the bolded section that starts with “Give me your tired…” but when you consider the sonnet in its entirety, this line changes the meaning of the bolded section:
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she with silent lips.
And this line illustrates why I think the aforementioned question matters.
We aren’t welcoming the random huddled masses and giving them the opportunity to come to America only to reestablish their countries and culture here. We are saying that if you want to be free, accept what America is and leave your past allegiances behind. We are not saying that Muslims, communists or any other refugee who comes to America are to come over, isolate into a mono-cultural group, keep all their original beliefs and just put up a sign saying:
“Same Great Sharia As In Iran – Just A New Location And Under New Management.”
We want people to come because they want to escape limitations on what they are and become all that they desire to be, not to change America to place the same limitations they had on everybody else.
For decades we have been told that we must be diverse, that diversity is good and necessary for America – after all, we are a nation of immigrants – and there is some truth to that – but I would point out two things:
- A diversity of cultures and experiences combining together to provide different approaches to a common goal is constructive and unifying.
- A diversity of cultures and experiences, each seeking their own individual goals is destructive and divisive.
America is indisputably a nation built on Judeo-Christian values. We have been through this before and while it is true that no specific religion is mentioned in the Constitution, there can be little doubt that we are a nation of these values. Of course, they are not exclusively Christian or Jewish, they even contain elements of Islam – but only where the Quran agrees with the Bible or the Torah – there are no aspects of our founding that are exclusively Islamic. At the time of our founding and up until the early 1900’s, Islam was considered to be a minor cult religion that was practiced by barbarian, tribal cultures.
As I read the Quran, it is evident to me that it was created either by men or by Allah (I’m not going to debate this part, I don’t care) to address tribalism and the constant conflict that arises from such an existence…but that is another discussion – the fact is that while there are uniquely Judeo-Christian elements to our founding, there are no uniquely Islamic elements. Our Founders and those who followed (at least until the last 50 years or so) consistently and exclusively invoked the Judeo-Christian God, prayed for His guidance and included recognition of Him through the use of verses from the Holy Bible on our money, our government buildings, on our memorials and in our national cemeteries. There is no mention of Allah, the Quran or sharia. That this is true is beyond debate. It is pure, unadulterated fact.
Somehow within the past 50 or so years, we decided that it was acceptable to be a hyphenated American, that it was fine for massive sections of our cities to exist where our language is not spoken, Judeo-Christian traditions are not practiced or even respected, other flags are flown and other forms of law are tolerated.
In his speech to the Republican State Convention in Springfield, Illinois on June 16, 1858, Senate candidate Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand”, a concept that, not coincidentally, has its roots in the Christian Bible(not the Quran):
Matthew 12, verse 25:
And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand
Mark Chapter 3, verse 25:
And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.
Luke Chapter 11, verse 17:
But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth.
If people come here to be uniquely American while recognizing that their cultures and religions must be compatible with the Judeo-Christian basis of America, America can prosper. That does not mean that devout Muslims cannot be American, just that when conflicts arise between Islam and what America is, America wins. Practice your religion as you are commanded to but do not expect that the rest of America must be forced to forego devotion to theirs to accommodate you – the same goes with language, culture and education.
That is called assimilation and is something that has been expected of every immigrant prior to the last 50 years.
This is also the best argument that I can think for border security and immigration control. If your plan is to come just to take advantage of our economy while living in a conclave, retaining your language, your culture and your allegiance to your home country, you should not be allowed to come. If you seek to come here to change America into a satellite of your home country, you should not be here. If you think America is the “Great Satan” and are angry enough to set off a bomb, perhaps you should go to a country more compatible with your views.
A diversity of cultures and experiences, each seeking their own individual goals is destructive and divisive and America cannot survive it. We cannot accept theologies or ideologies that are counter to what our country is.
If you come here to be an American, if you are willing to leave the pomp of ancient lands behind, welcome.
If you come to America to change it into where you came from, you are better off where you are.
If you are here and think that America is evil and our founding was illegitimate, don’t let the screen door hit you in the ass on the way out.