Saw Mayor Bloomberg bantering with Jon Stewart on television.
His Honor was making the case for the construction of the Islamic facility near ground zero.
He pointed out, quite accurately, that, if the folks who want to build it own the property and comply with all the building ordinances of the city, they have the same right to use their property as any other citizen.
Then he added that there are saloons and porn shops and all other kinds of land uses that some people don’t like in the neighborhood.
It’s a free country and hey, this is New York City. This is the Big Apple.
And so it is.
Being a lawyer and former judge, I am quick to stand up for the legal right of the owners of property to use it as they wish. Even if it’s unpopular. Even if it is intended to be confrontational.
But defending someone’s right to speak is not the same thing as agreeing with what they say.
And defending someone’s right to be confrontational is not tantamount to backing down or surrendering.
My concern about the proliferation of Islam in America goes to the heart of the philosophical differences between democracy and theocracy.
There was a time when Christian theocracy was prevalent. Indeed, one of the titles still held by Queen Elizabeth is “Defender of the Faith.”
In the middle ages there were ecclesiastical courts which functioned along side the English courts of common law.
The Roman Catholic Church still exercises law making powers, and convenes courts to enforce canon law.
The difference lies in the Islamic tradition of enforcement. Islamic or Shariah Law is not just enforced by education, moral persuasion and excommunication. It is enforced also by the sword. It asserts the right to decree the death penalty.
That, my friends, is the essence of sovereignty.
Sovereignty is the police power. The power of force. Ultimately the power of life and death.
In America, sovereignty is in the people. That’s why the second amendment gives us the right to bear arms.
That’s why our Constitutions, both state and national, divide the power to make, execute and interpret the laws among three separate branches of government.
So that no one man, nor any one group of men has the power of life and death.
The essence of the Islamic faith is doing the will of Allah. That’s a familiar idea to anyone who, as I did, learned in school that God made me to know Him to love Him and to serve Him.
But Christians gave up burning heretics at the stake centuries ago.
Islamic law still commands the death penalty for apostasy.
Judeo Christian civilization has long since learned to render to Ceasar the things that are Ceasar’s.
The concept of a sovereign civil government which respects religion, but is separate and neutral as to religious faith and discipline is the hallmark of western political thought.
That is worth fighting for.