A couple of years ago, I wrote a piece that turned out to be one of the most controversial pieces I’ve ever written — and it caught me completely off-guard. I denounced a practice by some Mormons of holding baptismal ceremonies for the deceased — who had not died as Mormons. When that extended to Holocaust victims and other Jews, their families protested, and the Mormons stopped — at least publicly. I said it was tacky, and they should stop. I couldn’t believe the heat that generated — it extended over three postings (and an afterword by Kevin, the guy what runs the place), and I eventually had to shut down the comments on all of ’em.
In the end, I simply reiterated what I saw as the two arguments:
The Mormon Position: “We’re only doing this because we care about you. If we’re right, you’ll thank us. If we’re wrong, there’s no real harm. So, what’s the problem?”
The Jewish Position: “Regardless of your motives, we find it distasteful and offensive. Besides, whenever in our history people do things to us ‘for our own good,’ it almost inevitably turns out bad for us. Especially when it involves making lists of us. So please stop.”
I bring this up because I was reminded of that fuss when I read this article by Wretchard of the Belmont Club (and Pajamas Media). In Malaysia, an ethnic Chinese man is attempting to recover the body of his late father. Government officials say that before the man expired, he converted to Islam and gave him a Muslim funeral. The man is incensed, because he and his whole family are Buddhists, and apparently this has caused great spiritual harm to the departed.
The goverment’s case is simple: they say that the man verbally assented to conversion on his deathbed, in front of witnesses, and that is that under Malaysian (that is to say, Islamic) law. Case closed.
The family, though, brings up some inconvenient facts: the man in question had been senile for years, and left speechless after a 2006 stroke. Therefore, he was both mentally and physically incapable of making such a declaration.
The Malaysian courts have ruled that they have no jurisdiction over the man’s remains; since the matter involves questions of Islam, it must be settled by an Islamic court.
This leaves the family asking the Buddhist equivalent of “WTF?” They’re not Muslim, they insist the patriarch did not (and, indeed, could not) have been a Muslim, but they have to seek relief from a Muslim court — where, by rule, their word is worth half that of a Muslim’s. And with several Muslim witnesses ready to swear that the old, senile, utterly incapacitated regained both lucidity and the power of speech just long enough to make the Declaration of Faith in Arabic (Allah, after all, can work miracles!), it’s pretty much an open-and-shut case that they will lose.
And then, quite possibly, be persecuted for attacking or defaming Islam. After all, they’re calling Muslims liars, in an official proceeding. That kind of affront is quite possibly more offensive than drawing a cartoon of Mohammed.
As Wretchard points out, this is the face of Shariah law, which some are trying to give legitimacy in the West. All it takes is a few people willing to say or do whatever it takes to give a matter a veneer of Islam, and they can argue that it must be settled according to Islamic law. A law that has such wonderful tenets as a rape can only be prosecuted if there are two Muslim male witnesses. That women are essentially property of their families, until they are
sold married off to their husbands, who then gain title. That gives preference to the testimony of Muslim men over that of women and unbelievers. That says that a husband should not beat his wife with a stick any thicker than his thumb.
This is the end result of moral equivalence. This is the logical conclusion of saying “their laws and their ways and their beliefs are just as valid and as good as ours, and we should respect them as we do our own, even in our own land.”
They are not. And we need to assert that by declaring that our system of laws and justice (the two are not always synonymous), for all their flaws, are legally and morally superior to Shariah law, and will remain superior in Western civilization.
I’m going to steal a line from myself here, and ask a very fundamental question:
(Thanks to Laura of Pursuing Holiness for reminding me that I once said that.)
The answer, it seems, is slowly creeping towards “no.”
Oh, and one final reminder, one thought that cannot be restated enough: “Islam” does not mean “peace.” It means “submission.”
Remember that. It will be on the final exam.