Before I explain why the Religious Right can’t win morally and legally against Islam, the reader has to understand what I mean by ‘Religious Right.’ I’m referring to the Jewish and Christian religious right. I’ll give a singular example, but a thoroughly relevant one.
In 2017, Ilhan Omar [the Muslim Congresswoman who was given asylum to the US as a kid from Somalia] had mixed feelings regarding a bill in the Minnesota State House. The legislation would make it “a felony for parents to subject their daughters to the procedure [female genital mutilation] and calls for loss of custody and prison terms from five to 20 years, depending on the extent of the injuries,” with an increase in “penalties for those who perform the procedure.”
Omar was quoted: “I don’t want us to create laws because we want to get into the media and because we want a flashy headline.” A back and forth between the members of Minnesota’s Civil Law committee can be found here. Nevertheless, Ilhan Omar agreed that the practice of female genital mutilation was “heinous” and voted for the bill. But the fate of that bill was counter-intuitive. The Republican-dominated State Senate in Minnesota rejected the legislation. Mind you, this bill against female genital mutilation was authored only by Republicans.
Minnesota State Republican Representative Mary Francon said, ”
“We need to end the identity politics and do what’s right. FGM [female genital mutilation] is a human’s right issue, a woman’s health issue and a gender violence issue. It has no place in the United States of America.” Franson introduced the bill in response to reports that a Detroit-area doctor had performed such a [female genital mutilation] procedure on two girls, 7-year-olds from the state of Minnesota. Mary Franson was disillusioned with the [Republican-controlled] Senate’s decision to reject her bill. “If we were talking about any other body part, perhaps the Senate would take female genital mutilation seriously. However, it seems misogyny has won out this year ,” Franson said.
A year later, a federal judge [a libertarian nominated by President Ronald Reagan] in Michigan rejected federal criminal charges against a group of Muslim defendants who had carried out FGM on young girls, ruling a federal ban [on the practice] unconstitutional.
Now, then, let’s return to the article’s thesis. Why the Religious Right can’t win against Islam. First of all, they share a common ancestor – all three of them are Abrahamic religions. In the USA, the practice of circumcision is widely spread, not just among Jews, but among Christians too. In 1997, in the US, the great majority of newborn boys were circumcised. By contrast, in Europe, neonatal circumcision is a rarity. The non-religious justification for subjecting one’s child to circumcision says that it leads to better genital cleanliness and thus better genital health, reduced risk of cancer etc. I believe it’s bs. I’m sure my detractors will be quick to cite numerous papers to prove me wrong. I’ll just say this on the medical aspect, no large-scale randomized controlled trial has assessed the benefit of neonatal male circumcision throughout several decades, which is when many of the potential health benefits would be realized.
Finally, we’re nearing the conclusion. The law can’t punish female genital mutilation without being de jure and de facto hypocritical and creating a double standard – for the law allows male genital mutilation. Circumcising baby boys IS genital mutilation, and both parents and doctors are responsible for it. Lest we forget, the anti-FGM bill mentioned earlier punished doctors who performed the deed too.
I’ll be blunt, the Religious Right is, on many issues [domestic and foreign] synonymous with Christian Zionism and Jewish Zionism implicitly. Therefore, the interest of children [girls and boys] can’t be given top priority, because the interest of the Abrahamic religions reign supreme in a country that’s supposed to be laic. Circumcision is defended as a covenant between God and Abraham, and circumcision is practiced widely in the Muslim world alongside FGM. The latter is done to ‘minimize women’s sexual desire / pleasure,’ in the logic of decreasing marriage infidelity on the woman’s part – even though under Sharia law, it’s de jure and de facto implausible to prove a rape situation [unless the crime was witnessed by many people, considered honorable in the community; and a woman’s testimony is worth only half a man’s]. Circumcision and FGM are justified in Islam under the Hadith.
The Christian and Jewish Right face a dilemma. They have no moral ammo against Islam – because if they pursue a truly non-hypocritical stance against Islam, they invite Muslims to use the same arguments against them. It’s a self-defeating exercise. Ditto for the secular voices who wish to see Islamic customs vanish from their societies. If they give a pass to Judaism and Christianity, they’ll be hypocrites. On the other hand, if they don’t give anyone a pass, they’ll be attacked as being illiberal, because individuals and communities have the right to organize themselves and pursue a faith, with all the rituals inherent to it. And then the whole thing grows and mutates into related arguments: interventionist social authorities vs passive social authorities? what are rights? where do rights come from? what should be a liberty, what should be a right? where and when do a person’s rights and liberties infringe on someone else’s? Etc.
The Christian Right also has a problem with its own history in the United States. They’ve a romantic, albeit untrue story of the country’s foundation. The US was founded as a Masonic state, not a Christian state. Nine of the 56 men that signed the Declaration of Independence were Masons, and about 13 of the 39 that signed the US Constitution were too. Much of the early republic’s elites [landlords, financiers, lawyers, judges, industrialists, and politicians] were under Masonic allegiance. The first president of the US was a Mason, and 1/3 of all US presidents were Masons. As an interesting, historical observation, Freemasonry was banned in Nazi Germany, in Fascist Italy [even though many in the Grand Lodge were fascists and helped to bring Mussolini to power], and in all the Communist states [with the exception of Cuba].
By attacking Ilhan Omar’s sentiments for Somalia – a country with a rich tradition in the Islamic Slave Trade [a phenomenon which spanned 13 centuries], in oppressing women and non-Muslims, like Animists and Christians – the Right only looks hypocritical. For the Right never attacks those politicians with dual citizenship in the top echelons of the State, those Israel-Firsters who maintain control over the domestic narrative and especially over the USA’s foreign policy – getting the US military to do Israel’s dirty work. And no, this isn’t about Israel’s “right to exist” or “right to defend itself” – it’s about the Greater Israel project, which can only be achieved through double-dealing, exploitation, theft, violence, and war.
You either oppose politicians with dual citizenship from getting into key State institutions across the board, or you’re biased [you favor some foreign countries over other foreign countries and implicitly over the US] and you lose the moral high ground. What does the Bible say? One can’t serve two masters.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.