Monday, January 17, 2011

Edmund Burke: Sharia lover

Raise your hands, boys and girls, if you’ve ever heard of Edmund Burke. Most of you, I’m glad to see. He is most conservatives’ favorite Englishman, the one who owns the best-thumbed section in Bradley Dean Smith’s copy of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. But Scott Horton posts a passage from Burke that Smith – also known as Bradlee Dean – has probably not quoted:

On one side, your lordships have the prisoner declaring that the people have no laws, no rights, no usages, no distinctions of rank, no sense of honor, no property; in short that they are nothing but a herd of slaves to be governed by the arbitrary will of a master. On the other side, we assert that the direct contrary of this is true. And to prove out assertion we have referred you to the institutes of Ghinges Khân and of Tamerlane: we have referred you to the Mahomedan law, which is binding upon all, from the crowned head to the meanest subject; a law interwoven with a system of the wisest, the most learned, and most enlightened jurisprudence that perhaps ever existed in the world. We have shown you, that if these parties are to be compared together, it is not the rights of the people which are nothing, but rather the rights of the sovereign which are so. The rights of the people are every thing, as they ought to be in the true and natural order of things.

Here’s the lede in Horton’s article:

In America today, one of the lines of fringe political argument holds that the country is imperiled by the steady encroachment of Sharia law. The recent decision by a Canadian subsidiary of Campbell’s to introduce a line of halal soups was recently cited as evidence of Sharia’s growing influence. More accurately, however, it points to the growing market demand for halal products in the parts of Canada where the soups are being offered to consumers. Against this background, it’s interesting to note that the father of Anglo-American conservatism, Edmund Burke, had a broadly positive assessment of Sharia law. [emphasis added]

Sharia law had incorporated the concept of equality under the law before Anglo-American common law did. There is a lot of horrifying stuff in Muslim religious edicts, but the Books of Moses ain’t no slouchs in that department, either.

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