GOP poised to embrace anti-Sharia platform

Okay, as I’ve said before, although I dearly want to keep this blog apolitical, this would only be possible if American parties would stop doing and saying ridiculous, inaccurate things about Islam.  And as of yet, that doesn’t seem to be happening.

Instead, as the GOP shuffle off to Tampa this week for its nominating convention, it has announced the planks of the party’s platform to be finalized at the convention.  Although a great deal of attention has been focused on the party’s position on abortion after Representative Todd Atkin was apparently overcome by the all-mighty gods of stupidity during a press conference, the GOP is also scheduled to approve a plank by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, supporting banning the use of ‘foreign law’ in courtrooms, similar to the law presented to the Kansas state legislature earlier this year.

Kobach himself defended the plank, based on his experience in Kansas, saying, “We actually put a provision affecting Kansas statute this year and I think it’s important for us to say foreign sources of law should not be used as part of common law decisions or statutory interpretations by judges in the lower state courts as well.”

Again, in a perfect world, I would really like to keep this blog apolitical – not because I think anyone who reads this would have trouble guessing who I’ll be supporting in this election, but just because I honestly don’t think politics have ever improved academia – but I can’t deny that as an American, the continued focus on the spectre of ‘creeping sharia’ is depressing.  Not only is it massively discriminatory and implies that there is anyone who should be expected to do more to ‘be American’ than just be here, effectively invalidating centuries of immigrant history in the US, but as I’ve said time and time again, it also just shows such a painfully, ridiculously misguided understanding of the American legal system. And in the case of Secretary Kobach, from a lawyer no less![1]

We, as a country, cannot ban the use of foreign law in courtrooms.  And I don’t say this as the creeping-Sharia-jihadist-subversive I have more than once been accused of being.  I’m saying this as a citizen of this country who has lived in more than one state.  I need courts to consider the laws of other states, and of the federal government, when they are relevant to the case, and not directly contradictory to the laws of the state in which my case is being heard, in order that I might have a fair trial.  The idea that we should do away with the entire concept of foreign law in order to protect ourselves against the future possibility of Sharia becoming mainstream in the United States is so very, very much like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  If these laws were fully enforced, I have no doubt that we could legitimately end up crippling the American legal system, in order to defend ourselves from a threat that *even proponents of anti-Sharia legislation admit doesn’t exist yet!*

I know legal history doesn’t strike a lot of people as terribly interesting, but it’s terrifying to watch our legal system dismantled like this.  And it’s a really good system!  The American judiciary is one of the great innovations of the modern age!  That we seem to be willing to dismantle it under no duress, for such flimsy claims is just . . . heartbreaking.

[1]  I’m also slightly depressed to learn that Secretary Kobach and I share an alma.

About askanislamicist

I'm an academic who specializes in early Islamic history and the history of religious interactions, who, in her free time, enjoys shouting into the internet.
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