Islam and the First Amendment

Donald Trump created a media firestorm when he called for a moratorium on Muslim immigration to the US. Trump was denounced as a xenophobic racist -- as if Islam was not a religion, but a race (go figure). Trump's announcement was apparently prompted by a terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, where two Islamic terrorists killed fourteen people. The San Bernardino incident followed in the wake of a coordinated strike by ISIS in November that slaughtered 130 people in Paris, France.

It's an absurd but deadly circus. Time after time, Islamic terrorists murder innocent people, and leftists immediately fall all over themselves to embrace Muslims and declare Islam to be a "religion of peace." In my home state, the director of the Oklahoma chapter of CAIR denounced anti-Muslim rhetoric and warned, "hateful words too often lead to violence." Listening to this sort of propaganda one might obtain the impression that Christian Crusaders were massacring innocent Muslims. The reality is that Islamic terrorists worldwide are intent not just on the genocide of Christians but the replacement of Western Civilization by a universal caliphate. If any people doubt this, I would invite them to watch the Frontline documentary, The Rise of Isis.

A group called the Islamic Circle of North America has been putting up billboards in major cities in the US. The billboards read "Muhammad believed in peace, social justice, and women's rights." Of course he did. Muhammad's idea of peace and social justice was killing anyone who refused to accept his religion. And it is true that women have certain rights in Islam. So did African slaves in the antebellum South. Southern States enacted Slave Codes that detailed and protected these rights. It's easy to completely deceive people with half-truths.

Michael Moore scaled the heights of stupidity by standing outside the Trump Tower in New York City holding up a sign that read, "we are all Muslim." Moore knows we're not literally all Muslims, so presumably his message was that we're all capable of being victims of religious discrimination. President Obama has steadfastly refused to even acknowledge the existence of Islamic terrorism. The message we're supposed to take from this is that Islam is just another religion, like Buddhism, Hinduism, or Presbyterianism.

In 1997, a left-wing think tank in the UK, the Runnymede Trust, coined the neologism "Islamophobia." "Islamophobia" is now defined in a lengthy Wikipedia article as "prejudice against, hatred towards, or fear of the religion of Islam or Muslims." A phobia is an irrational fear. Thus the term by its very existence presumes what necessarily must be demonstrated: that dislike of Islam is irrational.

We're repeatedly assured that Islamic terrorists are not Islamic, that Islam is a religion of peace, and we should wholeheartedly embrace our peaceful Muslim brothers and open our borders to them. We're supposed to accept all of this while we're being slaughtered like sheep. What makes the promulgation of this nonsense possible and acceptable to a large segment of our society is simple ignorance. According to a recent Pew Poll, most Americans "know little or nothing about Islam."

I know something about Islam, and I'm writing to tell you that it's worse than you think. When Donald Trump suggested a cessation to Muslim immigration he didn't go far enough. We need a Constitutional Amendment to exclude Islam from the protections of the First Amendment. I hesitate to suggest such a radical idea, but will explain myself at length.

There was a time when I would have wholeheartedly embraced the extension of religious toleration to Islam. The idea that Islamic terrorism is promulgated by a tiny, radical minority that does not represent the heart of the faith is certainly a plausible proposition for anyone who has not studied the history of Islam. It is precisely because I know something about Islam and its history that I am led to the conclusion that our Constitution must be amended.

My views on Islam are informed by the research I did when writing the second volume of my history of science, Early Christianity, the Rise of Islam and the Middle Ages. Prior to studying the history of Islam, I would have assumed that it is just another religion. Views of religion held by most people in the US have been strongly influenced by the historical dominance of Christianity in Western Civilization. We tend to view religion as a matter of individual conscience. Different denominations may have different views on obscure matters of doctrine, but all religions are seen as promoting peace, justice, love, and mercy. Ignorant of the true nature of Islam, most Americans implicitly see it as a nothing more than a quaint variant of Christianity.

Islam is nothing like Christianity. For that matter, it's unlike every other religion on earth. Islam is not just a religion -- it's a vicious totalitarian system that governs every aspect of human behavior. Islam is not based on concepts of love or mercy. It's based on tyranny, killing, and suppression. Islam is utterly antithetical to the Western ideal of individual freedom. The very word "Islam" means "submission." William Muir (1819-1905) was perhaps the most perspicacious and knowledgeable Western scholar who ever studied Islam. The first one-hundred and five pages of his monumental Life of Mahomet is devoted to a discussion and evaluation of primary and original sources. Muir concluded "the sword of Mahomet, and the Koran, are the most fatal enemies of civilization, liberty, and truth, which the world has yet known."

Islam began with Muhammad, an illiterate merchant who resided in the city of Mecca during the seventh century. Around the year AD 610, Muhammad purportedly began to receive revelations from the god, Allah, through the angel Gabriel. The gist of these messages was that he was to preach a new, monotheistic religion designed to replace the animistic and polytheistic faiths of the Meccans. Unlike Jesus Christ, who readily attracted a multitude of followers (Matthew 15.30), Muhammad failed to spread his message by proselytizing. After ten years of preaching, he had only a handful of converts. During his final three or four years of residency in Mecca, Muhammad was unable to obtain a single new convert. Having failed in Mecca, Muhammad tried his luck in the nearby city of Taif. The town's inhabitants endured Muhammad for ten days. Then they beat him and summarily expelled the would-be prophet from their city.

In 622 AD Muhammad emigrated to the Arabian city of Yathrib, subsequently renamed Medina, the City of the Prophet. The move to Medina is known as the Hegira. This date marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar. Islam under Muhammad now took a new direction. Having failed to spread Islam by peaceful means, Muhammad resolved to initiate holy war, a jihad. The proliferation of Islam by violence continues to the present day. It is not an anomaly. Jihad was initiated by the founder of Islam and it will continue so long as Islam endures on earth. The Koran (Sura 61) asserts that Allah loves "those battle for his cause," and that conflict must continue until Islam is "victorious over every other religion."

Seven months after his arrival at Medina, Muhammad and his followers began to support themselves through brigandry. They raided mercantile caravans that traveled back-and-forth from Mecca. Initially, the Muslim raids failed. The caravan leaders had centuries of experience in evading and defending themselves from thieves. So Muhammad resolved to commit yet another crime. He decided to make a raid during the holy month of Rajab. During the raid, one of the Meccan traders was killed. This initiated full-scale warfare between the Muslims and Meccans.

The Meccans were not the only victims of Muhammad. In the seventh century, Arabia contained a number of thriving Jewish communities. They're not there any longer because Muhammad and his followers began a process of ethnic cleansing that resulted in the removal of all Jews from the Arabian Peninsula. In 627 AD Muhammad besieged the Jewish tribe of the Coreitza. After fourteen days the Jews surrendered. Muhammad ordered long, narrow trenches to be dug. He then led the Jewish men out of their enclave in small groups with their hands bound behind their backs. Seven-hundred Jews were made to kneel by the side of the trenches and decapitated. All the men were killed. The women and children were taken as slaves. When it came to the genocidal murder of Jews, Muhammad made Adolf Hitler look like a piker. If this seems like an unnecessarily inflammatory statement to you, you have to understand -- I'm just giving you the unvarnished truth. There is no controversy about the historical reality of the massacre of the Coreitzan Jews. The account is found in the eighth-century biography of Muhammad by Ibn Ishaq, a primary source.

Eventually Muhammad won his wars with the Meccans. He rode into Mecca, removed all idolatrous images from the Kaaba, and established Islam as the dominant religion in the Arabian Peninsula. After Muhammad's death in 632 AD, Islam continued to be spread by warfare. Muslims conquered the Middle East and North Africa. They crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and were stopped from overrunning Europe at the Battle of Tours in 732 AD. Muslims remained in Spain and Sicily until Europeans finally expelled them during the High Middle Ages.

Christianity and Islam are diametric opposites. Jesus Christ preached mercy (Matthew 5.7) and advised people to love their enemies (Luke 6.27). Muhammad killed his enemies. Furthermore, he exulted and reveled in bloodshed. He gave Muslims permission to "kill any Jew that falls into your power." At the Battle of Badr in AD 624, one of his followers brought Muhammad the severed head of an enemy. The prophet was overjoyed. He pronounced the gift as "more acceptable to me than the choicest camel in all Arabia."

But there is another, more ominous difference between Christianity and Islam. From the beginning, there has been a basis for separating the religious and the secular in Christianity. Asked if it was proper for a Jew to pay Roman taxes, Jesus Christ replied "render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's" (Matthew 22.21). Jesus also professed, "my kingdom is not of this world" (John 18.36).

Unlike Christianity, there is no basis in Islam for separating church and state. Islamic countries are necessarily theocracies. Islam is not just a matter of individual conscience. Islam is a totalitarian system designed to instruct and govern nearly every aspect of human life. William Muir explained "scattered throughout...[the Koran are]...the archives of a theocratic government in all its departments...the elements of a code both criminal and civil are...introduced.  Punishments for certain offences are specified, and a mass of legislation laid down for the tutelage of orphans, for marriage, divorce, sales, bargains, wills, evidence, usury and similar concerns."

The implementation of the Islamic religious law is known as Sharia. Sharia Law governs not just religion, but a Muslim's "political, social, domestic, and private life." The Western tradition is that laws are implemented by men to establish just societies, however people living in different times and places may construe justice. But Sharia Law is based on the Koran. Muslims regard the Koran to be the literal word of Allah, a god they consider to be God. It cannot be amended, modified or reformed. It is an absolute. Since at least the advent of Greek democracy in the fifth century BC, this is a concept utterly foreign to the Western experience and tradition. Observant Muslims cannot conscientiously participate in democratic governments. They will go along with them until they reach the point at which they can implement Sharia Law by force.

Islamic countries are among the most backward and technologically primitive in the world. Lacking the technical means of conquering Western countries they have hit upon a far simpler method: reproduction and immigration. According to the Pew Poll, "Muslims have more children than members of other religious groups." Muslim women have, on average, 3.1 children. This is nearly twice the European fertility rate of 1.6. Unless it is stopped, the Muslim surge into Europe will erase twenty-five hundred years of Western achievements in science, technology, art, and literature. Libraries will be emptied. Every book that is not a copy of the Koran will be burnt. Michelangelo's David will be smashed with a hammer. The Mona Lisa will be incinerated. If you think I'm exaggerating, take a look at how ISIS is currently destroying art and antiquities.

I want to anticipate and rebut some of the arguments that are made in favor of the toleration of Islam. One of these is that most Muslims are peaceful people who have no intention of committing acts of violence or desire to force people of different faiths to convert to their religion. I concede this to be true, but it does not change my conclusions. The Pew Poll found that 86 percent of Muslims in the US agree that terrorism, in the form of violence against civilians for the purpose of promoting Islam, is "rarely or never justified." This statistic is not reassuring, but troubling. Muslims constitute 0.9 percent of the current US population of 322 million. That means we have 405,720 Muslims in the US who will not renounce terrorism. Pew furthermore found that a full seven percent of US Muslims (202,860 people) "say suicide bombings are sometimes justified."

Whether they are personally involved or not, every person who identifies as Muslim supports Islam and therefore implicitly supports jihad, the propagation of terror and violence, and the complete eradication of our freedoms. Based on election results from the early 1930s, about one-third to one-half of the German people supported the Nazi Party. The vast majority of Nazi supporters were not personally involved in rounding up Jews and herding them into railroad cars for trips to death camps. Rather, it was their implicit support that made the implementation of Nazi policies possible.

I often hear the argument that Christianity is as bad as Islam. It's denounced as being intolerant and having a history of violence. Frequently this claim is made by individuals resentful of the fact that traditional Christian morality condemns their lifestyle. I will concede that the history of Christianity is blemished. I cannot and will not defend the Spanish Inquisition, the Witch Mania, or the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre. For hundreds of years in Europe, Catholics persecuted Protestants and the Protestant sects fought among themselves. It took a long time before people learned to tolerate those of different faiths.

Accepting, however, that the history of Christianity is riddled with violent persecution, let's turn the thesis around. If human nature is so corruptible that it allows men to persecute, maim, and kill in the name of a religion that teaches us to love our enemies, what are human beings capable of when empowered by a direct message of hate and violence? If Christianity, a religion based on love, mercy, and universal brotherhood, has produced violence, what may be expected of Islam, a faith based on violence, hatred, and death? Is it any surprise that ISIS revels in some of the most inhumane atrocities in human history?

Some people have argued that Islam can be reformed and metamorphose into a faith that can coexist peacefully with other religions. Good luck with that. Revealed religions in general tend to be extremely conservative. In all the major Abrahamic faiths, the age of prophecy is closed. There is no Jew or Christian who will entertain the idea of adding new chapters to the Torah or the Bible. Islam is even more conservative. The Bible and the Torah are considered to be the inspired word of God. Christian and Jewish theologians accept that their scriptures were written by men. For example, Moses is traditionally considered to be the author of the first five books of the Bible. Because the Bible was written by a human being, it is more subject to interpretation than the Koran. Muslims believe the Koran to be the literal word of Allah. It is profound heresy in Islam to attribute authorship of the Koran to Muhammad. Muhammad is regarded as the mouthpiece, repeating words given to him by Allah through Gabriel. Because the Koran is considered to be the literal word of Allah, it cannot be revised, and its text is less subject to vagaries of interpretation than the Bible or the Torah. Muslims view the Koran as infallible, absolute, and final. Thus reformation of Islam is impossible.

The preceding considerations lead me to a point that most conservatives and libertarians will be initially reluctant to consider:  amending the Constitution to exclude Islam from the protections of the First Amendment. Specifically, what I have in mind is an Amendment that not only excludes Islam from the First Amendment but also grants Congress and the States the power to tax and regulate it.

To justify such a drastic step, I will review the historical underpinnings of the First Amendment. The modern concept of religious toleration developed among Protestant sects in seventeenth-century Europe. In A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689), John Locke (1632-1704) argued for religious toleration and the separation of church and state. "The toleration of those that differ from others in matter of religion," Locke argued, "is so agreeable to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to the genuine reason of mankind, that it seems monstrous for men to be so blind, as not to perceive the necessity and advantage of it, in so clear a light."

That same year (1689), England enacted a Toleration Act that guaranteed freedom of worship to differing Protestant sects. However Catholics and Unitarians were excluded. John Locke went further, arguing that toleration should also be extended to Jews, Muslims, and pagans. Locke excluded only atheists. He believed they had no place in civil society because "promises, covenants, and oaths, which are the bonds of humane society, can have no hold upon an atheist."

The most fervent advocate of religious toleration was Pierre Bayle (1647-1706), an exiled Huguenot residing in Holland. Largely forgotten today, Bayle has been called "the father of modern toleration." His greatest work, the Historical and Critical Dictionary, is commonly referred to as the "arsenal of the Enlightenment," reflecting the fact that later Enlightenment writers such as Voltaire derived most of their arguments and ideas from Bayle's Dictionary.

Bayle advocated toleration of all faiths. He went beyond Locke and argued that everyone should enjoy complete freedom of religion because "religion is a matter of conscience subject to no control." Bayle pointed out the absurdity of trying to change a man's conscience through force. "Is falsehood to be overcome by any other arms than those of truth? Is not attacking errors with a cudgel, the same absurdity as attacking bastions with syllogism and harangue?" Bayle pushed for complete freedom and toleration in religion. "There can be no solid reason for tolerating any one sect, which does not equally hold for every other."

However even Pierre Bayle had his limits. He deliberately made an explicit exception to what was an otherwise universal policy of toleration. No civil society was under any obligation to tolerate a sect that preached lawlessness and violence. "Any sect, which strikes at the foundation of human society, and bursts the bounds of the public peace and amity, by exciting seditions, by preaching up rapine, murder, calumny, perjury, deserves to be immediately cut off by the sword of the magistrate."

And this is exactly why Islam must be excluded from the First Amendment. Unlike every other religion on earth, Islam is not just a matter of individual conscience. Islam is a totalitarian system dedicated to the complete eradication of every other faith and the erasure of every freedom. Muslims believe they are commanded by their god to make war on anyone who is not a Muslim. This warfare must continue until everyone on earth is Muslim. That is why Islam must be excluded from the First Amendment. Not because it is offensive, illiberal, or wrong. Everyone has the right to be wrong. No, an exception must be made for Islam because its continuing inclusion under the umbrella of the First Amendment would ultimately lead to the destruction of that law and all the freedoms it was designed to protect.

Once Islam has been excluded from constitutional protections we can begin the processing of curbing its growth. This must be done lawfully and peacefully. The simplest way to stop the spread of Islam in the US would be to tax Muslims and their institutions. This is exactly what Muslims do to non-Muslims. The jizya is a tax levied upon non-Muslims residing in Islamic countries. Taxation will exert a gradual but persistent pressure that will discourage immigration while simultaneously encouraging emigration and conversion. Imagine, for example, a tax that begins at ten percent a year and is mandated to increase five percent every year thereafter until it reaches a maximum of ninety-percent. Even the introduction and discussion of a constitutional amendment would immediately dampen Muslim immigration.

What about the slippery slope of intolerance? I concede that the action I am proposing opens the door to excluding other faiths. If Buddhists, Taoists, and Hindus start walking into cafes and theaters and shooting people with Kalashnikov rifles simply because they refuse to convert to their faith, they can be excluded also. Until that time, Islam remains the only religion that has a thirteen-hundred year record of violence, intolerance, and totalitarianism. Excluding Muslims from our society will ensure that everyone else is able to live in peace and practice the beliefs dictated by their conscience.

Why do liberal Democrats love Islam? The Democratic Party in the US purports to be a fervid advocate of women's rights. They talk about an imaginary Republican "war on women" while turning a blind eye to the way women are treated in Islamic countries. Islam is infamous for treating women like dogs. The Koran (Sura 4) states plainly that "men are superior to women." A virtuous wife is instructed to be "obedient" and her husband is advised to "scourge" an insubordinate spouse. The Democratic Party is also an advocate of gay rights, yet remains silent when ISIS summarily executes gay men by dropping them off the tops of buildings, head first. The answer to this apparent quandary is found in the Pew Poll. According to Pew, a full 70 percent of American Muslims identify as Democrats versus only 11 percent as Republicans. No wonder the Democratic Party wants to flood the US with Muslim immigrants! It's not about ideology; it's about obtaining power. The Democrats’ obsession with outlawing guns is another symptom of this lust for power and control.

What can average people do to save their country and preserve Western Civilization? First, educate ourselves. We need to understand not only the true nature of the Islamic threat but also be able to articulate the virtues of Western Civilization and how it differs from the Islamic totalitarian system. Second, have the courage to speak freely without fear of being criticized. In the last few months, one man, Donald Trump, has almost single-handedly broken the shackles of political correctness by refusing to back down or surrender the moral high ground. Cast off the guilt and shame that the enemies of this country have tried to hang around our necks! Our ancestors bought our freedoms with blood in the snow. The longer we wait to act, the greater the chances our children will have to repeat their sacrifices.

Dr. Deming is professor of arts and sciences at the University of Oklahoma, and the author of Science and Technology in World History (McFarland, 2010, 2012).

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