On a Muslim President: Carson, Cruz, and Paul are all right

Over the past few days, Presidential candidate Ben Carson has caught a lot of heat for comments he made during an interview where he stated that he would not support a Muslim as President.  Never mind that this “nontroversy” is a complete hypothetical ginned up by the mainstream media as “gotcha” journalism and distracts from the actual issues facing this country.  Most of us that pay attention are used to the Left using the Alinsky-esque dog whistle of divisiveness whenever their policies come into question because they don’t stand up to the scrutiny of logic and reason.  But it also represents how low some will slither in order to try to destroy a decent man.

The discussion in the Democrat strategy room likely went something like this; “How can we attack the soft-spoken, black, Republican, pediatric neurosurgeon without looking like racists?  I know!!  Make HIM racist!!”  So off they marched, set-up in hand, to try to discredit this man.  Except it may have backfired because they didn’t think that someone that had spent 22 hours straight surgically separating the brains of conjoined twins could be articulate.  Todd Akin this was not.

I happen to agree with Dr. Carson that Islam, in its most rigid form, is incompatible with our constitutional republic for the very simple reason that ours is a system that holds dearly the separation of church and state, where in Islam, church IS state.  As someone who has spent a decade traipsing through the region, I’ve seen varying degrees of religious rigidity as law, from straight up Shari’a in Saudi Arabia to iron-fisted strongmen using state power to co-opt the sermons of imams at Friday prayer and keep the masses in line (i.e., angry at the west and not at their own despotic rulers for their dire lot in life).

Because Islam is viewed by Muslims as version 3.0 of the Abrahamic religions (seen as an improvement over Judaism and Christianity but borrowing heavily from both), it is a deeply entrenched part of daily life.  It doesn’t just give broad guidelines on how to live your life like the  ten commandments and let the details get sorted separately.  It specifically outlines everything from doing your banking, disciplining your wife, what foods to eat, how to treat those of different faiths, how many times a day to pray, etc—all clearly outlined as directives from Allah.  I believe that this specificity/inflexibility is part of the conundrum of Islam and how it can be expected to coexist with our democratic system.  In short, laws of man can be changed; laws of God cannot.

Dr. Carson is also right that the Constitution is, and should be, the supreme law of our land.  Our founders, mostly Christians of varying flavors, created a secular Constitution mirroring the Christian fundamentals by which they lived.  Further, they were mainly familiar with Christianity and the harmless animism of the Native Americans at the time.  Thomas Jefferson may have owned a Qur’an, but had he spent any time in today’s Middle East, he would have found Islam profoundly antithetical to the idea of liberty and the individual rights espoused in our founding documents.

Enter Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, the two most constitutionally literate candidates in this election, who pointed out that Article 6 of the Constitution states that there shall be no religious test for office.  They are also right.  There should be no test precluding anyone from office based on religion.  However, once elected, should this hypothetical Muslim President begin doing things in contravention to the Constitution, that’s where we can use the built-in remedy in our system called impeachment.

In sum, I don’t have a problem with a Muslim President, provided he or she respects the primacy of our Constitution over the Qur’an.  If one does not or cannot, don’t run for the office.  I believe Dr. Carson’s wariness is well founded though.  If a spineless Congress cannot assert itself against the unconstitutional actions of our current Executive, one wonders if they ever will.