22 September 2015

There was nothing illiberal about Ben Carson’s ‘Muslim president’ comment

.... His answer was clumsy, but not essentially wrong. The US Constitution does indeed prescribe freedom of religion, and the lack of religious tests for office. But its motivation for doing so must be understood. It was concerned to establish a post-theocratic form of politics. The republic is defined in opposition to the idea that religious unity is necessary for national cohesion. That idea is the enemy.

The legitimate question is this: could a Muslim really uphold that anti-theocratic ideal? For that religion has, so far in its history, failed to reject the theocratic impulse. This is the ‘problem’ with Islam: not that it is violent (the vast majority of Muslims are no more violent than anyone else), but that it seemingly remains wedded to an essentially theocratic ideal. It is not illiberal to point this out. In real life, liberalism entails an honest appraisal of those forces that might kill it. [The Spectator] Read more