The liberal love affair with Islam is perplexing. While liberals tend to hate traditional Christianity for its more socially conservative worldview, they insist on vigorously defending Islam and its adherents. From Jon Stewart's moralizing, to Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg's outrage at Bill O'Reilly, to President Obama's recent droning about the "spirit of tolerance" in the Indonesian Constitution (in spite of Indonesia's laws prohibiting speech offensive to Islam), we are forever sermonized that there is a gulf between Islamist extremism and the "vast majority" of normal Muslims, whom we would apparently love to have as neighbors and run into at Whole Foods.
Well, I contend that we would not want to run into a lot of Muslims at Whole Foods. True, we probably wouldn't mind running into most American Muslims, who don't go for certain more widespread interpretations of Sharia law. But it remains true that huge swathes of the Islamic world hold views and have enacted legal regimes which would shock the average American, and which ought to shock liberals and media elites far more than, say, Roman Catholicism does. And it's not like this is a "false" Islam, while the more peaceful, American interpretations are "true" Islam. Unlike Catholicism, there is no central magisterial authority in Islam; its nature is determined by how different schools interpret Sharia law and the Koran, and large numbers of Muslims interpret them in a fundamentalist, bizarre fashion.