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The Bill of Rights (in Arabic)

April 7, 2011 8:42 PM

A few days ago I started a new project, inspired by the international attempt to liberate Libya from the yoke of its tyrannical dictator, Muammar Gaddafi. In Wikipedia, II searched for the Bill of Rights (ratified by the First United States Congress in 1791 as the first ten amendments to the Constitution), then clicked on the Arabic Language version, and, lo and behold, there it was! I copied the URL of the Wikipedia page and started tweeting it to my followers and the world at large. I am hoping that as many Arabic-language tweeters as possible will click on the link, think about the Bill of Rights, and retweet it. The same goes for anybody else, who, like myself, cannot read Arabic, but admires the Bill of Rights. Knowing that my decision to send a link to the Bill of Rights would be controversial, I am ready for the controversy: read on.

First I am going to pretend that I am a liberal, leftist, "progressive", Communist, Bolshevik (name your poison) advocate of "multiculturalism," which I am not. As a multiculturalist I would be whining, "Who are we to foist our values off on the Arabic-speaking world? We have our values, they have theirs. It is the height of Western, North American, right-wing extremist arrogance to think that the Bill of Rights might contain something of value for Arabic speakers." My true response to such balderdash is coming up, but first…

Now I am going to pretend that I am a racemongering demagogue (I am not that either) pretending to be a rational critic of Islamic fanaticism. I would say, "Arabs are a subhuman race of brutal savages, totally incapable of understanding, let alone appreciating the Bill of Rights. Tweeting a link to it in their language amounts to casting pearls before swine."

Now my response, to both of them: Although the Bill of Rights happened to be written in English and introduced by the Virginian James Madison in New York in 1789, it represents a document for all of humanity. What makes it unique is that it specifies rights for every person everywhere. These rights are not "human rights," or the right to enslave or extract labor from others, or privileges for any "protected group" or minority, but rights which apply to one and only one minority, the smallest minority of all: the individual. The words in different languages may sound different, but the concepts represented are all the same.

It is true that there is a fundamental, irreconcilable contradiction between what is contained in the Bill of Rights and what is preached by the fanatical Salafi brand of Islam and its Shia equivalent preached by the mullahs who now rule Iran. Interestingly, this contradiction was the topic of a front-page article in today's New York Times, whose headline was, "Egyptian Radicals' Turn to Democracy Alarms Some." In the next to the last paragraph, the Times writer states,

"Some experts hope the emergence of the Salafis will create a healthy attempt to reconcile Islam with democracy."

If "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch" (quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin), then fanatical Salafi Islam can be reconciled with democracy. It has already happened in Gaza, where Hamas rules with an iron fist after their "one man, one vote, one time" election brought them to power. To label this kind of democracy as "healthy," however, is an obscenity.

In my opinion, Muslims will have to make a choice between the Bill of Rights or Salafi fanaticism. There is no middle ground. In one direction lies freedom and individual self-determination, on the other, totalitarian submission to the will of the tyrant.

In my opinion, the multiculturalists are dead wrong, and the racemongering demagogues are wrong. The Arabs are not a race; they are no longer even a nation. They speak languages which are very different, though all called "Arabic," based on the "classical Arabic" language in which the Qur'an was written. A person whose native tongue is Arabic is no more likely to be a fanatical Salafi Muslim than an English-speaker is likely to be an advocate for restoring the British Empire. (Admittedly, thanks to the petrodollar-funded propaganda of the Saudis and their Bolshevik allies, the Salafi viewpoint is much more prevalent today in the mass media than that of irredentist "up-the-Empire" Brits.) There are Christian Arabs, Jewish Arabs (yes!), secular Arabs, and patriotic Arab-Americans, such as Darrell Issa, grandson of immigrants from Lebanon, whose mother was Mormon and father was Eastern Orthodox. Issa has become a vocal advocate for investigations into the Obama administration, including the TARP and Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.

Now that Egypt is ruled by the Egyptian Army, and the rest of the Arab world is up for grabs, the Salafi fanatics who want to return to the imperialist rights-crushing Islam of the seventh century must be stopped. The antidote is not book-burning, bombs, or tomahawk missiles, or mindless appeals to "democracy." The antidote, in my opinion, is the Bill of Rights.

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