I echo the other commenters in saying that this, along with Paul Hsieh’s (and others’) work greatly contributes to turning this into a valuable and reasonable discussion.After thinking about it, I added this a few minutes later:
Now, I’d like focus on the boiled down argument for sake of simplicity. Let’s presume that you and I both agree about the nature of Islam — we believe the worst. (In fact, I do… no presumption here.) The issue, as you stated, in this lose-lose situation is “there’s a judgment call to be made here, but if the choice is secular statism vs. Sharia law, I will pick the former.”
You mentioned the active, immediate violence of Islam. Is it possible that you may be discounting the active violence (and passive violence) done by our government on us, every moment of every day? We’ve got the obvious but somewhat less frequent examples of abuse of power, arbitrary imprisonment and death by police, drug laws, etc… Then there are the less obvious, “death by a million pin pricks” attacks of regulations, taxes, etc., killing us slowly.
What I’m getting at is that we’re staring two evil enemies right in the face, and wondering which one we should give a little appeasement to in order to throttle the other one? Cost-benefit, risk-reward, which one can we least afford to appease in this lose-lose situation?
Again, fully recognizing the virulent evil of Sharia and Islam, I come down on the side of stopping the growth of our government’s rights-violating practices at all costs. If I were to guess which will be a greater threat to my kids’ lives in 20 years, I would unquestionably pick the arbitrary force of our own government.
Now, you brought up an important point, namely that “secular statism has less staying power than does theocratic statism” and I agree completely. That has me pondering my position, but I still think it is more important, right now, to check the power of our government.
My reason is summed up in the question: What gives Sharia the possibility of establishing a foothold in this, the most moral rights-respecting nation on Earth? It should be impotent, but our government and our culture is allowing it to be a real threat. The dominant philosophical trends in the culture are eating us alive from the inside out, weakening our defenses. We are thus vulnerable to both foreign (Islam) and domestic (our government) enemies.
But how do I then choose which threat must be stopped right now? I think that, because our government and the culture that drives it is, by the rule of law, the entity that is supposed to protect our rights, it is more important to strengthen it from within, to fortify those defenses, than it is to pick off one of the skirmishers from the foreign enemy camp.
We’ve got both strategic and tactical problems here. What is the best long-term strategy, and what are the short-term tactics to use in this particular situation? I think most Objectivists would agree with what I believe is the [long-term] strategy of the ARI, namely that we must change the culture of the West.
My view is that the long-term and short-term thus align. Checking the power of our government now would save lives now. Changing the culture long-term would empower it and thus the government to stand proudly and show Islam for the impotent force it should be in our country.
My concern is that if we don’t check the power of the state now, and start to roll it back, there won’t be anything left for Islam to conquer in the coming decades.
One other thing I just thought of regarding theocratic statism as the greater long-term threat…In essence, we are right to fear a theocracy, but I don't think Islam is the threat in the US that it is in Europe. Instead, Obama's disastrous presidency and what I think will be the merging of the Tea Parties and the religious Right may radically strengthen the Christian theocrats, and a religious war with Islam would push us all over the edge.
Considering this country’s history and some of the signs from the religious Right, I think it is more likely that we would swing toward Sarah Palin’s ideal of a Christian theocracy, both in response to the amoral secularism of the Left, and the threat of Islamic infiltration. The disdain of the “godless hippies” and the bloodlust for a religious war with Islam could be the perfect storm tipping us towards that hell. In that light, I think limiting our government is even more important, giving us more of a foundation to fight the Christians in our midst.