Friday, February 08, 2008

Who will rid us of this troublesome priest?

Where is Santayana when you need him? What, I wonder, would he have had to say about Archbishop Williams’s declaration earlier today that the adoption of Islamic Sharia law in Britain is “unavoidable.” In a widely reported lecture on BBC radio 4 the Archbishop called for a “constructive accommodation with some aspects of Muslim law” and said that Britons must “face up to the fact” that some of its citizens do not “relate” to the British legal system. “Constructive accommodation”: let’s see, I guess that is British English for “spineless capitulation”?

And what is all this about Muslim Brits not “relating” to the law? The rule of law is is not a lifestyle choice: it is not something you can opt out of if you happen to have alternative inclinations. “Gee, in my religion, we stone adulteresses to death, so would you mind stepping aside and handing me that pile of rocks?”

The proper answer to such gambits was formulated in the 19th century by General Charles Napier when dealing with sutte, the Indian custom of burning a widow on her husband’s funeral pyre: “You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”

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