Amazing piece. Again many thanks for writing it. You do the world a service. Again, I count myself on the right-wing of American politics and I now read every one of your posts.
As I have said for a long time, there is nothing more revolutionary than making common cause with the common man on the other side of the aisle. And also that common cause creates common culture not the other way around.
On the anti-Islamic stuff (including the hints of anti-Islamic stuff in the video you embedded), having lived in a Muslim-majority country (Indonesia) which currently has some turmoil, and having worked in another (Malaysia), as a non-Muslim but with many Muslim friends, there are a few things I would like to say. I don’t speak for Muslims. I am not trying to tell Muslims what Islam is. But I can try to explain my understanding to Western audiences.
I find it interesting that the same people who probably feel like they don’t want to be lumped in with the crazy liberal city folk are often the first to assume that all Muslims are the same. I understand how liberal people get Islam wrong and assume it is just Protestantism with different beliefs. I don’t quite understand how conservative people get it wrong. But let’s remember: Israel has Sharia law courts. Really. Look it up.
Islam is not a religion of peace or of war. Ir is a religion of law, which is completely inseparable from Sharia. Sharia, in turn, is effectively a local, polystate tradition of law and jurisprudence which is has a strong democratic (though not liberal) component. Men decide which Islamic lawmakers to follow and those lawmakers may get together in councils to discuss. Its a complicated system and works well in distributed societies. So society shapes Sharia, and Sharia shapes society.
There are massive disagreements between Muslims on what Sharia law requires and what the relationship between Sharia and the state should be. In Indonesia, for example, traditional alcoholic foods (tape putih and tape hitam, which are made from fermented tapioca root and fermented black rice respectively) are usually considered halal, and there is a deep distrust of the state to the point where only one province (Aceh) has wanted Sharia to be enforced by the state. Malaysia has a different mixture. Iran something different still. Everywhere, on the ground, Sharia is a product of local culture and history. This is why one cannot paint all Muslims with such a broad brush. It would be like saying that common law is evil because Arkansas and Texas have certain abuses regarding the death penalty.
The Muslim-majority countries where I have lived or worked (Indonesia, Malaysia) have afforded greater rights of Christians and other religious minorities to live a religious way of life than the Western countries I have lived in primarily because the states have been less absolutist. This is why I would love to see a Muslim appointed to the Supreme Court in the US. What better way to protect religious rights?
Again, anyone reading this who is Muslim, please feel free to correct me anywhere I am wrong. For everyone else, I hope this is food for thought and ends up leading to useful dialogs. I am not infallible on this and this is an outsider’s understanding.