Reverse Colonization: Islam, Honor Cultures and the Confrontation between Divine and Quasi-Secular Natural Law
Rule of Law, clash of civilizations, free expression, divine natural law, secular natural law, anti-terrorism legislation, religion and society, cultural identity, Islam and Western societies, criminalization of speech, identity politics, colonization, colonial
Repression of discourse through direct and indirect governmental power and through measures that appear entirely reasonable when viewed in isolation but that weave a tapestry of intimidation and suppression when looked at as a whole over time are central themes of the article. Along with these themes is consideration of the right of Western cultures to preserve and protect the essential principles of their societies in the face of what I am calling "reverse colonialism." The concern is that there are fundamental differences between Western societies grounded on post-Enlightenment values comprising a secular natural law and pre-Enlightenment Islamic systems that operate according to an explicit belief in divine natural law. There are several distinct but related threads that appear throughout the essay. These include the threat of al-Qaeda and similar organizations to the West, particularly in regard to their proclaimed desire to attack with Europe and the United States. Part of the analysis asks how Western nations should deal in their legal systems with the perceived internal threats offered by Islamists. The concern voiced here is that fear of violence and terrorism will cause governments in Europe and America to create repressive legal regimes that are more suitable for "1984-style" dictatorships than Western democracies. The analysis also considers the extent to which protests by identity groups living in Western nations who claim their beliefs or culture are being insulted should be tolerated when they are grounded on implicit or explicit threats of violence. More specifically, this question also relates to how Western governments should respond to the hypersensitivity to perceived insult of Muslims living in Western nations. The increasingly frequent "solution" has been to offer such groups the "levers" of sensitivity protection and anti-insult laws. The premise asserted in this essay is that with rare exception such laws are undesirable in that they discourage freedom of expression and undermine the ideal of democratic discourse, including the right to reveal oneself as a fool. This assumes that it is better to surface bigotry and inanity rather than repress it and cause it to fester.
David R. Barnhizer, Reverse Colonization: Islam, Honor Cultures and the Confrontation between Divine and Quasi-Secular Natural Law, SSRN Cleveland-Marshall Legal Studies Paper No. 07-142 (April 16, 2007)