While Musharraf, and Islamism was defeated in Pakistan (for now, and maybe only for strategic reasons), how complicit is the soggy Western left in its spread? If you can't trust the Archbishop of Canterbury to hold the line, who can you? Well, ask Anne Applebaum, at trusty Slate:
Is this a storm in a teacup, as the archbishop now claims? Was the "feeding frenzy" biased and unfair? Certainly, it is true that, since last Thursday, when Rowan Williams—the archbishop of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the Church of England, symbolic leader of the international Anglican Church—called for "constructive accommodation" with some aspects of sharia law and declared the incorporation of Muslim religious law into the British legal system "unavoidable," practically no insult has been left unsaid....
What one British writer called the "jurisprudential kernel" of his thoughts is as follows: In the modern world, we must avoid the "inflexible or over-restrictive applications of traditional law" and must be wary of our "universalist Enlightenment system," which risks "ghettoizing" a minority. Instead, we must embrace the notion of "plural jurisdiction." This, in other words, was no pleasant fluff about tolerance for foreigners: This was a call for the evisceration of the British legal system as we know it.
Of course, Christopher Hitchens summed up the proper response most robustly, "To Hell With the Archbishop of Canterbury."
His reasoning, if one may call it that, is clear: Other faiths already have their own legal authorities, so why not the Muslims, too? What could be more tolerant and diverse? This same argument has been used already, and will be used again, to demand that laws governing "blasphemy," originally written to protect only Christians from being upset, should now, in a nondiscriminatory way, be amended to cover Muslims as well. The alternative—don't have any blasphemy laws and let religious people's feelings be hurt, just as the feelings of the secular are regularly offended by religion—doesn't occur to the archbishop and people who think like him.
A BBC interview with Williams had him saying that the opening to sharia would "help maintain social cohesion." If that phrase is even intended to mean anything, it can only imply that a concession of this kind would lessen the propensity to violence among Muslims. But such abjectness is not the only definition of social cohesion that we have. By a nice coincidence, a London think tank called the Center for Social Cohesion issued a report just days before the leader of the world's Anglicans and Episcopalians capitulated to Islamic demands. Titled "Crimes of the Community: Honour-Based Violence in the UK," and written by James Brandon and Salam Hafez, it set out a shocking account of the rapid spread of theocratic crime. The main headings were murder and beating of women, genital mutilation, forced marriage, and vigilante methods employed against those who complained. It could well be—since we are becoming every day more familiar with the first three—that the fourth is the one that should concern us most.
How exactly do we reconcile the civil rights movement, the women's liberation movement, the disability rights movment - any movement worthy of the name - with liberating certain groups to violate everything America stands for? So, Joe from five generations of Idaho-ans can't murder the daughter who ticks him off, but if he converts to Islam he can?
Talk about the paving stones on the road to hell.
Update: The New York Times offers a calmer, though not calming, analysis of the situation.