Sunday, June 03, 2007

The state is a jealous God

So, I was reading Kathleen Parker’s syndicated column (God knows why) in the Chicago Tribune a few days back (online here) about American Muslim’s attitudes, according to a recent poll. Parker takes the results to show that Muslims aren’t assimilating as well as one might hope. I’m not particularly interested in that question here, but something she said jumped out at me.

Parker notes of young Muslims, disapprovingly, that “Sixty percent of the young group consider themselves Muslim first, American second.” This is shocking or offensive to a supposed conservative? I’m surprised it’s only sixty percent. If you told a devout Christian he had to either renounce Jesus or forfeit his American citizenship and move abroad, he’s going to put his God first. That hardly means that Christians aren’t assimilated, or are a pack of potential traitors.

If you believe in a monotheistic religion like Islam, and if you believe loyalty to that religion means loyalty to the Supreme Being, and if you believe your eternal salvation or damnation to be based on following the precepts of that religion, then of course that religion is going to be more important to you than a nation-state, and more fundamental to your identity. Muslims, I'm given to understand, are averse to the whole "idolatry" thing. Conservatives used to understand the value of intermediate institutions.

Parker's dismay at this shouldn't be surprising, I suppose, in light of the way more and more conservatives have been treating the government and its personnel and officials with a sort of religious adoration. Libertarians don't talk about the "cult of the state" for nothing.

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