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photos by Lara Shipley

“Islam Day”?

May 7th, 2009 · 9 Comments

AP reports:

Hawaii’s state Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill Wednesday to celebrate “Islam Day” _ over the objections of a few lawmakers who said they didn’t want to honor a religion connected to Sept. 11, 2001.

The Senate’s two Republicans argued that a minority of Islamic extremists have killed many innocents in terrorist attacks.

This is a profoundly stupid reason to oppose this proposal—for one because it essentially endorses the conceit of murderous lunatics that they somehow represent Islam as a whole, or at least “authentic” Islam. The much better rationale for opposing it—which apparently motivated only one Democrat in the Senate to vote against it—is that it’s not supposed to be the job of state governments to declare which religions are deserving of special celebration. The AP article unfortionately characterizes this view as “church-state separation fears,” which makes it sound like people are lying awake at night worrying about shariah being imposed on Hawaii. I feel pretty comfortable that this is not a proximate threat. But I’d be fairly peeved as a Hawaiian to be told that my representatives had taken it upon themselves to prounce—in the name of the state, and so on behalf of myself and my neighbors—that this or that faith get our collective approval, while others are passed over in silence. There’s no associated expenditures or formal, organized celebration, so the bill would appear to be wholly symbolic, but it’s terrible symbolism.

Tags: Law · Religion · Stupid Shit



9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 stevelaudig // May 7, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    This is a profoundly stupid reason.

    The Hawaii Senate is a profoundly stupid place when in session.

  • 2 DBB // May 7, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Might as well cancel Christmas, using this logic. As an atheist, I wouldn’t be all that opposed.

  • 3 Richard // May 8, 2009 at 3:05 am

    Julian – I’m sympathetic to your individualism, but just to play devil’s advocate: what if most people want their representatives to (aspire to) express the “collective approval” of their “community”? Would you really want to ban collective speech, and insist that people only have the right to speak for themselves (or those who have explicitly consented/agreed), thus effectively pressuring people to conceive of themselves atomistically (or at least lacking any political community) whether they want to or not? This strikes me as a trickier question than you seem to credit.

    (Even those who disagree with their representatives in this particular case might be happy overall to have representatives express sentiments on behalf of “the whole community”, so long as they share the common sentiments in enough cases, and the warm fuzzies obtained in those cases outweigh the irritation felt in cases of disagreement. I imagine it is very rare for people to be displeased by “collective speech” as such. Most folks aren’t such staunch individualists, after all!)

  • 4 Julian Sanchez // May 8, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Lots of constitutional provisions exist to tell majorities who want their representatives to do something “tough luck.” In the case of “collective speech,” whatever reservations I might normally have about this are, frankly, even weaker than usual, since there’s no reason that every citizen who endorses the particular message can’t join the Islam Appreciation Society or any other civic association that wants to make this sort of pronouncement. True, this divorces one narrow form of collective expression from one particular kind of shared identity, which to my mind pressures people to conceive of themselves atomistically in roughly the same way that the existence of a smoothie shop pressures people to be teetotalers. (Or, less frivolously, to the same extent that Church/State separation generally pressures people to be atheists.)

    To be sure, governments make all sots of symbolic proclamations, and even folks who dislike the King don’t get too riled up about National Elvis Day. But for better or worse, our system treats a preference for communion wafers differently than a preference for Nilla Wafers. There are plenty of good principled objections to raise against this differential treatment, but I think it works out pretty well as a rough rule for a pluralistic society.

  • 5 Patrick // May 8, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    We need Jedi appreciation day. Then something with pastafarism.

  • 6 willibrord // May 9, 2009 at 12:09 am

    How about American appreciation day or Constitution appreciation day?

  • 7 bbtop // May 10, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    How about we appreciate diversity until our national, spiritual, and gender identity is so confused and mushy we don’t know what the $#%! is going on.

  • 8 Julian Sanchez // May 10, 2009 at 11:21 pm

    We do, in fact, have a Constitution Day — September 17.

  • 9 iskender // Jul 12, 2009 at 10:01 pm


    (which is the improvment of the other islam-documents.com, once based in Tunisia).

    There is thousands of texts (around 20 000) about the origins of islam, with a critical, humanist, and scientific view (and even ironical). It is now the bigger “sourcebook” on that subject, with often unpublished documents: Muhammad biographies (SIRA), the main books of traditions (HADITH) , muslim chronicles (TABARI…), companions biographies (TABAQAT), quranic verses, quranic commentaries (TAFSIR).7

    A new version is now available, improved and corrected: around 3700 pages. We are working for a new version published every year.

    All is in french. so sorry. but you need to read it to understand muslim thinking and acts.