Dr Rowan Williams told Radio 4's World at One that the UK has to "face up to the fact" that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system. Dr Williams argues that adopting parts of Islamic Sharia law would help maintain social cohesion.
Even for the current Archbishop of Canterbury, this seems a little dumb. Large amounts of unassimilated immigrants is actually a large factor in social disruption: each treats the other with a lot of suspicion and resentment, precisely because "they aren't our kind, they don't follow our ways." Usually, what happens is that their children grow up together as friends in the same neighborhood, under a single system of laws, education, and a shared experience that blends elements of the new cultures with the existing. It takes time, and a commitment to seeing it through.
Letting people opt out of that common life - especially to follow a code that is in many ways inimical to the common life - is about 180° from where you ought to be heading.
He stresses that "nobody in their right mind would want to see in this country the kind of inhumanity that's sometimes been associated with the practice of the law in some Islamic states; the extreme punishments, the attitudes to women as well".
For the Reverend Doctor's sake, I hope that this is true, and he really isn't in his right mind. If this IS his right mind, he's astonishingly dense.
But Dr Williams said an approach to law which simply said "there's one law for everybody and that's all there is to be said, and anything else that commands your loyalty or allegiance is completely irrelevant in the processes of the courts - I think that's a bit of a danger".
The good thing about being this blind is that these nova-sized Flashes of the Obvious don't do any damage. It's rather a hassle for the rest of us, however.
Of course, Dr. Williams can meekly slap his noggin down on the chopping block if he pleases, as is his right; but what gets me is that this will stick a lot of other innocent heads down alongside: "Last month, the Bishop of Rochester, the Right Reverend Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, said some places in the UK were no-go areas for non-Muslims." That's from the very tail end of the article. I have no doubt it's accurate: half of France's cars burn every time something annoys the Presbyterian Community; in places like Germany, Denmark, and even the US, there are incidents of honor killings and other examples of calculated mayhem.
The worst part about this, in some ways, is that it's not even surprising to hear the current head of the Church of England talk like this. England has long been in the forefront of a disturbing trend: every time there's trouble with crime, they pass laws to punish the law abiding: disarming them (even knife control is proposed, now), prosecuting and convicting them for self-defense, and most recently a proposal to shrink the police force. What happened to blood, toil, sweat, and tears? What happened to fighting them on the beaches, and in the streets, and never surrendering?
On one side we've got a demoralized and weaponless citizenry, protected by a denuded police force, topped by moral and civic leaders who willingly welcome and embolden their sworn foes. When the smash comes, which side do you think is likely to win?
(Thanks to the Swillers and It Comes in Pints for their posts.)