Tuesday, February 25, 2003

I guess it depends on your meaning of "can't"...

You're not a Real Blogger unless you talk about Sullivan, Krugman, InstaPundit and Hitchens, so I suppose I better start. While reading the interview with Christopher Hitchens in this week's Listener, a peculiar comment caught my attention. To provide some context, he was reacting to the news that the Iraqi opposition wanted to implement Sharia law in a post-Saddam Iraq. His initial reaction was "it'll never work". His explanation?

It's been proved that you can't do Sharia law because the propositions that it's based on are flat-out not true, among them that there is a God who intervenes in our lives.

Unfortunately, if you look at countries where they have implemented Sharia, like Iran and (parts of) Nigeria (or indeed, the whole Islamic world during the middle ages), they seem to have had no problem arresting people, trying them, and then hacking their limbs off or stoning them to death. This is because people can hold (and act on) false beliefs as well as true ones.

Of course, he could have been equivocating over the meaning of "can't", and really been saying "you shouldn't do Sharia law because...", and I'd agree with him. But that's not an argument that it will fail, and I don't think that it's going to stop people who believe otherwise from trying.