The false logic of the lesser of two evils forces compromise on issues that are not up for negotiation
As US election day approaches Muslims in the US are facing the perennial question before any election – which candidate most deserves the Muslim vote – Obama or Romney?
As is the case with western politics this assessment is made on a relative scale. Thus it is argued that although Obama has ramped up US drone operations in Pakistan killing many civilians he is more supportive of the Palestinians than Romney. Conversely, it is claimed that though Romney has a more aggressive stance against Iran he is more in favour of family values (against freer abortion laws and more gay marriage legislation) than Obama.
These are some of the issues which rightly most concern Muslims. Yet placed on a relative scale of importance these vital issues become subject to negotiations, concession and eventually compromise.
How can opposition to an undeclared war in one Muslim land (Pakistan) be negotiated away in opposing the occupation of another Muslim land (Palestine). It means to support the Palestinian cause means, at the very least, to condone the war on Pakistan. Or to back stricter laws against abortion and gay marriage means to endorse an attack on Iran.
This is the false choice Muslims are being presented in choosing Obama over Romney or Romney over Obama. It is the false logic of the lesser of two evils. It forces compromise on issues that are not up for negotiation for Muslims with firm beliefs and unchanging principles of right and wrong.
Furthermore, the lesser of two evils results in a race to the bottom, with society upholding and believing in fewer and fewer absolutes until a point in time when the lines are so blurred that right and wrong, good and bad are indistinguishable. Romney is against freer abortion law and more gay marriage legislation and this is incorrectly seen as ‘Islamic’. Here, the operative words are ‘freer’ and ‘more’. In actual fact Islam has strict laws on abortion and absolutely forbids gay relations. The lesser of two evils has led to a relativism on abortion and gay relations which is absolutely unacceptable in Islam.
The lesser of two evils is the politics of weakness, defeatism and fatalism. It is the politics of compromise and the essence of democratic politics which is failing the people as can be seen by increasing numbers who are disengaged from mainstream politics. Politicians have no principles precisely because the whole system is based on compromise. There is no sense of justice, right or wrong or rule of law as everything is subject to compromise with a few powerful vested interests deciding laws and new legislation.
The lesser of two evils has no place in the arsenal of the Muslims, who have a mission to lead mankind from darkness to light, because it blurs the lines between darkness and light. As Muslims we need to engage with the wider non-Muslim society with the principles, values and beliefs enshrined in Islam without compromise. This will make clear to the people the Truth (Haq) in an age when there are said to be no absolutes. Indeed, if principles have any value it is to uphold them in times of adversity.