I’ve already spoken on this issue once, noting that this little church has the clear right to make its point by burning the Quran. I’ve even been somewhat supportive of their doing so, on the same basis that I supported Draw Muhammad Day. I think it is important to stand firm and exercise one’s rights in the face of Islamic extremist threats, and to refuse to back down simply because the more savage members of the Religion of Peace are likely to engage in non-peaceful behavior in response.
The U.S. commander in Afghanistan on Monday criticized a Florida church's plan to burn copies of the Quran on September 11, warning the demonstration "could cause significant problems" for American troops overseas.
"It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort in
Afghanistan," Gen. David Petraeus said in a statement issued Monday.”
Why am I uncomfortable with this statement? Because I am concerned with the notion that our military commanders (and, equally, our civilian leaders) would seek to preempt our rights to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion by condemning certain exercises of those rights as harmful to the war effort (or some other significant public policy). Indeed, in this case the statement lends itself to accusations of disloyalty on the part of a group of citizens who have exercised those rights, and borders on accusing them of treason if they do exercise their constitutionally protected freedoms.
I’ve surfed the web these past couple days and seen many writers and commenters – some on the right and many on the left – becoming nearly hysterical as a result of Petraeus’ words. When you boil them all down to their essence, you come up with something on the order of the confrontational words of CNN anchorette Kiran Chetry during an interview with the pastor of this tiny congregation.
I just want to ask you this: does it bother you that the military and the military leaders believe that by doing this, you are very likely putting the risk- the lives of U.S. soldiers at risk in Muslim countries? David Petraeus, the general- this is what he said: 'Their actions will in fact jeopardize the safety of young men and women who are serving in uniform over here, and also undermine the very mission that they're trying to accomplish.' Are you willing to have the blood of soldiers on your hands by this demonstration?
There you have it – exercising one’s constitutional rights in the face of Islamic outrage makes you guilty of the blood of the victims of Islamofascism. And coming from a member of the liberal media (and the liberal blogosphere), it is truly outrageous. After all, since 9/11 we’ve seen a host of news stories and blog posts that undermine the war effort, serve as intelligence sources for the enemy, and provide propaganda for al Qaeda and the Taliban. Any suggestion by government officials that such reporting or commentating should cease in the name of protecting the troops or supporting the war effort would have been greeted with cries of “censorship” and “creeping fascism”, and denials that the speakers and the writers bore any guilt for the lives lost because of the terrorist response to their words. Indeed, the New York Times and Washington Post, among others, ignored private entreaties to refrain from reporting information that was infinitely more harmful to the war effort than a tiny congregation and their pastor burning the Quran will ever be – and those efforts were rewarded with Pulitzer Prizes and book deals, not the opprobrium of “blood on your hands”
Indeed, the very notion that Americans should refrain from speaking because their words might make Muslims mad has become a recurrent theme. We heard the same sort of rhetoric this past spring over Draw Muhammad Day. We’ve heard it again from politicians who support the Ground Zero Mosque as they seek to silence the supermajority of Americans who oppose the location. Now we hear it from those opposed disrespect for the Muslim holy book – “Shut up! You’ll piss off the Muslims and hurt the war effort!”
That sort of reaction disturbs me much more than burning the Quran does – despite my rather light-hearted support for burning the Quran in that earlier post, I do find the decision to do so to be somewhat disturbing – because it makes effectively makes the sharia-stoked sensitivities of Muslims the measuring stick of how far the First Amendment rights of America go. What next ? Official condemnation of anti-Islamist bloggers? Government press releases urging that books not be published or sold because their contents are offensive to Islam? Government censure over the content of church sermons that contradict articles of the Muslim faith? Maybe not – but I can’t help but feel that the words of a general I highly respect and the reaction of the former First Amendment absolutists of the media and what used to be the “dissent is patriotic” Left is but the first step down the path towards de facto imposition of sharia-based limitations on the American freedoms. And if that happens, then the terrorists really have won, no matter what happens on the battlefield in Afghanistan or Iraq.
UPDATE: The Obama White House, where they argue passionately for the right of Muslims to build the Ground Zero Mosque as an undisputed exercise of American rights under the First Amendment and argue opposition to building it is consequently un-American has now turned around and declared that it is un-American to burn a Quran EVEN THOUGH there is an indisputable First Amendment right to do so. Interesting, isn't it, how the Obama Regime believes that anything that is offensive to Muslims (especially those who hate us and want to kill us anyway) is "un-American" and that whatever Muslims do, say, or believe is to be regarded as the height of patriotism. I guess that Barack Obama believes that tolerance for the thoughts and beliefs we disagree with is a one-way street, and not required of Muslims. It therefore seems to be official that "dissent against Islam is unpatriotic".
UPDATE II: For the record, the folks at Dove World Outreach are pretty scummy individuals -- but as has often been the case, it is in defending the rights of scummy individuals that our own rights are protected from encroachment. They've aligned themselves with the Phelps Phamily Phreaks of the Westboro Baptist Cult -- but just as I defend the right of WBC to speak in ways that offend patriotic Americans, I defend the right of DWO to speak in a manner that offends America's enemies.