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Jeffrey T. Kuhner Archive
Friday, April 8, 2011

Burning of a Koran mattered more than America’s blood and treasure

Should the burning of Islam’s holy book, the Koran, be banned? This is the question many in Washington are asking, following last weekend’s deadly rampage in Afghanistan. On March 20, Pastor Terry Jones, who heads the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., presided over a Koran-burning. The actions of this crazy church leader set off cascading demonstrations across Afghanistan. Afghan President Hamid Karzai publicly denounced it, fanning the flames of religious hatred.


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Muslim clerics called for mass anti-American demonstrations. Last Friday, in northern Afghanistan’s largest city, Mazar-e-Sharif, thousands of protesters poured out of the large Blue Mosque and marched toward the United Nations mission a mile away. The angry, fanatical mob descended upon the compound and slaughtered seven United Nations workers — including defenseless women. The protesters chanted “death to America” and burned the U.S. flag. Demonstrations have continued to spread throughout the country.

Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of 150,000 U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan, called Mr. Jones' actions “hateful, extremely disrespectful and enormously intolerant.” Top congressional Democrats, such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, have condemned the Koran-burning. Even some senior Republicans are infuriated. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina suggests that limits on free speech may be necessary to protect American troops on the ground. He recently said that he would like to hold Mr. Jones “accountable” for defaming and destroying Islam’s holy book.

Smoke billows from the UN headquarters after protesters attacked the compound in Mazar-i-Sharif on April 1. AFP/Stringer
Mr. Graham is wrong. In fact, one expects this kind of trendy politically correct nonsense from Democrats and the liberal media, but not a senior Republican from a conservative Christian state. This is not the first time Mr. Graham has demonstrated his progressive leanings. He has championed cap-and-trade legislation, amnesty for illegal immigrants and massive public spending. Yet, even by his establishment standards, this is beyond the pale: Who appointed him the arbiter of what is acceptable freedom of expression?

Moreover, Gen. Petraeus does not — and should not — determine the limits of the First Amendment. Mr. Jones (or any American) has the legal and moral right to burn any book — the Koran, the Bible, the Talmud — no matter how offensive. The point of freedom of expression is not to protect what is safe and socially acceptable; rather, it is precisely to safeguard provocative, even insulting actions or words. This is the true test of freedom: whether we are willing to allow those with whom we profoundly disagree to have free expression without fear of government coercion.

The paradox of liberal multiculturalism is that it seeks to undermine basic liberties in exchange for not offending the sensitivities of some officially designated protected identity-group – homosexuals, feminists, atheists, minorities and Muslims. Our freedom is being gradually eroded.

The cultural double standard and hypocrisy is appalling. Christianity is routinely denigrated in America — and across the Middle East. When a crucifix is dipped in a jar of urine, it is art. When cartoons mock the Prophet Muhammad, it is blasphemous and dangerous. In other words, because Christians are genuinely peaceful and will not engage in jihad, their faith can be systematically mocked. Radical Islamists, however, are able to determine the boundaries of legitimate expression. Our leaders are now bowing to the twisted whims of violent Muslim fanatics. Islamism trumps the Constitution.

Moreover, Muslim-majority societies are deeply hostile toward non-Muslims — especially, Christians and Jews. Bibles are banned in Saudi Arabia; when confiscated, many of them are burned or tossed into the garbage. Construction of churches and synagogues is prohibited. In Egypt, churches have been razed to the ground and Coptic Christians massacred. In Iraq, since the fall of Saddam Hussein, half of the Christian population has been exterminated or expelled; the other half lives in mortal fear. Iran executes Muslim converts to Christianity.

Shariah law — the legal basis of most Islamic states — is a form of religious apartheid, systematically classifying Christians and Jews as third-class citizens. Christophobia and anti-Semitism are rampant in the Muslim world. America’s political class, however, refuses to speak out.

Washington’s reaction to the Koran-burning is perverse. The rampage at the U.N. mission is not the fault of some blowhard, kooky pastor. Instead, responsibility lies solely with the savage attackers.

The bloodbath at Mazar-e-Sharif is a watershed. Afghanistan is America’s longest war. We have been fighting there for more than 10 years — with no end in sight. Following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the United States had no choice but to topple the Taliban and smash al Qaeda. The perpetrators — and enablers — of that horrendous war crime needed to be punished.

Yet, that noble mission was transformed into Wilsonian nation-building. The result is that Afghanistan has become another Vietnam — a protracted quagmire squandering precious American lives and treasure. It is time to cut our losses.

The tragic reality is that our efforts to transform this primitive, backward land into a South Asian Switzerland have failed. After all of our sacrifices, one Koran-burning event is able to trigger mass protests against America. The Afghans are clearly not ready for democracy or pluralism. Nor are they grateful for everything the United States has done. Islamic tribalism is all they know — and all they will probably ever know.

The Afghan adventure has cost us enough. It should not cost us our precious freedoms as well. Otherwise, the Islamists will have succeeded in the battle that really matters: defeating us from within.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a radio talk show personality and a columnist at The Washington Times and


So in progressive world, the more radical & aggressive the minority group is, the more protected they are, eventually from any & all criticism, critique, analysis, let alone mocking words & satire. And over time, the minority group comes to believe that it’s their absolute right to be protected. Why not other minority groups? And, God forbid, that collection of minority groups cobbles together a bare majority some election during an economic downturn. Wait a minute! They did that in 2008! Their leader is in power right now, working the entire apparatus of government for the benefit of just those groups. So now, the entire federal budget will be held up for the funding of abortions by Planned Parenthood. So now, California is going to criminalize speech that criticizes the gay lifestyle, so that teachers & public schools will be forced to teach about a neat alternative lifestyle, the hell with those Christians & Jews & their stupid morality. And illegal Hispanics will get in-state tuition breaks. But the Dems also know that their gains are transient, and subject to complete reversal in the next election – because they know the majority thinks their core beliefs are insane. And the thought of that makes them angry, because their only overriding principle is their will to power at all costs. So they have to be asking themselves now, why bother with this charade of Democracy anymore? Riots nearly worked in Wisconsin. We’ve got the power, don’t let go!! That would be stupid! Dems, you know you want to declare martial law & suspend the Constitution -- you just need some pretext to do it. So the profound, simmering question for the next year & half is, what’s it going to be Dems?

1689      10:13 a.m. / Sunday, April 10, 2011

One of the most articulate descriptions of reality in the Middle East. Well done!

Mike Selman      1:39 a.m. / Saturday, April 9, 2011

I take issue with the comment that Al Qaida needs to be punished. All sorts of atrocities take place every single day all around the world. In most cases the perpetrators of these atrocities go free and are never bought to justice. Whilst 9/11 was a significant event in American history it is no different to many of the acts of terrorism that have taken place since time immemorial. Many of the perpetrators have never or never, in this world, will ever be brought to justice and receive their punishment. America has acted out of revenge never a good response. The more courageous step would have been to acknowledge the injustice and criminal nature of Al Qaida but to have moved on with rebuilding. Since 9/11 America and the so called free world have lost more in lives, time and money than were killed in the towers. I know the families loss, have experienced something similar, but all that has happened since is that more families are feeling the pain of loss. It is time to quit.

Peter Thompson      12:20 a.m. / Saturday, April 9, 2011

As for burning of the Koran, there is nothing wrong. It is a book just as our Bible. Nothing has been taken away from anyone. How many flags or pictures of presidents of USA has been burned. Did we cry jihad or death to the Muslims? There are laws and rules in it that is purely written by man, not from our Creator or His Spirit.

Lotus      3:46 p.m. / Friday, April 8, 2011

Burn on - It' free speech, & no islamic organization should curb free expression unless we curb theirs. That's all it is - stop the political correctness, as Islam is a theocracy - like it or not - it's fact that the liberals ought to research more instead of being half wit intellectuals. Likewise, expression that hurts no one physically or emotionally or financially should be tolerated. If we have to tolerate screaming Muslims around the world who blow up their kids, murder their wives and are plotting against us on our own soil, how can one equate that with a symbolic book burning? And no, it will not put our troops in danger. PROVE IT - then I'll listen. I may not agree with the preacher's tactic but that is America. If you don't like it too's not illegal. End of story.

WJ      3:23 p.m. / Friday, April 8, 2011

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