We Must Overcome Our Fear of Islam

What do you call a photograph of a small plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of urine?  

If you’re part of the liberal establishment, you might call it “modern art” worthy of a generous taxpayer-funded grant.  

Or how about the burning of an American flag in a protest?  Our courts say that act is protected as freedom of speech.

Now, what do you call a Koran submerged in a toilet?  If you were part of the liberal elite, you’d call it a “hate-crime” and a felony punishable by up to two years in prison.

Perhaps you remember my first example.  “Piss Christ” was the blasphemous photograph that won an art competition and $15,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts.  But you may not yet have heard about the student at Pace University in New York who was arrested last week on charges of criminal mischief and aggravated harassment (both felonies) for twice throwing a Koran into university toilets.  

Pace University — which stands just four blocks from Ground Zero in Manhattan and lost four students and over 40 alumni on September 11, 2001 — initially classified the incidents as vandalism.  But after some prodding by Muslim students and the perpetually outraged Council for American Islamic Relations, university officials capitulated and referred the matter to the New York City Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force, which, naturally, deemed the student’s actions “hate crimes.”

Ridiculous as they are, these stories help highlight a perverse double standard that has emerged in recent years, one that elevates Islam to a protected status, while continuing to treat Christianity as the source of all that ails America.    

The double standard explains why Kansas City International Airport recently added several foot washing basins in restrooms to accommodate Muslim taxi cab drivers who use them to prepare for daily Islamic prayer.  It also makes clear why Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport allows Muslim taxi cab drivers to refuse to carry passengers possessing alcoholic beverages or accompanied by seeing-eye dogs, because in Islam, alcohol is forbidden, and dogs are considered unclean.  

Meanwhile, last Christmas the Seattle-Tacoma Airport removed its Christmas trees because of their religious symbolism.

Even worse is the double standard in some of America’s public schools, where an intense effort to “Islamicize” curricula and textbooks is underway.  In California, groups like the Council on Islamic Education and the Islamic Society of North America have succeeded in integrating the fundamentals of reading and writing with lessons about the life of Muhammad and the finer points of Sharia Law.  

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently decided that parents of Christian students could not sue a school district where seventh-graders pretended to be Muslims for three weeks during a course in world history.  The court — the same one which previously ruled that the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance are “unconstitutional” — insisted that the role-playing game, which included having children recite Muslim prayers and lines from the Koran, did not violate anybody’s constitutional rights.  In fact, the Ninth Circuit (incidentally the most overturned appeals court in the country) declared that the activities weren’t “overt religious exercises” that would raise concerns under the First Amendment prohibition of “establishment of religion.”

While it is easy to see that a religious double standard exists among our elites, identifying its source is rather more difficult.  A misplaced multiculturalism and habitual anti-Christian bigotry are certainly parts of the problem, but its primary source is fear. It’s a fear that stems from the knowledge that behind each public statement of outrage and press release alleging desecration of the Koran, behind each cry for equality and respect, there is an underlying threat of violence.  This fear is certainly rational, because radical Muslims have proven time and time again that perceived affronts to Islam, if not fully atoned for, may be answered with violence.  

Fear prevents the mainstream media — which no doubt remember the fate of journalists killed for publishing cartoons deemed insulting to Islam — from linking blatant acts of Islamic terrorism in the United States to religion.  When 22-year-old Muslim student Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar deliberately rammed his SUV into a crowd at the University of North Carolina in order to, in his words, “punish the government of the U.S.” for invading Iraq and other Muslim nations, most of the media were silent as to the cause.  When in court Taheri-azar insisted his rampage was the “will of Allah,” some in the media still seemed dumbfounded, calling the actions of this unassuming honors student “inexplicable.”

Fear also explains, though scarcely justifies, why Pace University officials reacted so harshly to the Koran-dunking incident. (The offending student could face four years in prison.)  Perhaps University officials recall how Newsweek’s story falsely claiming that American interrogators at Guantanamo Bay had flushed a copy of the Koran down a toilet sparked deadly demonstrations in Afghanistan and violent protests throughout the Middle East.  

Meanwhile, the liberal establishment can continue mocking evangelicals and spouting anti-Christian bigotry without fear of reprisal.  When talk show host Rosie O’Donnell alleged that, “…radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America,” her vitriol was met not with murderous threats or violent demonstrations but with verbal responses refuting the substance of her claim.  

Christians responded similarly this spring when Burlington Township High School in New Jersey held a mock terror attack and chose to portray the bad guys as members of a right-wing fundamentalist group called the “New Crusaders.”  The school said the group did not believe in separation of church and state and was seeking justice because the daughter of one of its members had been expelled for praying before class.  I am not aware of any Christian group that has violently taken over a school anywhere in the world.  But there are frequent attacks by Islamists on teachers and students.  Yet the school’s authorities felt no hesitancy in labeling Christians as potential terrorists.  

The double standard tells us a lot about America’s elites.  They cower before Islam while bashing the faith held by the great majority of Americans. 


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