Will President Obama stand up for the rights on Quran-burning Christians to practice their religion and express their freedom of speech as they choose, just as he intervened in the local matter of whether it makes sense to build a $100 million mosque at Ground Zero?
Furthermore, will he host a dinner inside the White House to publicly declare his rock-ribbed support for Rev. Terry Jones and his followers to exercise their rights of free speech in hosting their “International Burn-a-Quran Day” event on the anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S.history?
After all, surely Mr. Obama, himself a Constitutional professor, knows that time and again the Supreme Court has protected the rights of Americans to set blaze to just about, well, anything as an act of free expression, provided they have a burning permit and do not destroy private property. So surely Mr. Obama, who views the word of human thought and behavior narrowly through the lens of “rights” and not through the more sensible lens of what’s reasonable or “responsible” should stand athwart common sense yelling “bonfire!”
In fact, let’s do one better. Let’s save Mr. Obama’s speechwriters some keystrokes; they need not even write a new speech. Why not take his identical statement he delivered at the White House Ramadan Iftar event and simply tweak them as follows:
“[Christians] have the same right to practice their religion [free speech] as everyone else in this country.”
“That includes the right to [host “International Burn-a-Quran Day”] in [Florida], in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable.”
But will Mr. Obama deliver these statements, premised on the same nonsensical grounds of rights versus respect?
Of course he won’t.
And why is that?
Perhaps it’s because not only is burning Qurans in poor taste, but also because those most affected by Mr. Jones’s actions—namely, our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines, as requested by General David Petraeus—have strongly urged against torching Qurans as a means of garnering publicity and therefore unnecessarily serving up a readymade piece of propaganda for Islamic terrorists.
“Images of the burning of a Quran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan— and around the world — to inflame public opinion and incite violence,” General Petraeus has warned.
For most sensible people, that alone would settle the matter; if those who stand the most to lose—our “guns in the fight”—have taken the rare step of specifically requesting that we not exercise our rights of free expression (albeit extreme), then, okay, no problem. We would rather spare the death of Marines or soldiers than to stubbornly and absurdly stand rigidly on narrowly prescribed legal grounds.
So why, then, is the same logic not applied by Mr. Obama concerning the appropriateness of erecting a $100 million Islamic center at Ground Zero where radical Islamic terrorists murdered thousands of Americans? What explains Mr. Obama’s seeming inconsistency?
Answer: the progressive fixation with “rights” versus individual “responsibility” twists common sense like a pretzel.
Instead of asking what the prudent and “responsible” course of action is, the progressive impulse first asks “what can I legally get away with?” The results, of course, lead to inanities like erecting edifices to Islam at Ground Zero or, in this case, needlessly handing our enemies camera-ready propaganda during wartime.
The 70 percent of Americans who oppose the construction of the Ground Zero Mosque do so, not on the grounds that builders do not have the “rights” to construct buildings on private property, but rather on the grounds that to do so is in poor taste to those most affected; namely, the 3,000 families whose loved ones were murdered on September 11th.
Mr. Obama and his progressive followers would do well to understand that our Founders presumed individual responsibility and civility would accompany the rights they gave us.
That said, if Mr. Obama insists on taking a consistent stand, I’m sure Rev. Terry Jones and his followers will gladly invite Mr. Obama to join in their Quran bonfire.