Our Dangerous Attorney General

[This article originally appeared as the editorial in the March 4th issue of HUMAN EVENTS newspaper.]

Eric Holder should’ve never been confirmed as attorney general.  Any man who would, as he did, urge President Bill Clinton to grant clemency to 16 members of the Puerto Rican domestic terrorist outfit FALN (a Spanish acronym for Armed Forces of National Liberation) was not only unfit to be America’s lawyer, but he himself should have been investigated.

Yet Holder is, indeed, our attorney general, and his priorities are exactly where we’d expect them to be: dangerous.

Consider that righteous retribution against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his 9/11 cohorts remains in limbo as Holder’s Justice Department continues to seek out ways to try them in civilian courts.*

Moreover, Holder refuses to defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, a bipartisan bill passed by Congress and signed into law by a Democratic President.

What’s more, under congressional questioning, he declined even to suggest that there are radical elements within Islam that contribute to anti-Americanism and terrorist activity around the world.

And that’s just off the top of our head.

Now comes a story that will have you wondering whether Holder is suffering from a debilitating mental breakdown.

Let’s meet Safoorah Khan.  Khan was a nontenured computer math lab teacher at the Berkeley School District in Illinois up until she resigned her position in November of 2008.  She resigned because the superintendent of the school district denied her request for an unpaid leave of absence from Dec. 1, 2008, to Dec. 19, 2008, so that she could make a hajj, the pilgramage made by Muslims to Mecca.  It turns out that the 19 days of leave Khan requested came during a critical time in the school semester: examinations.  And not only was it a crucial time of the year, but Khan was brought on specifically to assist with test preparation.  At the time her request was made, Khan had been employed by the district for only nine months.

If you’re keeping tabs, a Muslim woman who was hired to help students prepare for state tests and who didn’t even have a year under her belt at a Chicago suburban school district sought her supervisor’s blessing to ditch the classroom during the exact time that the test-taking would occur in the hope that she could jump on a plane to Mecca.

And when the supervisor said no (we know—shocker), Khan filed a religious discrimination charge with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  The EEOC thought the case had enough merit to zip it over to the Justice Department, which has decided to sue the small school district for forcing Khan “to choose between her job and her faith.”

The Justice Department is asking an Illinois federal court to grant Khan “back pay with interest and reinstatement with accompanying benefits, including retroactive seniority” as well as to award damages to her “to fully compensate her for pain and suffering” caused by the resignation.

Holder’s case is unfathomably absurd.

U.S. law requires an employer to reasonably accommodate an employee’s request for time off to fulfill his or her religious obligation.  If, however, that accommodation would create an undue hardship on the employer (like, for instance, failing to provide extra tutoring during exam week for students), then it doesn’t have to be met.  There’s also no reference in the Koran that says, “Fulfill this requisite Muslim journey in December of 2008 or else face the wrath of Allah,” so Khan herself should’ve kept her cool.

The Justice Department defends its lawsuit by claiming that Khan’s appeal was “a profoundly personal request by a person of faith.”  If that’s the new standard now for religious accommodations, watch out.  There’s about to be an avalanche of truant employees.  Heck, perhaps the next time the teachers union organizes a walkout, it can justify it all under the rubric of the Islamic hajj.

Holder knows that this lawsuit doesn’t stand a chance.  But that’s not his goal.  He wants to energize the Left’s demoralized base leading up to the 2012 election.  That’s why he’s flouting a law on the books by not defending the Defense of Marriage Act and why he’s taking this politically correct stance that hopscotching to Mecca at any time should be enshrined in all American business employee handbooks.

*Update: Eric Holder finally admits that trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his fellow animals in civilian courts is probably not a good idea. It only took a year and a half to figure this out.