- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It’s no longer news that President Obama’s vaunted outreach to Islam has been a bust. Numerous polls over the past three years have shown that after a brief flurry of enthusiasm, regard for the United States among the world’s Muslims has declined precipitously. In some key countries, dislike for America is even lower than it was at the end of the administration of George W. Bush, whom liberal critics deemed culturally illiterate.

The State Department recently illustrated why reaching out has been such a failure. In mid-December, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton participated in a three-day international conference called the Istanbul Process regarding the implementation of United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Resolution 16/18, adopted in March. The resolution ostensibly seeks to combat religious intolerance and was a U.S.-sponsored alternative to language pushed by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) that would have imposed global blasphemy laws against critics of Islam. Resolution 16/18 calls on states to “foster religious freedom and pluralism” and - in typical Obama administration apologetic style - stop religious profiling, which purportedly is a widespread American vice.

In her keynote speech at the conference, Mrs. Clinton noted a study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life that found “70 percent of the world’s population lives in countries with a high number of restrictions on religious freedom.” What she left out was that the 2009 Pew report “Global Restrictions on Religion” found that most states that had “high” or “very high” religious restrictions were countries with Muslim majorities. The research also revealed, “On average, restrictions are highest in the Middle East-North Africa, where the median score for the 20 countries (4.9) is considerably higher than for the 35 countries in the Americas (1.0), the region with the lowest median score.” In other words, whatever problems of religious intolerance UNHRC Resolution 16/18 seeks to address, they are endemic among Muslims, not in the pluralistic West.

Mrs. Clinton also bemoaned the prevalence of religious- and culturally based discrimination against women, which is characteristic of many Muslim countries. Likewise, homosexual conduct is a capital offense in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran and Afghanistan and is subject to harsh punishment in most of the Middle East, which runs counter to Mr. Obama’s Dec. 6 order for the U.S. government to fight for homosexual “rights” abroad.

Despite all this, White House pandering to Islam is nonstop. Last week, the Defense Department approved a policy allowing those in JROTC to wear Islamic headscarves (hijabs) during training and formations. This policy is harmful for unit cohesion because introducing special privileges disrupts the spirit of shared sacrifice and responsibility that should be inculcated in cadets. It also raises important First Amendment establishment clause issues because government is acting to benefit a single group solely on the basis of religion. It’s not clear which will budge when Mr. Obama’s commitments to liberalism and groveling to Islam are at odds.