- - Monday, February 27, 2012

As we witness surging Muslim violence against non-Muslims in Afghanistan, Egypt and even here, the response seems increasingly that the victims must apologize to the perpetrators. In particular, the United States government - from President Obama on down - has been assiduously seeking forgiveness for giving offense to Islamic sensibilities after accidentally burning Korans. This was felt necessary even in a case in which the books had been defaced by captured Afghan jihadis as a means of encouraging their comrades to further acts of violence against us.

It seems that Christians are also widely considered to be at fault for having churches, Bibles and religious practices that offend the ascendant Islamists in Egypt, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. Certainly, no apologies are forthcoming when the Christians are murdered or forced to flee for their lives, their churches and sacred texts put to the torch.

In America last week, a Pennsylvania judge felt the need to dress down a man assaulted for parading in a Halloween costume he called “Zombie Muhammad.” Far from punishing the perpetrator, a Muslim immigrant, Judge Mark Martin sympathized with him for the offense caused, noting - seemingly without objection - that it was a capital crime to engage in such free expression in some countries.

Worse yet, the judge suggested that the victim in this case had exceeded the “boundaries” of his “First Amendment rights.” Such a view seems to track with the Obama administration’s collaboration with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in fashioning international accords that would prohibit “incitement” against Islam.

This is a short step from - and en route to - the OIC’s larger goal of banning and criminalizing any expression that offends Muslims or their faith. As such, it poses a mortal peril to the Constitution’s First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech.

What is going on in country after country, in international forums such as the United Nations Human Rights Council and even in some American courts, is a calculated effort, backed by terrifying violence or its threat, to make us “feel subdued,” as the Koran puts it. The idea is to use Western sensibilities and civil liberties - notably, respect for the free practice of religion - to deny the rest of us our fundamental freedoms. These include the freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and, yes, freedom of religion.

The trouble is that when we accommodate such demands, it is seen by Islamist enemies of liberty as evidence of our inevitable submission. According to the doctrine of Shariah, they must, under such circumstances, make a redoubled effort to achieve their ultimate triumph, including through the use of violence.

So, far from alleviating the threat posed by Shariah’s adherents when we accommodate, apologize and appease, we actually are exacerbating it, at home as well as abroad.

In short, we find ourselves in what is, properly understood, the civil rights struggle of our time. Those who stand up for freedom against Shariah are quite literally protecting the rights of women, children, people of faith and other minorities sure to be abused by its misogynistic, intolerant and domineering doctrine. That means protecting, as well, Muslim-Americans who have come to this country to escape the long arm of Shariah law. In due course, though, Shariah’s repressive strictures would not simply be a threat to these communities. They would be a toxic blight upon all of us.

Ironically, today, it is defenders of our freedoms who are being denounced as “racists,” “bigots” and “Islamophobes.” Such terms are, in truth, being used in much the same way and for precisely the same purpose as the Ku Klux Klan’s members reviled an earlier generation of civil rights activists for loving blacks: to defame, threaten and isolate their opponents. We cannot, and certainly must not, tolerate the Islamists’ intolerance.

Muslims are, of course, free to practice their faith in America like anyone else - provided they do so in a tolerant, peaceable and law-abiding way. What they are not entitled to do, in the name of religious practice, is subvert our Constitution, deny us our rights or engage in sedition without facing concerted opposition - if not prosecution.

Today, every bit as much as in the civil rights struggles of the past, there are those who are prepared to go along with what they know is wrong in order to get along. Now, as then, the few who recognize that any such accommodation makes more certain the ultimate triumph of evil, may be vilified and even harmed. But now, as then, more and more Americans are emerging who see the danger posed by our time’s totalitarian threat - Shariah - and will do their part to secure freedom against it, both here and, as necessary for that purpose, elsewhere.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy (SecureFreedom.org), a columnist for The Washington Times and host of Secure Freedom Radio, heard in Washington weeknights at 9 p.m. on 1260 AM.