- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 9, 2010

Liberals love the Koran. This is the message that was sent in advance of Rev. Terry Jones’ planned burning of the Koran to commemorate the nine-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The Florida minister had planned to deliberately desecrate the Muslim holy book to draw attention to the violent barbarism of radical Islam.

The burning of any books, especially religious texts, is simple-minded and offensive. Only moral and intellectual primitives debate ideas by destroying the books of their opponents. Nazis, communists, radical Islamists - the practice has been common and widespread. Sadly, it is not new.

Yet Mr. Jones’ now-canceled Koran-burning barbecue has exposed liberal hypocrisy. President Obama has vehemently denounced it, claiming Mr. Jones’ actions are un-American.

“If he’s listening, I hope he understands that what he’s proposing to do is completely contrary to our values as Americans,” Mr. Obama said. “That this country has been built on the notion of freedom and religious tolerance.”

This anti-Koran-burning sentiment has been echoed by other leading members of the administration. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. condemns the plan as “dangerous” and “idiotic.” Gen. David H. Petraeus warns it will endanger U.S. troops in Afghanistan by needlessly inflaming religious tensions, providing Taliban insurgents with a major propaganda tool for recruitment. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton calls it “disrespectful” and “disgraceful.” She urging the media not to cover the event - in effect, demanding press censorship.

For years, liberals have lectured Americans that defiling precious symbols is a right enshrined in the Constitution. Since the Vietnam War, flag-burning has been pervasive at campus protests and antiwar rallies. Nothing epitomizes our nation’s freedoms and shared national sacrifices more than the Stars and Stripes. Millions have died for it. Hence, if the First Amendment protects that sacrilegious act, certainly it does the burning of the Koran. Shariah law has not been established in America - yet. Muslims are not first-class citizens, entitled to privileged legal status. The Koran does not trump Old Glory.

Mr. Obama is wrong. There was nothing un-American about Mr. Jones’ plans. Burning sacred symbols - whether it is the flag, the Constitution or the Koran - is as American as mom and apple pie. This is the America the post-1960s revolutionary left created: a society without shame or taboos - including the desecration of the symbols of people’s most fundamental religious beliefs.

Christianity has been under assault for decades. Bibles have been burned by atheists on campuses. Taxpayers have been forced to fund “art” in which the crucifix is dipped in urine or the image of the Virgin Mary covered in manure. Plays depict Jesus Christ as a promiscuous homosexual. And when Christians protest, they are demonized by liberal elites as reactionaries and bigots who cannot appreciate authentic “artistic expression.” Secular leftists defend the sanctity of the Koran, but not the Bible - the basis of Western civilization. They call for respecting Islam, but not Christianity. For them, Muhammad is untouchable; Jesus isn’t.

“I hope he listens to those better angels and understands that this is a destructive act that he’s engaging in,” Mr. Obama said of Mr. Jones. Yet that logic never applied to the Ground Zero Mosque.

No act has divided American Muslims from the mainstream more than the initiative to erect a massive Islamic cultural center and mosque near the site where about 3,000 Americans were slaughtered on Sept. 11. The terrorist atrocities were perpetrated by 19 Muslim hijackers in the name of radical Islam. The mosque’s cleric, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, is a Muslim militant. He defends Hamas. He extols the “guiding principles” of Iran’s Islamic fascist regime. He has called for Arab states to wage a long-term strategy to annihilate Israel. He champions Shariah law, seeking to impose its totalitarian theocracy on America. He has blamed “American imperialism” for the Sept. 11 attacks - meaning we had it coming.

Mr. Jones claims that backers of the mosque have agreed to move it in return for his agreement not to burn the Muslim holy book. Had the mosque remained, it would have served as a symbol of victory for radical Islamists everywhere. It would have emboldened them to continue to wage global jihad - especially in Afghanistan and Iraq. Such a propaganda triumph would bolster terrorist recruitment. It potentially endangered the lives of American troops. Yet that didn’t bother Mr. Obama or Gen. Petraeus - mosque critics must be silent; political correctness demands it.

In short, despite the mosque being “destructive” or “dangerous” and certainly “disrespectful” to Americans of all stripes - especially to the memory of the fallen and the families of the Sept. 11 victims - the liberal ruling class expressed full-throated support for Mr. Rauf’s Cordoba House. His “right to religious expression” was all that mattered.

For Mr. Jones, however, it was a different matter. The Christian militant was crucified on the cross of public opinion. This double standard reveals the depths to which multicultural progressives are willing to go to accommodate Islam. Slowly but surely, America is being forced to adapt to Muslim sensitivities. Just like in Europe, our secular relativist elites are powerless to confront Islamic cultural aggression. They are not only hypocrites but cowards.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute, a Washington think tank. He is the host of “The Kuhner Show” on WTNT 570-AM from 5 to 7 p.m.

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