Does America Have a De Facto State Religion?

The headline above was my paraphrase of a topic blogger Ace of Spades explored right around this time in 2007, after San Francisco State  investigated College Republicans for flag desecration and blasphemy, two things which otherwise never occur on campus -- except that this incident involved Islamic flags:

The alleged blasphemy was directed at Islam, and the desecrated flag contained no stars or stripes. At a small anti-terrorism rally in October 2006, several members of the College Republicans stomped on pieces of paper they had painted to look like flags of the radical Islamic organizations Hezbollah and Hamas, copying the designs from images on the Internet. A few days later, a Muslim student filed a complaint, on the grounds that the Arabic script on the Hezbollah and Hamas flags contained the word "Allah." The university pressed charges, accusing the blasphemers of "incivility" and creating "a hostile environment."

As Ace responded at the time:

Supposedly we don't have a state religion. Such a thing is forbidden by the Constitution. But increasingly, we do have a de facto state religion -- Islam.

Because when state-funded, quasi-governmental institutions protect one religion and punish those who insult it, but allow any other religion to be mocked, reviled, and even blasphemed against, what else would you call that?

How would a true official state religion be handled any differently? We'd see the exact same treatment -- the official religion would be protected by legal and quasi-legal measures, whereas other religions would be treated as inferior and therefore proper subjects for mockery and blasphemy.

Dhimmitude -- catch the fever.

Flashforward to 2011, and Harry Reid and Lindsey Graham certainly have:

“Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says congressional lawmakers all are discussing taking some action in response to the Koran burnings of a Tennessee pastor that led to killings at the U.N. facility in Afghanistan and sparked protests across the Middle East, Politico reports. . . . Sen. Lindsey Graham said Congress might need to explore the need to limit some forms of freedom of speech, in light of Tennessee pastor Terry Jones’ Quran burning, and how such actions result in enabling U.S. enemies.”

On Twitter, Rich Lowry of National Review responded, "what is there for congress to investigate in the koran burning? some reckless idiot burned a koran and has a right to do so..."

And of course, investigating Jones infantilizes those who did the killing, Claire Berlinski writes at Ricochet:

I'm sure you remember the story of Roy Horn, the Las Vegas illusionist mauled on stage by Montecore, an exquisitely beautiful seven-year-old white tiger with whom he thought he had a trusting and affectionate relationship. It was an awful story. Of course many made an obvious observation: Animals do what animals do. Tigers have instincts and a fixed nature. It would have been ridiculous to call the tiger a "savage" or a "barbarian."

To those in the media who are suggesting, apparently in all seriousness, that Terry Jones caused the deaths of seven UN employees in Afghanistan by burning a copy of the Koran, I'll just note that the only way that argument works is by means of a suppressed premise. The premise is that the killers had no moral agency--in other words, that they were, literally, animals.

Me, I'll stick with "savages" and "barbarians."

Or as the Professor writes, "They told me if I voted Republican we’d see an establishment of religion, complete with penalties for heretics and blasphemers. And they were right!"