Roger’s Rules

Why It’s OK for the U.S. Govt. to Burn Bibles But Condemn Burning the Koran

F. Scott Fitzgerald said that the ability to hold two contradictory ideas in the mind simultaneously was a mark of genius.

If that were true, the U.S. government must be full of geniuses. Consider: it was just a week or two ago that everyone from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., sort of, SC) to Gen. David Petraeus and Sec. of State Hillary Clinton loudly condemned the Rev. Terry Jones for presiding over his Koran barbecue. Burning a holy book, you see, was hateful, intolerant, and extremely disrespectful.

That’s how General Petraeus put it: “hateful, intolerant, extremely disrespectful.”

For his part, Sen. Lindsey wondered aloud on Face the Nation about how the government could “push back” against individuals who did such things. “Free speech is a great idea,” he said, “but we’re in a war.” Ann Barnhardt did for Lindsey Graham what Apollo did for Marsyas, and I hope that who ever runs against him in 2014 plays his statement and Ms. Barnhardt’s video again and again and again.

But back to the question of genius.  The U.S. government under Barack Obama is deeply committed to battling any belittlement, criticism, or questioning of Islam. (“I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States,” he said, “to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.”)

At the same time, however, it is OK, in the Obama regime [SEE BELOW FOR AN UPDATE],  for the U.S. government to burn Bibles. Yes, that’s right. Bibles were sent to U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. But the U.S. government determined that  the presence of Bibles in this “devoutly Muslim country” might inflame the natives.  So they burned them. Why did they burn them? Because it is military policy to burn its trash.

So, the Bibles, according to U.S. policy, are trash, garbage, and it’s OK to burn them.

When it comes to the Koran, however, an official Department of Defense memo specifies a rather different procedure. Item 4, “Handling”:

  1. Clean gloves will be put on in full view of the detainees prior to handling.
  2. Two hands will be used at all times when handling the Koran in manner signaling respect and reverence. Care should be used so that the right hand is the primary one used to manipulate any part of the Koran due to the cultural association with the left hand. Handle the Koran as if it were a fragile piece of delicate art.

Isn’t that nice? Handle it “as if it were a fragile piece of delicate art.” But burn the Bible because it is just part of your trash.

A new video at the website expatiates on this contradiction:

1. “You don’t burn the Koran, because if you do, Muslims might go on a killing spree.”

2 “You do burn the Bible, because if you don’t, Muslims might go on a killing spree.”

Actually, the contradiction is only apparent. The reason it’s OK to burn Bibles while the Koran must be handled as if it were a “fragile piece of delicate art” is that Muslims and their sacred scriptures have priority over Jews and Christians and their scriptures.  That’s what it says in the Koran, and that’s how the U.S. government is proceeding.

Does this violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment, the prohibition against the state “establishing” or favoring one religion over another?  Try putting a Crèche on your village green come Christmas and just watch the ACLU come down on you. But mistreat the Koran and U.S. senators, Army generals, and the secretary of State condemn you and announce that  they’re looking for ways to limit your free speech and hold you accountable.

So you see: there is no contradiction, after all. According to the U.S. government, all religions are equal, but one is more equal than others.  This video explains it all:

Are you angry yet?

UPDATE:  I hate to spoil the fun of the many commentators who have gleefully pointed out that the actual confiscation of the Bibles (and hence, presumably,  the burning) took place in 2008, on the watch of Geroge W. Bush, not Barack Obama.  The story broke in May 2009, and I failed to register the fact that it referred to an earlier event.  I apologize for that error;  butI also  note that it changes the point of the column not one whit.  Although I greatly admired George W. Bush personally, I always thought — and several times wrote — that his Islamophila (“Islam means peace,” remember that?) was disastrously misplaced.  Obama has merely upped the ante, preposterously making a fight against criticizing or “stereotyping” Islam a prominent part of his regime.  When it comes to his coddling treatment of Islam, Obama is like Bush, only worse, much worse, as I’ve often had occasion to remark in this space and elsewhere.  The point remains, in the words of that witty and frightening video I link to:

1. “You don’t burn the Koran, because if you do, Muslims might go on a killing spree.”

2 “You do burn the Bible, because if you don’t, Muslims might go on a killing spree.”

The take away? Andy McCarthy put it with his customary forthrightness: “Islamism is not a movement to be engaged, it is an enemy to be defeated.” Exactly.