Kiss This, Muslims!

Our generals should not be kissing Korans.

The BBC reports:

US President George W Bush has made a personal apology over the shooting of a Koran by an American soldier, Iraq's government has said in a statement.

Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's office said Mr Bush had promised to send the accused American sniper to trial.  The soldier was sent home by the US military after the Muslim holy book was found riddled with bullet holes at a shooting range by Iraqi police.

As far as we can discern from news reports, the soldier in question was a sergeant in a sniper division.  As soldiers have always done throughout millennia, they took an object representative of their enemies; wrote insulting things on it; and attacked it symbolically.  The bullet-riddled and graffitoed tome was then discarded on the firing range as trash.

Alas, shortly thereafter an Iraqi army unit came to use the firing range and discovered the sacrilege.  Commence instant explosion.

One of the many, many problems with the situation in Iraq is that the enemy is not necessarily obvious and there are many similarities between the sides.  Perhaps the most essential similarity is that both our allies and our enemies consider themselves to be Muslims, and revere the Koran.

So, while al Qaeda cites Mohammed's writings as their authority to commit acts of barbaric terrorism against their opponents, Muslim as well as Christian, our nominal allies in the Iraqi government and elsewhere use that same book to declare bin Laden as a reprobate and disavow suicide violence.

Naturally, we hope the latter view prevails.  But for this to work, it's wise for the American military to attempt to show reasonable respect for the religion of Islam, even though most Americans have profound disagreements with it and are finding more reasons to disagree all the time.

By joining the military, you knowingly sign away a good many of your normal Constitutional rights for the duration of your service.  Service members can be punished, imprisoned, and even executed for disobeying the lawful orders of their commander; men in leadership roles in particular are strictly controlled as to what they are allowed to say and what image they ought to present.  This has always been important to military success; in today's day of realtime global news coverage, it's absolutely essential.

So the initial reaction of the U.S. military in Iraq was entirely appropriate: instantly remove the soldier from his command, put a great big black mark in his file, and throw him on the next plane out. This sort of trouble we just don't need.

But there is a necessary limit to how sorry we ought to be.  Of course we wish it hadn't happened.  Of course the soldier should be reprimanded.  However, it would appear that the Muslim world is demanding abject abasement, and the U.S. is complying.  This is not merely fundamentally wrong, but deeply unwise.

First, according to CNN,

Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond, commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad, appeared at an apology ceremony flanked by leaders from Radhwaniya. "I come before you here seeking your forgiveness," Hammond said to tribal leaders and others gathered. "In the most humble manner, I look in your eyes today, and I say please forgive me and my soldiers."  Another military official kissed a Quran and presented it as "a humble gift" to the tribal leaders. [emphasis added]

It's right and proper that the commander apologize.  It's certainly not a good idea for us to appear ostentatiously arrogant.  However, a General of the United States Army ought not to be appearing "in the most humble manner."  And for military officers to be kissing the Koran is utterly uncalled-for.

In fact, it's a sign of what's becoming known as "dhimmitude."  Islamic law and tradition calls for the whole world to be Muslim and looks forward eagerly to that happy day.  It recognizes that that isn't immediately practical, though.

Until the time arrives when Muslims reign supreme, their tradition prescribes various interim measures.  One of these is the doctrine of "dhimmi".  Under its strictures, people who are not Muslims can be allowed to live in peace, and even to practice their religion - as long as they pay an extra tax to the mosque, don't seek out converts, practice their religion only in anonymous, private spaces that will not be seen by Muslims, and publicly show full respect to Islam and its sacred works.  Such as, for example, kissing the Koran.

This philosophy is anathema to American culture, traditions, freedoms, and beliefs.  You do not have to be a Christian in order to be an American.  It's wise if you show respect to American Christianity; but if you don't, nobody sets out to murder you.

The last few decades have seen such disgraceful works of "art" as "Piss Christ", famously showing a crucifix suspended in a container of urine.  Christians protested that our tax dollars ought not go to fund such sacrilege; but nobody argued against the "artist's" right to make such a work if he saw fit, much less that there should be any legal penalties against him.

Dare we imagine what would happen if anybody did the equivalent to an image of Mohammed?  It's interesting to note that liberal icons, so eagerly vicious against all artifacts of Christianity, are strangely reluctant to vent the same bile against Mohammedanism.

And then, as the BBC reported, our President personally made a phone call to apologize and promise to have the solider tried in court.  Now, this may be legal, as the Koran-desecration was probably disobedience of orders in some way.  But by making these sort of contrite apologies, prosecutions, and (literally) kissy-lips, we as a nation are visually placing ourselves under the authority of the Koran.  We are not showing it the respect of equals; we are showing the deference shown to a superior.

Osama bin Laden has long argued that the Western world is a rotten tomato, ripe for the squeezing.  President Bush has demonstrated that Osama has a point.  If we don't even have enough confidence in our own culture and religion(s) to know where to draw the line between a respectful "Sorry" and eating dirt while mumbling "Uncle!", our future looks pretty grim.  Nobody can defeat the United States in battle; but we sure can defeat ourselves.

The unfortunate soldier did the wrong thing at the wrong time in the wrong place, but he had the right idea: Being American means having freedom of speech.  When our own president isn't willing to stand up for that, what good are we?

Read other articles by Hobbes or other articles on Foreign Affairs.
Reader Comments
Tom Trancredo understood this. Does McCain?
May 21, 2008 10:40 AM
Grandpa entrusted me with this great trust, but I don't know how to liberate this land from the filth of the criminal, plundering Jews, who killed my grandpa and everybody.
May 21, 2008 10:48 AM
Add Your Comment...
4000 characters remaining
Loading question...