As President Obama forces his health care mandate on the faithful at home, I'm struck by how he bends over backward to respect even the most radical Islamist believers abroad. This contrast raises a question: Would President Obama even dream of inflicting Obamacare on Al Qaeda?
In the U.S., Obama insists religious institutions bow to government pressure. He demands they pay for abortions, sterilization and drugs that prevent or terminate pregnancies. And when those people object on moral grounds, the Democrats mock them as wanting to ban birth control pills and condoms, creating a fake issue at a time when they can't run on their real record.
It’s as if he wants to order Catholics to compromise. Forget that he defines "compromise" as the other side doing what he wants. He has no power to compel citizens to pare down their rights. Quite the opposite. Our Founding Fathers enshrined freedom of religion in the First Amendment. It's a right as absolute as free speech and it cannot be stripped away by the stroke of a king’s autopen, much less by the party-line votes that burdened us with Obamacare.
As Obama fights on in the U.S., there are reports of a religious protest in Afghanistan that has drawn a far more sympathetic response. The offense there, unlike the Obamacare assault, was unintentional: "the inadvertent burning of Korans" at Bagram Air Base. Although General John Allen, Obama's top man in "The Stan," apologized profusely and ordered an investigation of the soldiers responsible, that failed to avert a riot. Protester Mohammad Hakim told AP, "[N]ext time they disrespect our religion, we will defend our holy Koran, religion and faith until the last drop of blood has left in our body!"
Today, President Obama sent a letter to Afghan President Hamid Karzai that “expressed our regret and apologies over the incident in which religious materials were unintentionally mishandled at Bagram Airbase," according to an National Security Council spokesman. This, as two American troops were killed by an Afghan soldier during Koran protests.
Of course, one need not be a terrorist to get angry about the government burning holy books. Christians and Jews objected when, as reported in 2009, the U.S. Military put the torch to stacks of Bibles. That book burning, also at Bagram, wasn’t “inadvertent," either. It was preemptive. Our leaders feared that the mere presence of the Good News would upset the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
And, needless to say, the White House did not issue an apology.
The inmates at Guantanamo Bay are free to practice their religion without government interference. Although Obama maintains that our Bill of Rights doesn't apply there (a position he may recall campaigning against), we help Al Qaeda jihadists practice their twisted version of Islam.
We supply prayer rugs and beads and complimentary Korans. We then give the inmates surgical masks to use as cradles for the books, and guards don plastic gloves to avoid touching them. The menu follows Al Qaeda's rules, too. Americans like Chief Petty Officer Colleen M. Schonhoff prepare halal meals in strict compliance with Islamic law
And duty in the Gitmo Galley is far from the worst our men and women have had to do to respect our enemies' beliefs. Consider the job performed last year by those nameless sailors aboard the USS Carl Vinson. On Obama’s orders, those seamen had to bathe the corpse of Usama bin Laden, preparation for an Islamic funeral with all the trimmings.
Here was the terrorist monster-mind of 9/11 who killed more than 2,700 people at World Trade Center , destroying New York City’s iconic towers as well as St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church (and, incidentally, the Muslim prayer room in the south tower). He’d committed atrocities from Afghanistan to Somalia to Iraq. He blew up our embassies in Africa, barracks in Saudi Arabia, and the USS Cole.
Yet Obama showed great respect for even the smallest detail of Bin Laden’s religion in death, just as he continues to respect the sensibilities of Al Qaeda terrorists to this day. So there's that nagging question again: How can the president show less respect for the beliefs of innocent American priests, rabbis, imams or nuns in life than he did for our most evil enemy in death?
The answer is he can’t. No president can.
Obama isn't comfortable with American exceptionalism, but this is it: Americans recognize that all human beings “are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights” and we respect the separation of church and state. We do so for a very simple reason: Most Americans follow a law higher than man’s law, and we're free to do so.
Even when that law is the Obamacare that this president holds sacred.
George Demos, a former U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission enforcement attorney, is a Republican candidate for Congress in New York's 1st District. You can find him at GeorgeDemosForCongress.com or on Twitter @Demos4Congress