Monte Kuligowski
Should the U.S. surrender freedom to stop Islamic terror?
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By Monte Kuligowski
April 12, 2011

A Jed Clampett-type figure burns a Quran somewhere in Florida and the Muslim world breaks out in an uproar. In keeping with Islam's spirit of peace, rioting, effigy burning and the indiscriminate killing of over 20 people accompanied the protests. The U.S. can tolerate protesting and flag burning, but the disproportional response of murdering and beheading is where the line must be drawn.

But no such line has been drawn by the Obama administration.

In his response to the situation, President Obama notes that both Quran burning and murder is wrong. True, but his words are meaningless without distinction. Here's how Obama responded:

The desecration of any holy text, including the Koran, is an act of extreme intolerance and bigotry. However, to attack and kill innocent people in response is outrageous, and an affront to human decency and dignity.

No religion tolerates the slaughter and beheading of innocent people, and there is no justification for such a dishonorable and deplorable act.

The question is not whether a religion tolerates the slaughter and beheading of innocent people, but whether the U.S. government will tolerate the same. Free speech expression, even the offensive style, is tolerated by the American system; murder is not.

By omitting the free speech rights of Terry Jones in his rebuke President Obama has sent the wrong message to militant Islamists. Mr. Obama needed to explain that freedom means that even offensive expression is protected.

If Mr. Obama is not willing to proclaim that American values of free expression will not be suppressed by government out of fear of terrorism and murder then we have already lost the terrorists' war.

The murdering Islamists need to be informed in clear terms that any harm caused to U.S. citizens will be met with a military offensive they will wish had not been unleashed and will beg to end.

As Americans we may strongly disagree when the U.S. flag is burned in protest whether at home or abroad. We may also strongly disagree when the Bible is torched in Muslim countries or when Christianity is "desecrated" in the States. Yet, Americans overwhelmingly support the free expression rights of those with whom we disagree (so long as the expression is made with one's private property).

Radical Muslims work themselves up into killing frenzies over words against Islam, writings, cartoons, Quran burnings, et al, and will not be content until offense to Islam is outlawed. Of course, what we do or allow in our country should be none of their concern. Islam has no sacred protection status from insult in the United States — and hopefully, it never will.

But if Senators Harry Reid and Lindsey Graham have their way the federal government may intervene to limit free expression; which would implicitly protect Islam from offense. And I can't imagine that Barack Obama would oppose federal intervention.

Reid and Graham recently appeared on CBS's "Face the Nation," and discussed the possibility of congressional hearings on the Jones matter. Senator Graham told Bob Schieffer: "I wish we could find a way to hold people accountable. Free speech is a great idea, but we're in a war. During World War II, we had limits on what you could do if it inspired the enemy."

That has to be one of the lamest excuses for federal intervention into an area the First Amendment clearly prohibits the U.S. Congress from entering. The free speech restrictions during World War II had everything to do with loyalty to the U.S. and nothing to do with offending the Germans or Japanese. One could burn as many copies of Mein Kampf as one wished without fear of government reprisal.

The difference is that during World War II the objective of the United States was complete and total victory and unconditional surrender of our enemies. The U.S. wasn't real concerned about "putting our troops at risk" by offending our enemies. We were more concerned with killing our enemies.

The motives for the murders at the U.N. office in Afghanistan and elsewhere are no more significant than the motives of Terry Jones.

We could try to understand Jones' standpoint. We could try to understand the Muslim mobs. We could try, but in context of constitutional discourse it's irrelevant. Let's leave feelings and emotions to the therapists.

Our servicemen are currently forced to fight with one hand tied behind their backs, as to not offend Islam, with no clear definition of victory. Only in a politically correct type of war does it make sense to not offend our enemies.

If we offend them they will kill us. Therefore, to stop them from killing us we must not offend them, reasons the Obama administration. That makes sense to leftists, but it's a weak and dangerous policy stance to take with radical Islam.

On the horizon is the question of whether we are willing to suppress our freedoms in order to appease the violent faction of the Muslim world — a faction which makes up a considerable slice of Islam. It is like a campfire that has broken out of its boundaries and which must be stomped out quickly lest it spread as an uncontrollable wildfire. If the U.S. and/or the West are not willing to completely stomp out radical Islam, I'm afraid we will soon be surrendering our freedoms.

If we don't wake up, offense to Islam will someday trump American freedom.

© Monte Kuligowski

 

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Monte Kuligowski

Monte Kuligowski is an attorney and writer whose legal scholarship, including "Does the Declaration of Independence Pass the Lemon Test?" (Duke Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy), has been published in several law journals... (more)

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