Why Apologize to Afghanistan?
By Andrew C. McCarthy
We have officially lost our minds.
The New York Times reports that President Obama has sent a formal letter of apology to Afghanistan’s ingrate president, Hamid Karzai, for the burning of Korans at a U.S. military base. The only upside of the apology is that it appears (based on the Times account) to be couched as coming personally from our blindly Islamophilic president — “I wish to express my deep regret for the reported incident. . . . I extend to you and the Afghani people my sincere apologies.” It is not couched as an apology from the American people, whose frame of mind will be outrage, not contrition, as the facts become more widely known.
The facts are that the Korans were seized at a jail because jihadists imprisoned there were using them not for prayer but to communicate incendiary messages. The soldiers dispatched to burn refuse from the jail were not the officials who had seized the books, had no idea they were burning Korans, and tried desperately to retrieve the books when the situation was brought to their attention.
Of course, these facts may not become widely known, because no one is supposed to mention the main significance of what has happened here. First, as usual, Muslims — not al-Qaeda terrorists, but ordinary, mainstream Muslims — are rioting and murdering over the burning (indeed, the inadvertent burning) of a book. Yes, it’s the Koran, but it’s a book all the same — and one that, moderate Muslims never tire of telling us, doesn’t really mean everything it says anyhow.
Muslim leaders and their leftist apologists are also forever lecturing the United States about “proportionality” in our war-fighting. Yet when it comes to Muslim proportionality, Americans are supposed to shrug meekly and accept the “you burn books, we kill people” law of the jungle. Disgustingly, the Times would inure us to this moral equivalence by rationalizing that “Afghans are fiercely protective of their Islamic faith.” Well then, I guess that makes it all right, huh?
Then there’s the second not-to-be-uttered truth: Defiling the Koran becomes an issue for Muslims only when it has been done by non-Muslims. Observe that the unintentional burning would not have occurred if these “fiercely protective of their Islamic faith” Afghans had not defiled the Korans in the first place. They were Muslim prisoners who annotated the “holy” pages with what a U.S. military official described as “extremist inscriptions” in covert messages sent back and forth, just as the jihadists held at Gitmo have been known to do (notwithstanding that Muslim prisoners get their Korans courtesy of the American taxpayers they construe the book to justify killing).
Do you know why you are supposed to stay mum about the intentional Muslim sacrilege but plead to be forgiven for the accidental American offense? Because you would otherwise have to observe that the Koran and other Islamic scriptures instruct Muslims that they are in a civilizational jihad against non-Muslims, and that it is therefore permissible for them to do whatever is necessary — including scrawl militant graffiti on their holy book — if it advances the cause. Abdul Sattar Khawasi — not a member of al-Qaeda but a member in good standing of the Afghan government for which our troops are inexplicably fighting and dying — put it this way: “Americans are invaders, and jihad against the Americans is an obligation.”
Because exploiting America’s hyper-sensitivity to things Islamic advances the jihad, the ostensible abuse of the Koran by using it for secret communiqués is to be overlooked. Actionable abuse occurs only when the book is touched by the bare hands of, or otherwise maltreated by, an infidel.
As our great Iraqi ally Ayatollah Ali Sistani teaches, touching a kafir (“one who does not believe in Allah and His Oneness”) is to be avoided, because Islamic scripture categorizes infidels as equivalent to “urine, feces, semen, dead bodies, blood, dogs, pigs, alcoholic liquors,” and “the sweat of an animal who persistently eats filth.” That is what influential clerics — not al-Qaeda but revered scholars of Islamic law — inculcate in rank-and-file Muslims.
And they are not making it up. Sistani came upon this view after decades of dedicated scriptural study. In fact, to take just one telling example (we could list many, many others), the “holy” Koran we non-Muslims are supposed to honor proclaims (in Sura 9:28), “Truly the pagans are unclean . . . so let them not . . . approach the sacred mosque.” It is because of this injunction from Allah that non-Muslims are barred — not by al-Qaeda but by the Saudi Arabian government — from entering Mecca and Medina. Kafirs are deemed unfit to set their infidel feet on the ground of these ancient cities. You don’t like that? Too bad — grin and bear it . . . and, while you’re at it, surge up a few thousand more American troops to improve life in Kandahar.
Understand this: Muslims are killing Muslims all the time. Sunnis attack Shiites, Shiites attack Sunnis. Ahmadi Muslims are attacked in sundry Islamic countries. Often, these Muslim-on-Muslim atrocities involve not only murder but also the torching of the other sect’s homes and mosques — necessarily meaning Muslims are burning Korans, and with far more mens rea than the American personnel had in Afghanistan. None of these atrocities incite global Islamic rioting — it is just Muslim-on-Muslim violence, the numbing familiarity of which calls for no comment, except perhaps to mumble that it must have something to do with how “fiercely protective of their Islamic faith” Muslims are. (Actually, it has to do with Muslims’ deeming the perceived heresies of other Muslims to be apostasy, for which sharia prescribes the death penalty.)
Also understand this: In sharia societies, non-Muslim religious articles are confiscated and destroyed every single day as a matter of policy. In Saudi Arabia, where sharia is the law of the land, where Mecca and Medina are closed to non-Muslims, government guidelines prohibit Jews and Christians from bringing Bibles, crucifixes, Stars of David, and similar artifacts emblematic of their faith into the country. When that prohibition is violated, the offending items are seized and burned or otherwise destroyed. Moreover, though Saudis deny having an official policy that bans Jews from entering the country at all, reports are rampant of travelers’ being denied visas either because they are Jewish or because their passports bear stamps indicative of prior travel to Israel.
In spite of this shameful, conscious, systematic abuse of non-Muslims and their religious articles, King Abdullah has yet to send a letter of apology to Obama. All the presidential bowing in the world will not change this, not when Muslim supremacism is the irreducible core of mainstream Islam — not al-Qaeda Islam, mainstream Islam. And where is Mr. Karzai’s apology over the Afghan soldier who just killed two Americans? That is only the latest incident in a largely unreported epidemic: our “allies” turning their weapons on their Western trainers.
On second thought, who cares if Karzai apologizes? Our troops do not belong in Afghanistan. They have given more than enough, way more. So has our country.
If our government believes the Taliban and other factions are our enemies, allied with al-Qaeda to kill Americans, then we should unleash our military to destroy them. This should not be an endless counterinsurgency experiment that prioritizes the protection of Afghan civilians and the construction of Afghan civil society; it should be a war that our vast might enables us to win rapidly and decisively.
But our government has repeatedly professed that the Taliban are not our enemies. If that is true, we lack not only the will but the cause for waging war. We should leave — now. It is immoral to keep our young men and women there as sitting ducks in a place where the people hate Americans but we are not trying to vanquish them. We routed al-Qaeda years ago. We don’t need to defeat the Taliban or waste time negotiating with them, Karzai, the warlords, and the rest. Let them have their Korans and work it out for themselves with the compassion that has been such a Religion of Peace hallmark for the last 14 centuries.
That, however, cannot be the end of it. If, according to the president, we need to apologize to Muslims because we must accept that they have such an innate, extraordinary ardor for their religion that barbaric reactions to trivial slights are inevitable, then they should not be invited to enter a civilized country. At the very least, our immigration laws should exclude entry from Muslim-majority countries unless and until those countries expressly repeal repressive sharia laws (e.g., the death penalty for apostates) and adopt American standards of non-discrimination against, tolerance of, and protection for religious minorities.
If you really want to promote freedom in Islamic countries, an immigration policy based on civil-rights reciprocity would be a lot more effective, and a lot less expensive, than dispatching tens of thousands of troops to build sharia “democracies.” It would also protect Americans from people whose countries and cultures have not prepared them for the obligations of citizenship in a free society.
— Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, is the author, most recently, of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.