President Obama (O'Leary)

Allen Hunt

9/13/2010 12:01:00 AM - Allen Hunt

Is any event so small that President Obama does not feel compelled to weigh in on it? Apparently not. Witness his recent impression of Mrs. O'Leary's famous cow when he turned Pastor Terry Jones into an international crisis. President Obama's intervention turned over a tiny lantern and set the entire world ablaze with hysteria over the pastor's plans to have his 50 church members burn a whopping 200 Korans. In Chicago, one cow's misstep set the whole city on fire. This time, thanks to the president, from a small ember in Florida came a globe-engulfing wildfire.

Clearly, the president prefers micromanagement. First we had the beer summit, when the president chose to step into an unfortunate incident in Cambridge, Massachusetts, between a black professor and a white police officer. Then we had the president expressing his views on a local zoning matter in New York City where an imam sought to construct an unpopular mosque. Now, Mr. Obama cannot restrain himself in the face of a small-time pastor in Gainesville, Florida. We only thought Jimmy Carter was a micro-manager. The free world's leader engaging at this level of detail is truly something to behold.

By stepping into such a tiny affair, President Obama (or President O'Leary) kicked over a lantern and turned what should have been a non-event into a geopolitical crisis. Reminds me of the old ditty:

Late one night, when we were all in bed,
Mrs. O'Leary lit a lantern in the shed.
Her cow kicked it over,
Then winked her eye and said,
"There'll be a hot time in the old town tonight!"

President Obama's logic (or lack thereof) was clear. To burn 200 Korans might incite violence from Muslims here and abroad. We heard the same “logic” (or extortion) last week from Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf when he suggested on CNN that to move the Ground Zero mosque would likely incite violence from Muslims here and abroad. In other words, saying no to Muslim demands at any level will incite violence. Perhaps it would be easier to draft a list of things we Americans can do that will NOT incite violence from Muslims. That appears to be a very short list. And we know it does not include cartoons.

So if I understand the leader of the free world, if someone burns paper and binding in America in a small town in America, Muslims around the world will rage, riot, revolt, kill people, and harm American soldiers. But the burner of paper and binding is to blame, not those who commit murder and violence in the name of their religion of peace. Therefore, according to this micromanaging president, we Americans should walk on collective national eggshells to be sure that we do not incite violence from those who hate us and plot our destruction anyway.

What am I missing here? We are the United States of America, The world's moral beacon. The globe's economic and innovation engine. The planet's military leader. And we should cower in fear of what someone MIGHT do if they do not like what we do? And one man in America with 50 followers can burn a few books and create global mayhem? Wow. Who knew?

The problem here is not Pastor Terry Jones or any other two-bit leader in Kansas, Wyoming, or Tennessee who desires to make a small statement in a small town with a small group of followers. The problem is overreaction. Overreaction by Muslim communities who have hair-trigger instincts when it comes to perceived affronts. And overreaction by a micromanaging president who never met a circumstance that he did not feel compelled to control and correct. Will he soon be personally patrolling every street and neighborhood to ensure that every action in America measures up to his satisfaction?

Pastor Terry Jones almost made me proud to be an American. His plans to burn Korans were wrong-headed and mean-spirited. Rather than helping the situation or loving his neighbor and enemy, he desired to choose a tasteless tactic. At the same time, however, his position provided the perfect case study for what freedom looks like. Freedom of religion. Freedom of speech. And freedom of expression.

Here was a man standing nearly alone in the face of blistering pressure from the President of the United States, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, General Petraeus, and even the Pope. And here was a man with the right to do so. The right to do the offensive. A true case study for the world to see what freedom really looks like. Freedom to do the stupid and not cower in the fear of being beheaded. Freedom not to be intimidated by power or by public opinion. Freedom of conviction, no matter how misguided.

Instead of acknowledging that freedom, the president chose to squash it. By bringing his considerable official power to bear, he thereby sent a message to the world that we value their opinion and threats more than we value our own citizens' freedom. That we will pay Mafia protection money to those who seek to bully us. We will spend our freedoms to satisfy your bully threats.

Afghans chant “Death to Christians” and “Death to America” while burning our flag all at their outrage over one man and 200 books. Meanwhile, we tremble in our boots. “What do you want us to do to make you stop? Sacrifice our freedoms. Sure, as long as it makes you happy.”

How did America come to acquire greatness only to lay it down in fear and cowardice? Maybe, just maybe, the issue is that Islam is intolerant at its core and there is nothing we can do to appease that other than acquiesce and convert en masse. I just hope my speaking this truth does not incite violence. If it does, according to our micromanaging president, the flaming results will be my fault.