David Harsanyi

"The United States is not, and will never be, at war with Islam," Barack Obama explained to the Turkish Parliament on his recent tour of Europe, emphasizing the need for "mutual respect" between our cultures.

"War" and "respect" are two distinct ideas. Both ought to be meted out judiciously. But let's reserve the former as a last resort and the latter to those who actually deserve it.

When Obama bowed to Saudi Arabian "King" Abdullah last week (sadly reminiscent of W.'s insufferable hand-holding with a Saudi prince), he probably thought it an appropriate level of deference. The problem is the wrong person was prostrate.

Why should we "respect" the Saudis? Is it the corporal punishment and amputations? Is it the lack of free speech? Is it a judicial system in which women often are forbidden from testifying, as they are incapable of "understanding what they observe"? Or is it that victims of sexual assault are prosecuted for the crime of being in the presence of unknown males? The honor killings? The forced circumcisions? The terrorist funding?

Though we need not drop Marines into Mecca to remedy that nation's historical and moral sickness, we never should be expected to "respect" gangsters, either.

Why so many on the left are willing to extend tolerance toward those who are militantly illiberal has always been a mystery. Many of these countries wage internal wars to exterminate Christianity and Judaism (religions that existed in some of those places long before Islam), and the concepts of secularism and atheism live only in fantasy.

It's not only fanatics holed up in the caves of Pakistan but also the majority of Islamic nations that, on some level, disregard basic human rights.

And instead of "respecting" Turkey, Obama might have taken the time to live up to his campaign promise to acknowledge last century's Turkish genocide of 1.5 million Christian Armenians. He hasn't.

In Iraq -- a country propped up by American lives and generosity -- The New York Times reported that in 2005, the most influential Shiite cleric in Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, issued a religious decree declaring that gay men and women should be "punished, in fact, killed." But that wasn't enough. Gays, he decreed, "should be killed in the worst, most severe way of killing." The Iraqi government looks the other way

David Harsanyi

David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist and the author of "The People Have Spoken (and They Are Wrong): The Case Against Democracy." Follow him on Twitter @davidharsanyi.