What interested me most about the official reaction to this month's Koran Sniper story -- apologies galore, a kissed Koran for probable former insurgents, a punished soldier -- was what it made vivid about our society: American deference to Islam, from the sacralization of Islam's book to the ideology of anti-infidelism, supremacism and totalitarian conquest within it. After all, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Hammond called the sniper's action "criminal behavior," but the only law broken was Islamic law.
Contrast that, I wrote last week, with the repudiation Americans once displayed toward a similarly anti-Semitic, supremacist and warlike ideology as codified in "Mein Kampf" -- the treatise Winston Churchill dubbed "the new Koran of faith and war, turgid, verbose, but pregnant with its message." Had a mid-century GI used "Mein Kampf" for target practice, I noted, Gen. George S. Patton would hardly have kissed one to appease a band of former Nazis.
Suffice to say, I've received considerable comment, both positive and negative about this analogy. One letter compared the post-Hitler, U.S. policy of de-Nazification in Germany with the post-Saddam, U.S.-fostered enshrinement of Sharia in new constitutions in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Naturally, "Mein Kampf" would be vilified in the former, and the Koran protected in the latter. We have approved the religious rules to do so.
But other responses made clear the extent to which we also protect the Koran here. I don't mean from target practice, or other acts of desecration -- permitted, not incidentally, for the symbols of other religions, not to mention those of the nation itself.
I was particularly struck by this on reading Contentions, the blog of Commentary magazine. In a post about my recent column, Contentions blogger Abe Greenwald wrote: "This won't do, Diana. While the Qu'ran is sacred to our enemies in Iraq, it is also sacred to our allies."
Amazing that this fact is seen as a rationale for silence, not as a cause for concern. It is also never, ever contemplated in our debates about "democratizing" the Islamic world. Apparently, "enemies" and "allies" alike being inspired by the same Koranic message doesn't call into question the nature or potential of the "allies." It only seems to inspire reticence about the nature or potential of the message.