Lieutenant General Jerry Boykin, deputy undersecretary of Defense for intelligence, ignited an international firestorm. Addressing a religious group in June 2003, Boykin said radical Muslims hate us "because we're a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christian . . . and the enemy is a guy called Satan."
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Joseph Lieberman asked President Bush to denounce Boykin's "hateful remarks," adding, "The war on terrorism is a war on terrorists, not religions. The Bush administration, which claims to understand that, needs to condemn anyone who says otherwise." Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., said, "It is outrageous that someone who holds such extreme, close-minded, zealous views would be allowed such a prominent position in our military." An editorial in Investor's Business Daily notes that "A (Los Angeles) Times reporter called Boykin's comments 'extreme and pernicious.' NBC's Tom Brokaw termed them 'divisive.' ABC and CBS referred to him as a 'holy warrior.'"
But what exactly did Gen. Boykin say that smacked of religious bigotry and intolerance? Boykin called America a "Christian nation." So did President Harry S. Truman, who once said, "This is a Christian nation." John Jay, the first chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, said, "Providence has given to our people the choice of their ruler, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers." Patrick Henry said, "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
Of Boykin's suggestion that terrorists hate us because of our non-Muslim religiosity, please refer to the new book by Robert Spencer, "Onward Muslim Soldiers: How Jihad Still Threatens America and the West." Spencer, using Islamic sources, past and contemporary, makes the case that the call for jihad against Christians, the West and Jews springs from the dictates of the religion of Islam.
The Koran, writes Spencer, says, "Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free . . . (Sura 9:5)."
Spencer cites numerous other Islamic sacred laws, as well as other passages in the Koran, that require all Muslims to give non-Muslims three choices: conversion, submission with second-class status under Islamic law, or death.
Grand Sheik Tantawi of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, the foremost cleric in Sunni Islam, said in a communique at the beginning of the current war in Iraq: "It is in accordance with logic and with Islamic religious law that if the enemy raids the land of the Muslims, Jihad becomes an individual's commandment, applying to every Muslim man and woman, because our Muslim nation will be subject to a new Crusader invasion targeting the land, honor, belief, and homeland. . . . The Center for Research has studied the events . . . and realized that our Arab and Islamic nation, and even our religious faith, Islam, are a main target of all the military forces, who are targeting millions of people from among our nation, as well as our faith, everything sacred to us, and all the sources of wealth and power of the Arabs and the Muslims. The first manifestation of this will be the attack on Iraq, the occupation of its land, and the seizing of its oil reserves."
Meanwhile, the "moderate" Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, a Muslim, recently said about Jews, "The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews rule the world by proxy. . . . They get others to fight and die for them." He called on the Islamic world to modernize, not to catch up with the West, but rather so that Islamic countries need no longer rely on purchasing weapons from its "enemies." Outrage, anyone?
President Bush and others criticized the prime minister's remarks, but Mahathir refused to apologize and disagreed with those who called his remarks anti-Semitic. "People make such statements (about Muslims or Muhammad the prophet), and they seem to get away with it," he said. "But if you say anything at all against the Jews, you are accused of being anti-Semitic." The foreign minister of Yemen backed him up, "I don't think (the comments) are anti-Semitic at all. I think he was just stating the facts."
As for Lt. Gen. Boykin, he apologized: "For those who have been offended by my statements, I offer a sincere apology." But Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, "It doesn't look like any rules were broken." For, unlike those in the Arab world, Americans enjoy something called freedom of speech, protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution.