In Asia, President Bush put some distance between himself and the general. He told the press, after a meeting with Asian leaders who brought up Boykin remarks: "I said, 'He didn't reflect my opinion. Look, it just doesn't reflect what the government thinks.' And I think they were pleased to hear that."
Well, some Americans were not pleased to hear that. For these words suggest Bush may be about to throw a Christian warrior to the wolves to appease Asian "allies" who do not have all that many troops in the field fighting alongside us.
Let us go back to what the general said. He said that America is a "Christian nation." So what? If Israelis can call Israel a Jewish nation, and we call Iran and Saudi Arabia Islamic nations and Poland and Ireland Catholic nations, what is wrong with Boykin calling ours "a Christian nation." Secularists can call America a secular nation. Are American Christians alone to remain mute?
As for Osama, he may not be Satan, but he does a pretty good imitation. And anyone who has read his declaration of war against us knows that Osama sees this as a religious war against "the Crusaders" -- i.e., the people of the Christian cross who are to be expelled from the Islamic world. Boykin takes Osama at his word.
And if he believes this is a war against Satan, is that all that different from Bush saying that we fight an "axis of evil"? Is it all that different from FDR singing "Onward Christian Soldiers" with Churchill while writing the Atlantic Charter and plotting anti-Nazi strategy at Placentia Bay?
As for Boykin's remark that Allah is an "idol," it was made in a battle a dozen years ago about a Somali warlord who mocked the general's country and proclaimed the superiority of his God. And the general has publicly declared that this war is not a war against Islam.
The commander in chief should stand by this soldier. If he cashiers him, he will damage the morale of the military and Christian community, whose hero the general is and who are among his most loyal followers. What would be gained? The people who want the general demoted and humiliated are not the president's friends.