When Muhammad al-Rahim mentioned in an interview with a Muslim newspaper that he supported the traditional Muslim conception of marriage -- no more than four wives per man, "That's the Quranic way"-- he never expected the storm of criticism that erupted.
Within days, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that, "Rahim's values are not Chicago values" and supported a move by Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno to block the planned opening of one of Rahim's chain of convenience stores. Emmanuel explained that, "What the CEO has said as it relates to gay marriage and gay couples is not what I believe, but more importantly, it's not what the people of Chicago believe. We just passed legislation as it relates to civil union and my goal and my hope ... is that we now move on recognizing gay marriage. I do not believe that the CEO's comments ... reflects who we are as a city."
The Democratic Mayor of Boston, Thomas Menino, announced that he would not permit Rahim to open stores in his city "unless they open up their policies." And San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee advised in a tweet he was "Very disappointed that (Rahim) doesn't share San Francisco's values & strong commitment to equality for everyone." He then added that the "Closest (Rahim store) to San Francisco is 40 miles away & I strongly recommend that they not try to come any closer."
Ok. It wasn't a Muslim and it wasn't "Quranic values" that created the fuss. It was -- of course -- Dan Cathy, chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A, who ignited the imbroglio by affirming his adherence to the "Biblical" definition of the family.
Rahim is an invention to illustrate the selective outrage of liberal Democrats. It is simply impossible to imagine that liberal Democrats would treat affirmations of Muslim faith with the kind of bullying that Cathy and Chick-fil-A have received. Yet Islam is at least as doctrinally tough on homosexuality as Christianity is, and considerably tougher in practice. The Economist magazine reported in February, "In 2010 a Saudi man was sentenced to 500 lashes and five years in jail for having sex with another man. In February last year, police in Bahrain arrested scores of men, mostly other Gulf nationals, at a 'gay party.' Iranian gay men are typically tried on other trumped-up charges. But in September last year three were executed specifically for homosexuality."
Emanuel and Co. would never unsheathe their rhetorical swords toward a Muslim affirming his faith. They reserve their wrath for Christians who espouse the views that -- until three months ago -- were the official position of the president of the United States. (Obama was given a pass because everyone knew he was deeply insincere -- which is another chapter in hypocrisy for another time.)
Beyond hypocrisy and selective outrage, the Chick-fil-A story reveals a totalitarian temptation among liberals. Note that Chick-fil-A is not being accused of discrimination, either in hiring or in service. The franchise is being targeted by Democratic office holders merely to punish the company's owner for his religious and social beliefs.
Dan Cathy clearly holds views that would exclude him from consideration as a guest speaker at the next Equality Matters conference. In the course of the Biblical Recorder interview, he said, "We are very much supportive of the family - the Biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. ... We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families . . ." He added that, "I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,' and I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about."
If gay marriage advocates choose to oppose Cathy and Chick-fil-A, they are free to do so -- even to encourage boycotts and protests. But for aldermen, mayors and other elected officials to punish a business owner for unpopular speech is dangerous and despotic. The Illinois chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union protested -- and good for them. But the White House has been silent.
President Obama placed a call to Sandra Fluke when he felt that she had been unfairly targeted for her views. Fluke's critic was a private citizen. Cathy's are public officials. Can Dan Cathy expect a call from Barack Obama?