Beliefs matter. "Ideas Have Consequences," as conservative scholar Richard Weaver wrote in his classic of that title in 1948.
Yet, for so believing, and so saying, Dr. Ben Carson has been subjected to a Rodney King-style night-sticking by the P.C. police.
Asked by Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" whether he could support a Muslim for president, Carson replied, "I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that."
Carson was not out of the studio before the airwaves were filled with denunciations. Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said CAIR is calling on Carson to "withdraw from the presidential race because he is unfit to lead, because his views are inconsistent with the United States Constitution."
In the name of tolerance, says CAIR, we cannot tolerate Carson.
And what does the Constitution say?
"[N]o religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
But Carson did not say no Muslim could serve. He said he would not advocate having a Muslim as president, that Islamic beliefs are inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution.
Is he wrong?
Or is it now impermissible to question a candidate's beliefs about God, man, and the state, and about whether his religious convictions might affect his conduct in office?
A man's religion is a part of who he is. While not an infallible guide to what he will do, it is often a reliable road map.
If Mormons still championed polygamy and declared that blacks could not be Mormons, would it be illegitimate to raise that issue?
Should a Quaker who believes in "turning the other cheek" not be pressed on whether his faith disqualifies him to be commander in chief?
If an Evangelical running for president believes the "end times" are at hand, would it be un-American to ask of the Armageddonite if his religious beliefs might affect his decision on war in the Middle East?
Islam means "submission." And a believing, practicing, devout Muslim believes in submission to the teachings of the Prophet.
That means not only following the dietary laws and fasting during Ramadan, but adhering to the tenets of Islam on the modesty of dress in women, praying five times a day to Mecca, and treating false faiths like Christianity as the great heresies that they are.
Anyone recall a collective protest from the Islamic world when that Afghan convert to Christianity was facing an executioner's ax?
Islam instructs its adherents not only on how to live their lives, but also how to organize their society. Is Sharia consistent with the U.S. Constitution? Would not a Muslim presidential candidate have to reject Sharia for America, i.e, apostatize? And what is the penalty for apostasy in the Quran?
Would it violate the spirit of the Constitution to ask of a Muslim candidate whether he agrees with the Quran on the proper punishment for homosexuals, adulterers and thieves?
From the Maghreb to the Middle and Near East, in almost every society where Islam is the dominant faith, repression appears the rule.
Of the near 50 nations where Islam is the majority religion, where is the constitutional republic that resembles our own?
Carson says he would not support turning the armed forces of the United States over to a follower of a faith whose co-religionists have produced the modern Middle East. Why is that bigotry? Is Islam wholly disconnected to the horrors transpiring there?
Islam has bloody borders, observed Dr. Samuel Huntington. Of the ugliest terrorist organizations of which we daily read -- Boko Haram, al-Qaida, ISIS, the al-Nusra Front, al-Shabaab -- are not most of them proudly Muslim?
Given the sectarian war between the Shiites led by Iran and the Sunni led by the Saudis, would it violate the Constitution to ask our Muslim presidential candidate to which of these two he belonged?
Dr. Russell Kirk called ideology "political religion."
Atheists who embraced the political religion of Marxism-Leninism created the Stalinist Empire. Atheist Germans who embraced National Socialism as the state religion produced the Third Reich. And Islamists created Sudan, Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Undeniably, Muslims have proven to be good American patriots, as did the Christians and the Jews who came before them.
But in Europe today, we see hundreds of thousands of Muslims pouring in, adding to the millions there, and they are all not assimilating.
Those elites who say they would be fine with a Muslim president are probably dissembling. Because that is the politically correct thing to say; it makes them feel superior; and no such candidate is in sight.
Indeed, the same elites who call it outrageous that Carson said a Muslim should not be president are the first and loudest to decry any suggestion that our current president is a Muslim.
Liberals like the idea of a Muslim president -- in the abstract.