Special Report

Fundamentalist Outreach

The Democrats have lost their favorite religionist.

By 11.11.04

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It is not true that the Democrats didn't show sympathy toward fundamentalists during the campaign. They did -- just to the wrong ones. Islamic fundamentalists received a great deal of understanding and tolerance from the Democrats. John Kerry made a point of showing sensitivity to the Islamic community and for it earned numerous endorsements from Muslim Imams.

Perhaps herein lies a new strategy for the Democrats: What if they treated Christians as respectfully as they treated Yasser Arafat? What if they extended to Christianity the tolerant understanding they extend to Islam? Maybe from time to time the Democrats could refer to Christianity as a religion of peace.

One would think a party that can canonize a de facto terrorist and jihadist like Arafat could tolerate a Southern preacher or two. Jerry Falwell has never blown up an airplane like Arafat, but Democrats wouldn't be caught dead in his company. They approach traditional Christians and Jews with grave, grave reserve, usually putting a sinister construction on their motives (equating, for example, their opposition to same-sex marriage with hatred), but they have no problem embracing the Arafats openly, romanticizing their violence as the revolutionary struggles of a victimized religious minority.

Imagine if a Texas Christian addressed the United Nations assembly with a pistol in his holster. The assembled would boo hysterically. But Yasser Arafat brought his trademark pistol to the U.N. and the gun-control liberals in the audience jumped to their feet in ecstatic applause. (The footage of Arafat striding into the hall captures what a hot dog he was when he wasn't killing people.)

A regular lodger at the Clinton White House, Arafat feasted at the left's table for decades even as he killed Americans and Jews in the name of Islamic jihad. Arafat had killed more Americans than O.J. but Clinton treated him like his Kato Kaelin. Now Democrats are buzzing about which American dignitary should pay their respects at his funeral. How come Colin Powell isn't going? they pout.

The question should be: Why is America sending anyone at all? Arafat was a terrorist America used to deny a visa. Now we are sending flowers and dignitaries to his funeral?

Before Clinton turned Arafat into a prized ward of the state, the State Department wouldn't let him into the country. "The U.S. Government has convincing evidence that PLO elements have engaged in terrorism against Americans and others," read its 1989 visa denial. "The most recent sign of Mr. Arafat's associations with terrorism was the presence at the Algiers session of the Palestine National Council this month of Abu Abbas, a member of the Executive Committee of the PLO who has been convicted by the Italian judicial system of the murder of an American citizen, Mr. Leon Klinghoffer." "The PLO, through certain of its elements, has employed terrorism against Americans," it continued. "Mr. Arafat, a chairman of the PLO, knows of, condones, and lends support to such acts; he, therefore, is an accessory to such terrorism."

When Rudy Giuliani ejected Arafat from a concert held in New York City in the 1990s, the daughters of Leon Klinghoffer wrote him a note of gratitude. A proxy for the KGB and Islamic jihadists globally, Arafat has been linked to innumerable killings, from the shootings at the Munich Olympics to the Swiss airplane that blew up over Tel Aviv to the slaughter of religion pilgrims at Lod airport. Yet all of this is forgotten, even though as Giuliani pointed out at the Republican Convention the coddling and honoring of Arafat cast the foreshadows of 9/11. A Western world that could give Nobel prizes to those most determined to destroy it signaled to Osama bin Laden that it was too flabby and self-hating to defend itself.

The Democrats are far more interested in subduing Christianity at home than defeating militant Islam abroad. They can write acerbically about Southern Christians as jihadists, then eulogize real jihadists like Arafat as peacemakers. They can bring a very benign interpretation to Islam, insisting that the founders of Islam held the same liberal values and views as the editorial writers of the New York Times -- watch PBS's documentaries on Islam and you would think the early Muslim sultans were PBS liberals -- but offer no such generous understanding to Christian teachings.

The most intense Christian sects look soft and liberal compared to the Islam popular in the Middle East, yet by some strange emotional alchemy liberals can muster up more enthusiasm for militant Islam than Christianity. The more illiberal the religion, it seems, the more liberals are likely to excuse it. Arafat, a devious liar, benefited from the only form of religious outreach to fundamentalists the Democrats have ever practiced.

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About the Author
George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is co-author, with Phyllis Schlafly, of the new book, No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religious Freedom.