Recently by Justin Raimondo: Gore Vidal: The Last Jeffersonian
The US State Department has quietly ceased cataloging violations of religious freedom in its u201CCountry Reports on Human Rights.u201D Of course, it's just a coincidence that this comes at a time when Washington is allying with radical Islamists in Libya, Syria, and Iraq. As CNS reports:
u201CThe U.S. State Department removed the sections covering religious freedom from the Country Reports on Human Rights that it released on May 24, three months past the statutory deadline Congress set for the release of these reports.
u201CThe new human rights reports – purged of the sections that discuss the status of religious freedom in each of the countries covered – are also the human rights reports that include the period that covered the Arab Spring and its aftermath.
u201CThus, the reports do not provide in-depth coverage of what has happened to Christians and other religious minorities in predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East that saw the rise of revolutionary movements in 2011 in which Islamist forces played an instrumental role.
u201CFor the first time ever, the State Department simply eliminated the section of religious freedom in its reports covering 2011 and instead referred the public to the 2010 International Religious Freedom Report – a full two years behind the times – or to the annual report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which was released last September and covers events in 2010 but not 2011.u201D
Part of the reason could be that the state of religious freedom in the US isn't all that great since the Obama administration tried to force Catholic institutions – hospitals, clinics, etc. – to provide the u201Cfull-rangeu201D of contraceptive services, including abortion, to their employees. Then there's the Chick-fil-a controversy, where the city governments of Chicago, New York, and San Francisco want to punish the company whose CEO opposes gay marriage on religious grounds.
Hostility to organized religion – unless you're a Unitarian, or one of these guys – has long been a feature of contemporary American liberalism, but the kind of radical anti-clericalism that has roiled Europe (and Mexico) hasn't reared its ugly head in this country until now. The Catholic Church is a favorite anti-clericalist target, but the State Department isn't discriminating on sectarian grounds: they've simply eliminated accounts of all anti-Christian measures taken by foreign governments from their Country Reports.
This makes sense, if you think about it: after all, if you're allying with radical Islamists in order to overthrow the government of Syria – which has long been a bulwark against Islamic jihadists in the Middle East – then official propaganda has got to reflect this strategy.
In Egypt, where we're trying to retain some influence in the wake of longtime ally Hosni Mubarak's ouster, the Islamists have gone on a rampage, burning Coptic Christian churches, murdering churchgoers, and making it impossible for a public Christian presence to exist alongside the Muslim majority. As the Muslim Brotherhood takes the presidency and the parliament, with US support, the country's Christians have plenty of reason to worry – or emigrate.
In Libya, where a supposedly u201Csecularu201D party won a plurality in the elections after US-backed rebels took power, one of their first public pronouncements was to disavow the secular label – and reinstate polygamy. You're only allowed four, but hey, don't be a hog. And in an economic reform that may resonate in certain quarters in Washington, the charging of interest by banks is controversial if not yet forbidden. Persecution of Libya's Christians has remained the one constant since the fall of Gadhafi, and vigilante violence is on the uptick.
u201CAsked whether it was the Free Syrian Army that was telling Christians to get out, Agnes Miriam, Mother Superior of the Monastery of St. James at Qara in the Diocese of Homs, said, u2018Yes … it was the commander on the ground, Abdel Salam Harba, who decided that there was to be no more negotiations with Christians.'
u201CShe said Christians refused to back the rebels, so the rebels used them as human shields.u201D
The Vatican has echoed the Mother Superior's human shields charge, but the Obama administration is an unlikely source of sympathy for the plight of Syria's Catholics, given their war on the Church here on the home front. Indeed, anti-Catholicism is back in fashion in this country, particularly among the sort of secular liberals likely to be strong supporters of the President. Why should the Obamaites be concerned about the fate of Syrian Christians at the hands of US-backed jihadists rebels? There's no political pay-off.
Justin Raimondo [send him mail] is editorial director of Antiwar.com and is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard and Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement.