That champion of religious liberty, Rick Santorum, is castigating President Obama for apologizing over what U.S. officials say was the inadvertent burning of books of the Qur'an in Afghanistan. Santorum's reasoning is that since the destruction of the Qur'an was done in error, there was no reason to apologize.So one only need apologize for intentional transgressions? This accidental destruction of what a people hold sacred should be shrugged off as "unfortunate," Santorum argues, contending that an apology shows weakness.Obviously, there is a double standard at work here. If the U.S. bishops' campaign for religious liberty is to have any meaning at all, it will have to apply to all religions. Otherwise, what should be a noble idea becomes no more than a lobbying position and, for many who have picked up the theme, a political wedge issue.For the bishops to be silent while those who herald their position simultaneously encourage contempt for the practice of Islam to gain votes makes a sham of the call for religious liberty.
Paul Moses, a professor of journalism at Brooklyn College/CUNY, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015).