The American Left’s Hypocrisy on Muslims

Ahmed Mohamad (Image via WFAA-TV)

Ahmed Mohamed appears to have been treated outrageously. After all, all he did was build a clock. But now the Left’s false-moralist brigades are using Ahmed as a pivot to portray America as an inherently racist, ignorant nation.

Take Sally Kohn. Learning of Ahmed’s situation, the CNN commentator launched a Twitter diatribe against conservatives. “I get it, conservatives don’t believe anyone in America treated differently because of race or religion — except for white Christians.” Many other liberals are joining this latest chapter of Kohn’s never-ending purity war against conservatives. But their reaction is tragic. While I’d be the first to highlight true examples of injustice against American Muslims, the available facts suggest that Ahmed’s treatment was a consequence not of racism but rather of one teacher’s ignorance and overreaction.

Yet there’s also a great hypocrisy with how the Left has reacted to Ahmed’s situation. Because the American Left’s broader interest in Muslim human rights is Twitter-thin. Just consider the Left’s reaction to what’s happening in Syria. Having utterly abandoned its predominantly Sunni Muslim people to Bashar al-Assad’s slaughter, President Obama’s Syria policy is the height of moral apathy. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims have died from Assad’s starvation, barrel bombs, death squads, and chemical weapons.

And how has President Obama’s responded? By surrendering Syria to Russia and Iran. Even now, facing Russia’s escalating support for Assad, President Obama sits quiet. Rather than call for new sanctions and issue sharp condemnations, he orders John Kerry to call his Russian counterpart. CENTCOM Commander Lloyd Austin summed up President Obama’s strategic lack of interest when on Wednesday he was asked how many U.S.-trained rebels are now in Syria. “Four or five,” he said.

Many on the American left believe President Obama’s acquiescence to Iran’s bloodletting is a justifiable price for the Iran nuclear deal.

Still, the American Left has little complaint about Mr. Obama’s effective lack of interest in the face of immense human suffering. Instead, the Left proposes inviting a few thousand more Syrian refugees to America: just enough to alleviate any sense of guilt. Of course, this lack of interest doesn’t come from the ether. Consider that last year, when President Obama announced he would bomb ISIS, Sally Kohn penned an op-ed opposing military action. She argued for “serious engagement with Iran” instead — a government, she said, that “shares our goal in stabilizing Iraq.”

While Kohn’s alternative was and is patently absurd — Iran has zero interest in regional stability — it highlights two broader issues. First, facing the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Syrian Muslims, American liberal humanitarianism has sunk into platitudes. Second, many on the American left believe President Obama’s acquiescence to Iran’s bloodletting is a justifiable price for the Iran nuclear deal.

Unfortunately, the Left’s morality lack of interest in Muslim suffering isn’t limited to foreign policy. Consider the manner in which many liberals treat issues of Muslim concern in America. Take last year’s Alice in Arabia scandal. As I wrote at the time, the American Left’s reaction to the ABC family show was defining. Inaccurately referencing Edward Said’s Orientalism (a book many pretend to have read, few have actually read, and even fewer understand), the Left kicked up a firestorm of controversy and forced ABC to pull Alice in Arabia. What they neglected to consider was the notion that, however simplistic, the show might have sparked debate on human-rights issues in the Islamic world.

To be sure, Ahmed was treated poorly. And even if his treatment was not racist, we must always be ready to confront anti-Muslim bigotry. As President Bush explained after 9/11, “no one should be singled out for unfair treatment or unkind words because of their ethnic background or religious faith.” But supporting the human rights of Muslims requires more than supporting a Twitter hashtag or inviting a teenager to a science show. It requires our honesty about true suffering, and our resolute response to alleviate that suffering wherever it might occur.

Tom Rogan is a columnist for National Review Online, a contributor to the Washington Examiner, and a former panelist on The McLaughlin Group. Email him at


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