By Peter Roff, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
It was something more than horrific to read in Monday's Times of London that paramilitary troops were on patrol in the streets of a town in eastern Pakistan after "Muslim radicals burnt to death eight members of a Christian family."
The Times' account of what happened reads like something one would hope would only have happened in an earlier time.
"Hundreds of armed supporters of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an outlawed Islamic militant group, set alight dozens of Christian homes in Gojra town at the weekend after allegations that a copy of the Koran had been defiled," the paper said.
The mob, which reportedly chanted anti-Christian slogans, was said to have gone on "a rampage as the police stood by and did nothing," according to observers who also said the rioters "opened fire indiscriminately, threw petrol bombs and looted houses." According to police at least eight people, including four women and a child, were killed in the fires, with two others dying from gunshot wounds.
There are no words to describe, no reason to be given, that excuses such behavior, especially in a country considered by the United States to be an ally. Sometimes it is hard to imagine that such things still occur throughout the world—the persecution of Christians never receiving the same kind of attention that attacks on other religious and ethnics groups receive. But, as the Times' account grimly attests, these kinds of things do still go on in today's world.
America has been largely free of such events, thanks to the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, who knew all too well what conflicts grounded in religious differences could do to a nation and to its people. And one would hope that the events in Gojra would have been strongly denounced by President Barack Obama but, as leader of the free world, he is a very busy man.
A lot of things compete for his attention. And he has a very busy month ahead of him, what with his plans to barnstorm the country in support of healthcare reform, his work to save the "Cash for Clunkers" program—which is already out of money—and all the other things he has on his plate. And he was busy trying to bring Sgt. Joseph Crowley and Professor Henry Louis Gates together in peace and harmony.
It took him almost a week, for example, to come around on Iran after its population took to the streets in protest of a rigged presidential election. But he did eventually come around, though not as forcefully as some might have hoped. So we can only hope that, once he gets the word on what just happened in Pakistan, he'll say something about that too.