Jacob Heilbrunn

Why Is Obama's Justice Department Trying To Appease American Muslims?

In a flagrant instance of political correctness, President Obama's Justice Department is going to bat for Safoorah Khan, an Illinois middle school math teacher who abandoned her students to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. The Berkeley, Ill. school board twice denied her requests three weeks of unpaid leave. The board made the right call.

The Five Pillars of Islam enjoin a Muslim to travel at least once in their lifetime to Mecca. Khan was obeying no religious dictate to travel to Mecca immediately. But Khan resigned and made the hajj. Then she filed an anti-discrimination suit in November 2008 with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Justice Department, as the Washington Post prominently reports today, filed a lawsuit on her behalf, charging that the school district violated her civil rights.

This is nonsense. Actually, that isn't quite right. It's dangerous nonsense. So far, America has avoided going down the path of countries such as France or England, which are grappling with radical Islam. Obama is undermining that by filing specious lawsuits that can only encourage religious divisiveness in America.

A teacher who leaves her charges bereft at the end of the school year is not fit to teach. She could have made the pilgrimage at another point--say, when she had a sabbatical. Three days would have been fine. Three weeks at the end of term? No way.

The Obama administration, as the Post observes, is trying to have it both ways. Its bombing the smithereens out of Muslim countries, on the one hand, and bending over backwards to try and stick up at home for Muslims, on the other. No, this isn't the result of some nefarious Muslim heritage of Obama's, some product of his time spent in Indonesia. Instead, it's a case of multiculturalism run amok at the Obama Justice Department.

Hans von Spakovsky, a former Justice Department civil rights official in the Bush administration told the Post that "This is a political lawsuit to placate Muslims." Yes, it is. But there's no reason American Muslims should feel placated. Rather, they should feel insulted by an administration that is trying to pander to them by endorsing a selfish teacher's lawsuit.