Uproar Over Ashcroft's Statements About Islam

February 13, 2002

Source: St. Louis Today


On February 13, 2002, St. Louis Today featured the editorial "On the record" about Ashcroft's recent statements regarding Muslims. It noted that Attorney General John Ashcroft is "performing some complicated verbal gymnastics to try to distance himself from a statement he made to columnist Cal Thomas, conservative Christian. ... Mr. Thomas quoted Mr. Ashcroft as having told him, 'Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for him. Christianity is a faith in which God sends his son to die for you.' ... Unfortunately, neither of the two of them had enough understanding of Islam to foresee that the Arab American Institute and other groups would be outraged at this clumsy mischaracterization of their faith, to the point of asking President George W. Bush to remove Mr. Ashcroft from office unless he apologizes." The editorial continued, "This is not an overreaction or a frivolous demand of political correctness. Mr. Ashcroft is overseeing the investigation of terrorist activity in the United States, which inevitably involves many Islamic men of Middle Eastern descent. If Mr. Ashcroft believes -- on a deeply personal, and usually safely hidden level -- that all Muslims practice the kind of radicalism that al-Qaida and the Sept. 11 hijackers embrace, he could not only unfairly target hosts of innocent people, he could also steer the hunt for terrorists in thousands of wrong directions. As the nation's leading enforcer of justice, the attorney general must not harbor ill-informed, preconceived notions."