If Saturday’s planned Koran burning goes ahead as scheduled (it is currently “on hold“) and people around the world are harmed as a result, the outrage should not be directed at the Koran burners, but the lunatics who would kill others over what a bunch of nobodies did on their own private property that harmed no one in a city that most of those likely to be violently outraged have surely never heard of.
Terry Jones, the Gainesville, Fla. pastor who is spearheading the Sept. 11 Koran burning, is quite transparently a moron. And burning Korans is a hateful, condemnable act. Let’s make that clear from the start. But what is all the commotion about? There are a lot of idiots who do stupid things for publicity in this country. Have you seen the show “Jackass”?
The idiots we should be primarily concerned about are the ones that harm others. And Terry Jones, as far as I am aware, has never proposed doing that. As bigoted as he may be, he isn’t urging his followers to physically harm anyone. He isn’t even planning to be as confrontational as to burn Korans in front of Muslims. What he is going to do if his moronic stunt goes forward is exercise his First Amendment right, however misguided his point, by burning some books on private property.
If it hasn’t been stated outright, we have been led to believe by the media narrative that Jones himself should be held morally responsible for any deaths that result from his planned provocation. If so, then the media, too, should be held morally culpable. After all, some sorry sap on Facebook has more friends than Jones has followers. Yet the media — especially MSNBC — is covering the story as if Sarah Palin is teaming up with Rush Limbaugh to burn Korans live on Fox News.
The real question is why there isn’t more outrage directed at the monsters who would get so enraged as to threaten to kill random Americans because of what some Chester Arthur look-alike decided to do in his backwoods shack. Isn’t that a tad bit more outrageous?
Speaking of outrage, what’s worse, the fact some freak show plans to burn an infinitesimal fraction of the Korans that exist in the United States, or the fact that Christians and Jews, as well as those from other religious traditions, including different Muslim traditions, are systematically discriminated against in many Muslim countries? In Saudi Arabia, for instance, according a 2009 State Department report on religious freedom, “Conversion by Muslims to another religion (apostasy) and proselytizing by non-Muslims are punishable by death under the Islamic laws adopted by the country …” I think I’ll save my outrage for such systematic religious discrimination, sanctioned by actual governments around the world, rather than what some looney tunes no one supports plans to do in north Florida that will physically harm no one.
Next: Don’t let terrorists censor us
On principle, I don’t think we should be censoring ourselves because of what some terrorists threaten to do to us. Take Jones and his offensive stunt out of the equation. Many people, myself included, supported Everybody Draw Mohammad Day, which was sponsored by several publications, because it was an important demonstration of our free speech rights against those fanatics who seek to censor what we can and cannot publish through violence or threats of violence. And it was well understood that that demonstration of free speech could have resulted in deaths in the United States as well as around the world.
I can see, if not understand, where the mindset comes from that compels people to want to blame the violent actions of terrorists on others. It is a little like those who say that the girl in a short skirt and a low cut top deserved what she got. Some may be comfortable with that line of reasoning. I’m not.
I don’t consider myself a big proponent of book burning, no matter whether the book in question is the Koran, Mein Kampf or even a Fabio novel. So, at the end of the day, I hope Jones will stand down, not because of the threats, but because the act itself is unsupportable. But if Terry Jones is the best example of Christian extremism — as my friends on Facebook and elsewhere seem to want to portray him — than this just further highlights the wide gap between Christian extremism, that can be bigoted but harms no one, and Islamic extremism, that is undoubtedly bigoted and threatens human life around the world.