What should have been—in a rational culture—little more than a storm in a teacup, has unfortunately morphed from an insignificant symbolic gesture to an event possibly requiring tactical changes in the so-called War on Terror.
Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida wants to mark the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 act of war by Islamic jihadists by burning a few hundred copies of the jihadists’ military manual—the Koran.
Stormy events emanating from Florida usually involve natural hurricanes or at least tropical storms, but the Cable News Network (CNN) and the rest of the media have turned Pastor Jones and his stunt into something more. At worst, Pastor Jones will become an arch villain of troglodytic magnitude, which coincidently would equate him with Osama Bin Laden on some level, who for years has been assumed to be a cave dweller, though his address is still unknown.
Jones’ proposed Koran book burning is nothing more than a stunt. No one is forced to pay any attention to it and no one will be physically hurt by it, particularly if it is ignored.
What is remarkable about the entire affair is not the event itself, but how much of the commentary and criticism directed at it has been framed in terms of its capacity to inflame violence in the so-called Muslim world, much as the furor following the publishing of the now infamous Danish Cartoons in 2005 did.
Some powerful leaders in the world are intimidated by what a billion Muslims—each with free will, by the way—might do to U.S. troops or U.S. citizens at home and abroad. All manner of heavyweights and lightweights have rushed to add their indignant condemnation; church, civic, state, national and international leaders have contributed.
General Patreus has condemned the proposal, saying it would endanger the troops, that it would “…fuel anti-U.S. hatred rivalling the backlash against photographs of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison.” Presumably, the Taliban in Afghanistan, who have been generally laying about and waiting for the scheduled withdrawal of U.S. forces next year will now be motivated beyond reason to come out of their caves and rain hellfire on U.S. troops because of the inciting actions of Pastor Jones in Gainesville.
As minor as this symbolic event ought to be to rational men, it has attracted the attention of the President of the United States, who calls it “…a recruiting bonanza for al Qaida.” He further appealed to Pastor Jones saying that “…I hope he understands that what he is proposing to do is completely contrary to our values as Americans, that this country has been built on the notion of freedom and religious tolerance.” (Emphasis added.) (As an aside, observe that in the President’s mind, “freedom”, presumably here offered in a political context, is merely a notion rather than an important founding principle.)
“Religious tolerance,” was a keystone of the President’s infamously bungled remarks over the provocative plans for the Park 51 project near “Ground Zero” in Manhattan. This “tolerance” might logically be extended also to the weird and possibly distasteful antics of Pastor Jones.
Sarah Palin, former Vice Presidential candidate in the 2008 U.S. presidential elections has called the planned event “…insensitive and an unnecessary provocation.”
As noted, many have remarked on the planned Koran burning, but the most detached and rational observations I’ve heard have come from of all people, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who observed “It’s regrettable that a pastor in Gainesville, Florida, with a church of no more than 50 people can make this outrageous and disgraceful plan and get the world’s attention. But that’s the world we live in right now.”
Indeed we do live in that world. Enough said—if it were a rational culture, that is. The world we live in now must have a hurricane in a cave.
©Copyright 2010 Edward Podritske