Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Burned Up or Burned Out?

  A huge story in the headlines this week is the plan of Florida preacher Terry Jones to burn copies of the Muslim Holy Book Quran this Saturday to commemorate the 9th anniversary of 9/11. People from all across the political and religious spectrums worldwide are condemning the activity and the US commander in Afghanistan says the proposed event would endanger the lives of US troops worldwide.

  I’m not a big fan of this Quran-burning, but I have to congratulate Pastor Jones for finding a way to get worldwide publicity for his 50 member Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida. Already there are protests in Muslim countries with the requisite ‘Death to America’ chants. I know that since many of these same countries have been on the news in recent years burning the American flag, they will seize on any excuse to bash America and not focus on the fact that there will not be millions of people burning Qurans this weekend. If these countries would burn Danish embassies and issue death threats against a Dutch cartoonist who drew pictures of the Muslim prophet Mohammed, I hate to see what they’ll threaten against Jones.

  Maybe people who see Pastor Jones as extreme will think of the people who hijacked those planes 9 years ago and flew them into the Pentagon and World Trade Center as his spiritual kin. In any event, I think the amount of comments made by our countries representatives is overkill. I don’t see why they can’t just say that this guy is either a publicity seeker or a crackpot, people in this country burn the US flag with less fanfare, it’s part and parcel of living in a free country, and be done with it. The comments from U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey and the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Gen. Lloyd Austin were especially amusing “As this holy month of Ramadan comes to a close and Iraqis prepare to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, we join with the citizens of Iraq and of every nation to repudiate religious intolerance and to respect and defend the diversity of faiths of our fellow man". In most Muslim countries it is against the law for Christians to worship outside the home, let alone try to convert members of other religions. So much for “repudiating religious intolerance” and “respecting diversity of faith”.

  Here is a quote from Mohammad Mukhtar, a cleric and candidate for the Afghan parliament. "When their holy book Quran gets burned in public, then there is nothing left. If this happens, I think the first and most important reaction will be that wherever Americans are seen, they will be killed. No matter where they will be in the world they will be killed." I suppose the moderate Muslims would want to only stone Americans to death while the liberal Muslims would compromise by merely cutting out our tongues.

I looked for articles to see if Bible burning is rampant in other countries and didn’t find very much. I suppose if a book is illegal in a country there won’t be too many to burn. But I also didn’t have to look very far for an example of Bible burning. It seems the US Military was in the bible burning business as recently as last year, with minimal outrage. In the battle of ideas between the West and the Muslim worlds, while the US Military burns Bibles, the Muslims compromise by momentarily suspending the stoning of a woman accused of adultery.

9-1-1 was a traumatic day for many people. I remember being in Iowa on the phone with my brother who was watching the building burn from his apartment window in Newark. I also remember the gas stations in Iowa doubling the price of gas that afternoon for a few hours until the governor threatened to prosecute all price gougers, and the anthrax-laden envelopes that were sent to government buildings the weeks after the attack. Unfortunately, it was 9 years ago and people are in high school now that only know about it from watching the news or reading history books and think about it as just something older people need to get over just like I thought about the JFK assassination when I was a kid. It remains to be seen whether this short attention span will prove a strength or an asset. I think it is a strength. We can see where the Palestinians and Israelis, Serbs and Bosnians, to name a few have gotten by holding grudges.

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