As you might have heard, a sketchy pastor from a podunk parish down in Florida has captured the world’s attention with his threat to burn a pile of copies of the Quran on the anniversary of 9-11.
Much has been made of this small church’s plans – Pastor Terry Jones has been villified by everybody from Sarah Palin to Barack Obama as a racist, a hypocrite and an incendiary element that risks setting relations with the Middle East ablaze.
“This stunt the’s pulling could greatly endanger our young men and women who are in uniform," warned President Obama. “It’s a recruitment bonanza for Al Qaida. You could have serious violence in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan.”
This is all well and good – I’m certainly no fan of book burning and have no desire to encourage extremist Muslims to retaliate through violence. I don’t support Pastor Jones in any way...
Except all of this media backlash against him has kind of left a bad taste in my mouth. Why? Because it’s completely missing the point.
Terry Jones is being labeled a bigot and a racist and all he’s threatening to do is burn a bunch of books. Meanwhile, extremist Muslims throughout the world are already rioting, burning American flags and threatening to commit murder and bloodshed in retaliation – and nobody’s saying a Goddamn thing.
And it’s the same as bloody normal, isn’t it? We westerners instantly vilify anybody who offends the sentiments of outraged Muslims, but seem to fall remarkably silent when Islamic extremists commit even more heinous offences in the name of the ‘religion of peace.’
The way Obama addressed the whole Quran-burning issue is indicative of his true motivation – he called for Pastor Jones to call off the bonfire because it risked sparking violence in the Middle East (in fact, it already has.)
There’s a word for that. It’s called appeasement.
Pastor Jones is a bonehead, don’t get me wrong. He’s no doubt a bigoted little idiot and I’m not defending his idiotic actions. Yet he has the right to burn those books – this is America, where freedom of speech is ingrained in the very fabric of our society. We shouldn’t have the President of the United States dictating an individual’s freedom of speech based on threats of violence from abroad.
Seriously – the bad guys here are the Muslim extremists. The issue here is not that a bigoted little preacher is burning books, but that a conglomeration of AK-47 wielding fascists think this justifies murder and mayhem. It doesn’t. It’s wrong. It’s offensive – far more offensive than the scent of smoldering paper.
Muslims extremists burn American flags like nobody’s business (seriously, the dude who imports them to the Middle East must be raking in a fortune.) Yet you don’t see outraged ‘patriots’ threatening to machine-gun mosques or behead imams to retaliate against the destruction of this American icon.
Somebody even pointed out that if an Imam threatened to burn a pile of Bibles, you wouldn’t have the same reaction.
You might have protests – perhaps even a couple of individuals doing something dumb – but you wouldn’t have widespread threats of violence and murder. You wouldn’t have people burning the Saudi Arabian flag in the streets. More likely, you’d have a bunch of Christians being offended – but willing to stand for it because ‘freedom of speech’ is more a part of the American religion than Christianity is.
So whatever you think about this Quran-burning brouhaha, let’s remember that the real bad guys aren’t the ones pouring the lighter fluid over the books, but the ones who think such an act justifies any form of violence.
Western governments can’t afford to appease extremists any longer. If violence kicks off because of Pastor Jone’s bigoted little demonstration it says more about the intolerance of Islam than it does about America – and it would even inspire me to consider lighting up a copy of the Quran myself.