Burning the Qur’an
On September 11, 2010, a small church in Gainesville, Florida is planning an organized burning of the Muslim holy book, The Qur’an. The burning is to mark the anniversary of the 9/11/2001 attacks against the US by Islamic terrorists.
Of course, everyone – including General David Petraeus – is worried the burning will endanger the lives of the troops in Afghanistan. Afghans in Kabul have already taken to the streets in protest of the planned burning, chanting “Death to America,” according to an article from Al Jazeera.
As always, I have several thoughts on the issue I thought I’d share with you. Here they are, in no particular order.
- This is different than all the other times peaceful Muslims have taken to the streets chanting “Death to America” how, exactly? When the 9/11 attacks were successful: “Death to America!” When we support Israel in any way: “Death to America!” When we wage war against those who attacked us: “Death to America!” Hey, it’s noon: “Death to America!” I think it’s time the Muslim world stop worrying about our “bridge building” efforts being derailed by anti-Islam sentiment and start worrying about the fact that we might find the bombing of our sovereign territory and constant chants of “Death to America” offensive.
- Some of the same Muslims making broad generalizations about Americans due to the burning of the Qur’an are the same ones claiming it is unjust and unfair to make broad generalizations about Islam based on the thousands of worldwide terrorist attacks committed in the name of Allah.
- It is possible this public book burning violates local fire and safety laws. In that sense, it may be illegal. If the burning is done in accordance to local laws, all those who defend the Ground Zero Mosque on first amendment issues must defend the book burning on the same grounds. Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech, we are told, do not only apply when we agree with something. It’s time for the same people who value the right to burn the flag to step up and support this burning of books. After all, the letter of the law is the letter of the law. As such, I fully expect a representative from the ACLU to attend the burning to ensure the first amendment rights of the protesters are upheld. Don’t hold my breath? Yeah, I thought so.
- Al Jazeera makes a point about this burning harming the diplomatic mission ostensibly set by the State Department to reach out to the world’s Muslim population. It’s a valid point. Know what else harms these negotiations? Flooding the streets of Kabul chanting “Death to America!” Threatening the lives of cartoonists and TV executives for celebrating our own cultural heritage: one that includes irreverence and the right to make fun of things, even if that humor is found to be offensive by some. Also, killing our troops, mocking the survivors of Islamic attacks by building a huge “community center” on the ground where the attacks took place, disrespecting all our traditions and culture while demanding we respect theirs. All these things harm the “diplomatic mission.” Sometimes, diplomacy is best meted out at the end of a very large stick. Personally, I think it’s time to tell the Muslim world, “Hey. Want some respect? Then stop trying to kill us.”
- On the other hand, I find burning books to be morally repugnant. I stand against it for many of the same reasons I am morally opposed to the Ground Zero Mosque. I agree, given the fire code caveats mention above, that book burning is constitutionally protected, but the idea people are going to protest hatred by openly hating people is offensive to me. There are other, better, ways to protest the spread of radical Islam as a sociopolitical movement, rather than a religious one. Attacking the Qur’an attacks the faith. I can find codified hatred in almost all religious texts. What we need to look at is the behavior of practitioners. As such, the best way to attack the Islamification of the western world is to attack its political and social roots, not it’s faith-based ones. We are America. We do support religious freedom. We do not support hiding behind the auspices of free worship to launch attacks on our sovereignty or our heritage.
- There’s no doubt in my mind this book burning is tied to the Ground Zero Mosque efforts. We were all told the purpose of the GZM was to build bridges between Islam and the West. With the majority of Americans opposed to the mosque, and with anti-Islam sentiment increasing daily because of the mosque, we can see how this bullheaded attempt to build bridges whether we want them or not is an utter failure of the mosque’s stated purpose. We’re racists and bigots is we point out Feisal Rauf’s statements soon after 9/11, which included that the US was partially responsible for the attacks, and that Osama bin Laden was “made in the USA.” Therefore, anyone who opposes the book burning is a racist and a bigot for attempting to restrict the rights of protesting Americans, yes? Bridge building is a two way street, and I am tired of hearing how the western world needs to show tolerance for Islam, when Islam repeatedly shows intolerance of the western world. I am tired of the Cordoba Initiative playing victim of anti-Islam sentiment while simultaneously proving they have no concern for the feelings of people who don’t agree one hundred percent with their motives. Want tolerance and understanding? Start by showing some.
- I am afraid this book burning will have a violent backlash for our troops and for citizens in the United States. I do feel ratcheting up the hate like this will provoke violence against Muslims. I also feel it will provoke violence by Muslims. If Everybody Draw Mohammed Day had such a violent reaction, if showing Mohammed in a bear suit on South Park prompted threats, what will happen now? However, I also feel the Muslims world is purposefully spreading the message that the only way forward is by allowing their intolerance of us and demonstrating a tolerance of them. Implicit is the threat: there are 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide. Implicit is the reality: there are over 4.5 million non-Muslims worldwide. Guess who has all the big guns?
- I’ve never burned a book in my life. I won’t start now. I’ve never burned a flag in my life. I might burn flags, but never the American one. I’ve never burned the effigy of any world leader. I’ve never called for violence against anyone except those trying to destroy us. There is a “Islam vs the World” cultural war ongoing. I don’t think it’s possible to stop it. What remains to be seen is whether this war remains cultural, or turns into a full-fledged conflict of arms. Aside from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are told we are not at war with Islam. How long will that remain the case? Does allowing people to vent their frustrations and anger by burning a book help or hurt? Does it provoke violence, or does it allow a more peaceful expression of violent undercurrents? I don’t know. I guess that remains to be seen. I won’t burn a Qur’an. Likewise, I won’t oppose those who speak out against the burning as offensive. It is. Even more importantly, I won’t pretend Islam isn’t trying to destroy the USA, Europe, Israel and the free nations of the world. I don’t want to do anything that endangers our troops, but I firmly believe what endangers them is radical Islam and absurd political correctness. It’s time for America to show its strength, not its weakness. We do not tolerate those who would kill us.
- I do not avoid burning the Qur’an out of fear. I am not afraid; I am aware. There’s a difference. I support our troops and their mission in Afghanistan. I support the total destruction of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. I support Israel and stand against Hamas and its Iranian backers. I stand against tyrants like Ahmadinejad. While I oppose book burning of any kind on moral grounds, I also oppose anyone who threatens to kill any American citizen because of it. God forbid the violence of the Middle East should become commonplace in the USA, but if war breaks out here, there is absolutely no question on whose side I will fight. I am an American, and anyone who chants “Death to America” might as well be saying “Death to Chris Barnhart.” The two statements are synonymous.
- Please do not burn the Qur’an. Burn effigies of bin Laden, of al-Qaeda, of the Taliban, if you must burn something at all. Peaceful Muslims who stand against such tyranny will have no choice but to support those efforts.