Burning the Qur’an

Is burning the Qur'an the best way to protest Islamofascism?

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.”
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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?
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
36 Responses to “Burning the Qur’an”
  1. Joseph Veca says:

    I agree with you except on one point.

    If we were to burn effigies of Islamic Jihadist leaders, they would see it as no different than burning the Qur’an because Jhiadist leaders are seen as Warriors of Allah.

  2. Joshua says:

    I was glad you mentioned peaceful Muslims at the end.

    I think the problem with any book burning like this is that it ignores the fact that many Muslims also are against terrorism. I’m all for hitting enemies, but can we do it without slapping friends in the face at the same time? Insulting people who are more or less on your side seems a poor way to go about any conflict.

    Islam isn’t monolithic. Just like Christianity it has different groups who believe different variations on the theme. Treating every Muslim as “enemy” puts blinders on us and prevents us from seeing potential advantages.

    • ChrisIsRIGHT says:

      I draw a distinction between Muslims and Islam. Even peaceful practitioners of Islam have supported fatwas against Rushdie and the creator of Everybody Draw Mohammed Day. But you are right. If we want to encourage peaceful Muslims to side against terror, we must provide them that opportunity. That said, it is also wrong to paint opponents of Islam as monolithic, which the American media does daily.

      • Joshua says:

        Comparatively, many Christians are made angry or are bothered by the marginalizing of the religious aspects of Christmas.

        Saying you’re bothered by someone making what you perceive as an “insult” against your religion is a lot different than wishing someone dead. If you could go back and get a breakdown of opinions, I bet you’d find that while some peaceful practioners of Islam were angry at what they saw as an insult, they didn’t wish people to be killed or laws to be broken.

        We can compare and say that while many Christians are against the idea of abortion, only a tiny minority will attempt to stop abortions through the use of violence (shooting doctors, vandalizing clinics, etc).

        I think the news media has flaws on both sides of the argument. Their coverage is driven by rating concerns, sometimes to the detriment of accuracy.

    • I totally agree with you in understanding that we should treat people with respect and that we should not that Muslims are our enemy. There are 1.5 billion Muslims. Obviously, the entire religion does not consist of extremists. Instead of attacking Islam, we should commit ourselves to learning more.

      There is an org out there engaging in Muslim-Baptist discussions.

      I also wrote a piece about a Capitol Hill briefing with some high-profile US leaders.


  3. DCG says:

    I do not agree w/the book burning, yet that is their right. I don’t agree w/American flag burning yet we’ve seen how many times libs willingly burn Old Glory. I support a soldier in Afghanistan – will this harm him more? Heck, they are already in danger 24/7 over there. IMO this won’t make the extremists any more committed to killing Americans, that is already their goal. It only inflames the attempt to “build a bridge” which is becoming increasingly difficult due to their attempt to build a mosque on Ground Zero. Where’s their tolerance?

    • Joshua says:

      I think the problem is that this gesture doesn’t just impact the extremists. If it was a targeted move that hit only them, sure, that would make some sense.

      It is a slap in the face to every Muslim who isn’t a crazy extremist though. That doesn’t benefit anyone.

      It would be like if people burned Bibles because they didn’t like this church group’s actions. What do you think the impact of that would be?

      As to the Mosque. It’s not at Ground Zero. It’s a couple blocks away in a place where there are already services occurring. Banning them would be a frightening edit of the Constitution.

      Yes, building a bridge is hard work. Nobody said being the good guys was easy.

  4. DCG – We are Americans. It is their right to burn the books but there are many, many reasons not to do this esp given what a US Gen working in Afghanistan said.

    Besides, we are supposed to get an example. This seems to be a totally different attitude than after September 11. Bush said Islam is about peace. Now people say that the religion is pure evil. A few years ago, all people cared about was protecting national security. Now, it’s not such a big deal. Interesting.

    • DCG says:

      I concur that it is their right to burn the Koran yet do no support it. It will endanger American lives. National security is a big deal especially with our current CIC. Guess that’s why he’s so intent in protecting our borders…

      If the Imam is serious about building bridges (and being the good guy), why not dedicate space in this community center to a church and synagogue? He could have proposed a memorial to the 9/11 dead with a denouncement of the doctrine of armed jihad, but he does not. Or why not take $100 million to build this mosque and send the money to dying and needy Muslims in Darfur or Pakistan?

      Both actions are provocations that they are entitled to do. Don’t like either one but it’s their right.

        • DCG says:

          Well good to know they are planning a 9/11 memorial, thanks.

          I personally don’t believe the Imam is trying to build bridges – I believe this is a “victory mosque”. I’ve heard what he said about America and 9/11 and find that disgraceful. Again, it is their right to build it there but doesn’t make it right IMO. Build it there if he must but I believe it will not “build bridges”.

          Their religion is nothing more than a violent political movement, which can even now deceive many into believing it is harmless at its core. I cannot support a religioin that treats women like second class citizens, kills homosexuals, burns Bibles and removes Christian items from personal homes. Sharia Law is terrible and is making it’s way into USA (see recent cases in Michigan). I’m tolerant of all religiions but not when they take precedence over the Constitution and the laws of the US.

          • Joshua says:

            There you go again slapping a billion odd potential allies in the face for the sake of a small percentage of extremists.

            Islam, like Christianity and every other religion is interpreted in a huge number of different ways. Most people who practice both religions are generally nice, inoffensive people who don’t rock the boat and live according to the laws of the countries they inhabit.

            I do not approve of treating women like second class women, killing homosexuals or anything else you mentioned. Neither do I approve of denying homosexuals marriage based on religious (primarily Christian) reasoning, rewriting US history to fit a more-Christian ideology (what is happening with textbooks in Texas) or setting laws to define who gets to worship where.

            The Muslims I’ve had the chance to meet in person were all polite, law-abiding people who wanted the same things we all do, peace, freedom, and a better life for their children. For them, Islam isn’t a violent political movement, it’s a personal guide for how they live their lives – just like it is for many Christians, Buddhists and Jews that I know.

            As to the building being a “victory mosque” – if it was, would it include a community center, a 9/11 memorial and multifaith prayer spaces? That seems a silly way to define a victory, doesn’t it?

          • DCG says:

            There you go again, being deceived that Islam is a religion of peace. So you’ve met Muslims – Do you know any? Do you know any one that has lived in the Middle East? Get back to me when you’ve heard what they experienced. Stick to one subject here: Islam and Sharia Law is a very dangerous thing. The Koran is to be followed to word. That means the violent passages take precedence over the peaceful ones. That means deceiving others. Sharia Law is their goal. If you don’t want to belive that, fine. But again, creeping Sharia already in place here and many European countries.

            No one is against building this mosque. They are against building it there. And if they, on their own, moved it to another location it would engender a lot of support and good will.
            They are clearly exhibiting that they are not a religion of tolerance. Again, did you not hear what this Imam said about America? To believe it’s not a victory mosque is denial.

          • Joshua says:

            Interesting, it won’t let me reply to a reply of a reply. Just a heads up on that Chris if it wasn’t intentional.

            Now to DCG. Yes I know several Muslims. Yes, some of them lived out in the middle east (had some fantastic chats with one lived in Pakistan about the differences between cultures).

            The fascinating thing is that your absolute certainty about a conspiracy has echoed historically for any number of other cultures and races. Time and time again, there is no conspiracy. I’m gonna go with history on this one.

            Second, are you yourself Muslim? Having talked to a number of Muslims in North America, I find your interpretation of their religion to be wildly different from their own. I’ve studied world religions, been to a Mosque (as well as a Hindu temple, a synagogue and a Buddhist temple). Having gone to get first hand information on my own, I feel confident in my understanding.

            Do I disagree with Sharia law replacing civic law? Yes. Do I feel the need to label the millions of Muslims living peacefully in the Western world as an enemy (like you seem to be doing)… No.

            The Muslims I’ve talked to, their goals are buying a house, finding love and starting a family, getting ahead in the world and building a better life for their children. That sounds a whole lot like the goals and dreams most of us have. So, why pick a fight with those ones?

          • ChrisIsRIGHT says:


            Yes. The replies only go five deep. I can change this, but because they’re nested and keep getting narrower and narrower, I think 5 is a good threshold.

            Now, as to your comment to DCG, I have no idea what conspiracy theory you’re talking about. Imam Rauf has stated he wants Sharia law for the US. Muslims have DEMANDED Sharia law in the UK. Muslims are now protesting, demanding death to the pope.

            These aren’t handfuls of radicals; they are thousands upon thousands of protesters demanding the predominant culture and religion make way for Islam.

            I’ve “been to a mosque” too. I know Muslims, too. And they echo many of your statements. “There are over 1 Billion of us. Why are you alienating us this way?”

            This is, to be blunt, BS.

            There are over 4.5 Billion non-Muslims. Why are THEY alienating US?

          • Joshua says:

            Good point with the thinner columns with nesting. I actually find that kind of annoying on some sites with very long threaded conversations.

            My point is, and has always been, that some is not all. Yes, there are thousands upon thousands of protesters. But if there are millions of Muslims in the US, aren’t those protesters just a radical subset of a group that is happy to live here with our laws?

            I’ve always objected to lumping of this sort. When you use the actions of extremists to tar and feather and entire group, I feel that it cheapens the entire discussion. This is the same thing that smears pro-life Christians for the murder of an abortion doctor by one lone nut. The number of examples of this happening is almost without limit, and often against us Conservatives and Christians.

            DCG said “Sharia law is their goal”. That implies ALL Muslims want exactly that. That’s not really true when you get down to it, and that’s why I called it a “conspiracy theory”.

            All religions have a spectrum of practitioners. The strongly orthodox desire strict adherence to the letter of the religious text. At the other end, their are non-traditional believers who adapt the traditional texts to different circumstances. Why pick a fight unnecessarily with the parts of the spectrum with which you can get along?

            I think that misinformation and spin have led to both sides getting their hackles up on this issue. As you said Chris, everybody feels wronged. So, why don’t we all take a step back and talk to the sane people on the other side and see what we can do?

          • ChrisIsRIGHT says:


            For the plain and simple reason that widespread violence is occurring everywhere in the world Islam spreads. Everywhere.

            How many thousands of people have to die before you stop seeing this as a “small percentage” of people? If there were thousands of abortion doctors killed ever year, don’t you think there would be a violent uprising against Christians? I don’t see you, for example, defending Catholicism. Yet Muslims worldwide are protesting the pope, saying Jesus wasn’t the son of God but a prophet of Islam and calling for Benedict’s death.

            This is my problem. You want to defend Islam. Fine. But spend just as much time defending the people Islam attacks.

            If there were several thousand terrorist attacks annually by Christians, don’t you think the world would come out against Christianity? That’s rhetorical. We both know the answer, don’t we? In fact, time after time, people want to draw comparisons by talking about the Crusades (which proves they don’t understand the history of the middle east, at the very least.)

            Yet, you’re making comparisons between a literal handful of attacks against abortion doctors spanning several decades, by countless acts of terror perpetrated annually. Certainly, any terrorist attack is loathsome, but if we’re going to compare, the numbers aren’t in your favor.

            If these peaceful Muslims are so offended by our speaking out against a movement that has killed, enslaved and marginalized millions, then to hell with them. Ask them what they think about Christianity. Or, better yet, Judaism.

          • Joshua says:

            Chris, it’s pretty evident that you jumped and replied when you saw what I wrote as opposed to reading it. You missed my point.

            I’m not comparing acts of terror in a game of tit for tat, I’m comparing the idea of lumping psychotics (by the standards of civilization) to those who are not psychotic. I could use an analogy with racism and conservatives, Irish Catholics and the IRA or any other example of “lumping”.

            Then you threw a lot of interesting accusations at me. I’m wondering where the hell they all came from. I think you’re trying to use me as a scapegoat for a lot of frustration. Just to satisfy you, let’s deal with them in order:

            1. I was raised Catholic. I disagree with plenty of what the Church does, but I don’t believe Benedict is the devil (even if he resembles the Emperor from Star Wars). It has done a great deal that wasn’t good. It has also done an amazing amount of good with charity work, teaching, curating knowledge through the middle ages, etc. Is there a balance? Frankly, I don’t know how to do that math, so I leave it alone.

            2. As to the people that Islam attacks, have I ever said I am anything but sympathetic? In this thread, I’ve been responding on many attacks towards Islam, but you really don’t know what I say off this message board. You make interesting assumptions to try and pursue ad hominem attacks.

            Far too many people define terrorism as “any act of violence by a Muslim”. That is ignorant to history and an obstacle to us moving forward.

            I find it interesting how in all those attacks my simple question hasn’t been answered: Why pick a fight with the ones who aren’t fighting? Why did you attack me as opposed to responding to that very simple question?

          • ChrisIsRIGHT says:


            I did in fact read what you wrote. I just think you’re full of it.

            You’re quite right. I have no idea what you say elsewhere. Likewise, you don’t know what DCG or I say elsewhere.

            I think you’re playing the moral relativism game for all it’s worth. You can disagree if you want to. It’s unlikely either one of us is going to change the others’ mind.

          • Joshua says:

            Well Chris, the difference is I’m responding to what you and DCG say here rather than accusing you based on things you haven’t said. That’s the essence of a conversation. What you did was take it into a level of ad hominem attacks without actually responding to any of the points I brought up.

            Was I really playing moral relativism when I said that all smearing of people based on the actions of a subset of their population was wrong? Seems pretty clear and straightforward to me. You just chose to interpret that as a tit-for-tat comparison that it was not and then attack me based on that interpretation.

            Fascinating. I can see this isn’t the place for open discussion.

          • ChrisIsRIGHT says:

            Well Joshua, The difference is that while my comments were in response to you, not all of the point I made were directed at you. Language is like that. I can make points using it.

            But, in the end, you’re right. If you’re going to play the victim card and make accusations about my discussion style when you don’t like what I have to say, Mr. Whiny Pants, you’re better off elsewhere.

            Hey! Have you checked out the Progressives? They could use someone like you.

  5. Polly Hoar says:

    Chris IS Right!
    I love how you break down the issue point by point. Burning anything as protest protest shows a lack of original thought. Will this rachet up the violence? Probably, but so will sneezing next to a picture of Mohammed without covering your mouth –> terrorist don’t need reasons when any excuse will bring on the “Death To America” chants.

    • Joshua says:

      True. Crazy will do what crazy does. Why do something to piss off the non crazy people though?

      While it is certainly within their legal rights (if fire code and other items are observed) it just seems like a dumb thing to do.

  6. Eternal Density says:

    The troops and US citizens (I’m Australian btw) aren’t the only people who could suffer from the backlash.
    I quote
    “The effect of the proposed action on Christians in Muslim-majority contexts is likely to be extremely serious. Already Muslim militants in Indonesia have promised to kill Indonesian Christians if Qur’ans are burned in Florida, and the history of anti-Christian violence in the country suggests that this is not an idle threat. ”
    (from http://www.barnabasfund.org/Quran-burning-an-unnecessary-offensive-and-dangerous-gesture.html )

    (My personal opinion is that book burning, particularly in this case, isn’t a wise choice, even though there seems to be a legal right (I can’t accurately comment on that myself) and there is obviously some motivation felt to do so.)

  7. @Eternal Density. thanks for sharing your thoughts about this, as an Australian. I agree that this Koran burning will not ONLY impact American troops. It could impact missionaries, NGO workers and other Westerners.

  8. For those who believe the Koran is so bad. Read the latest article on how the Quran talks about Jesus and Mary.


  9. John Barnstead says:

    “Peaceful Muslims who stand against such tyranny will have no choice but to support those efforts.” — This last sentence bothers me, Chris. I am always bothered when I see rhetoric aimed at backing someone — *anyone*, I suppose — into a corner.

    Of course peaceful Muslims who stand against tyranny still have a choice, whether it is one you recognize or not. One may stand against tyranny in general and on any number of particular occasions, without feeling moved to act in a particular instance — or, in some instances, and given one’s own realities, feeling it *unwise* to act in that particular instance.

    With respect to another of your posts — I was very sorry to learn of the death of your friend David. And also I’d just like to say that I miss our pun-fests on #C, and that I wish the intervening continent and international border did not prevent us from getting together for a Thai feast…

    • ChrisIsRIGHT says:


      Of course, people will have a choice. But those peaceful Muslims who are trying to portray anyone standing against the advancement of Sharia and enforced Islam as bigots, who claim that they DO stand against such violence perpetrated in the name of Allah and Mohammad, who have protested any free exercise of speech that offends them … well, those who take those stances and do NOT speak out against terrorism prove where they truly stand.

      I firmly believe we in the USA are being forced to take an anti-Islam stance because so-called peaceful and moderate Muslims won’t take such anti-terrorist stances.

      In regards to your condolences about David, thank you so much.

      Also, I too regret we do not live closer. I’m convinced our paths will cross eventually, and we shall have a first meeting of old friends over Thai food or some such that will be a wonderful and long conversation.

  10. DCG says:

    History has showed that Islam is creeping into other countries and that Sharia Law is their goal. How can you support a religion – even w/”moderate” Muslims, that allows the stoning of women, killing of homosexuals, and is complete INTOLERANT of Christians in ME countries. Treating women like second class citizens, arresting people for eating when they shouldn’t be, and boycotting Israel – what’s so “moderate” about that?

    Nothing about that says “moderate” or “peaceful” to me. You do know one of the rules of Islam is to deceive?

    I’m certain that the Koran is to be followed to word. That means the violent passages take precedence over the peaceful ones. That means deceiving others. Sharia Law is their goal. If you don’t want to belive that, fine. Let me enjoy my little “conspiracy”…

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