Thoughts on Koran-Burning

September 8, 2010

In the news: pastor plans to burn Korans

I do not intend to support the burning of Korans.  First, burning books is only useful if the book is truly harmful and you have realistic chances of burning every last copy; otherwise, it is merely a symbolic act.  Second, what good can come of this?  This is not how you persuade people that Islam is evil or just plain wrong.  These things aside, there are some interesting observations to be made in relation to this story.

Various people are concerned that this would incite violence against Americans in the Muslim world.  First of all, we shouldn’t care what radical Muslims think about this, since they’ll be trying to kill us regardless.  Are we then afraid of the actions of “moderate” Muslims?  If we are, then we should ask whether they are really moderate, because it seems anyone who kills over an insult is hardly a moderate anything.  Beyond that, it would be rather hypocritical for moderate Muslims to insist on not being lumped in with radical Muslims while at the same time lumping together all Americans with a small church that burns some Korans.

There is also the usual religious pluralism nonsense at work, demonstrated by the Gainesville mayor, who declared September 11th, “Interfaith Solidarity Day”.  That would be solidarity with everyone except those of the faith who are planning to burn Korans.  On what principle are these people standing in solidarity?  The principle that no religion should criticize another religion?  Surely the world would be a better place if all criticism were done away with.  Never mind whether something is true or not.  I suppose this principle of non-criticism must be what David Axelrod had in mind when he said burning the Korans was “not right.  It’s not consistent with our values”.  I actually thought that having the freedom to show your contempt for something that you considered wrong was one of our values.

We also should not fail to appreciate the Muslim response to all of this.  A candidate for the Afghan parliament was quoted as saying, “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.”  By calling the reaction “first and most important” I conclude he isn’t merely predicting what will happen but what ought to happen.  This is a wonderful proof that the Koran does not deserve to be burned.  I sure hope this guy falls into the “radical” category.

Then we have Eric Holder who calls the whole thing idiotic.  So, if you publicly criticize Islam, you may have the Attorney General calling you an idiot.  And, finally, we have some comments from State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.   According to Crowley, the administration is hoping that Americans will rise up and condemn the planned burning.  Why should we?  It certainly isn’t an insult to me, and I frankly don’t think it is necessary for everyone from Joe Smith on up to the President to call out someone for throwing around insults, however nasty they may be.  Crowley went on to say not only that the burning is “inconsistent with our American values” and “un-American” but, moreover, that it is “consistent with the radicals and religious bigots who attacked us on 9/11.”  Hold on!  So there’s a moral equivalence between murdering a few thousand people and throwing around insults?  This is a truly outrageous statement.   Crowley, however, made his gravest error when he said the burning was “a divisive potential act of disrespect to one of the world’s great religions.”  In point of fact, Islam is not great.

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