Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Actions have Consequences: Burning the Quran

An outfit calling itself the Dove World Outreach Center says it plans to burn a Quran on September 11 this year. They're marking the 9th anniversary of the 9/11 attack that killed thousands of folks in New York City and elsewhere.

They're also exercising their constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of expression - and demonstrating world-class foolishness, in my opinion.

Or, maybe not. That Quran-burning could be useful to reinforce loyalty in the group's followers, or as a marketing tool for merchandise.

It's also, in my opinion, a dangerous act. More importantly, the top U. S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan thinks it is.
"...'Images of the burning of a Koran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan -- and around the world -- to inflame public opinion and incite violence,' Gen. David Petraeus said. 'Were the actual burning to take place, the safety of our soldiers and civilians would be put in jeopardy and accomplishment of the mission would be made more difficult.'

"His comments followed a protest Monday by hundreds of Afghans over the plans by Gainesville, Florida-based Dove World Outreach Center -- a small, evangelical Christian church that espouses anti-Islam philosophy -- to burn copies of the Koran on church grounds to mark the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks...."
(FOXNews (September 7, 2010))

No, I Don't Feel Sorry for Terrorists

Given the screwball attitudes and beliefs floating around these days, I'd better clarify a few things. I'm quite sure that:
  • The 9/11 attacks
    • Really happened
    • Were committed by Islamic terrorists
    • Were not committed by
      • The CIA
      • The FBI
      • The Jews
      • The Illuminati
      • Shape-shifting space-alien lizard people
    • Were not justified
  • Islam
    • Is not a monolithic block of people with identical
      • Cultural standards
      • Sophistication
      • Background
      • Psychological stability
    • Muslims are
      • Individuals
      • Not all alike
I've used the leadership of Indonesia as an example of Muslims who - by and large - seem able to deal with a world in which not everybody is exactly like themselves. Other followers of Islam don't seem as willing to accept the idea that it's no longer considered polite to kill people you don't like. The latter are in for a long, hard period of adjustment, in my opinion.

'There Oughta be a Law:' Maybe

I'm pretty sure that burning a Quran - or a Bible - is legal in America. Freedom of expression, and all that.

Whether or not it should be legal may be discussed, after that bunch of (self?)-righteous folks in Florida go through with their Opernplatz reenactment. I'm not at all sure that defining some actions as 'thought crimes' is a good idea. I was doing time in American academia while political correctness was in flower, and am no great fan of "hate speech" legislation as a result: largely because too often "hate speech" was defined as any expression of an opinion that the establishment didn't like.

As I said, I'm pretty sure that burning a Quran - or a Bible - is legal in America. In some countries, like India, it's not legal to deliberately offend another person's religious sentiments. (A Catholic Citizen in America (February 22, 2010) As a member of a religious minority, that sort of law has a certain appeal. As a survivor of higher education, I'd be hesitant to endorse that sort of legislation.

'Incitement to Riot' isn't an Excuse to Riot

I think that the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida is ill-advised to consider burning a Quran. They'll probably enjoy short-term gains - at the risk of endangering the lives of other people.

I do not think that the Outreach Center's appallingly warped judgment is an excuse for others to lash out. Not because I don't think a Muslim should be angry about what is planned: but because I think that violence is not an appropriate response in this case.

A couple years ago a university professor trashed a page from the Bible, the Quran, and another book, shoved a nail through a consecrated host, posted a photo of the lot online and bragged about it. (August 5, 2008) I was angry about that. Doubly so, since as a Minnesota taxpayer I'm required to help pay his salary.

But violence was not an appropriate response to that act - and I don't think it would be to what that Outreach Center has planned, either.

Still, I think that what the "evangelical" group plans is wrong.

Related posts:In the news:

1 comment:

Brian H. Gill said...


Bravely said.

My own view of religion in general is somewhat at variance with the norms of America's dominant culture. I've discussed this in another blog, A Catholic Citizen in America:

"Assumptions About Religion, and American Rules of Etiquette"
(April 14, 2010)

"Religion isn't Bad?"
(April 12, 2010)

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.