Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Burn a Koran Day

     Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, plans to hold a provocative event on Saturday, September 11, 2010.  Pastor Jones plans to burn one or more copies of the Koran, the Muslim holy book, in remembrance of the attacks by Muslim terrorists on America nine years ago.  His decision to do so has been rightly deplored by nearly everyone, including General David Petraeus, Commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.  General Petraeus has pointed out that going through with the plan will likely make things more difficult for American troops, who could face a population enraged by images of the burning.  Even the State Department has weighed in:  “While it may well be within someone’s rights to take this action, we hope cooler heads will prevail,” said P.J. Crowley, State Department spokesman.  This is exactly the position most Conservatives have taken on another planned provocation, the building of a victory mosque within two blocks of Ground Zero.  How ironic that the Left is condemning Pastor Jones while defending the imam who is organizing the building of the mosque.

     Another irony is the difference in reaction by the groups with the most right to take offense to the two events.  Muslim organizations around the world have condemned the proposed Koran burning, which is fine.  On the other hand, many groups have gone further and threatened violence if Pastor Jones exercises his free-speech rights and goes through with the burning.  Indeed, the Huffington Post reports that he has received over 100 death threats.

     What a contrast with the reaction of the 9/11 families to Imam Rauf’s proposed victory mosque.  The level of provocation is arguably worse with the victory mosque, which would be the most recent example of an old Islamic tradition:  the building of Islamic temples on sites of victory or conquest (see this post for more on the victory mosque).  In any case, the worst that the 9/11 families did was to contribute to respectful messages in the media urging that the mosque not be built.  Their response is exactly what was required of a civilized people making a rational case for respecting their sensibilities.  It is also the response of the majority of Americans.  Indeed, the words of the State Department against the Koran burning could—and should—have been applied equally to the Ground Zero Mosque.  But for some on the Left, there is no moral equivalence between their favored groups and, well, any others.

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