Blogs > HNN > Fahrenheit 9-1-1: Burning Qur'ans and Bibles

Sep 22, 2010 6:31 pm

Fahrenheit 9-1-1: Burning Qur'ans and Bibles

[Blogger's note: this was originally posted on September 9, 2010 but I took it down because of vitriolic comments, and my own rather intemperate responses. Herewith it reappears--a bit dated, now, because Jones decided NOT to burn any Qur'ans.]

It's a sad day in the long and formerly glorious history of Western civilization when the pastor of a tiny, much-maligned fundamentalist Protestant church in Florida more staunchly defends the First Amendment than does America's Attorney General, Secretary of State and greatest living General .

In three days (on September 11), according to its pastor Dr. Terry Jones, Dove Ministries in Gainesville, Florida, plans on burning copies of the Qur'an. The usual suspects in the Obama Administration have (yet again) unveiled their inner dhimmis: AG Holder said Jones' idea was "idiotic" and "dangerous;" Hillary Clinton pre-emptively labled the allegedly impious bonfire "disrespectful and disgraceful." More suprisingly, General David Petraeus, head of American forces in Afghanistan and architect of the successful "surge" strategy in Iraq, has weighed in that "images of the burning of a Quran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan—and around the world—to inflame public opinion and incite violence." NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasumssen added that smoldering Islamic holy books "would be in strong contradiction with all the values we stand for and fight for."

I do not support burning of any religion's holy scriptures. But Reverend Jones does make a number of salient points on the church's webpage entitled, provocatively, "5 More Reasons to Burn the Koran [sic]:"

1. Grabbing attention
2. Getting people to ask hard questions about Islam
3. Proclaiming freedom of speech
4. Exposing the [religious] truth
5. Forcing the world to act.

One might, and perhaps should, disagree with the methodology of burning Qur'ans in order to shock and awe folks into paying attention to Islamic teachings. And the issue of Islam's religious truth is certainly not on the radar screen of secularists in America. But Jones' other three points—asking hard questions of, and about, Islam; forcing the world to take a stand; and, most importantly, standing up for the American First Amendment right to freedom of speech—are quite mainstream and responsible, even if his tactic is, to put it mildly, inflammatory. Rasmussen, a Dane, would not understand that; hence his contention that burning Qur'ans is against "the values we stand for." Actually, the right to burn a flag or a holy book IS something we Americans do fight for, Anders.

One can forgive the good Dane for this gap in his world-view. But not Holder and Clinton. The AG is already on record with his obsequious comments about Islam. Hillary, I had thought, was more of a man—but alas, no. General Petraeus, logically, is looking at this issue purely in terms of how it will affect the mission impossible that Obama has given him: that of salvaging some measure of American victory in Afghanistan. And his job is already complicated by the Afghan rent-a-mobs which have begun burning American flags and protesting the same thing being done to their scriptures.

I wonder if General Petraeus' reaction would have been the same, however, had he been in command in Afghanistan last year when the U.S. military ordered the burning of Bibles. Yes, in May, 2009, American "military personnel threw away, and ultimately burned [emphasis added], confiscated Bibles that were printed in the two most common Afghan languages amid concern they would be used to try to convert Afghans...." It seems that a few soldiers or airmen at Bagram Airbase, about 30 miles north of Kabul, had managed to procure some unspecfied number of Dari and Pashto Bibles from a church in the U.S. and rather than sending them back whence they'd come, the command at Bagram was allegedly "worried the church would turn around and send them to another organization in Afghanistan—giving the impression that they had been distributed by the U.S. government."

So, according to the spokesman, Lt. Col. Mark Wright, scores of Christian Holy Scriptures were put to the flames—because "troops at posts in war zones are required to burn their trash."

Most Americans have probably never heard of this (although Rush did mention it on his radio show today) . Please note: I am not saying that because our military burned Bibles, Reverend Jones should, tu quoque, be allowed to do the same to Qur'ans with impunity. What I am saying is that the wildly-disparate responses by our own government officials to the issue of burning Christian and Islamic holy books is emblematic of an official policy privileging Islam and Muslims that is tantamount to one of dhimmitude—the historical status of subservient Christians and Jews under Islamic rule. First, why was the burning of Bibles by our own forces not more widely reported? (This morning I asked Suhail Khan, a moderate and conservative Muslim who was a guest on the Denny Schaffer show in Atlanta, his opinion of the Bagram Bible bonfire; he admitted to complete ignorance of it.) Could it be the predominant media narrative that sees Christians as oppressors and Muslims as victims, forever and ever, amen? Second, what explains the lack of labeling Bible burning by our own military forces (the ranks of which are overwhemingly Christian) "idiotic" or "disrespectful—other than the aformentioned dhimmi mentality which is pervasive among not just the government but, it increasingly seems, military? Third, does it not occur to our Attorney General, Secretary of State and commander of forces in Afghanistan that Islamic "extremists" will seize on any slight pretext as a rationale for violent demonstrations against Americans and Christians? By the logic of Holder, Clinton and, sad to say, Petraeus, the West should allow its beliefs to be held hostage to the perceptions of Muslims. That way lies civilizational decline and impotence. Reverend Jones, as boorish and unappealing as he is, comes off as a veritable Charles Martel next to the Obama Administration's dhimmis.

Even the Vatican, perhaps burned by the reaction to Pope Benedict XVI's 2006 Regensburg speech calling out Islam for its violence, is running scared. The church's Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue issued a statement that "deplorable acts of violence...cannot be counteracted by burning another religion's sacred book." However, violence certainly can be caused just by the mere threat to burn a certain sacred book. (Again, note that the few Christians—like myself—who knew about the 2009 Bible bonfire in Afghanistan did not indulge in "deplorable acts of violence." ) But the leadership of the world's largest Christian denomination betrays an even more disquieting misapprehension (perhaps willful) of Islamic teachings, in adducing John Paul II's 1999 address to the Pakistani ambassador that "recourse to violence in the name of religious belief is a perversion of the very teachings of the major religions." Even the great former pope seems to have had a major blind spot when it comes to Islam—for the Qur'an is rife with teachings that lionize violence against non-Muslims.

In the third Indiana Jones movie—aptly named, in this context, The Last Crusade—Indy's father, Dr. Henry Jones Senior (played wonderfully by Sir Sean Connery) tells a Nazi thug, at one point, "goose-stepping morons like yourself should try reading books instead of burning them." Herewith, then, a suggestion from that intelligent, suave and unfortunately only cinematic Dr. Jones to his more loutish namesake: instead of going through with your bonfire of the inanities, insist that each and every journalist staking out the Dove World Outreach Center on September 11, 2010, personally save a Qur'an from the flames—on the condition he s/he take it home and, mirabile dictu, actually read it and write an intellectually honest article about what this holy book of the world's second-largest religion actually says. The virtual beacon from such a miraculous event would provide far more light than any real flames of burning Qur'ans ever possibly could.

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