Monday, September 13, 2010

Burning the Quran

This past weekend we commemorated the 9th anniversary of the “9/11” attacks. These attacks were carried out by terrorists who belonged to one religion: Islam. Since that attack, there has been a growing prejudice, both in American and abroad, against Muslims, culminating, in my view, with last week’s announcement by one Terry Jones in Gainesville, Florida that he would hold a “Burn a Koran day” on September 11, 2010.

On September 7, 2010 Russell Goldman of ABC News commented that Jones was “perhaps the unlikely face” of this anti-Islam, or anti-Muslim movement. But I disagree. While it could easily have been a different individual, I think whoever became the face of this movement, it would have to have been someone like Terry Jones.

I have to make a disclaimer here: I am a Christian (I’ll refrain from reporting which exact denomination). When it comes to religion, we (correctly or incorrectly) believe that we are right and (not we) are wrong. Therefore, even before 9/11 I had misgivings about Islam. But I am also an American, and as such I believe in the freedom of religion, as outlined in the First Amendment of our Constitution, and I think a lot of people don’t understand just how important and far-reaching that amendment is.

I would hate to have people associate my form of Christianity with that practiced by many others: David Koresh (of Waco, Texas fame) jumps to mind; the Ku Klux Klan; the Army of God (anti-abortion extremists); Scott Roeder; the “Hutaree” group in Michigan, as well as other Christian Militia groups belonging to the Christian Patriot movement; and while it is an ancient reference, I have to mention the Crusades (including the Children’s Crusade) in which thousands of people died in the name of Christ. Personally, I cannot remember a single example of rebellion in the United States whose leader did not claim guidance by some form of Christian God.

My point is this: crazy people exist, and they belong to all sorts of groups, including different religions. We cannot blame 9/11 on Muslims any more than we can blame sedition on Christians. “Pastor” Terry Jones reportedly frequently tours his church’s property with a pistol strapped to his hip. He sounds a bit crazy to me.

On Friday, Jones held a news conference outside his church, saying he had cancelled the “Burn a Koran Day” event, because “...the Iman [sic] in New York” had agreed to move the mosque from Ground Zero. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf responded by announcing he had neither spoken to Jones nor agreed to move the mosque. Jones then announced he felt he had been deceived, and that either the “Iman” had to agree to move the mosque or he would have to reconsider holding his “Burn a Koran Day.”

My thoughts:

1) Mr. Jones (I have a real problem calling him “Pastor”) condemns Islam and all Muslims, yet he doesn’t even know enough about them to be able to pronounce “Imam.” When all Americans hated Russia, we could still pronounce Czar. And Imam is not even that hard to pronounce: you say all the frickin’ letters!

2) He was supposedly in talks with Imam Muhammad Musri for 2 days, yet could not be bothered to remember his name (Come on! Even if you want to be an “ignorant American,” who the hell can’t remember “Imam Mohammed” ??? It would have been close enough…it’s not like he was going to spell it while talking!)

3) It seems to me that, in the lead-up to the “Burn the Koran Day,” Jones’ point was that “Islam is of the Devil.” Initially, no mention was made about the “Ground Zero” mosque.

4) If you really think Islam is “of the Devil,” why would you negotiate with them?

5) If, at any point, either initially or toward the end of the drama, a deal is offered by Jones (“Either do [thing I want] or I will do [horrible thing]”), does that not make him a blackmailer? Or terrorist? Don’t we have an obligation as a society to not negotiate with such a person?

6) Given this growing anti-Muslim and anti-Islam movement, is it possible that we actually need a Muslim center at Ground Zero? People have countered with, “Should the Nazis be allowed to build a cultural center next to Auschwitz?” I agree, the Nazis should not be allowed, but the Germans should! “Look, this was a black mark on our history, perpetrated by Germans who claimed to be fighting for the good of Germany. But please be aware: they were wrong, and we know it. Do not confuse those Germans with today’s Germans.”

Terry Jones is a nut-case. He got enough attention to attempt to act like a bully. Thankfully it appears it has not worked.

If it does end up working to his favor, perhaps I should declare a “Burn a Bible Day?”

My ravings on the matter…

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