I guess I have some obligation to comment on the proposed September 11 Qur’an burning by some low rent superstition peddler in Florida who seems to be seeking his church’s 15 minutes of fame, presumably to increase his membership from 50 to 55.
Oh, wait, that WAS a comment, wasn’t it? Well, now you have some idea of my attitude towards this.
I’ve been reading about it for a couple of weeks, most notably, and most recently, over at Ed Brayton’s and P.Z. Myers’ blogs, where the comments are thick and incisive. I don’t really think I can add much to the discussion, but having a brain, I do have some thoughts, and here they are:
- It’s a book, people. A compilation of words printed on paper, bound together is order to have all the words in one place. There are probably billions of them in existence, and the world will not be diminished by the loss of a few copies to intentional combustion. They are easily replaceable, and the ideas contained in the books will still be there (unfortunately).
- While I find the intentional destruction of any book repugnant, for some reason I can’t get too worked up about these particular books being burned. Then again, I don’t think I’d be upset if there were other books burned at the same time, containing equally silly writings in them, like the Bible, or the Left Behind series.
- One of the reasons I can’t get too worked up about this book burning is because it is intended as a statement in the exercise of the free speech rights of the Dove World Outreach Center and its small congregation about a competing religion, Islam. It’s ostensibly a protest against that religion because of its purported connection with the 9/11 destruction of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the planes and people used to cause that destruction. These gun-toting religionists, wacky as they may seem, have a First Amendment right to burn as many Qur’ans they feel inclined to purchase ahead of time (assuming they don’t already own their own stock, which is unlikely) and I agree that if they want to do so, they should not be prevented from it.
- I don’t agree with the statement they are making, which seems to be a broad one attempting to paint the religion of Islam, and all of it’s adherents, with the terrorism of 9/11. I don’t believe there is any evidence to support that statement, despite the fact that all of the 19 terrorists happened to be Muslims – extreme, radical, right-wing, fundamentalist, Qur’an-pounding Muslims nonetheless, but not necessarily good examples of your average Allah-worshiping Muslim. If they actually want to make a statement like that, then they should also throw a few Bibles on the fire, because one can make a perfectly valid claim that Christianity is equally responsible for irrational violence and death. Trying to paint all of Islam with the responsibility for 9/11 is simply an exercise in bigotry and hatred I can’t support. There’s enough of it in the world already, much of it provoked by religion. We don’t need any more.
- Obama’s claim, along with his generals and others, that the book burning will put the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq in more danger than they are now, not to mention perhaps acting as an additional recruitment tool for al-Qaeda, while perhaps true, is irrelevant. First, I find it hard to accept how the burning of a few books could make worse what we’ve already accomplished with our bombing, invasions and troops. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans have died at our hands since 2001, though I don’t doubt the irrational incendiary meaning that will be added to an already irrational Islamic outlook on life by insulting their book. Second, if their response to a book burning, a relatively innocuous action, is to take it out on innocent people by stepping up terrorism, or attacking our troops, one can’t blame the book burners for the irrational response of the Muslims, any more than if someone attacked Glenn Beck for speaking on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, it would be his fault for speaking, not the attacker’s for his response. Lay blame where blame is due.
- To a certain extent (though this is arguable) those soldiers that are being put in increased harms way by the biblio-conflagration are actually fighting to protect the right of these book burners to burn books. It may sound ironic, but there you have it.
There is one bit of good that could come from it though. The predictable reaction is that a bunch of Muslims will react irrationally, by attacking someone they shouldn’t, or blowing up something they shouldn’t, are otherwise making an obnoxious nuisance of themselves. If they do (with sympathy for the victims) I hope it causes many observers to decide that all religion is nonsense, if this is how religious adherents react to burning scripture.