Thursday, September 09, 2010

"Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings."

***** UPDATE *****

1. More regarding point 4 below, where I connect the mainstreaming of anti-Muslim sentiment with the political aspirations of the GOP. Here is Andrew Sullivan elaborating on that point: "You reap what you sow. You turn a benign Muslim community center into a "stab in the heart" of Americans (in Sarah Palin's words) and someone soon will up the ante." The fact that Palin herself doesn't support the Koran burning is irrelevant. If you help ignite a fire, don't try to claim innocence when it starts to burn out of control.

2. Terry Jones totally chickened out. He says he canceled the burning because the NYC Imam agreed to move the mosque there. This is BS for two reasons. One is because the NYC mosque organizers promised no such thing. Two is because Terry Jones' motivation for the burning never was the NYC mosque. He was doing it because he claimed the book "is full of lies", and he probably thinks he is doing God a favor by burning Korans. Presumably he still believes that. My money says the real reason he canceled the burning is because getting death threats isn't as fun as it sounds. He is a fraud to begin with (read about his ministry in Germany), so I'm not surprised that he bailed on his publicity stunt when he realized he might actually be in danger.

3. The Westboro Baptist Church has promised to stage a Koran burning if Jones backs out. This is not surprising. We have 300 million Americans, many of whom are crazy. We have all seen how much attention someone can get for threatening to burn Korans, so I definitely expected someone to repeat, although not to quickly. As I said before, the real story here is that Muslims world-wide just need to grow up and realize that throwing a temper tantrum every time someone insults their religion isn't going to repeal the 1st Amendment.

***** END UPDATE *****

That was Heinrich Heine in 1821. I read this quote with connection to the Florida Pastor's decision to stage a "Quran-burning day" on 9/11 this year. A few thoughts on that:

1. Burning books is fundamentally un-American.

2. This pastor has a right to make a fool of himself and his 50 followers.

3. If I was a Muslim I'd be most bothered by the predictably childish reaction to the burning, not the burning itself. That is, millions of Muslims worldwide with apparently nothing better to do will have a childish, almost Pavlovian reaction to this "insult". They will work themselves into a tizzy and probably dozens of people will die because of some irrelevant stunt pulled by some jackass in Florida, United States, of all places. Such a reaction is a sign of intellectual weakness, of insecurity, and of backwardness.

4. There is a very clear connection between the mainstreaming of attacks on Islam and the political inclinations of the right. A majority of Republicans think that Obama is a Muslim or is not an American. This is not novel. The right does this sort of thing all the time. Hispanics, homosexuals, and atheists are the tried-and-true scapegoats; Muslims are a more recent addition. These tactics are proven; they work very well. They don't make America a better place.

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