|Terry "Koran-Burning" Jones|
His name is Terry Jones (no relation to the Monty Python actor) and he's the pastor of a church in Gainesville, FL. He's also, to be quite honest, a racist prick. This notorious Islamophobe threatened to burn a stack of Korans this past September 11th and only held off because Robert Gates of all people told him not to. That's right, folks, the Secretary of Bloody Defense had to stop this guy from causing an international incident. This is the level of crazy we're talking about.
Last week Jones finally lived up to his psycho promise and burned a Koran (story here). After Friday prayers yesterday, a group of Muslims in Mazar-i-Sharif, angered by the pastor's actions, marched up to a UN building and began a peaceful protest. No one's exactly sure how the protest turned to violence--some say that guards outside the building started shooting, others are blaming armed insurgents who took advantage of the situation--but by the end of it all, 11 people were dead (see NPR's story here) and a whole bunch of people were angry. Seems like Robert Gates was right, huh Terry?
Now, let me say that I am in no way condoning the actions of the protesters nor am I playing down the seriousness of the deaths of almost a dozen people. My real point to posting about this is to show that perhaps the butterfly effect isn't such a crazy idea. Jones' ugly butterfly flapped its holy-book-desecrating wings in Florida and a tornado of violence ensued in Afghanistan. Tensions and anti-American sentiment are already heightened in that country because of things like this--the murders of innocent Afghans by five sadistic US soldiers. Is it really necessary to inflame anger even more by doing something as wholly unforgivable as burning a sacred text?
Anyone who has seen the film A Time to Kill will remember Matthew McConaughey's brilliant speech at the end of movie. It's one of my favorite moments in movie history. He asks the jury to close their eyes and he describes, in detail, the brutal rape of a young black girl. He gets them picturing the horrific scene in their heads and then he says:
Can you see her? I want you to picture that little girl. Now...imagine she's white.It is an incredibly powerful and emotional scene and it really drives home the racism inherent in our society. These people are ready to hang Carl Lee Hailey (Samuel L. Jackson) for murdering the men who brutalized his daughter simply because he was an African American man who killed some white guys. McConaughey's character, Jake Brigance, knows that the only way to make the jury change their minds is to drive home the point that this could be their daughter, their little white daughter.
The Koran-burning situation is rather similar. How would you feel if the book being burned was a Bible? Or a Torah? Or whatever your own religious text is? I'm not saying that you would go out and commit a violent act because of it but wouldn't you feel the same anger, the same sense of utter outrage?
|Picture this as a big ol' Bible barbecue and tell me you wouldn't be angry.|
Regardless of who is to blame for the violence in Afghanistan, the overarching blame belongs to everyone. How many people have said disparaging things about Muslims, despite the fact that the majority of Muslims played no part in the events of September 11th? How many people supported Peter King's hearing on Muslim radicalization even though there are radicals in every religion in this country and none of them were being singled out? To put this into perspective, around the same time that King was holding his McCarthyesque hearings, the Supreme Court ruled that the Westboro Baptist Church had freedom of speech and could therefore continue with their senseless protests of funerals around the country, including the funeral of the nine-year-old girl killed in the Arizona mall shooting!
There are, of course, some Muslims who have done things that are unforgivable. I watched the planes hit those towers, I've seen the news reports about suicide bombings. I am in no way in denial about the reasons behind some people's feelings towards Islam. But do the actions of a few really warrant the hatred of the many? Raise your hands if after the Oklahoma City Bombings you started hating white people. Anyone? No? My point exactly.
|This used to be the face of terror yet no one|
went to war with Lockport, NY or
started burning Bibles.
Terry Jones' actions are inexcusable and I'm really not surprised that there was an uproar over this. In fact, I'm surprised that there wasn't a bigger uproar. Burning any book is wrong, but burning a sacred text, regardless of what religion it belongs to is morally unjust on a level that I can't even fathom. Even if there is no god, even if every single religion is wrong, the fact that someone would take it upon themselves to abuse someone's beliefs like this is unconscionable.
As I read about religion this month, I will be posting things like this. Not just about Islam, but about every religion. Part of the reason I love non-fiction is that it educates as well as entertains people and I'm all for education, especially in an age where the media misinforms people and expects us to swallow what we're being spoon-fed without stopping to think about what's being said. You don't have to agree with me. I'm not asking you to. But I would like you to read these posts and to at least think about them. Think about your own beliefs and how you would feel if they were threatened. Think about the assumptions that you have about other people; reevaluate where these assumptions came from.
I would love to see an age in which religion is no longer a reason for hatred and violence. The only way that can happen is if people are constantly learning and thinking and growing in how they view other religions. One of the most inspiring things I've ever seen happened during the Egyptian protests in February. While Muslims were praying in Tahrir Square, Christians surrounded them to protect them from pro-Mubarak supporters.
While relations between the two religious groups have since deteriorated somewhat since the ouster of Mubarak, the point is that they put aside their differences at least for a while and joined together as brothers. Why is it that we are not able to do that on a global scale?
PS: Here's the video from A Time to Kill. I'll warn you that the description of the girl's rape is graphic and may be triggering for some people but it's an absolutely amazing performance.