By now you’ve heard that violent mobs in Afghanistan have slaughtered several people in retaliation for the burning of a Q’ran by the not reverent Terry Jones of the hilariously misnamed Dove World Outreach Center in Florida.
How disgusted am I? Let me count the ways …
I can’t think of a proper word for randomly slaughtering westerners because of what some whackjob in Florida did to a book. Evil, unjust, barbaric, inexcusable. If we were talking about some Stone Age tribe living in isolation in the Amazon somewhere I might just chalk it up to ignorance, but nobody else gets off the hook for this. If one is educated enough to know that the earth is not flat, one should be able to understand that not all westerners are to blame for the actions of one.
Of course, our native Islamophobes like Pam Geller and Peter King are no less bigoted. Lizard brains, the lot of them.
And once again demonstrating that he doesn’t know the Sermon on the Mount from the Yellow Pages, the not reverend Jones is demanding retribution for the slaughter that his actions touched off. After all kinds of people begged him to not act out and burn a Q’ran because it would set back whatever it is his country is doing in Afghanistan, this jerk burns a Q’ran anyway. It’s beyond disgusting.
At least one rightie blogger — I’m sure there are more — is saying that Jones is not responsible for the massacre. And I understand the argument; rational people don’t kill other, innocent, people, because they share some kind of loose racial or national association with assholes who did something insulting to one’s religion.
At the same time, however, rational people don’t go ahead and pull some stupid publicity stunt after it’s been exhaustively explained to them that the consequences could be genuinely horrific and harmful to their country.
In other words, if we hadn’t already been through this with Jones, it might have been argued that he didn’t realize what the consequences of his acts might be. But he was told.
In America, Jones’s right to burn any book he wants to burn is pretty much absolute. Even if 99.9 percent of his fellow countrypersons want to smack him for what he did, we can’t do it without getting jail time. This may be incomprehensible to many people living in the Middle East, and they don’t seem to be in a mood to listen to explanations. We can only hope there are some cooler heads among the Afghanis, and that the cooler heads may prevail.
But Jones is likely to continue to burn Q’rans as long as he can get attention for doing so. Perhaps the argument could be made that Jones’s stunt amounts to yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater, and he could be placed under some restraining order to burn no more Q’rans. That would likely set off more Q’ran burning by other dimwits in protest of the violation of Jones’s rights, however, so even that could backfire.
Sometimes we really are all at the mercy of the stupid and sociopathic among us.
Anyway — I’m no expert in Islam, but my understanding is that the mob violence in Afghanistan really isn’t justified by anything Muhammad taught. And Jones apparently uses the Gospel as toilet paper. So don’t blame Jesus or Muhammad for this. And in the absence of religion, a true fanatic will always find something else to be fanatic about.
See also: “This attack is different.”