Speaking only for myself, I was delighted the other day to see that 97 percent of the respondents to one of those informal NRO polls agree with me that Koran burning ought not to be banned.
That is not because I intend to burn a Koran or because I have any sympathy for ridiculous Florida pastor (of about a ten souls) Terry Jones, who did burn a Koran, inciting deadly riots in the Middle East (where deadly riots aren’t that uncommon). It’s because I don’t want to kowtow to people who use the treat of a riot as a weapon. It’s also because I’m tired of not holding responsible the people who engage in this rioting and killing.
Dorothy Rabinowitz has a terrific piece on General David Petraeus’ lame apology for the Koran burning. Bear in mind, I don’t blame Petraeus for apologizing. He needed to calm the situation. (And, heck, we Americans practically apologize for breathing.)
The general would go on to say more [about the Terry Jones outrage], but nowhere in any of that condemnation was it possible to find a mention of the merciless savagery that had taken place in the name of devotion to God and the Quran. Mark Sedwill, the NATO senior civilian representative who joined Gen. Petraeus in the statement, did manage to find a moment to murmur in passing that, of course, condolences were due to “everyone who has been hurt in the demonstrations.”
It’s hard to conceive of a pronouncement richer in evasions of brutal reality than this one, with its references to people “hurt” in “demonstrations.” The participants in these “demonstrations”-a nice touch, that, suggestive of marchers, perhaps carrying placards-had in fact hunted down and killed, by shooting, stabbing and beating to death a total of 22 people by the end of the third day’s expression of religious devotion.
Alana Goodman of the Commentary blog made a similar point several weeks ago:
No, 11 people didn’t lose their lives so that Jones could burn a Koran. They lost their lives because some religious fanatics – driven by a twisted, feverish ideology – decided to murder them. And by failing to hold the true culprits responsible, we invite attacks on our freedom of expression – not just the freedom to burn a Koran, but to write, say, or do anything that offends their fragile sensibilities in the future.
Meanwhile, Death of the Grown-up author Diana West–whose coverage of Islam is courageous and perceptive–has a very provocative (I almost said incendiary!) take on Terry Jones and his Koran burning. Here are snippets:
We do know the epic scale of invective hurled at Jones the world over has helped turn this American citizen who has broken no law but Islam’s into a moving target. But it has also objectified a human being. When Jones is gratuitously disparaged as a “kook,” a “nut,” an “insane Christian” (as O’Reilly said), and much, much worse for his (perfectly logical) symbolic act of putting on trial and burning a copy of a book that codifies conquest and enslavement, supremacism and bigotry, Jones is making a statement. Just as Fitna made a statement. Just as the Pope’s Regensberg Address made a statement. Just as the publication — and particularly the re-publication — of the Danish Motoons made a statement. These statements vary but none of them violate legal, peaceful means of expression. None of them caused the murder and mayhem many Muslims engaged in in illegal and violent and Islamically sanctioned reaction. …
But just as the nature of the Islamic world is revealed by its reaction to these peaceful if robust critiques, so, too, is the nature of the Western world revealed. It is an ugly thing. Like Pavlovic robots, our dhimmified, mentally besieged peoples rush to protect Islam, to ward off “disrespect” of its chief symbol — its “holy” book — like primitives engaging in a communal fetish. In so doing, they desert our un-Islamic, indeed, anti-Islamic freedoms, leaving them unguarded and devalued. In the case of Jones, a rural preacher with a big mustache, they isolate and dehumanize a man at the margins of the public square they dominate. Our elites, our leaders, society at large have thus marked Jones for discard with the 21st-century equivalent of a scarlet letter “A” (apostasy against sharia). Such objectified contempt, as history shows us, is a perilous state of being.