When the world’s media and political class descend to condemn a dim-witted Southern preacher for a minor act of ignorant stupidity, there must be literally nothing else on T.V. Aside from the mind-numbing insignificance of the event itself, what it symbolises and protests against may well be worthy of attack, but the intentions with which it is performed are gravely mistaken, as is the act, as are the criticisms being levelled against it. This whole issue, I imagine, is far more complicated than Pastor Terry Jones could understand.
As much as it pains me to say, I agree with Sarah Palin (or at least with whoever told her to say these words). “People have a constitutional right to burn a Koran if they want to, but doing so is insensitive and an unnecessary provocation - much like building a mosque at Ground Zero”. The Koran, for Muslims, is the literal word of God, so burning it, as opposed to a Bible say, is arguably higher on the ‘you insulted my deity’ scale. The trouble is that the vast majority of criticism leveled at the idiot Terry Jones seems to be adhering to this fictitious, in every sense of the word, device. Obama’s main problem with the issue seemed to be that Al-Qaeda would use it for a “recruitment bonanza”: that it would offend Muslim’s and increase the likelihood of terrorist attacks on American soil. He added that "… as a very practical matter, I just want him to understand that this stunt that he is talking about pulling could greatly endanger our young men and women who are in uniform." Undoubtedly true, and tragic, but the point is nonetheless worrying in itself.
My problem is with that of appeasing the mad Muslim population of this world. Indonesia, Pakistan, Malaysia and India have all registered their deep concern at this act. The Malaysian foreign minister said that the burning of a Koran "… is the most heinous crime and action, it's unthinkable” and most of the Islamic condemnation is of a similar vein. But the burning of a Koran in this manner is the furthest thing from “the most heinous crime and action” whilst many genuine horrible deeds are listed and recommended in the Koran itself. Burning one is simply unnecessary stupidity. If the book burning doesn’t go ahead, Islamic countries and extremist organizations will feel victorious as the west has respected their sacred untouchable text. The reality is very different. The west just doesn’t want the fuss.
This entire issue is a mess. A complete and total mess. An idiotic fundamentalist Christian decided to burn a bunch of Korans, attracting condemnation from the West because they were afraid of offending Islam and thereby getting hurt, whilst the Islamic countries condemn the action because they view it as the worst crime possible. If the act doesn’t go ahead, they will feel vindicated in their medieval mindset but if it does, then even greater madmen in the middle-east will burn ten-times as much stuff in a furious mindless response. There is no salvation here.
From now on I suggest ignoring Jones and focusing on the real significance of tomorrow. Let’s remember those who lost their lives on September 11th 2001.