Well, the Quran burning event scheduled for the anniversary of 9/11 has been canceled by Terry Jones, leader of a congregation of fifty Floridians.
What does it all mean? First of all, some obscure pastor was able to draw the attention of:
- The commanding general in Afghanistan
- Political celebrity Sarah Palin
- President Obama
All because he decided that burning Qurans on the anniversary of 9/11 was a fine idea. It strikes me that burning books, flags - anything symbolic to a large amount of people really - demonstrates both a lack of ability to form an intelligent argument and an overwhelming need for attention. Sure, it’s protected speech, but so is screaming racial epithets on the radio, and we saw how that worked out for the charming Dr. Laura Schlessinger. At least she apologized and seemed to understand that what she did was in poor judgment and taste. This Jones fellow doesn’t seem poised to follow her example.
Let’s forget him and all of the rest of the players in this ridiculous saga for a moment. If anyone needed further proof of the power of connectivity through technology, this was it. I mean, how else would this leader of nearly no one garner worldwide, intense scrutiny? So he wants to burn religious books. Okay, but if this were 1995 no one would know about it, and therefore no one would care. Even during the few years after 9/11 there was no Twitter or Facebook, RSS feeds weren’t in wide use yet – this wouldn’t have drawn nearly the attention it has. When people in predominantly Muslim countries around the world are planning protests and are gathering outside of U.S. embassies, and many of the leaders of those countries are concerned over the antics of a batshit Florida pastor whose congregation numbers in double digits, the world has become small indeed.
Of course, the controversy over the proposed Cordoba House community center in New York City paved the way for this nonsense. Let’s thank Sarah Palin for another substantive and successful foray into the dregs of the political/mass media culture. After all, she sent the important message to America, through her free Twitter account, that a mosque on Ground Zero would “stab hearts.” Thanks for that. No, really. I don’t have time to explore the subtleties and sensitivities of the complex and unstable relationship between the Western world and Islamic culture. Muslims are all bad, according to you. Thank you for simplifying things, as always.
One last note on Palin the Political Prankster (NYSE symbol: PPP): Contrary to my prediction that she would stay silent on this issue, she condemned Pastor Jones and asked him to “stand down.” Well, if she had shown a track record of responsible, coherent statements on the array of issues that she has commented on, she would deserve credit. However, on her Facebook page, she compares the insensitivity of burning Qurans to the (in her mind) insensitivity of building a community center in New York City. Is there any point in illustrating the difference between burning sacred religious texts (a negative thing to do) and building an interfaith community center which features Christians, Jews, and Muslims on the board of directors (a positive thing to do?) She started this mess with her insistent Twitter firebombing and now must resort to this ridiculous attempt at correlating these two issues to maintain any sort of credibility. I’m convinced she could say anything at this point and maintain her following, outside of “Gee, liberals ain’t half bad.”
The whole damned summer has been pretty awful: economic disaster, the massive oil spill, the wars overseas, the cultural wars at home. The difference between the first three and the last one is that the outrage directed at American Muslims is completely manufactured by political opportunists, who exploit vague paranoia and a xenophobic tendency to distrust the “other.” Palin, Newt Gingrich and the like provide the fame necessary to focus Americans, who wouldn’t normally be thinking about land issues concerning New York City property distribution, in a negative fashion concerning the supposed evils of a religion that has been around since the 7th century and has over a billion followers. We have enough real problems. We don’t need to be distracted by those tailored from whole cloth in the interest of advancing the political careers of the psychotic.