Yesterday, my colleague Rick discussed the planned mass Koran burning by a church in Florida. I read his piece -- and the comments with a great deal of interest; I'd been kicking around my own take on that, along with another idea I'd tried to enact (albeit in a lackluster manner).
I'm not going to say that Rick is wrong, but I am going to say that I come at the question from an entirely different angle -- and have my own opinions. (Big surprise there.)
Rick's piece is shaped by his perspective as a mature, thoughtful Christian. My perspective is none of those.
In many ways, I am a child of the Iranian Hostage Crisis. It was the first world event that really caught my attention (I was barely 12 when it started). And so much of my childhood memories dealing with politics revolve around seeing American flags being burned around the world. It seems that there can't be any kind of protest against the US anywhere that doesn't feature Old Glory going up in smoke.
In my head, I actually get a bit of a kick out of seeing the US flag being burned. When done domestically, it's an affirmation of the principles for which it stands -- the right to express oneself freely, even to the point of desecrating and destroying the very symbol of those principles. When done abroad, it reminds me that we're a hell of a lot more mature than most of the world, who apparently believes in some kind of voodoo proxy magic and thinks that burning a flag will somehow transmute into some evil being visited on us.
But in my gut, I still get angered. It still rouses a visceral reaction in me, a resentment and hostility towards those who express such fury at the symbol of my nation.
But back to the planned Koran desecration.
A few weeks ago, I got the bright idea of carrying out a bit of that on my own. I intended to take a series of pictures of a Koran swaddled in bacon. Delicious, delightful, divine proof that God loves gentiles too bacon. And I'd post them here to show that the glorious power of bacon can overcome all things.
Alas, I didn't find a Koran at my local discount bookstore, and I didn't feel like paying full retail price for one. I still might, but talking about it here kind of puts a damper on the actual execution.
The real point of my little act of desecration would be to assert my right -- as an individual -- to do so. To declare that I, as an American, can do quite a few things that the government might not approve of, that the rest of the world might not approve of, but I can do in utter defiance of their sentiments.
I do not speak for the United States. Neither does that church in Florida. I speak for myself, and they speak for themselves. The government has absolutely no business in trying to prevent either of us from committing blasphemy against Islam if we so choose.
That the entire United States would be blamed for those actions is utterly unreasonable. And that is absolutely no great surprise -- at its core, most of Islam is unreasonable. They simply don't grasp some of the fundamental truths about America.
There's a cliche' that "they hate us because of our freedoms." That's pretty simplistic, but it's accurate. They are incapable of grasping the full meaning of our freedoms. They are incapable of grasping that we, as individuals, can do things that our government might not approve of, but can't do a damned thing about it. They are incapable of grasping that our government has absolutely nothing to say or do on matters of faith. They are incapable of grasping that our government has no business whatsoever enforcing Islamic -- or any other religious -- dictates.
So if some church wants to burn a Koran, or I want to swaddle a Koran in a snug little cozy of wonderful, blessed, crispy, mighty bacon and post pictures of it online, so be it.
I have a tremendous amount of respect for General
Betray-Us Petraeus. (And unlike President Obama and so many of his supporters, that's not a new development.) But his comment on the whole story seems to be "don't poke the crazy people with sticks, because they might do something crazy."
Looking at it pragmatically, I have to wonder: how the hell could the crazies hate us more? What more can they do to express their heightened rage?
And most importantly, do those considerations outweigh our interests in exercising our Constitutional rights?
This whole story provides a great contrast with the
Ground Zero Mosque "Muslim Community Center and mosque just coincidentally around the corner from Ground Zero, where debris from one airliner landed, scheduled for groundbreaking on September 11, 2011" controversy. Those of us who don't like it are accused of trying to suppress the builders' Constitutional rights to build it.
That's bullshit, of course. Hardly anyone speaking out against it are calling for the government to intervene and stop it.
But those who are trying to stop the Koran burning -- aren't they doing the same thing? And by getting General Petraeus involved -- isn't that getting the government involved in the matter?
Nope, that's difference. That's simply the government demonstrating tolerance by being intolerant of those they deem intolerant. And that's a fundamental plank of modern liberalism.
In the meantime... anyone know where I can get a Koran cheap?