Holy Kindling! Burning Books Is An Empty GestureSeptember 10, 2010 No Comments
You know you are an adult when you stop doing things just because you can.
According to the laws of the United States, the supposedly Reverend Terry Jones is perfectly entitled to burn a copy of the Qur’an. He can even hold “International Burn a Qur’an Day” to commemorate 9/11. The only thing that can stop him now is his common sense.
You’d think that as an atheist I’d be in full support of burning a couple of meaningless pieces of paper. But environmental waste aside, it is just not nice. I may not believe the words printed on those pages, I might even disagree with them, but there is no reason to get nasty about it.
As a humanist, I think respect for other people is important. This includes respect for things they hold dear — like crazy superstitions, ugly art, and a belief that they actually look taller wearing platform shoes.
Angelina Jolie agrees with me. While in Islamabad, trying to raise awareness about the Pakistani floods, she said: “I have hardly the words that somebody would do that to somebody’s religious book.”
The worst thing about this mass book burning is how pointless it is. I hope Jones feels like a big man when he sets those gasoline covered books aflame, because that is the only thing that will be accomplished.
He has publicly declared that “Islam is the devil,” but burning books sent to him from his largely Christian supporters will do nothing to eradicate the religion — if anything it will increase the profits of Qur’an publishers.
If he actually wants to create change maybe he could raise money for missionaries overseas, or become one himself. Perhaps he could start a school in an Islamic country to empower the girls that might not otherwise have access to good education, in the hopes that they see the benefits of a Christian way of life. Heck, he could buy and donate guns to the US Army.
Instead, he will take the massive risk of having a bonfire while on US soil.
Just because this won’t have his intended effect, doesn’t mean that it won’t cause some serious damage. According to Gen. David Petraeus, “images of the burning of a Quran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan — and around the world — to inflame public opinion and incite violence.”
It will turn public opinion against America, which means that troops in Iraq and Afghanistan will be in more danger. It might also convince some people to become terrorists. And anyone thinking of becoming a Christian will have some serious second thoughts.
Instead of using his passion to ignite the hearts and minds of people, Jones is content to dance on a keg of gunpowder, playing with matches. Here’s hoping his flame simply flickers out.
UPDATE: Jones is flirting with common sense and is attempting to get out of his book burning by saying that he has an agreement with the Imam of the NY Mosque that it won’t be built if the books aren’t burnt. The Imam denies this.