The “insensitive” set-up in the Quran burning stunt

“Republicans are usually eager to trumpet their support for the troops and the war against terror. So why aren’t they condemning the Florida pastor who plans to lead his congregation in a Quran-burning bonfire on Sept. 11?,” wrote Fred Kaplan on Tuesday.

His call has been answered — by Sarah Palin: “Book burning is antithetical to American ideals. 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.”

Is Pastor Jones ready to obey Palin’s call to “stand down”? Maybe a generous donation to his church will do the trick.

However Palin and other Cordoba House opponents manage to persuade Jones to back down, this is how they must be hoping they can play his Quran burning stunt: turn an eleventh hour display of “sensitivity” by the Florida pastor into leverage against Feisal Abdul Rauf — as though the imam and the pastor are somehow equivalents. Once “Dr” Jones finds it in his heart to act as the “sensitive” Christian, the chorus will rise even louder demanding a reciprocal display from “sensitive” Muslims.

Before the term got hijacked by Islamophobes, it was widely understood that to be insensitive was to show a lack of awareness about the feelings of others. To call Quran burning “insensitive” is to imply that Jones and his followers don’t grasp the offensiveness of their action. But as ignorant as the members of this church might be, no one can be in any doubt that this action is consciously designed as an act of provocation. Islam is the target of this attack and it is absurd to claim — as Jones does — that Muslims collectively are not also the intended victims.

In tying together Jones’ Quran burning with the proposed Islamic center we witness a false equivalence that has become all too familiar. Islamophobes poke Muslims in the eye and then accuse them of being culturally insensitive because of the manner in which they practice their faith — by building mosques, by women wearing head coverings and so forth.

Sarah Palin and others are riding on the sensitivity bandwagon because they think it’s a safe bet. Who can refute that sensitivity is a good thing. Most importantly though, it appears to let them off a constitutional hook. After all, it’s hard to wrap yourself in the flag and also oppose freedom of religion.

In truth though, the most reliable defenders of freedom of religion are not particularly religious — least of all are they evangelical.

When someone comes to my door and tells me I’d have a better life it I gave it to Christ, they are certainly exercising freedom of religion but they are not defending it. On the contrary, they are engaged in a religiously sanctioned act of arrogance that I regard as an insult to my intelligence. Even as I suggest that in a reversal of the current situation, they might not take kindly to my arrival on their doorstep for the purpose of educating them about Darwinism, they busily search for a line of scripture that might point me in the right direction. Lucky for them, I believe in religious tolerance and have yet to slam the door in anyone’s face.

Living religions (as distinct from their doctrinal underpinnings) are by their very nature intolerant and the purpose of religious freedom is to temper this intolerance by promoting a live-and-let-live spirit. (To his credit, President Obama has acknowledged that the freedom of religion also protects each American’s right to practice no religion at all.)

Tolerance does not mean that I bow to anyone’s prejudice; it means that I recognize and respect the autonomy of each individual in forming and articulating his or her own understanding of life.

The evangelical conceit — and it matters to me not a whit whether the evangelist happens to be a Christian, a Muslim or a Darwinist — is that there is no intrinsic value in the utterly unique vantage point from which we each of us engages the world. On that basis, the evangelist treats the spirit of the unconverted as open territory, ready for colonization.

America is a vessel inside which evangelical colonists roam freely, but however loudly they may insist on making themselves heard we must ensure that no ones freedom confers privilege in ownership.

This can only be the land of the free if it belongs to everyone.

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7 thoughts on “The “insensitive” set-up in the Quran burning stunt

  1. Christopher Hoare

    The most noticeable effect of any religious dispute is how fear, hatred, and their expression dominates over love. This is largely the fault of the supremacism they all claim — the ‘only true faith’; the one path to God; the chosen people — revealed by this impossible multiplicity to be false claims: and the fear they instill in their followers if they should dare start thinking for themselves.
    I usually turn on bigots who assail me with an image (sorry, I cannot draw it here) based on the logic diagram and showing a series of small bubbles representing each faith story, some overlapping, few mostly unique — and then a huge sphere that encompasses them all. The huge sphere is the actuality, nature, the universe, the divine, God if you will, that not only dwarfs the separate religious, or non-religious, bubbles but far exceeds them. If a religious figure were to know absolutely everything about his or her religious story, no more than a tiny fraction of reality would have been involved. Within such a picture, the tiny mind squabbles between different faith stories pale to insignificance — as should memories of the tiny bigots who spout them.

  2. Eleonora

    Thanks for this well written short analysis – I haven’t thought of this one: “Once “Dr” Jones finds it in his heart to act as the “sensitive” Christian, the chorus will rise even louder demanding a reciprocal display from “sensitive” Muslims.” It could very well be …
    although the fact, that he refused to receive the Muslim delegation which knocked at his door doesn’t really speak for his “sensitivity”.

    On a different angle – Terry Jones wants to burn the Qur’an in memoriam of this “Muslim” attrocity. For the sake of the argument I will assume that it was planned and carried out by Muslims although we will never know the truth as all evidence in this crime case has been swiftly and systematically destroyed by the government of the USA.

    Now – if 3000 casualties justify burning the Qur’an how much more justified would it be then if the Muslims would burn the Torah, the Talmud and the Bible and this almost every day of the year for all the continuous attrocities committed against them by Christians and Jews alike? What if the Arab Christians would burn weekly the Torah and the Talmud?

    Just remember the Millions of civil casualties which are so nicely called “collateral damages”? Remember (at random) Deir Yassin, Fallujah, Qanah, Sabra and Shatilla et al and more general: Rwanda, Irak, Afghanistan, Somalia et al.

    The USA can’t do anything against this hatemonger pastor because this would infringe on his constitutional rights – so says Mamma Clinton. But what about national security? Or does this only come into play when Muslims are involved?

  3. Eleonora

    To Christopher

    Just for the sake of clarification and without wanting to argue or take away from you comment:

    “…and the fear they instill in their followers if they should dare start thinking for themselves.”

    The Qur’an urges and orders its followers over 300 times to think for themselves. Sadly the majority of people today (irrespective of their (non)belief) choose to let others think for them and they just blabber what has been fed to them.

    If we remember how to use our gray cells in our skull the world might become a better place after all ;-)?

  4. DE Teodoru

    The alleged “deal”: no Korans burning in Florda in exchange for no “ground-zero-mosque” in NYC– if true– recalls Santayana’s statement: THOSE WHO DON’T LEARN FROM HISTORY ARE DOOMED TO REPEAT IT.

    Post-WWI Germany was struggling to recover as a democracy. But the Nazis used that democracy to turn it into a dictatorship of a violent mindless majority over the more far- sighted minority. As we enter the 9th anniversary of 9/11 we are seeing yet another neocon effort at exploiting the event to arouse the bottom to over-rule the top for a tyranny of the enraged majority. Once again the Bill of Rights meant to prevent that are trampled on. Americans frustrated by endless war will do to the Constitution what alQaeda did to the World Trade Center and Pentagon if the neocons and their fringe Christian Jihadi ally nuts have their way.

    But what’s an ironic twist in history is that this time it is a cabal of neocons calling themselves “Jews” (sic)– and their voice no less ($%#@@!!!^&%%$*!!) who act as did the Nazis to gain power by working on fear and hate to start a nation-wide Inquisition against Muslim Americans in a time of losing wars and failing economy. Just as Nazi victory begot Krystalnaht as the heralding sign of the Holocaust so will the American Holocaust– which the neocons are deliberately trying to provoke in America by stoking the fire of hate over the “ground-zero-mosque”– they knowingly promote an American Krystalnacht so all American Jews will stampede to Israel in panic, there to be skinned of all their assets and forced to live on the fringes of an ever expanding Greater Israel.

    Defend the Bill of Rights for we cannot afford to do to OUR American Muslims what we did to OUR Japanese-Americans in WWII. For the sake of their children– all good American kids– American Jews must stand up and firmly tell the neocons: THIS SHALL NOT PASS!

  5. Eleonora

    Well – there seems to be a change of plan … I read this morning on “7 days” (an Arabic online newspaper) that the (Muslim) owner of the ground zero real estate went to Jones and offered not to build the mosque there if he calls off the Qur’an burning.

    According to the news Jones agreed. Blackmailing apparently brought one more time results.

    I would not have offered this to Jones out of principle but would have let the world realize what today’s political landscape is made of. Especially to whom (onluy) applies “national security and security risk”. Let them burn as many Qur’an as they wish. Why should this bother the Muslims? It wouldn’t bother me. After all, it’s only paper with some letters in it. The content doesn’t get harmed by the burning.

    But then … maybe … it’s better after all.

    to DE Teodoru – well written!

  6. Eleonora

    Forgot to mention this: if the burning is really off would Rabbi Lerner (Tikkun) still go ahead with his action of solidarity with the Muslims in reading the Qur’an in as many places as possible? He is just a great person.

    Maybe you folks in America can follow-up on this?

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