What on earth is the Dove Outreach Church in Florida gaining by burning the Qu’ran? It literally boggles my mind. At first, I thought it was a joke. I mean, really, who goes around burning the religious tomes of other faiths? Well, communists, I suppose. And Nazis. Come to think of it, in a supreme bit of irony, the Taliban we’re fighting in Afghanistan does this very thing. Actually, the similarities between this church and radical elements of Islam are pretty striking. For instance, the Dove Church claims burning the Qu’ran is no different than Christians burning scrolls in Acts 19, pulling out a single bible verse to justify their actions – in much the same way that bin Laden uses the Qu’ran to justify his hate. The pastor claims he’s simply destroying something demonic, which sounds remarkably similar to what the Taliban said when they destroyed the oldest Buddhist statues in the world months prior to 9/11.
Most of America is befuddled by the event, and while they denounce it, they stumble over the constitution, afraid to step on a citizen’s right to free speech. Even the Mayor of New York supports the church’s constitutional right to burn, although that’s probably more because he’s already dug his own hole by supporting the building of the ground zero mosque for the same reasons, and now can’t look like a hypocrite.
I think that argument is invalid. The truth is that freedom of speech doesn’t extend to inflammatory actions such as falsely shouting “fire!” in a crowded theater, because it will lead to harm. And that is exactly what this action will do. In fact, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Windell Holmes wrote the majority opinion from the case which the “fire” quote was taken, and further stated: The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent. As is the case here, in more ways than one. The supreme court decision involved seditious activity during World War I, and as such, the court ruled that such activity provided a clear and present danger to the United States. Holmes went further, saying, “When a nation is at war…things that might be said in time of peace that are such a hindrance to its effort … will not be endured so long as men fight and … no Court could regard them as protected by any constitutional right.” I couldn’t agree more. In my mind, the issue has nothing to do with freedom of speech or freedom of religion. It boils down to one thing: The action will cost someone his or her life at a time when we are at war. I know General Petraeus and the White house have said something similar about “unrest” and “trouble”, but let me be clearer: Someone will die as a direct result of burning the Qu’ran. Probably quite a few people.
Now, if it’s one of the Qu’ran burners themselves, I would chuckle at the little bit of biblical irony – reap what you sow and all that – but it won’t be. Instead, some eighteen-year-old from Idaho will be ripped apart by an IED. Or maybe it’ll be a diplomat in Sudan. Or an entire embassy in Kenya. Make no mistake though, Americans will be harmed. Ponder that before you make a decision on where you stand on the church’s constitutional right to destroy a religious symbol. This isn’t an intellectual debate outside of the United States. Surprisingly, a group the church pastor described as an “armed Christian militia” that had “pledged protection” for the event has withdrawn its support. Why? Because even they understand the detrimental effects the ceremony will cause.
A couple of blogs ago I talked about how wiki-leaks would cause death because Al Qaida would manipulate the documents to “prove” nefarious deeds in the name of the United States. I can almost hear AQ right now.
“How far into the documents are you?”
“About halfway. I’ve found a few things we can use to twist the minds of young Jihadis.”
“Well, quit looking. The Americans are going to burn Qu’rans all day on the glorious anniversary of our victory. That strike just keeps on giving.”
Before I’m accused of being an apologist or cowering before Islamic agitation, let me say that I’m all about confronting radical Islam by any and all means at our disposal. I completely supported the right of the Danish newspaper to publish their political cartoons of Muhammed in 2005. They were making a satirical point that was well worth exploring and certainly worth defending. While it caused angst and violence in the short-term, it also caused the Muslim world to make a healthy self-examination of what all the fuss was about, to the point that some papers in Muslim lands actually reprinted the cartoons. And that’s the whole point here: The burning of the Qu’ran isn’t anything other than hatred, pure and simple. There are no overarching goals, other than professing that “Islam is the devil”. It will do absolutely nothing at all in our fight against terrorism. Nothing positive, that is, but it will be a boon to the very enemy we fight.
The bottom line is that, rightly or wrongly, the action will be viewed harshly in the Islamic world. Millions of people now on the fence, who really have no idea what America is like and have more than likely never even met an American citizen, will now believe the Al Qaida propaganda that we’re out to destroy Islam. They don’t understand free speech. They don’t understand 24-hour news. They’d be lucky to find the United States on a map. They have no idea that this church is a fringe group and not representative of America as a whole. They do, however, understand that burning a book they consider the word of God is an affront. And because of it, some young punk will now get his Jihad on, killing the soldiers of the “Great Satan”.