9.11.2010

Silencing the Opposition

I gotta say, I was very disappointed that no Korans burned today, not because I disapprove of Islam (jury's still out) or Arabs (I certainly don't), but because I strongly believe that people who mistake the symbol for the thing itself are in need of confrontation. Just as we would challenge a racist ideology because it mistakes skin color for something significant, and just as we would challenge those who would burn witches as superstitious and ill-informed: I think it's necessary to confront untruth wherever it finds expression.

That's why I think this is a disgraceful moment in American media:



I realize that holier-than-thou posturing and self-righteous moral indignation are big sellers, especially on MSNBC; but to altogether refuse to listen is enough for this particular program to have permanently lost at least one viewer.

I know this'll sound too conspiratorial for ya'll, but I can't even find a video-interview with Terry Jones on the internet. This ABC News transcript of an interview conducted by Terry Moran bizarrely mis-spells "Moslem" whenever Jones says the word (but not when Moran says it) throughout the text. Notably, Jones seems to me perfectly coherent and certainly not frothing at the mouth in this interview -- he cites Acts 19:19 as evidence that there is precedent in Christianity even back to the early church for burning other so-called holy books. "The News" seems to confuse the fact that book burning is not much of a part of American history with the notion that it's not part of Christian history. See also, Cyril of Alexandria. Here's an excerpt:
Moran: But there are a billion and a half Muslims in the world. Most of whom aren't radical and you are going to burn their holy book.

Jones: Right.

Moran: You think that will persuade them of anything but the fact that they feel you hate them?

Jones: No, I think that they probably will be hurt and insulted by it.

Moran: So why do it?

Jones: Well when people burn the flag when they burn the bible when they burn down churches I'm also hurt and insulted. But we feel that this message to that radical element is that important. In fact to a certain extent we would expect moderate Moslems to agree with us. We would expect for them to say the burning of the Koran we don't agree with that's not a message that we agree with. We do not believe that this man this church this society should burn our holy book, there is no problem with that. But the message we are trying to send with that even Moslems should agree with. We are trying to send a message to the radical element of Islam. They should also be against that. Because it makes their religion look very, very bad. They should also stand to that and say yes that we agree with. We do not want sharia law. We do not want radical fanaticism Islam.
The very obvious fact about this transcript, to me, is that it ought to be considered within the realm of discussability. If Jones were calling for a genocide of all Arabs or Muslims, I would expect him to be ushered off the television. The points he makes in this interview are far from warranting this kind of treatment, and in a sane society, would be an embarrassment to Mika, Joe, and even Willy (I'll miss him most of all).

If any of you can find a video-interview with Jones, will you pass along the link?

UPDATE: Oh, good. One guy did burn a Koran today near ground zero. And for good measure, somebody burned a Bible too. Now if only somebody would burn some Derrida...

UPDATE 2.0: Oh, I found some video of Jones being interviewed. He sounds just like Hitler. I honestly can't believe the Obama administration is saying "it puts the troops at risk" to burn a Koran. That's mind-boggling to me. "A recruiting tool for the Taliban," they say. Really? So if we just do their bidding, recruiting for the Taliban will struggle? That's so paradoxical it's Zen. Fascinating 4-minute vid there, though.

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