Never mind the naked misunderstanding of an entire religion.
Never mind the confusion between terrorists abusing Islam for their evil purposes and the rest of Muslims.
Never mind the irony of a place called the ‘dove world outreach center’ engaging in an act that is alienating and directly offending the very people who they would claim to ‘reach out’ to.
Never mind the clear conflict of faith for someone who claims to follow the prince of peace, the man who said ‘love your enemies’ and ‘turn the other cheek’ and ‘do not resist an evildoer’, perpetrating a direct act of disrespect, incitement, and hatred.
Never mind the argument for the freedom to express hatred because other countries express more hatred and oppression than we do.
Never mind the unbelievable media frenzy that has taken a lone pastor, of a tiny church in backwoods Florida and turned him into a nationally known political figure.
Never mind the fact that that very same media attention has led to a meeting with people planning the Muslim Cultural Center 2 blocks from the former world trade center, with the express purpose of attempting to convince them to move the building.
Never mind all of the will-they-won’t-they back and forth as to whether or not this event will actually happen.
Never mind all of these issues with the Terry Jones ‘Burn a Koran’ day commemorating the 9th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. All of this doesn’t really matter anymore because people are already starting to die because of this. General David Petraeus launched this story into the media consciousness when he weighed in and said that the event would endanger American lives around the world. Not only is Petraeus right about American lives but there have already been protests and confrontations in which non-Americans have been killed and wounded already. (Click here for that story)
But the thing that most people haven’t picked up on is that this event has been known about for quite a while in the Muslim world. Word of the ‘burn a Koran day’ has spread through the internet and other unofficial media. All of the hubub in the media hasn’t really changed all that much in places outside of the U.S. They were already offended long before Petraeus said anything. The national media attention has only served to skyrocket Terry Jones to a place of national importance that he doesn’t deserve and give him a voice that he hasn’t earned.
More disturbing to me than all of the media frenzy is the larger part a growing hatred toward Muslims and Islam in general. This targeted campaign has shown up in a number of prominent ways recently:
Widespread protest not only against the New York Muslim Cultural Center (not a Mosque, not at Ground Zero, to be clear) but also against mosques being built all over the country, from Tennessee to California.
Recent polls showing that the number of people who think Obama is lying about being a Christian and is actually a Muslim jumped from 11% to 18% of the population. That’s almost 1 in 5 people who falsely believe the President is a Muslim.
The ‘Burn a Koran day’
But what’s the real issue here?
One small voice that has crept up occasionally in national discussions is that when people talk about ‘Muslims’ or ‘Islam’, they’re really saying something different altogether. What they’re really saying is ‘they’ aren’t like ‘us’. That’s the thread that goes through all of this. From building Mosques to Obama being a Muslim to Terry Jones, the predominant message is that:
‘Muslim + Different than us’ and ‘Different than us = dangerous’.
That’s the core message and the core issue. People are afraid. The economy is in the tank. We’re at war with people and an idea that we can’t ever fully be defeated. It’s the first time that someone other than a white male has been the president of the U.S., which for many is a positive thing but for many white people is simply another sign that they/we are loosing our stronghold on society. Christianity is loosing it’s a stronghold and influence over society in general.
Ultimately, it’s about fear. Fear sells. Fear motivates. Especially fear of someone or something that we think is different than we are.
Below is video of another book burning from last year. It’s another small church, but this time they were burning versions of the Bible that they didn’t like. Unlike Terry Jones, this pastor has faded into obscurity. It’s worth noticing the difference.