Monday, September 13, 2010

Burning the Koran

I started to write this post about burning the Koran. The issue being, I don't care, because it's a book.

This was from my Progress Report newsletter in response to the Quaran burning, “But this act of hate -- just like the burning of a cross, or painting of a swastika…”

Me: Burning a cross isn’t an act of hatred against a religious group. It’s an act of racism. You could argue the KKK doesn’t like Catholics or Jews either. But they’re not burning the cross as a symbol of hatred against those religions. If you go with the primary focus of the cross burning agenda, black/minority Americans, you have to consider that one of the reasons the symbol is particularly harmful is because people have been lynched and otherwise murdered with the damn thing burning in front of their houses.

A swastika has millions of deaths associated with it. It’s a symbol of hate because the Reich murdered Jews, gypsies and homosexuals by the trainload. Perhaps you could assert that a cross is an act of hatred. Or the existence of the Jewish state flag. But on the flip side, you could argue the same about the crescent moon or the flag of a dozen nations who desire the end of Israel.

Did I miss the part where we murdered lots of Muslims while burning a book? Even if you think US involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq is unfounded, the burning of the Koran isn’t a symbol that is levied in conjunction with those events. The U.S. flag is. Burning the Quaran is far more equivalent to burning the U.S. flag than it is to a swastika or cross burning. Doing a quick search on Google – that indeed seems to be the parallel that Muslims are drawing today (9/9/10).

As someone who supports the right of anyone to burn the flag because it’s just a flag, it doesn’t offend me when anyone avails themselves of that right, though I might indeed be nervous if a group of Muslims were burning flags in my front yard. But only because these things don’t generally end in a reasoned, nonviolent protest. If they did, then I’d encourage them to burn away if it was cathartic. Which is why the Koran burning doesn’t offend me much. Comparing it to cross burning and scribbling a swastika on someone’s front door is just hyperbole from the left that serves as much to inflate the whole issue as anything from the right. You might as well be claiming that no one should have an abortion because it offends certain Christians.

Beyond Me: But of course, PZ Myers says it better than me, which I discovered after I'd been typing for a while, and unlike me, he's tried to throw away a holy wafer, only to receive death threats. It's a cookie! Or a cracker, if you think cookies are frivolous. If you're going to get upset about something that happened under a U.S. aegis, with regards to Muslims, maybe you should pick something that has meaning, like the raping 0f prisoners. If you're offended with any act that has any word of God on it, it's going to be an f-ing long haul, because if you parse out the Koran, some word of God is being destroyed pretty much every single minute.

If it's your book, I respect your right to burn it, even if I don't respect you. The opposite of Fahrenheit 451 is not justice and tolerance, it's Fahrenheit 451. Being liberal doesn't mean embracing intolerance with tolerance. It means fighting for freedom of expression regardless of political correctness.

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