Florida Church Decides to Burn Qurans

I have been tempted to sigh and turn away from the current debates about which people should be allowed to build cultural centers and where they should be allowed to build them, as election year politcking.  It’s not terribly surprising that the farthest of the right wing of political thought and those who want to herd them to the polls this November would attempt to make political and social hay out of a building permit.

But now I fear it’s about to get ugly.  I fear we’re descending straight into old-fashioned, made in the USA, fear-mongering with all the trimmings.  We’ve seen this before, aimed at a wide spectrum of immigrants or political thought and it’s rolling right back around.  The “Dove World Outreach Center” in Gainsville, Florida is going to go ahead and start burning books.  Specifically, qurans.

So, here we are.  To express love of country, patriotism, memory, a book — the holy text of one of the world’s largest religions — of has got to burn.

Thankfully, and to their credit, the majority of the religious leaders in Gainsville have come together to oppose this demonstration of ignorance and bigotry, and will be organizing a gathering for understanding and outreach.   Which is the American character, indeed the human character, at its best.

Personally, I’ve got no words to express my sadness at watching my country descend into the terrors generated by the fear of their neighbors, or the fury at seeing hatred cynically whipped up for political gain.  Fortunately, Christian author and philosopher C.S. Lewis does.  He gives the following words to his character the demon Screwtape when speaking of how to best destroy a soul:

“Hatred is best when combined with Fear.  Cowardice alone of all the vices is purely painful — horrible to anticipate, horrible to feel, horrible to remember.  Hatred has its pleasures.  It is therefore often the compensation by which a frightened man reimburses himself for the miseries of Fear.”

Because that is exactly what is happening here, and that is all that is happening here.  There is no patriotism, no protection of community, or ideals or the ever-popular meaningless catch phrase “way of life.”  The burning of a book, ANY book, is a group of people reimbursing themselves for the miseries of a needless, heedless, misdirected, disappointed, fear.




Florida Church Decides to Burn Qurans — 10 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for posting this, Sarah. I blogged on the same subject in my LiveJournal.

    Fareed Zakaria also did a wonderful article on it in Newsweek last week that can also be read online. He is reacting specifically to the Anti-Defamation League’s buying into the prejudice despite it’s mandate to protect everyone’s first amendment rights. In this case, the ADL believes that the victims of 9/11 are “entitled” to positions that normally would be seen as prejudiced.

    Mr. Zakaria was given a First Amendment Freedoms award from the ADL five years ago. Last week he returned it, along with the $10,000 that came with it.

    I, for one, appreciate such non-violent acts of moral courage.

  2. More important from a patriotic point of view: these Florida morons are PLAYING DIRECTLY INTO THE HANDS OF BIN LADEN. The old turd has been blatting about how it’s A War Against Islam since forever; sensible people have been rightly ignoring him. Our own President Bush came out strongly in favor of the correct philosophy: that Al Qaeda are tiny bunch of psychopathic crooks who deserve the scorn and condemnation of all decent people, Muslims, Christians, Zen Buddhists, and Wiccans alike.

    For this church to join hands with these toilet fish and gin up a “war against Islam” is tantamount to treason, directly endangering our troops overseas. Thank goodness I have no time to go to Gainesville; otherwise Hijinks Would Ensue and the blog would have many more keen photos. These people need to be bitch-slapped.

    Brenda (mother of not one, but TWO Army personnel)

  3. I find myself appalled, once again, by the behavior of some who apparently consider themselves both Christian and American, yet deeply misunderstand the core teachings of both. Or at least, back when I went to Sunday School, I got the idea that “Love thy neighbor as thyself” meant all thy neighbors, not just fellow Christians. And while burning books to make a point is probably protected by the First Amendment, it flies in the face of the principles that gave rise to it.

  4. Mad, haven’t you heard those religious fundamentalists who tell us the First Amendment has been misinterpreted and that “no law respecting an establishment of religion” doesn’t mean what it actually says?

  5. Freedom of religion goes hand in hand with freedom of speech, and freedom of association.

    All of the above mean people have the perfect right to be hateful, and to say hateful things. It also, in fact, means they have the right to burn books they have legally purchased on their own property and talk about what they’ve done.

    But if they’re going to commit such hateful acts, it is equally the right, indeed it is the responsibility, of the rest of us to speak up, to assemble and to respond. I am pleased to see the truly patriotic citizens of Gainsville who understand the genuine and sometimes difficult responsibilities that come with being an American citizen, rather than just what Thomas Paine called the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot are standing up.

  6. Sarah,

    Thanks for posting on this. I’ve been wondering what the true Christian community has been doing about this. They are the ones that need to defend their religion because now that this one group of idiots has decided to take “Christian” action, the image of Christianity is going to be even more tarnished than what the fundamentalists have made it.