Thursday, September 09, 2010

Burn Koran Day - A Somewhat Different Focus

There is an aspect of this "International Burn the Koran Day" that is not getting the attention that I think it merits.

At this point, a lot of people are getting worked up over the fact that this Koran burning will be a "recruitment field day for Al-Queida" and that it will "Put American troops in danger."

The question not being asked is, "What type of people would do this?"

Some hate-mongering bigot in Florida is going to burn a Koran, so, as a result, these people are going to join a cult that murders innocent people.

Let's be honest about one thing. It's not just American troops in Afghanistan who are being put in danger. You and I are having our lives threatened. These recruits that will be inspired by Terry Jones' action are going to be looking for ways to destroy the airplanes that you and I will be flying in, or destroying the buildings that you and I will be working in. They are going to be trying to kill us, our families, our children, our neighbor's children, all because some hate-mongering bigot in Florida burned a pile of books.

Sometimes you have to pay attention to these types of threats. If you are enjoying a pizza in the park with your 10-year-old son, and some guy comes up with a gun and says, "Give me the pizza or I will blow the kid's brains all over the table," you can enter into a discussion with them over the finer points of property rights. And you can stubbornly refuse on the bases that he has no moral right to take the pizza.

Or you can give him your pizza and figure out how to get this maniac off of the streets as soon as your kid is safe.

Just to be clear, I am entirely opposed to the book burning - in part because it is a book burning and only intellectual cowards will destroy rather than confront the ideas they think are mistaken. In part I oppose it because it is hate-mongering bigotry of the same type that is responsible for the Park51 protests and, in fact, of the same type that made the 9-11 attacks possible.

It is NOT the case that burning these books is as innocent an act as eating a pizza with one's kid. It is more akin to attending a KKK meeting - and having somebody who objects to the meeting threaten to blow the brains out of some innocent child he picked up in a nearby town if the KKK meeting isn't stopped.

But let's not forget to ask the question - what type of person would threaten to kill and maim innocent people to stop something that they find objectionable that is, itself non-violent?

We are never going to live in a safe and civilized society if it is filled with people whose morality allows them to get their way in all things by threatening to kill innocent people.

And as long as we throw our support to those who threaten to maim and murder innocent people unless we meet their demands, we can expect to find the practice of threatening to maim and murder innocent people becoming more and more popular.

At this moment, the only people I hear willing to say something of the form, "Threatening to kill innocent people in order to get your way regarding the burning of the Koran is wrong," are the members of the hate-mongering bigot in Florida.

For the most part, we are all being told we must take sides. We have the hate-mongering book-burning bigot cult in Florida on the one side, and a different religious cult whose members who think it's perfectly permissible to force others to do what they want by threatening to maim and kill innocent people on the other.

And we have to choose.

Which side do you want to be on?

Not that the members of the threaten to maim and murder innocent people cult are particularly averse to destroying the icons of other religions. The Taliban, after all, blew up 1500-year-old statues without a thought to the concerns of the rest of the world. Though, admittedly, the rest of the world - the civilized world - did not threaten to maim and murder innocent people if the statues were destroyed.

(See: Wikipedia, Buddhas of Bamyan)

Somebody should be asking the moral question, "What types of people are these that they are making these kinds of threats?"

And somebody should be pointing out to them, "Hey, civilized people don't make death threats even against the people who burn books - let alone threaten to maim and kill innocent people (including children) - as a way to impose their will on others. That type of behavior is, to say the least, primitive and barbaric."


mikespeir said...

It is interesting that we're all for in-your-face slaps at religion when it's us who want to do it. Okay, so now let's hear all the "but this is different" rationalizations.

Alonzo Fyfe said...


Well, there is a difference in the case that this time there is a mob of people with the potential to kill and maim tens to hundreds of thousands of people and throw a whole region of the world (Afghanistan, Pakistan) into violent chaos for years to come.

Atheists are marginalized individuals whom nobody really takes seriously. People can shrug off our nonsense without throwing whole regions of the world into chaos because, "They're atheists. What do you expect?"

I would hope that if atheists were about to perform some act that threatened widespread death and destruction across whole regions of the country (at the hands of some violence-prone cult) that this WOULD be taken as a reason to reconsider.

But yet still make the point that what we are dealing with is a group of barbaric thugs who think it is perfectly permissible to threaten to maim and kill innocent men, women, and children - and to carry through on their threats if they do not get their way.

Rick said...

Anybody who supports this should seriously re consider. Islam is not the problem anymore than Christianity is. Audacities beyond the imagination have been carried out on both parts. There is no holy war here only the illusion of one. 9/11 is a Luciferian date it represents sorcery by skipping 10. So to act on 9/11 only has one outcome. More bloodshed.... The issues of the world are rooted in corrupt government. These corrupt governments are controlled by unelected elite who wish to reduce the population of the world DRASTICLY. 9/11 was orcastrated by these evil people as a pre text for war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now it looks as though they are going to use this idiot Pastor Terry Jones to begin the next stage which will involve the US causing 4 or 5 terror attacks on their own soil and blaming Iran and Muslims. The next holocaust is upon us with Muslims instead of Jews. Please do some research on this. Google the new world order, the trilateral commission, the bilderbergs, They want to start a war between Muslims and Christians. These people represent Zionist Jews. Zionist Jews are a fiction a well orcastrated lie their true origin in Khazarian they are nothing to do with the jews google the Khazarian conspiracy

Alonzo Fyfe said...

I am going to take the previous post to be satire - a representation that one can have crazy beliefs without even mentioning God.

Dan said...

"Just to be clear, I am entirely opposed to the book burning - in part because it is a book burning and only intellectual cowards will destroy rather than confront the ideas they think are mistaken."

I have to object somewhat to this. "Book burning" is kind of a loaded phrase. It conjures up ideas of authoritarian governments/what-have-you confiscating all copies books they find objectionable and destroying them, so that people can't read them. I'm certainly against that, and that's the kind of book burning your statement seems to be in response to.

But that isn't what the Florida guy is doing, as far as I know. I assume he's buying some copies of the Koran and burning them as a symbolic gesture. That doesn't deprive anyone of the ability to read the Koran unless copies are extremely scarce, and I doubt that's the case.

The Florida preacher's plan is more akin to flag burning, the Koran being used because it's held sacred by Muslims, similar to how the US flag is sacred to a lot of Americans. I'm quite sure you could even find people threatening violence against people who engage in flag burning, and it's just as reprehensible as people threatening violence in response to Koran burning, as you note.

And that's a sense in which I could actually get behind something like a Koran burning. That people hold certain books (or flags) sacred enough to kill someone for destroying them is ludicrous. And I find it maddening that a significant portion of the objections (that I've heard on the news at least) to this preacher's actions actually affirms the notion of sacred objects. The Vatican, for instance, (unsurprisingly) issued a statement saying that we all some sort of right to reserve certain texts as sacred and worthy of respect. Nuts to that.

But, this isn't P. Z. Myers throwing a bible, a Koran and a copy of The God Delusion in the garbage. The message isn't, "no books/objects are sacred." This is a bigot expressing his hatred for Muslims. That's the odious part of this, and plenty reason to oppose it.

mikespeir said...


I was referring more to the Mohammad cartoons and the Blasphemy Day that we all cheered. Why is it all right for us to slap Islam in the face but not Jones? Some of the distinctions I'm seeing here are shaved so finely that I think I'm seeing special pleading through them.

Josef said...

Rick, I just wanted to say to you, you cocksucking motherfucker, did you ever hear of genetics?

Excellent post by the way.
No death threats in a civilized society.

Andy said...

Here is one atheist that supports it. I think the whole "my made up religion is better than yours" discussion is silly and a waste of time, but this is America, and you should be allowed to commit this act if you want (just like the Muslims should be able to build the "ground zero mosque" if they want to). I'm willing to live with the consequences. The federal government has absolutely NO place in meddling in this issue, and by doing so they took a minor act by a tiny fringe group and made it into a global issue. We can continue to bow to the pressures of violent extremists or we can say ENOUGH.

Rick said...

lol, thanks for that. This is not about god this is about manipulation pure and simple. The planned attacks on US soil have already been reported by a Sheriff in the US as very likely, and planned by the US government as a pre text to blow the shit out of Iran. I can give anybody the radio archives if they wish. If we let them pit Christianity against Islam on 9/11 it will not have a desirable outcome on us all. Look out our history here’s a quick article for you We are in deep shit if we take this route not from Islam not from Christianity but from propaganda. God help us all if we walk blindly into WW3. There i mentioned god twice :)

Loki said...

I suggest that this is just as innocent, legally speaking, as eating pizza with your kid in the park. They are purchasing copies of a book for the purpose of combustion on private property not on the governments dime or time.

Thats freedom. Its also intellectual cowardice as you posted, a lack of ability to stand up to the ideas but then who expects a religious person to be capable of rational argument against religion?

Its still freedom, and I have yet to see any evidence that it will actually endanger anyone. Remember draw Mohammed day? No violence came of that. To call this a terrorist recruitment field-day is to make an assertion without evidence.

And even if it was, its still freedom.

godlesstruthseeker said...

good reminder of the taliban and their destruction of the buddhas of bamyan; that was a real tragedy. ironic that in all these conflicts, buddhism isn't even religion, imho, it's more like a philosophy, one which resonates with me whenever i think about its basic tenets.

as for the qur'an burning, I oppose it simply because i oppose anything that will likely increase the chaos factor of the world right now. and that includes an in-your-face plan to build an islamic cultural center (an oxymoron if there ever was one) within a 'call-to-prayer' earshot of the former wtc complex. i am sick to death of the whole yahwallahjes (that's yahweh/allah/jesus three names for the same god, right?) paradigm. it's really a mess with no end in sight.

Doodie said...

People have been burning things in protest for years…..bras, flags, bibles, likenesses etc. Burning a book is non-violent. Americans are now scared to protest a something that they don’t agree with and view as oppressive and violent.

If someone is going to burn a Koran in protest of large violent and oppressive factions of Islam………….isn’t telling them not to burn a book because people will get killed kind of illogical? Basically you’re saying “don’t protest violence, or it might get violent”.

Josh said...


I do think book-burning (or any sort of burning) can be a non-violent act. If I burned a Texas pseudo-science ID textbook, I'd be protesting a specific brand of thought I found bankrupt.

If I burn a cross, there's a deeper level of intention, one that involves intimidation and fear. Some of that is historical, but some of that is the nature of the symbol being engulfed.

If I know the Qur'an is deeply important to many individuals, it doesn't matter if I find it to be a simple human work (as I do). I know I'm striking many Muslims deeply. And I have to weigh the impact of my action as an act of free speech against the harm I could cause by deeply grieving others.

Do I think anyone should violently react to a burning? Absolutely not. It's a beautiful part of our free-speech heritage. But I, for one, am not sure a Qur'anic book burning does any more good than its potential for harm. It shouldn't be that way, but that's how it is.

mojo.rhythm said...


We can probably both agree that a world with little to no superstition is a better world then a world with lots of superstition; especially superstitious beliefs which lead to extremism and violence.

What do you think are some of the most rational, effective and morally enlightened ways to condemn superstition?

Michael said...

The Islamic 'radicals' have theology on their side. Violent jihad was formalised into the religion not long after Muhammad died, inspired by the prophet's gruesome example. Threats of death for burning a Koran are part of the whole creed that commands worldwide violent submission to Islamic law. Moderate Muslims have never reformed their religion in any recognised sense. If they try, the radicals can quote from a long line of mainstream Islamic interpretation to win the argument. If the moderates persist, they face the charge of apostasy which carries the death penalty. There simply is no prospect of reforming Islam. Particular communities of Muslims may themselves be moderate due to variance of race/culture/history. But such moderation is against the odds, against normative Islamic theology. The sane conclusion is that Islam is unreformable and hence we need minimise our involvement with it. Only then will the Terry Jones of this world not care what is written in the Koran. Ideas have consequences. To ignore Islamic theology and continually try to moderate Muslim communities is like Sisyphus pushing up hill: the boulder always gravitates back down. Fighting Islamic theology is like defying gravity.

Masked Evangelist said...

Iran had a democratic government briefly.
The US supported brave Iraqi freedom fighters in Afghanistan in the 80s, and didn't object to chemical warfare use by Sadaam Hussein against Iran in the 80s,
While a few people died in protests about the Koran burning this weekend, millions of people have been displaced and hundreds of thousand of people have di...been collateral damage in the undeclared wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. TWhy can't those primitive people grasp that we are their moral and cultural superiors?

Anonymous said...

Hello dear friend…
I send you a message, to think about this for a minute…
Thank you !!!!
Liberal democracy is the utmost of aim of species that the U.S claims to have and claims that it has a wholly liberal democratic government. Does the end of the world and history conclude in the U.S? Is everything entirely for the U.S and what kind of Liberal democracy is this that doesn’t even allow anyone to reopen and research about the Holocaust case?! And according to this case and religious lie, every year hundreds of Muslims are sentenced to death. But this so-called liberal government allows any kind of insult to the holy book of Quran. And under the names of liberalism and freedom of speech, and with the aid of its police, offends more than one billion Muslims around the world.
The insult to the holy book of Quran and violating the law of respecting other’s beliefs and rights which was carried out by the same people who claim to have created this law, brought a great grief and sorrow to the liberals of the world. Isn’t this the same government that argues for omanism and all its moral and cultural theories are base on the human being?! So with this claim what happens to the freedom of right of more than one billion Muslims around the world and respecting their beliefs and religion?! Don’t these Muslims have the right to live?!
This is the Book(the Quran), about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah -

Read more in: