The Koran-burning church, and other foolishness

By now you’ve heard about it. I tend to look at it from the perspective of Gen. David Petraeus:

KABUL, Afghanistan — The top American commander in Afghanistan has warned that plans by a small Florida church to burn copies of the Koran on Saturday, the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, could play into the hands of the very extremists at whom the church says it is directing that message.

Burning copies of the Koran, the Muslim holy book, “would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan — and around the world — to inflame public opinion and incite violence,” the commander, Gen. David H. Petraeus said in an e-mail message to The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Echoing remarks the general made in an interview with The Wall Street Journal published Tuesday, he said: “It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort. It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems. Not just here, but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community.”…

Somebody needs to find a way to talk some sense to those rockheads down in Florida. Unfortunately, sense is one thing I’m sure they are adamantly determined not to hear. Folks like that are allergic to it, or something. The fact that it’s senseless provocation is what appeals to them. Or maybe I’m wrong. The pastor says he hasn’t changed his mind, but is praying about it. Here’s hoping the Almighty answers him with a big, booming, bone-rattling NO, so that even he can hear it.

One of the really unfortunate things about modern global communications is that when some marginal, fringe doofuses that no one in this country would pay attention to acts out this way, it gets reported to other idiots on the other side of the world, who use it as an excuse to riot and generally raise hell, which makes the idiots over here feel justified, and so the foolishness continues, one generation into the next… (I think the writer of Ecclesiastes would have been a blogger today).

Basically, what we have here is a low-rent version of the allegedly sophisticated “journalists” in Europe who proved how free and enlightened they were (to each other) by specifically commissioning cartoons designed for no other purpose than to be of maximum insult value to conservative Muslims. And thus another unnecessary cycle of violence was launched. (The Enlightened Ones would justify themselves by saying that the violent reactions were unjustified. Of course they were unjustified, you twits. They were also entirely predictable, and your provocation of it was entirely unnecessary.)

I mean, if you just start with what Mamanem taught you before kindergarten, you don’t go around poking fun at the way other folks do church. Sure, if you’re a Baptist, you know what those Methodists do down the street isn’t REAL baptism, but you don’t make fun of them because well-bred people don’t do that. Well, this is like that, only with AK-47s — we have a practical reason not to unnecessarily inflame irrational passions. It’s not just rude, but stupid.

And when it endangers our troops in the field — and Gen. Petraeus is absolutely right to point that out — it is inexcusable.

Why did I write this? I don’t know. I set out thinking this would be a good thing to discuss, but then as I was typing, I thought, “What’s to discuss?” So I threw in the cartoons stuff. I know some of y’all will argue with me about that, but the point is the same, from my perspective.

33 thoughts on “The Koran-burning church, and other foolishness

  1. Kathryn Fenner

    Here’s what’s so great about livin’ in the US of A–you can burn Korans and not be afraid Afghanis or Iraqis are going to invade your country and topple your leader and trash your world. Maybe they will to bomb a few things, but chances are, you’ll get away with it.

    Makes me want to go burn a Bible. (kidding!)

  2. soren kay

    I agree, but aren’t the media partly to blame for giving this guy attention in the first place? The cartoons were put in a newspaper, but how did this story start out?

  3. Doug Ross

    “It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort.”

    Or it couldn’t. We’ll never know, will we? I suppose THIS will be the tipping point that drives the fanatic Muslim world to hate America. Wait, aren’t we already fighting THAT war? This is the equivalent of burning a Japanese flag in 1941.

    Now, does General Petraeus care to speculate as to whether civilian deaths endanger our troops and the overall effort?

  4. Brad Warthen

    Soren kay, you’re absolutely right.

    Doug, you’re making no sense. As the antiwar folks always say to me (when they misunderstand my WWII references as saying something other than what I’m trying to say), if you can’t tell the difference between that situation and this one, I can’t help you.

  5. Brad Warthen

    And yeah, civilian deaths do contribute to radicalization of individuals who might otherwise have been neutrals.

    That’s one reason why our military tries harder at avoiding such deaths than any other army in history.

    The other reason is that we don’t WANT to kill civilians. We think that’s a bad thing.

    Since you asked.

  6. Doug Ross

    Here’s a smart guy, Ron Paul, who gets it.

    ” “But while I am pleased to see General Petraeus recognize the danger of one type of incitement, he unfortunately fails to see the whole picture and understand that our policies of torture, targeted assassination, invasion of Muslim countries and unintended infliction of civilian casualties in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are also provocative. Pictures of victims of torture as well as innocent people killed by drones and stray bombs are every bit as bad as burning the Quran.

    “In some ways, what Jones is doing may be minor compared to the resentment toward us as a consequence of what our government has done to thousands of innocent victims.

    “As I have said time and time again, Osama bin Laden wins by ‘proving’ that America is an enemy of Islam and has an occupation agenda in the Middle East. And, we continue to walk into his trap and hand him up his best recruitment tool in his efforts to provoke hatred and terrorism against the United States.

    “If we don’t want to incite radical Islamists, we need to stop these un-needed wars. It is high time we came to our senses, brought our troops home to defend our country and pursued a Constitutional, Pro-American foreign policy.” “

  7. Elliott, South Carolina

    We can’t stop the rockheads in FL.
    We can’t stop the Taliban from using this. Is there anyway to stop the media here? If printing stories that insult Muslims endanger our troops, why can’t we ask the US media to stop giving these insults publicity?

  8. Herb Brasher

    Brad, thanks for this. You show a lot more appreciation for being in the other guy’s shoes than I expected.

  9. Herb Brasher

    It looks like these people in Florida would at least have some grain of respect for their fellow Christians in Islamic countries, that they wouldn’t want to make life more difficult for them. But no, some of us can’t seem to look beyond our own nose. According to the NY Times report, this pastor hasn’t even read the Qur’an that he wants to burn. Well, what he really wants, I think, is media attention, and he got that, as soren kay has already noted.

  10. bud

    That’s one reason why our military tries harder at avoiding such deaths than any other army in history.

    I was going to write something different but this little gem cannot be left to stand. Our military dropped atomic bombs on 2 heavily populated civilian cities in 1945. What other nation has done that? Then we dropped agent orange to defoliate the jungle of Vietnam. That was real compassionate to the civilians. Then as if that wasn’t atrocious enough we dropped napalm on civilians, burned their villages and massacred them wholesale. When Lt. Calley was called to task for this he served as a scapegoat.

    American battleships shelled civilian populated villages Lebanon in the 1980s. Of course lets not forget the famous gassing of civilians by Saddam Hussein in the 80s. That was most likely the result of American gas technology. The US was (and may still be) one of the few nations oppossed to banning land mines.

    In the 90s American tanks were armed with spent nuclear fuel tipped shells. Let’s not forget cluster bombs that have killed children in various parts of the world.

    Fast forward to the 2000s. In Iraq we captured dozens of innocent civilians and sent them to Gitmo to rot. Now we’re afraid to release them for fear that they will now be radicalized. And who could blame them. We capture religious people and pile them up naked in a place called Abu-Ghraib. We kill civilians by the dozens in Pakistan with drone aircraft.

    Really Brad, this one takes the cake, the pie, the custard and whatever other desserts for the absolute stupidest thing you’ve ever said.

  11. Barry

    The real issue is this type of action plays right into the hands of governments in Iran, and other similiar nations.

    and of course it’s pure stupidity as well.

  12. Barry

    Doug Ross says:

    “They could try harder by not being there”

    But we are there. I doubt many over there really want to be there. But reality is different.

  13. David

    I can’t stop thinking about the fact that Jews and Muslims have too much respect to burn a Bible or Torah. What does that say about Christians?

    We have already heard about flushing Qur’ans down the toilet, letting dogs tear them up…who knows what else? People know this is not the first time…and this preacher is not the only one.

  14. Brad

    Do you ACTUALLY believe that Gen. Petraeus “fails to see the whole picture”? Really? You really do?

    And Ron Paul really does?

    If so, Ron Paul never needs to say another word to completely deligitimize himself.

    Personally, I wish we could replace Ron Paul and Obama and W. and the whole mess with a few more men like David Petraeus. We’d be a LOT better off.

  15. bud

    David Petraeus is a military man and by definition he is required to limit is overall view of the situation. He’s been given a mission that pretty much mandates the use of military hardware. It’s no knock on him that he would fail to see the whole picture. It’s just not his job.

    Since he must exclude the military applications from criticism he comes across as narrowly focused when he criticizes the Koran burning. In this case I’ll stick up for Petreaus. Obama is the one who needs to understand this situation better. He’s becoming a big disappointment on this issue.

  16. Brad

    Bud, I’m really gratified that we have something of an agreement on this point.

    But allow me a small quibble… Petraeus understands more than the deployment of military force. He’s the guy who wrote the book on counterinsurgency (which we finally, after years of Rumsfeld foolishness, started applying in Iraq when he was put in charge), and that involves diplomacy and economics and political factors necessary to change the situation.

    Yeah, it’s not his job to do anything but run the U.S. military operation in Afghanistan. But there are a lot of facets to that, as his interjection into this Koran situation demonstrates. He gets the Big Picture, which is sort of what I meant about wishing some of our politicians could be replaced by guys like him.

  17. Herb Brasher

    On this I agree, too. Maybe Petraeus can run for president? Who knows, he might prove to be a much better civilian leader than Eisenhower, especially in this day of desperate need for understanding the intricacies of foreign policy and its practical outworkings here at home.

  18. Karen McLeod

    If the media must give this particular act (burning the Koran), could they at least focus on those various churches in the same town who are holding prayer vigils and such to protest this action? The news suggests (ie. they aren’t giving these protests equal notice) that there will be many more protesting the burnings than there are burners.

  19. Bart

    Whoa! Time out folks.

    The pastor/preacher/reverend or whatever in Florida has a congregation about 30, including himself. Out of a nation of 300 million people, they account for .0000001 percent of the population.

    However, this pastor and his flock/congregation or whatever have managed to create a worldwide flap over a planned event on 9/11 when they plan to burn “a” copy of the Koran or Qu’ran, whichever you prefer.

    The publicity has been endless, religious leaders in NY have assembled to denounce the event, Petraeus has called upon the preacher to cancel the event because it will most likely cause harm to our civilians and soldiers in Afghanistan and the ME in general. Even the White House has weighed in.

    And to what end? Maybe we are witnessing just how much this country has regressed, not progressed, especially in the reporting of worthy or worthwhile news. In a sane world, the preacher would have been ignored and never received one sentence or one line in the news. The event would have gone unnoticed and the aftermath, uneventful, if not for the media’s unrelenting hunt for news stories of any kind.

    Now, 30 people led by a preacher in Florida are having an impact on relations between Muslim countries and America.

    And, of course, we have the obligatory discourse on what is wrong with our military and how bad America is from bud!

    bud – invoking Godwin’s Law


  20. Doug Ross


    Ron Paul has a B.S. in biology, an M.D. from Duke Medical School, was an Air Force flight surgeon, and has forgotten more about economics than you will ever know. His credentials stack up very well against a general whose perspective may be biased by spending his entire adult life in the chain of command.

    I’m fairly sure your call for him to step aside would be met with a hearty laugh. He made McCain look like an old fool on the economy and will eventually be proven right on the idiocy of engaging in debt-backed nation building that is both unconstitutional and unwinnable.

  21. bud

    Bart, show me where my facts are wrong. Did we not drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Did we not use agent orange and napalm in Vietnam? My point is not that America is a terrible country and our military is evil. What I’m trying to get across is that many if not most military events by ALL nations are generally counterproductive. They do not provide improved security to the nations populace. They do not improve the lives of the people that are allegedly being helped. Instead just the opposite typically occurs. That’s because the nature of warfare results in a variety of unintended consequences including atrocities. A nation should only go to war when self-preservation is at stake. Clearly that was not the case in Vietnam or Iraq. And even in cases where that test could be met (WW II) the cost is still enormous.

  22. Kathryn Fenner

    Why does a degree in biology or medicine have any bearing on economics knowledge? Last I checked, those majors were too busy to take a lot of classes in econ.

  23. Steve Gordy

    I second Kathryn’s last comment about Ron Paul’s educational credentials. Knowledge is so specialized today that it’s a full-time job just surveying the literature on what’s new, let alone actually mastering it. I’ve taken graduate-level courses in economics, statistics, and finance, but since I don’t work in those fields, I wouldn’t claim expertise.

  24. Doug Ross


    No, you just did your normal “if it doesn’t match my worldview, it’s because of the other person’s cognitive defect” routine. There’s plenty of smart people out there who actually know what they are talking about. People who may not match your checklist for rising above your condescension.


    So we should restrict your opinion only to subjects you studied in college? Paul has been a student of economics since his medical school days, favoring the works of Ludwig von Mises. A prescient Mises quote: “There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as a result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final total catastrophe of the currency involved.”

    Paul has written a book on the Federal Reserve banking system. I’m guessing he at least has some idea of what he’s talking about.

  25. Cayla

    this is all foolishness, what kind of christians would really do this? I hate when people try and do evil things to others. it’s ashame.

  26. Norm Ivey

    Terry Jones has a soul consumed by hate. He has the sick idea that burning a Koran is an act of patriotism or defiance. It’s neither. It’s nothing more than the futile flailing about of a warped, twisted mind.

    I hope that during his time of prayer he reads Matthew 5:44–…love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. I pray he can rediscover the faith and love that drew him to the ministry originally. I pray he can recall what it means to be a Christian–what it means to be like Christ.

  27. Burl Burlingame

    Retrospection is a great thing. Alas, you can’t really look back at the past without putting yourself in the shoes of those who were there. The decision to drop the atomic bombs on Japan will be endlessly debated. I have even heard tour guides claim that Japan attacked Pearl Harbor to stop the Americans from using the atomic bomb. It’s all twisted history.
    AT THE TIME, the bombs were simply thought of as the biggest bang available. The Joint Chiefs wanted some to “soften up” the beachhead for the invasion of Kyushu. That gives you a clue.
    There was another critical element. There were more than 140,000 Allied prisoners in Japanese camps, including many civilians. The minute Allied forces landed on Kyushu, all of the these prisoners were to be immediately executed. All of them. Without the shock and sudden surrender forced by the A-bombs (plus the Russians blowing through the Kwantung Army in six days), no Allied prisoners would have survived the war.
    As it was, about a third of those 140,000 were beaten, worked or starved to death anyway.

  28. Pat

    @ Norm “I hope that during his time of prayer he reads Matthew 5:44–…love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. I pray he can rediscover the faith and love that drew him to the ministry originally. I pray he can recall what it means to be a Christian–what it means to be like Christ.” Thanks for posting that.

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