Believer or Not, You Won’t Believe This

5 09 2010

UPDATE Friday 3:42 pm: This is How the Media Embarrass Themselves

UPDATE Thursday early am: President Obama himself “as commander in chief” says the pastor needs to understand that this “stunt” could “greatly endanger our young men and women in uniform” and “it’s a recruitment bonanza for al Qaeda.”

UPDATE Wednesday 8 pm:

Deputy Chief Tim Hayes of the Gainesville Fire Dept., however, said that his department’s denial was not related to the content of the books but on a city ordinance which prohibits the burning of “newspaper, corrugated cardboard, container board or office paper, which are akin to books.”

No doubt, attendees from the Sarah Palin/Dr. Laura School of Law would regard it as an infringement of the Dove Outreach Center’s First Amendment rights, should a group of concerned citizens peacefully surround these book burners, whom Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe describes as a “tiny fringe group and an embarrassment to our community,” holding up signs which quote [Heinrich] Heine’s “Where they burn books, at the end they also burn people.”

UPDATE Wednesday 2:07 pm: He’s going forward. City of Gainesville says all yard book-burning is banned because the ink is toxic when burning and releases into the atmosphere. How poetic!

UPDATE Wednesday at 1:58 pm: TV news conference coming up, in which Pastor Jones reportedly “might” announce God has told him to back off the holy book-burning, waiting to see now, which is no doubt what he wants . . .

UPDATE Wednesday: Mrs C. has some thoughts on hate speech cloaked with religion Christian or Muslim, American or not: Burning the Koran

*****************

My hometown in Gainesville FL — one religious tax-dodging nut-job
there, to be more accurate — has ignited a state department-level
international incident! Seriously, thousands rioting in the streets
against America, or at least against what’s wrong with our right and its
abuse of our rights.

See full news below. Read it and weep.

But first a little background: last year at back-to-school time, Snook was blogging about school dress codes and uniforms, etc. I compared it all to my unschooled children’s freedom to dress as they pleased, thinking about and discussing the god-and-government control memes behind such clothing issues.

One of the stories I riffed about was from my hometown, in the school
system where I worked as an administrator and literally wrote the policy manual for everything, including dress as speech and conduct. Remember those t-shirts that screamed, “ISLAM IS OF THE DEVIL” in the first discussion?

Today’s Lesson Is Education By T-Shirt

Messages at School From T-Shirts to Serious Hats

More T-Shirts and Dress Messages, From Stupid to Dead Serious This Time

And then came the anti-Muslim “Ground Zero Mosque” issue as a way to inflame the conservative base while driving the election narrative away from any accomplishments and offerings their opponents would prefer to be debating:

How the Mosque Fearmongering Got Going

And now — well, whether you are a believer or not, you won’t believe this.

**************************

U.S. Quran Burning Sparks Indonesia Protests Outside American Embassy
First Posted: 09- 4-10 10:44 PM

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Thousands of Indonesian Muslims rallied
outside the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta on Saturday to denounce an American church’s plan to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks by burning copies of the Quran.

The Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, said it will
burn the Islamic holy book Wednesday, the ninth anniversary of the
terror attacks. Local officials have denied a permit for the bonfire on
the church’s grounds, but the center – which made headlines last year by distributing T-shirts that said “Islam is of the Devil” – insists it
will go ahead with the plan.

About 3,000 members of a hard-line Islamic group marched to the U.S.
Embassy in downtown Jakarta waving banners and posters condemning the plan. The group organized similar rallies in five other cities across
Indonesia, the world’ largest Muslim nation.

Religious leaders in Indonesia have condemned the plan and called on the U.S. government to use its influence to get the fire canceled.

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15 responses

5 09 2010
JJ

(Cross-posting from 2010 Banned Books Week discussion)

Speaking of religious people, it’s not just book-banning in the news but book-BURNING, resurrecting Savonarola’s historic bonfires. Pyres of piety.

(I read about Savonarola in a children’s book some today would ban or burn, by an award-winning author who lives in our book-burning state:
“In Konigsburg’s novel T-Backs, T-Shirts, COAT, and Suit, Chloe spends the summer in Florida with her stepfather’s sister, who runs a meals-on-wheels van and becomes involved in a controversy over T-back swimming suits.” )

GAINESVILLE – If building an Islamic center near ground zero amounts to the epitome of Muslim insensitivity, as critics of the project have claimed, what should the world make of Terry Jones, the evangelical pastor here who plans to memorialize the Sept. 11 attacks with a bonfire of Qurans?

Terry Jones, an evangelical pastor, in front of shooting targets at the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville. His plan to burn Qurans is drawing support and criticism. . . .
Jones, 58, a former hotel manager with a red face and a white handlebar mustache, argues that as an American Christian he has a right to burn Islam’s sacred book because “it’s full of lies.”

Muslim leaders in several countries, including Egypt and Indonesia, have formally condemned him and his church, the Dove World Outreach Center.
An Islamic group in England has also incorporated his efforts into a YouTube video that encourages Muslims to “rise up and act,” widening a concern that Jones — though clearly a fringe figure with only 50 members in his church — could spark riots or terrorism. . .

Asked about his knowledge of the Quran, he said plainly: “I have no experience with it whatsoever. I only know what the Bible says.”

Nonetheless, his position and variations on his tactics have become more common, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Florida in particular has had a rise in anti-Islamic activity.

Savonarola and Jones have a lot in common. Maybe Jones will end up as Savonarola did, burning in his own hellfire.

His oratory had become impassioned and shrill, his rhetoric scathing, and his message apocalyptic.
. . . He had visions, he said, and what he saw was the coming of The Last Days. He had spoken directly to God and what God had told him was that the people of Florence were in imminent danger of Hell and that only a vigorous morality could save them, and he was increasingly believed.

. . .From the outset Savonarola made it clear that Florence would be a Christian Republic. God was the law and Savonarola his mouthpiece. The people were to be virtuous and moral for that was their only way to salvation. All vice and revelry was now to cease, all nocturnal activities were suppressed, gambling, music, dance and theatre were all banned. Homosexuality, and in particular the act of sodomy, previously tolerated, was now to be punishable by death. Hundreds fled the city, many hundreds more were burned at the stake for acting in defiance of God’s Will.

. . .Young boys and girls (supported by more menacing types) were sent to every house in the city to remove those items that led to lax morality: dice, playing cards, musical instruments, mirrors, cosmetics, fine clothes and heretical literature were all removed and taken to the Piazza della Signoria in the centre of the city, and burned in pyres 60ft high.

6 09 2010
JJ

Here’s the whole story from, should we say, Ground Zero?
Gainesville Sun: Quran burning raises fear of violence here, elsewhere

By Chad Smith
Published: Thursday, August 26, 2010

As he took the pulpit to deliver his sermon Sunday, Terry Jones acknowledged the potentially violent firestorm that has erupted in response to his church’s plans to burn copies of the Quran on Sept. 11.

“Anybody bring a gun to shoot us?” Jones asked, eliciting a smattering of laughs.

. . .While city officials are concerned about the effect on Gainesville’s image, they say the more pressing matter is the potential for trouble.
The FBI and state and local law enforcement agencies are monitoring the threats of violence . . .

On the day Dove World intends to burn the Quran – plans for which the city has denied a permit – thousands of people will be in town for the University of Florida’s football game against the University of South Florida.

. . .In the spring, Dove World protested against Lowe’s mayoral campaign because he is gay, and in June members staged a “no homo mayor” protest at City Hall.

. . .The Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., which tracks hate groups and domestic terrorists, also has taken note of Dove World.

“We don’t list them as a hate group yet,” research director Heidi Beirich said. “You better believe that they’re going to be on the list next year.”

The organization lists 51 hate groups – defined as organizations “that attack or malign an entire class of people” – in Florida, from the Nation of Islam to the Ku Klux Klan.

On Sunday during his sermon, Jones acknowledged that burning copies of the Quran wouldn’t be popular but he said it was necessary, comparing himself and his church to Mordecai, who in the Bible refused to bow to government officials and set off a wrathful plot to kill the Jewish people.

Jones expressed his disgust at Trinity United Methodist, the church a few streets away that will host an interfaith prayer service on Sept. 10.

Calling Dan Johnson, Trinity’s senior minister, and the church’s congregation “lily-livered, yellow-bellied Christians,” he said it was unfathomable that a group of Christians would rally with Muslims, Hindus and Jews to speak out against a Christian church.

“Our nation is in ruin spiritually,” he said.

But on Sunday, there weren’t many to hear his side.

Under a banner declaring “VISION 100…” as a membership goal, Jones bemoaned how few people were in attendance.

“This is a disgrace,” he said.

“This is humbling. I don’t deserve this.”

7 09 2010
JJ

Gainesville church rebuffs military concerns on Koran burning

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A Christian minister said Tuesday that he will go ahead with plans to burn copies of the Koran this weekend to protest the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks despite a warning from the top U.S. general in Afghanistan that doing so would endanger American troops.

Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center said he understands Gen. David Petraeus’ concerns but plans to go forward with the burning this Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the attacks.

He left the door open to change his mind, however, saying that he is still praying about his decision. . .

8 09 2010
JJ

Some good thinking on moving beyond 9/11as reactionary public policy:

. . .actually, we’re getting somewhere.

Given that the next 72 hours mark the end of Ramadan, start of the Jewish New Year, anniversary of 9/11 and first public comments from Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, it’s a good moment to have an exchange, not a diatribe.

. . .With an astonishing 85% of Americans saying that they’re following this issue closely, heated exchanges are sharpening and narrowing disagreements. Louis Brandeis was right — “Sunlight is the best of disinfectants.”

8 09 2010
Mrs. C

Hi, JJ! Thank you for linking to my post. I think that your linking the mosque and this pastor’s rights together is spot-on. If proper clearances are made in building and fire codes (etc. etc.) no reason both can’t go ahead. It doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a great idea in either case, however. It would be interesting to see how much tax money BOTH endeavours will eat up as police and FBI try to keep everyone safe.

8 09 2010
JJ

The ass’t pastor is being interviewed on Hardball right now, saying he started wearing a gun (in liberal USA university town) a few weeks ago, after the Quran-burning publicity brought in death threats.

OTOH, Matthews asked whether they were endangering not just the troops but also Christian missionaries in the Middle East, and the guy says nope, no more danger than they already were in and that’s what they’ve chosen so what will be will be.

Huh??

8 09 2010
JJ

I see the mosque-building plan and book-burning plan as connected because both exploit anti-Muslim hate politics. (Not the way Sarah Palin and John Boehner are trying to connect them, as legal but equally inappropriate or unwise for the religious person to dare do.) Indeed I see the controversy in both cases as whipped up by some individual conservative American Christians, on purpose — to the detriment of both America and Christianity.

Apparently in both cases, certain self-proclaimed Christians mean to get the response they are getting, and don’t care who gets hurt. Both controversies are fanning anti-Muslim flames in intent and effect.

UPDATE: Jon Stewart quipped tonight that burning the Koran and merely reading it aren’t equally offensive.

8 09 2010
JJ

Somebody on a news program recalled conservatives loudly denouncing as dangerous to the troops, Cindy Sheehan’s peaceful mother’s-heart war protests. The point was that therefore those same voices shouldn’t be silent now about a pastor’s Quran burning as dangerous to the troops, yet they are so far, including hawks like Liz Cheney. The conclusion was that there’s just no explanation for the difference, other than raw political calculus:

Cindy versus Cindy on the Iraq War

Quitting and Going Home: Failure, Success or Complicated?

8 09 2010
JJ

German Christians at least, are denouncing him — as “violent and fanatical.”

But this nugget caught my eye after the tough time Dr. Jill Biden was given for trying to use the title legitimately and being refused by snotty newspapermen:

In 2002, Jones was fined 3,000 euros by a German court for using the title of “doctor” under false pretenses.

9 09 2010
Consider “Parental Rights” in Light of Friendly Atheist Advice to 14-Year-Old « Cocking A Snook!

[…] Believer or Not, You Won’t Believe This […]

12 09 2010
JJ

So we have several alternate narratives to work with now, comparing Quran-burning to:
1) mosque and community center building by Muslims,
2) a heartsick mother so offended by the war that killed her son, she advocates peacefully through the media for its end,
3) Savonorola’s holier-than-thou bonfires, and
4) restricting, banning and burning all sorts of books, advocated by offended conservative Christians as upholding moral standards for the community and protecting children from various language and ideas — along with more generalized “burning with hate” against human beings besides Muslims and Islam, fanning flames both real and rhetorical (cross-burnings and church burnings and the burning of Atlanta all were in my mind this week.)

Now here’s yet another, from PZ Myers. I admit this one crossed my mind last week just briefly but seemed murky, so I dismissed it and went with the banned-books week connection instead. Maybe now I’ll revisit it: 5) desecration of a communion wafer.

3 04 2011
JJ

Well, he did it.

It took six months and he didn’t get the same worldwide attention for it but this time he didn’t just threaten. And the murderous response wasn’t just a threat either.

4 04 2011
JJ

Terry Jones: How the Mad Pastor Oozed Back

Jones promised Today show host Carl Quintanilla that his church wouldn’t burn any Korans, “not now, not never.” By the new year, however, Jones had come up with a knockout pitch. The church couldn’t burn Korans—but what if it was no longer a church? What if it was, instead, a courtroom, the Koran was on trial, and burning was one of the possible penalties?

. . .The only way to hurt a Terry Jones is to ignore him. His symbolic struggle against radical Islam is actually a tangible struggle against his own obscurity.

As for me, I’m happy here in my own obscurity, pondering the peculiar use of the very odd phrase “knockout pitch” when one expects to see “knockout punch” or perhaps “unhittable pitch” or at least would have accepted as punny and in Jones’ case wry, “perfect pitch” . . .

23 09 2011
Judy Blume: “Children are the real losers . . .” « Cocking A Snook!

[…] there are lots of book-burning related posts through the years, most notoriously this and maybe this from 9/11 last year: On this notorious day as Americans remember, reconstruct and […]

8 06 2012
JJ

Guess Terry Jones and his Dove World Outreach Cult needed to whip up some more media attention and if you can’t burn something here in the South, hanging the first black president in effigy is almost as provocative and visual a media play (there’s a big full-color photo of it but I’m not putting it here; you’ll have to go to the link)

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