Times like these, I think it’s better to stay in space.

Apologies for my intolerance and judgment (more of that here ), but this is just ludicrous. First you have Pastor Nutcase in Florida, with his congregation of 50, announcing that he will burn Qur’ans. Though outrageous, this is actually the most benign part of the story – in our country there are plenty of people with less orthodox views who express a great variance of what is typically called common sense. Well, there are plenty of those folks in any country – in ours, however, they are allowed to express themselves freely, at the expense of national security and popularity in the world at large. Fine. That’s just fine.

So you have this pyro and his 50 sheep wanting to get the burn on. The “rationale” behind the burning of the Qur’an is physically repulsive to me, to such an extent that I will not address this issue here at all. It is not worth the time, because that would mean that I am taking this pastor seriously. And unlike the church leaders, the Defense Secretary, and the President of the United States, I am not obligated to entertain such nonsense. Topic closed.

And it would be, except then you have the media. I cannot fathom what compelled the media, ie. real live, thinking, intelligent (?!) human beings, to take this garbage and publish it, send it out into the world wide web, where the content grew exponentially and, as of now, gets 33,000,000 hits. That’s thirty three MILLION. Now guys – why would you DO this? Do you not know how fragile and shaky the situation is right now in the world? Are you not following Iran? Afganistan? Don’t you guys read the news?! And don’t throw that nonsense about the freedom of the press. As journalists, you have the responsibility to bring relevant, urgent, and important information to the knowledge of the public. This “news” about Pastor Jones belongs in the Failblog. (Ie: Pastor encourages love and unity by proposing to burn Qur’ans on September 11th: FAIL!)

If you’re short on pressing matters, ladies and gentlemen of the media world, I’ll help you. Write about human trafficking. According to the UNICEF website, “Some estimates have as many as 1.2 million children being trafficked every year.” According to similar statistics, 20,000 people are trafficked INTO the Unites States each year! Write about that.

In fact, you can write about how few in the world would argue that child trafficking, forced child labor and child prostitution are evil. With the power that you can wield with the written word, you can bring peoples of different ethnic, cultural, and yes, religious backgrounds together to fight against something that ACTUALLY MATTERS! I am being very serious here. Why don’t we get more front-page coverage of human trafficking? Is it old news? Does it not matter? Does it matter less than Pastor Jones wanting to burn Qur’ans on September 11th, thereby propagating and encouraging the very hatred that brought about the tragedy in the first place? (Smart move, by the way.)

Then, once this story is broadcasted all over the world, people respond. (Note to media folk: if we mere mortals read something in the press, we think surely it must be monumental enough to warrant coverage. We take what you publish very seriously.) Now 99% of the people who read this story haven’t been to Gainseville, Florida. They don’t know what it means when certain Pastor Joneses lead a congregation of 50 independent-from-any-official-church-body Pentecostals. But they figure that since it’s in the press, naturally it must reflect the stance of the public at large, right? In most countries this is the case.

Now to recap: Pastor Nutcase decides to burn Qur’ans. Media nuts take the story public. PR and public officials are forced to take it seriously and respond in suit. And then, for the grand finale, folks in Afghanistan storm the NATO headquarters (following the logic flow, the only natural outcome…).

I want to be like, “Hey guys – don’t take this to heart. I understand this is offensive – believe me, this is offensive to many a thinking person here in the States. But this guy’s actions do not reflect public opinion. Don’t go storming NATO – it certainly doesn’t reflect NATO’s stance…”

Something tells me, though, that it can’t be helped. It’s probably not so much about the Qur’ans, either.

I imagine, though, that the absurdity of storming NATO in Afghanistan after a pastor of a tiny church in Gainesville, Florida announces that he will burn Qur’ans on September 11th is about as absurd as storming Iraq after several dozen men fly two planes into the World Trade Towers and crash into the Pentagon and into a field Pennsylvania. Granted, the scope is very different, but the ruling “logic” – eerily similar.

In this madness, I came across a lone voice crying out in the wilderness. It was Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the leader of the Islamic center project in New York. To quote the AP story on the topic, this is what he said in a statement issued in response to a rumor that the Pastor had called off the burning thinking that plans to build an Islamic Center two blocks North of Ground Zero in NYC were called off:

“I am glad that Pastor Jones has decided not to burn any Qurans. However, I have not spoken to Pastor Jones or Imam Musri…We are not going to toy with our religion or any other. Nor are we going to barter. We are here to extend our hands to build peace and harmony.”

I second the notion.

Advertisements