Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Ashes for Allah: New Calls for Censorship

In the 21st century, on the lunatic fringe of American religion, a man decided to revive the medieval practice of putting an animal or inanimate object on trial for some grave offense, which was usually for witchcraft or being an instrument of the devil. The medievalist man is Terry Jones, pastor of the Dove Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, who announced plans to hold a “trial” of the Islamic Koran, charging it with “inciting murder, rape and terrorism.” Mr. Jones’s capacity for intellectual discourse on the evil of the ideas contained in the book being severely limited (he is a Baptist), burning an inanimate object was all that is left to him in the way of rebuttal and protest.

On the evening of March 20, the “trial” went ahead with Jones presiding. It ended with another pastor setting alight a kerosene-soaked copy of the Qur’an.

A brief Agence France Presse (AFP) report said that although the event was open to the public fewer than 30 people attended. A subsequent local media report said the only journalists who turned up on the day were an AFP stringer, several students and an unassigned photographer. A video clip was posted online, however.

The news media paid the event little or no attention. Jones had promised to burn a copy of the Koran last September 11, on the anniversary of 9/11, but was talked out of it by officials who feared a repetition of the Danish Mohammad cartoon riots. They feared in vain. The riots occurred anyway. For Muslims, knowledge is a dangerous thing. If it doesn’t fit, they throw a fit.

Everyone underestimated the determination of Jones to make some statement, however addled it might be, and presumed that his apparent thirst for publicity had been slaked.

The “trial” served as an excuse for another round of riots, murder and mayhem by Muslims. Warring Muslim factions, however, have burned or destroyed more copies of the Koran than have any group of Westerners, but this fact is an unthinkable thought to Muslims. As with Jones’s original broadcast intention to burn a copy of the Koran, together with the publication of the Danish cartoons, there was also this time a measurable delayed reaction that went unnoticed. Time passed between knowledge of the “offenses” and Muslim reaction. This was to give the doyens of “anger management” time to whip their predisposed flocks and armies of manqués into a frenzy.

As of April 5th, the riots and protests against Jones and a potpourri of things Western continue.

A unique train of events ensued, one that led to the latest blathering of American politicians.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who last week drew Afghan public attention to the burning, an event that initially gained little media coverage, on Sunday called on the U.S. Houses of Congress to join in the condemnation and prevent a repeat incident.

Several Muslim clerics seized on this unsolicited piece of Constitutional advice by our alleged “ally” to give their humble congregations double doses of feverish outrage.

Karzai was abetted in this by Pakistan.

On March 22, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, in a speech to the federal parliament, condemned the incident “in the strongest possible words,” and Pakistan’s foreign ministry called the burning a “despicable act.” Dozens of reports on the Qur’an burning appeared in Pakistani media outlets on March 22-23, but the story received negligible coverage elsewhere in the Islamic world.

The klaxon of hurt Muslim feelings was also sounded by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) at the U.N. Human Rights Commission.

On March 31, 2011, Pakistan’s United Nations ambassador, Abdullah Hussain Haroon, spoke to reporters at UN headquarters on behalf of the 56 member state Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Ambassadorial Group, condemning the recent burning of a copy of the Koran by the pastors of a small Baptist Church in Gainesville, Florida. He highlighted the OIC’s “grave concern that the despicable act had severely hurt the feelings of 1.5 billion Muslims around the world” and warned reporters that it could lead to “incidents that are uncontrollable.”

Was that a “prophecy,” a hope, or a threat?

The very next day Ambassador Haroon’s warning turned into a tragic, self-fulfilling prophesy. A large mob of demonstrators in Afghanistan, angry at the Koran burning and apparently responding to calls for revenge by three mullahs who had addressed worshippers at Friday prayer in one of Afghanistan’s holiest mosques, stormed a United Nations compound in the northern region of the country and killed a number of innocent people, including at least seven UN staff members - two reportedly by beheading.

Not to be outdone in condemning Jones for “causing” the Afghan riots, a number of American politicians, a Supreme Court justice, and one American general chimed in with their own “anger.” South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, Senate majority leader Nevada Democrat Harry Reid, one Supreme Court justice, Steven Breyer, and General David H. Petraeus, commander of the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces Afghanistan, all piled on the hapless Jones.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says congressional lawmakers are discussing taking some action in response to the Koran burnings of a Tennessee [sic] pastor that led to killings at the U.N. facility in Afghanistan and sparked protests across the Middle East, Politico reports. “Ten to 20 people have been killed," Reid said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “We’ll take a look at this of course. As to whether we need hearings or not, I don’t know.”

Lindsey Graham was more specific, but just as ignorant.

Senator Lindsey Graham said Congress might need to explore the need to limit some forms of freedom of speech, in light of Tennessee [sic] pastor Terry Jones’ Quran burning, and how such actions result in enabling U.S. enemies. "I wish we could find a way to hold people accountable. Free speech is a great idea, but we're in a war," Graham told CBS' Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation” Sunday.

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos of “Good Morning America” reported these interesting instances of ignorance.

We also saw Democrats and Republicans alike assume that Pastor Jones had a Constitutional right to burn those Korans. But Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer told me on “GMA” that he's not prepared to conclude that -- in the internet age -- the First Amendment condones Koran burning.

Last week President Obama told me that Pastor Jones could be cited for public burning – but that was “the extent of the laws that we have available to us.” Rep. John Boehner said on “GMA” that “just because you have a right to do something in America does not mean it is the right thing to do.”

General Petraeus offered his own politically correct obloquy:

"We condemn, in particular, the action of an individual in the United States who recently burned the Holy Quran. We also offer condolences to the families of all those injured and killed in violence which occurred in the wake of the burning of the Holy Quran.

We further hope the Afghan people understand that the actions of a small number of individuals, who have been extremely disrespectful to the Holy Quran, are not representative of any of the countries of the international community who are in Afghanistan to help the Afghan people."

Where have all the great generals gone? Can you imagine George Patton being outraged over a desecration of Mein Kampf, or William Sherman frowning on a mocking rendition of “Dixie”? Lastly, President Barack Obama consulted his script writer and had this to say:

The desecration of any holy text, including the Koran, is an act of extreme intolerance and bigotry. However, to attack and kill innocent people in response is outrageous, and an affront to human decency and dignity. No religion tolerates the slaughter and beheading of innocent people, and there is no justification for such a dishonorable and deplorable act.

Empty but ominous words. In Indonesia, as a boy, Obama reputedly studied the Koran, and should know better than any other politician that the Koran indeed tolerates – nay, encourages – the slaughter and beheading of non-Muslims and other infidels. Note that he specified the “text,” and not the physical object. The “text” contains ideas that sanction a brutal ideology. Mr. Obama is certainly smarter than Terry Jones.

Daniel Greenfield summed it up neatly on Sultan Knish. Citing the incident of a German propagandist jailed during WWI, he notes:

Today we aren't jailing filmmakers who traffic in anti-American propaganda in wartime. If we did then half of Hollywood would be behind bars. Instead Democratic and Republican Senators are discussing banning speech offensive to the enemy. Because even though they're killing us already-- we had better not provoke them or who knows how much worse it will become.

What it will all lead up to is a kind of selective censorship that will insulate Islam from any criticism. Politicians, generals and pundits do not become overwrought about the burning of bibles, Torahs, or other religious documents. Only about Korans. This is because Islam is always in the news, in some form or another, and that is because Muslims are always being “provoked” by the least criticism of them and their creed to throw bloody tantrums. Islam is another “culture,” another religion, another “way of life,” and by the criteria of political correctness and an affinity for dhimmitude, it must be protected from all forms of offense.

And that selective, privilege-granting censorship will serve as a precedent and lead to other brands of censorship, including prohibiting the kind of writing you are reading here. Calm, reasoned, and deserved criticism of Islam must sooner or later be classified as a “hate crime,” as “injurious,” “hurtful,” and “bigoted” as burning a Koran. Observe the intellectual and moral stature of Americans who attempt to establish a causal relationship between the Afghan riots and Jones’s publicity stunt-cum-protest.

These people are not going to defend the First Amendment. They are unable to. They are intellectual troglodytes. For evidence of the fishbowls of swirling, floating abstractions their minds are, I invite anyone to read the transcript of an interview of Lindsey Graham by The National Review and to reach his own conclusion. The interview was conducted to give Graham a chance to expand and qualify his weekend statements on the Afghan riots and Jones’s Koran-burning. I challenge anyone to find an operating principle in his illiterate, emotionalist gibberish, the kind of equivocating rhetoric that can justify the kind of fascism that is congealing around American life. To wit:

"Let me tell you, the First Amendment means nothing without people like General Petraeus. I don’t believe that the First Amendment allows you to burn the flag or picket the funeral of a slain service member. I am going to continue to speak out and say that’s wrong. The First Amendment does allow you to express yourself and burn a Koran. I’m sure that’s the law, but I don’t think it’s a responsible use of our First Amendment right."

And if Graham, Boehner, Reid, Petraeus, and Obama do not think my writing here is a “responsible” use of my First Amendment right, what do they propose to do about it? How do they propose to make me “accountable”? The menacing growl is in their words. The First Amendment has already been whittled down to a splinter of what it once meant. It would be nothing to them to reduce it to a sliver.

What distinguishes their position on freedom of speech from that of the United Nations? Nothing. A U.N. spokesman felt compelled to add his own two cents about freedom of speech as he recounted the murders of the U.N. staff by the Muslim mob in Mazar-i-Sharif. Staffan de Mistura, the U.N’s Envoy to Afghanistan, described the Koran-burning as an “insane and totally despicable gesture.”

"Freedom of speech does not mean freedom of offending culture, religion or traditions," de Mistura said. "Those who entered our building were actually furiously angry about the issue about the Quran. There was nothing political there."

Oh, but there was, Mr. Mistura. Freedom of speech now stands to be sacrificed on the altar of pragmatic accommodation to Muslims and Islam. And as a Graham or Reid or Boehner touch a match to a compromise-soaked Constitution, Muslims, gathering after their prayers, will watch the ashes and smoke rise in the sky, and chant: “Burn, baby! Burn!”

They will not need to chant, “Death to America!” America will already be dead.


madmax said...


Here are two videos of a gutsy woman who rips Lindsay Graham and who burns a Koran after reading its hate filled passages. She's a real breath of fresh air although sadly she is very Christian. But what secularist today outside of Objectivism would call Islam for the evil that it is?



revereridesagain said...

It will be interesting to see whether there is a reaction to Ann Barnhardt's kick-ass double koran-burning vid or not. As Ed points out, the choreographers of Islamic rage pick and choose their targets carefully. They prefer situations that offer maximum negative publicity for the "offender". Terry Jones is their idea of a near-perfect target. But Barnhardt is an unknown -- unless her videos go viral enough to knock the nesting bald eagles out of first place (when will that 3rd egg hatch?!) -- and even a Third World mullah, let alone a congressional Democrat, is going to think twice about getting within range of that girl's talons. The Libs will have to choose their time and place carefully if they want to pull off the sort of full-scale censorship that shuts down sites such as this one. There is a mass burn-a-koran-athon being organized for the 4th of July, which could offer quite a variety of opportunities.

Anonymous said...

I watched the Barnhardt videos (someone recommended them on Sultan Knish today, too), and I'm sure they'll go viral. They'll get a kazillion hits and that will bring them to the attention of the "authorities." Then there'll be a "manhunt" for her demanded by CAIR et al. of the FBI or DHS. Sorry to have ended this piece of mine on such a pessimistic note, but I agree with Greenfield that if things don't turn around, we're headed for the establishment of the EU notion of "rights." And Morlocks like Lindsey Graham will have helped make it possible.


Neil Parille said...

Mr. Max,

Objectivists call Islam "evil," but most of them like Craig Biddle and Harry Binswanger call for "open immigration" which would allow tens of millions of Moslems into the US.

But hey, let's give them copies of Atlas Shrugged and Human Action when they enter the US. It's not race or ethnic background but "ideas" that are the determinative factor. We just need better intellectuals who will change their "sense of life."

djr said...

I keep saying, when everything goes bad, everything goes bad. All facets of this culture / political system seem to be racing into the depths of a volcano in parallel.

Jason said...

Watching this woman torch a book--the few minutes I could handle--with that glassy-eyed "gutsy" mystical-nationalist stare is one of the saddest, most mindless, non-intellectual things I ever witnessed. Yes, she should have the legal, political right to do it, but that's not the main issue here. Politics and legality are not the center of morality. The act itself is the main issue.

Free speech doesn't get protected by championing mindless speech. Uphold that it needs to be allowed, but don't champion it.

And she says that during war speech that is "defeatist or conciliatory" or which would "give aid and comfort to the enemy" can be banned by the government, which makes her someone who has no problem with censorship, as long as it's the "right kind of censorship." [Those last ones are my quotes.] She doesn't understand or protect free speech in her action or her words.


Anonymous said...

Jason, your point is well made, and well taken. But I think you miss Barnhardt's "point"--the point being, simply, that the Koran exhorts naked evil. She's reading from IT--and IT, not Barnhardt, is the source of the "mindless speech" you abhor (at least, it was in the seven minutes that I watched). Condemning the Koran--that is, its prescriptions--to burn in hell is not in the least mindless; quite the opposite! I found it all mildly entertaining. (And I suppose it's a matter of personal taste, but I found her eyes refreshingly piercing, and very far indeed from "glassy.")

Jason said...

There are small things and moments that I do find endearing. For a few brief moments, I can sympathize with the bulging eyes and using the term jackass, etc. Sometimes these types of mannerisms and language are necessary to express anger. I myself have been unfairly chastized for getting angry and bulging my eyes many a time by passive-minded moderates who tend to get rage-filled, not just angry, themselves.

And I do like, to the small degree that it's there, that parody aspect of it. It's somewhat taken by herself as a joke, with these little "go to hell where you [Koran passage] belong" comments.

But overall, I still have to consider it mindless, and not the Koran's words (though they are just as bad as the Bible), but her performance. Her eyes are way too glassy for way too long; it comes off as superficial and simplistic, not extreme.

She uses terms like elitist and snob without applying them, like a puppet. She's heard them before so she second-handedly adopts them. She says the attacks on Jones are because people think he's a redneck, as if no one could have a legitimate moral problem with someone burning a book.

And I don't like that she takes these easy, simple passages, and doesn't make any deeper points. As a starting point, one can start with something simple, but to be stuck there without making broader, bigger, more challenging moral points (it's twenty minutes, enough time to do so) is strikingly empty, disturbing, and pitiful.

Anonymous said...

Jason: I leave you the last word, which is as well-put as your first. (And I certainly agree with you in your estimate of the Bible.) (I'm "jayeldee", by the way, FWIW--not Ed, who also occasionally leaves it as "Anonymous" in his comments, I think. Concerning personal assignations, by the way, I don't consider them particularly important: ideas are what matter, not personal identities--IMHO. Unless we're talking original, extended pieces, such as Ed's essays.)

revereridesagain said...

I will admit to not understanding the completely open immigration stand of some other Objectivists. It's not so much the immigration as it is what they do when they get here. Immigrants who violate the property rights of others, establish themselves in this country deliberately to breed followers of Islam who will become enemies of our freedoms, work to infiltrate our legal system with totalitarian religious law, agitate for "reconquista" movements, and the like are refusing to adhere to the requirements of our constitution and should be deported. Would-be immigrants who indicate intent to engage in such behavior should not be allowed entry to this country. That is not immigration, it is invasion with intent to do harm.

Anonymous said...

RevereRides: Amen to that on the immigration issue. Abolish the welfare system and you remove the honey that attracts those who come here to game it with no intention of ever becoming productive, "melting pot" Americans. And, you're right that Mexicans who come here to game the system are motivated by the same "conquer with population" scheme as do Muslims. I do wish more Objectivists would grasp that essential peril and funamental fact -- it's the statism that attracts the parasites and jihadists.


Gene said...

I watched the sound bite of general Pet, with utter contempt, as he placated and lent comfort to the enemy. This man could not win a war if his life depended on it! So these are the kinds of (Just War Theory) Bozos they churn out of West Point These days. A nation cannot win a war waged with political correctness, consummated on self sacrifice; this only serves to embolden the enemy and endagers us all. AR had it right when she described the Arab nations as (and I paraphrase here), a butish society of uncivilized thugs. P.S. What is to become of these Arab nations when they run out of oil?

Neil Parille said...


I don't see how it's statism that attracts Jihadists and immigrants.

Assume the US didn't have a welfare state. People would still come here because wages are higher. While these immigrants might be of the more productive type it seems to me that immigrants (at least from Latin America and the Middle East) are so resentful of America that their views don't change even if they are gainfully employed. (Look at the Ft. Hood shooter. The US gave him a job and a paid for his medical training.) They are also coming in such quantities that they aren't melting in the pot. In some areas they are the pot.

I think there is a general problem with Objectivist theory in this area. Objectivists seem to think the problem is entirely the intellectuals. But I think there is a symbiotic relationship between the intellectuals, the managerial elite who run the affirmative action/welfare state and the masses. If the intellectuals at California universities changed for the good, there would still be every incentive for immigrants and minorities to support the status quo. In fact I think the intellectuals feed off this. They spread ideas of pluralism and multiculturalism because it feathers their nest. In this respect I think the theories of men like Pareto and Burnham provide better explanations of what is happening.

Anonymous said...


Если вы интересуетесь немного политикой, то должны были заметить - эти резкие волнения в странах Африки
возникли неспроста.

Есть 2 версии этих событий - "официальная" и "неофициальная", и обе версии скорее уводят в сторону от реальных фактов.
[b]Версия 1:[/b] Каддафи - тиран и самодержец, стрелял в мирных граждан, поэтому его надо бы убрать.
[b]Версия 2:[/b] на самом деле Европе с Америкой захотелось немного Ливийской нефти, и они решили навести небольшой "дебош"

Рассмотрим версию 1.
Да, Каддафи уже тот ещё старик, ему конечно пора бы и на пенсию. Но известно ли вам, что конкретно в Ливии
народ имеет весьма высокие преференции при его правлении? Учителя получают под $3.000, выплаты безработным
порядка $1000 и так далее. Да, он стал укрощать группки взбунтовавшихся бедуинов, но кто-нибудь понимает
реальные причины этих бунтов?
Эта версия не выдерживает никакой критики.

Версия 2.
Нефть Ливии? Да, она отличается высоким качеством, Ливийская нефть очень чистая. Но её там не так много.
Да и к тому же, зачем тогда будоражить Египет и прочие африканские государства, которые весь прошлый
год вообще никого не тревожили и не волновали?! А тут вдруг - "тираны", "изверги" и т.п.

Да, эта ситуация дополнительно подогрела цены на нефть. Отдельным корпорациям это выгодно.

Но истина короче.
Каддафи не так давно начал объединять ближневосточные страны под идеей перейти на расчёт
за нефть и товары НЕ долларами, НЕ евро, а альтернативой всему этому. И Египет - одна из стран,
которая это поддержала...

Подробнее - здесь:

Однако в популярных СМИ это никогда не скажут.

P.S. У Саддама Хусейна, кстати, тоже были такие начинания. Вообще, после кризиса ооочень многие
страны стали задумываться об ИЗБАВЛЕНИИ ОТ ЗАВИСИМОСТИ ОТ ДОЛЛАРА. Рано или поздно
это произойдёт. ФРС уже некуда понижать ставки.

Распространите это где сможете. Люди должны знать правду.

Кстати, это тоже по теме: Военная операция Запада в Ливии, отчиталась, Военная операция Запада в Ливии, Ливийская, Франция перенесла вторжение в Ливию на сутки, Ливийская, Великобритания примет участие в военной операции в Ливии, Страны