Fundamentalist cleric Terry Jones made headlines with his plan for an "International Burn a Koran Day." Jones ostensibly canceled the event but managed another public display (International Judge the Koran Day) that ended with quran flambé. As a result several UN workers and 2 US soldiers have been killed abroad in some ill conceived attempt at retribution. AP article on Yahoo here.
Sam Harris does well in speaking my mind here:
By placing ANY responsibility on Terry Jones we are assuming that islam is not the religion of peace and its adherents are not capable of morality or humanity on a person by person basis.
Even if we assume that muslims are semi-human hornets, should we ignore the nest in our midst and merely eschew provocation? The real problem is much harder to solve. By ignoring it we allow the problem to fester, mutate and grow. Focusing on Jones' stupid grandstanding diverts our attention from an issue... we were already ignoring.
If moderate and liberal muslims don't want islam associated with acts of violence they need to do a lot more than remain silent in the wake of these events. If they don't take their religion back from the fundamentalists then I am quite happy to assume the louder more violent voices are the true representatives of islam. How can the apparent silence of moderates be interpreted as anything anything other than tacit approval?
Terry Jones is just one more false prophet. That's not a crime in the US. I'd be more than happy to make it a crime here and everywhere. But what criteria would we use to determine falsehood? That's where we'll have a hard time finding consensus. I may not like the idea of book burning, probably due to historical correlatives. If the world wants to condemn Terry Jones for being a charlatan, grand-stander, troll, attention whore, self-important prick, asshole or something other than quran burning, I'm OK with that. If anyone wants to gag Jones because we can't hold violent muslims accountable, I'm not OK with that. This is definitely a case where the easier thing to do is not the right thing to do.
If the right thing is the hard thing and the hard thing is getting muslim hardliners to be reasonable, then we better get started.