As reported by the Houston Chronicle, among others, a minister in Florida is only a couple of days away from burning copies of the Quran, the holy book of Islam, on the ninth anniversary of the 2001 September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. This plan by the pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center (DWOC) in Gainesville, Florida, has drawn outrage and criticism from many people, including President Obama and those in charge of our military. Indeed, the US government is considering contacting the pastor to attempt to change his mind (VOA).
It is understandable that many are outraged, some going as far as to say it would endanger our troops overseas in countries such as Afghanistan. I’m not a fan of the Quran burning or the viewpoint behind it either. I’m not sure what exactly it will accomplish besides further anger an already irritated Muslim population, both inside the US borders and outside. But neither am I a fan of censorship, which is what would effectively be happening were the pastor of DWOC prohibited or threatened with arrest for his expression. According to the second story linked above, Rackspace has already taken the DWOC website offline. I’m not really a fan of this either, but it’s certainly understandable that they chose to call the site “hate speech” given the circumstances.
The DWOC’s pastor has the right to his point of view. It is equally our right, however, to express ourselves and put distance between ourselves and those with such radical views. Burning the US flag is protected free speech; as objectionable and politically dangerous as it may be, I see no reason the Quran should be treated differently. However, I believe the DWOC pastor’s pyrophilic protest it is patently devoid of any sense of good taste and it is our duty as Americans–actually, as human beings, whether in the US and abroad–to let our opposing view be known, to condemn this act and others like it, as tasteless, senseless, vile, and putrid. The majority expressing their tolerance and respect for each other will easily drown out a minority expressing hate and disgust, especially in such an ill-advised fashion.
I believe the majority of Muslims are peace-loving people, as I am. It is just as wrong to judge all Muslims based on the actions of the September 11 terrorists as it is to judge all Christians based on the actions of David Koresh and the Branch Davidian cult. And nobody sane would dare try that one.