Terry Jones has canceled the Koran burning “because the leader of a planned Islamic centre near Ground Zero — the former site of New York’s World Trade Centre which was destroyed in the terrorist attacks — has agreed to move its controversial location.” According to Jones, there’s a deal:
During a press conference, Terry Jones said Imam Muhammad Musri, president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, told him the people behind the plan to build a mosque at Ground Zero had decided to relocate from the controversial building site.
“The iman,” Pastor Jones said – incorrectly pronouncing the word ‘imam’, a Muslim cleric – “has agreed to move the mosque, we have agreed to cancel our event on Saturday and on Saturday (local time) I will be flying up there.”
Pastor Jones said he planned to meet with the backers of the mosque at Ground Zero on Sunday in New York, calling the decision to move the mosque “a sign from God”.
Who cares if he mispronounced the word “iman”? He apparently got the imam’s attention. The pastor may be hallucinating or wrong, but the Koran-burning story is an interesting example of two things. That a) it always pays to have a crazy man in the room threaten things that reasonable people can take advantage of and b) insanity is contagious.
The attention paid to Jones is an example of how an issue left lying around on the floor because no “reputable” person will pick it up eventually gets lifted by someone who doesn’t care if his hands get dirty. That issue has been the festering question of special treatment for Islamic sensitivities. Like Theo Sarrazin, who wrote an anti-immigration book in German and whose denunciation was rapidly followed by a public admission that he had raised an important issue, Terry Jones has proved a convenient way of pointing out by symmetry just how ludicrous claims of Islamic exceptionalism are. Sarah Palin, while denouncing Jones, could use his extreme behavior to advantage by comparing it to the Ground Zero mosque.
People have a constitutional right to burn a Koran if they want to, but doing so is insensitive and an unnecessary provocation – much like building a mosque at Ground Zero.
Comparing Jones to Imam Rauf reduces President Obama’s defense of the Ground Zero mosque to absurdity. How could an administration which ordered Bibles sent to Afghanistan burned and endorsed the right of the Ground Zero mosque builders to proceed with their construction turn 180 degrees on the matter of Koran burning without spinning like a top? They were hoist by their own petard.
The huge publicity given to Jones implies yet another thing. Extremism unfortunately works. If Jones has indeed gotten the GZM to move then he will have succeeded where reasoned argument did not. And he did it by imitation. Inevitably the blackmail tactics of Islamic extremism would generate copycats of which Terry Jones may only be a foretaste. Rewarding bad behavior has always brought the bugs out of the woodwork. Here is Jones playing back their own script. And nobody likes it. But either we all play by the same rules or no one does. Either that or the rulebook — not the Koran– gets effectively burned. A world in which only selected, politically correct groups are exempt from the requirement of civility cannot long survive. Unless equality before the law replaces political correctness the danger is threats will replace discourse. Smith and Wesson become more weighty than Moses and the Prophets when coercion is rewarded, as it has been too often for too long, in the past.
The AP is reporting that Terry Jones is reacting to news that the Ground Zero Mosque will not be moved after all by saying he will reconsider his decision to cancel the Koran burning project. The issue, like a movie monster which everyone had thought dead, is apparently only resting and threatens to re-animate itself with a vengeance. President Obama told ABC News that:
I hope he understands that what he’s proposing to do is completely contrary to our values as Americans, that this country has been built on the notion of freedom and religious tolerance … And as a very practical matter, I just want him to understand that this stunt that he is talking about pulling could greatly endanger our young men and women who are in uniform.
For Jones, a relative unknown until recently, the controversy is the source a huge media platform from which to espouse his views. But for the President the issue is a revolving door which always exits back to Ground Zero and Islam, subjects he would be advised to avoid. Jones and the public debate on the Koran burning threat have linked Obama’s own support for the construction of a Ground Zero Mosque to the issue. The brighter the spotlight on Jones, the more light is reflected on its doppelganger — an issue upon which the President’s hand is clearly attached. For Jones, any is publicity is ‘good publicity’, but for Obama all pronouncements in this area are fraught with political danger.