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“Preventing Chaos”: Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and International Burn-a-Koran-Day

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is consistent. His tune now about the Ground Zero mosque is the same as it was in this article by him which I linked to here. Rauf’s whole shtick is to play good cop to violent Islamists’ bad cop.

Rauf advances Islam, in this case the building of the Ground Zero mosque (an accurate name I am using consciously), by threatening the alternative: violence by Islamists. What he calls “preventing chaos”, the title of his article about the Dutch preemptive response to the release of a Geert Wilders documentary, to me sounds a lot like a protection racket.

Back then, he praised the Dutch for collectively shitting in their pants about all Islamic hell breaking loose. Yesterday on CNN, he warns Americans to do the same:

“If this is not handled correctly, this crisis could become much bigger than the Danish cartoon crisis, which resulted in attacks on Danish embassies in various parts of the Muslim world,” Rauf said later. “…. If we don’t handle this crisis correctly it could become something which could really become very, very, very dangerous indeed.”

Of course, a major media outlet like CNN calls this a “novel argument”, even though some schmuck in New York City is able to make a connection with what he’s said before. (No need to thank me.)

We now have an amusing parallel event competing for headlines with the Ground Zero mosque affair. “International Burn-a-Koran” Day, it’s been named. (”International Burn-a-Mosque Day” would have been a bit over-the-top, even for a psycho Southern Christian.) Reflecting on this idiotic pastor’s plan to burn copies of the Koran, I was initially against it. He’s against Islam for the same reason the pope is in favor of the building of the Ground Zero mosque. It’s because they both believe in mindless fairy tales about ghosts and goblins, and each has his own cute way of protecting that fantasy from outside influence; i.e., reality. One religious nut sees Islam as assault on Christianity; the other sees the protest against an Islamic monument as an assault on all religion. Fundamentally, they’re both right. Still, I think moderate Christians (a.k.a. the ones who don’t actually practice it) can reasonably be against the building of the Ground Zero mosque while simultaneously adhering to their principle that life is a joke and the real fun starts once decomposition sets in.

So, the reason I was initially against International Burn-a-Koran-Day was that it made no rational point. It was a religionist’s attack on another religion. But seeing all of our typically spineless, Islam-fearing politicians come out against this pastor without a single fucking mention of his right to do it, I am hereby reversing my stance. If the cavemen in the Middle East (and I say that with all due respect to cavemen, who are several notches above the technologically parasitic Islamist lowlifes) can burn our flag in psychic symbiosis with the left-wing America-haters here in the U.S., then goddamn it, they should smell some smoke from a pile of Korans. I wonder if it’ll remind them of what I smelled back in 2001.

In the same 2008 article, Feisal Abdul Rauf wrote:

“The Dutch Foreign Minister stood by the right to free speech while putting reasonable parameters on the proviso, saying, ‘freedom of expression doesn’t mean the right to offend’.”

Yes, it absolutely does.

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7 comments

1 Geoff { 09.09.10 at 3:27 pm }

Damn straight.

Additionally, Ben Weasel noted Obama’s reaction to the Koran/Quaran/whatever thusly:

“So. When people get upset because an Imam wants to build a mosque at Ground Zero, the president has nothing at all to say about the appropriateness of it; he merely notes that the Imam has a legal right to build it.

When people get upset because a Christian preacher wants to burn a Quran, the president has nothing to say about the legality of doing so; he only comments on the inappropriateness of it.”

2 Jason Roth { 09.09.10 at 3:34 pm }

Well said.

3 Jason Roth { 09.10.10 at 2:34 pm }

From Free Colorado:

“On the other hand, burning the Koran is a repulsive and immoral act, simply because burning any book to protest the contents of the book is repulsive. The way to fight bad ideas is to argue against them, not try to wipe them out of existence.”

Yeah, I guess, he says reluctantly. It’s not like I’d waste my own five or ten bucks on a book and then burn it. Burning books does seem to be primitive and anti-intellectual. Nevertheless, if some crazy preacher does it, I wouldn’t necessarily be angry about it.

4 Nikita { 09.13.10 at 11:55 am }

“Obama should have condemned what Jones wanted to do, but defended unequivocally his right to do it.
In response to calls for censorship from around the world, he should have explained clearly that the U.S. president doesn’t have that power — and that he’s glad he doesn’t. He should have declared that America is great in part because its people are free to study the Bible or the Torah or the Koran or the Constitution — and, yes, within very wide limits, to burn them in protest. He might have added that many Muslim-majority countries could themselves benefit from more such freedom of thought, speech and expression….
“Instead, the president of the United States broadcast his fear that a U.S. citizen’s exercise of his liberty will provoke Muslim violence — without even calling upon Muslims to refrain from such attacks, much less declaring that they would be completely unjustified, and correspondingly resisted.”

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2010/09/obama_and_the_right_to_burn_th.html

Sorry for the long quote, just thought it summed up the argument quite nicely.

5 Katrina { 09.14.10 at 12:46 pm }

I’m not convinced that burning a book is anti-intellectual or immoral. What if the book being burned is anti-intellectual?

Claiming that book burnings are immoral because Christian Europe burned scientific works is a bit like saying capital punishment by guillotine is immoral because of the French Revolution. The same action in a different context will have a different moral evaluation.

I think the key issue is whether the burning is to repress ideas or reject them. I’ve destroyed a book before, a book that so repulsed me that after I finished reading it I tore it up, furious that my time had been spent reading that trash. LP burning events used to be pretty common (and also toxic). Fans would burn LPs or CDs to protest the artist disappointing them in some way, or else because they had woken up and realized that music was really, really bad. At the end of each school year, my classmates traditionally burned their papers from the year, at least the ones not worth hanging on to. It was fun and symbolic, like any effigy.

I’ve only just started to think about this, but right now my sense is that if you are burning in protest and what you are burning is only your own property, then it’s fine, but if you are rounding up other people’s books to burn and burning to suppress, it’s immoral. Now the Koran burning specifically, I don’t really care about it. What I really want to see is an entire generation of American young adults going out and burning the Bibles they inherited from their parents as a symbol of the rejection of and liberation from Christianity. That’s a book burning I would definitely attend.

6 Jason Roth { 09.15.10 at 9:24 am }

I’ll think twice next time before caving, uh, conceding so quickly. That “Free Colorado” blanket statement about book burning being immoral reeks, now that I think about it more, of intrinsicism. The main part of their statement I was conceding to, which of course should be true with or without the book burning, was “The way to fight bad ideas is to argue against them, not try to wipe them out of existence.” But your arguments, Katrina, make a lot of sense.

In case you haven’t heard, by the way, the Koran-burning story has had a twist and a tragic ending:

Koran burner Derek Fenton booted from his job at NJ Transit

7 Katrina { 09.20.10 at 7:24 pm }

Bummer for Mr. Fenton, but it brightened my day to see his neighbors defend him, especially the one who said they didn’t agree with what he did but supported his right to do it. Refreshing!

Check this article out, I think it’s the best commentary on this I’ve seen:
http://blog.paulmckeever.ca/2010/09/09/the-quran-peaceniks-and-the-intellectual-h-bomb/

Wish I had said it. You may be amused by this satire as well:
http://strategicmisanthropy.blogspot.com/2010/09/how-many-korans-can-fit-in-volkswagon.html

In debating a few people about Ari’s article, I realized that the persuasive thing about his argument is the claim that destroying a book doesn’t repudiate it. This is true, but it’s also a straw man since the Koran burning is meant to reject (mock, disrespect, show irreverence for, etc.), not to repudiate. I don’t think even this preacher guy is deluded enough to think that burning constitutes an argument, nor is there even the slightest chance that this event will lead to there being less reading of the Koran. As Paul McKeever points out, more reading of the Koran, more critical reading of it, is exactly the point.

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