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Pastor Jones' Burning Koranic Question

Can Islam "go along to get along"?

By Petrarch  |  September 13, 2010

A previously unknown and insignificant member of the hoi polloi is currently enjoying his fifteen minutes of fame.  Most unusually, he is a Baptist minister, an occupation almost always excluded from publicity.

Terry Jones, pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center, has become a household name because of his church's advertised sponsoring of "Burn a Koran Day" this past September 11.

Fresh from pontificating about the rights of Muslims to build a massive 9-11 Victory Mosque around the corner from the cellar holes of the World Trade Center, the great and the good charged in to condemn Pastor Jones.  Everyone from Hillary Clinton to Gen. Petraeus to Sarah Palin called this act dangerous, un-American, unnecessarily provocative - basically, everything except "illegal" which it manifestly is not.

Through it all Pastor Jones held steadfast to his right to be rude and blasphemous of other people's faiths... until suddenly he called the whole thing off.  Why?  His local paper reports:

The minister of a Florida church said he has canceled plans to burn copies of the Quran because the leader of a much-opposed plan to build an Islamic Center near ground zero has agreed to move its location...

Jones said Imam Muhammad Musri of the Islamic Society of Central Florida told him that officials would guarantee that the mosque would be moved.

"I asked him three times, and I have witnesses," Jones said. "If it's not moved, then I think Islam is a very poor example of religion. I think that would be very pitiful. I do not expect that."  [emphasis added]

We don't have special insight into the thought processes of Pastor Jones - or of the Imam, for that matter.  Whether by accident or by design, Pastor Jones has created a superb case study of the American courtesy that is essential for having a peaceful yet free society, while also providing an opportunity for the world to see whether Islam can ever participate in a such a society.

It's Not Always Right to Exercise Your Rights

Sacrilege? Yes - and freedom too.

As we've argued before, the very definition of freedom is permitting other people to do things you despise.  America has become progressively less free over the past century, precisely because politicians have persuaded voters that certain activities are bad and should be banned.

There are certainly many actions, like murder and theft, which are bad and indeed should be banned.  Why?  Because they infringe other people's rights - the right to life, the right to property, and so on.

There are other things that are also bad, like lying and adultery, but which the government ordinarily has no legitimate cause to regulate.

Why?  Because, though immoral and wrong, they do not infringe on other people's rights, or because enforcing them would destroy the essential rights of everybody.

There has never been any question that the property owners of Park51 in Manhattan have the right to build a mosque there.  We've argued that the evil and anti-liberty doctrines of Islam inherently prevent it from being acceptable as a religion in a free society, but that's not what the law says at the moment.

Americans overwhelmingly realize that regardless of property rights, it is still not right for an Islamic mosque to be located at Ground Zero, where three thousand innocents were murdered by Muslim terrorists whose depravity was inspired and motivated by Islam and the Koran.  The fact that Imam Rauf and his allies have pushed forward with their plans despite overwhelming opposition and any number of offers of a less offensive location for their mosque, speaks volumes about their true motivation.

That's why Pastor Jones' grandstanding is a work of genius.  By doing something which he has every legal right to do - burn the Koran - and yet which is inflammatory to million of Muslims and thousands of Americans, he is doing precisely the same thing as Imam Rauf only on a much smaller and less permanent scale.  He might as well be saying, "Hey Muslims, see how you like it!"  Which of course they don't.

The logical, rational, and wholly American result would be precisely the one Pastor Jones believes he has accomplished: a compromise in which both religions treat each other with respect.  Imam Rauf will move his mosque, or so Jones says; Jones, in turn, will cancel the barbecue.  Everybody goes home happy and we leave each other alone.

If this is, truly, the result, Pastor Jones may have accomplished something that has escaped every world leader for the past thousand years: impressing on the Muslim world the simple truth that, if they want their religion to be treated with respect, they must do the same to the world's other religions.

There are many mosques in New York City.  There are no churches or synagogues in Mecca, or indeed in all of Saudi Arabia.  Throughout the entire Muslim world, members of other religions are abused, discriminated against, prevented from practicing their religion, even murdered.

That simply does not happen elsewhere; widespread, serious and terminal religious abuse is exclusively the province of Muslims.  This must cease if Islam is ever to be acceptable in a free society.

We are far from convinced that Imam Rauf truly understands this point.  For all his blather about "understanding," the evidence indicates that he wants the understanding to go in only one direction: we need to understand the desires of Muslims so we can deferentially accommodate them.

In a word: from his many shockingly bigoted remarks, we conclude that Imam Rauf expects all non-Muslims to be dhimmis, subservient to the sharia law and jihadi teachings of their betters.  America and the world can and must never accept such a fate.

We hope we're wrong, and Pastor Jones has created the perfect test before the eyes of the world.  If the 9-11 Victory Mosque gets moved, we'll consider viewing Imam Rauf with a strange new respect.

And if not?  Pastor Jones covered that too:

If it's not moved, then I think Islam is a very poor example of religion. I think that would be very pitiful.

Oh, one other thing: The fact that America's self-proclaimed great and good who are fresh from defending the Imam are now condemning the pastor, speaks volumes about them.