WonderfulPessimist.com is a bastion of conservative political discourse, and we’re not changing out stripes any time soon; but I have to say that the Florida pastor who threatened to hold a public burning of the Islamic holy book, the Koran, is a complete idiot. Am I pro-Koran and anti-Bible? Not at all. But to create a big fuss like this is just plain dumb.
Sure, he has postponed his plans, but it has nevertheless sparked a bunch of Islamic counter-protests around the world that are resulting in some very real deaths. Does this fellow have the Constitutional right to burn the Koran, or any other book he wants? Sure. And I’m not going to say that he doesn’t have the RIGHT to do it.
But I will say, at the same time, that it’s a completely idiotic act. It’s also not very Messiah-like for a fellow who claims to be following the God of the Judeo-Christian Bible. Yeshua (Jesus) taught that we should love our neighbors as we love ourselves, and that’s true; but it’s a thin response and the Bible actually serves up a better parallel to this situation.
The Florida preacher’s desire to burn a Koran stems from left-over September 11 anger, especially in the wake of a new potential idiot move by government – establishing an Islamic mosque on the site of the terrorist attack. All of these events are filled with emotion, but what is the best response? (Short of advising them all to try a course of HCG shots Austin-style?)
Well, there is a parallel found in the book of Genesis. One of the patriarchs, Jacob (later to be renamed Israel) had twelve sons, and he also had at least one daughter. One day, as Jacob and his sons are away in the field, a prince from a neighboring village happens upon Abraham’s daughter, Dinah, and rapes her. It’s a terrible crime, no doubt about it.
So how do Abraham’s sons respond? Well, Hamor, the father of the rapist-prince, and Abraham sit down and negotiate a peace agreement. The deal is that Hamor and his son, Shechem, as well as their entire village, agree to merge their tribe with Abraham’s, and even offer to cast aside the worship of their gods and embrace the God of Jacob.
The brothers of Dinah deal dishonestly with Shechem and Hamor, and tell them it’s a deal, so long as they agree to be circumcised. This was, at the time, a painful procedure that would leave a person pretty much helpless for three or four days. But they agreed.
So, when the pain of circumcision was at its height and the city was defenseless, Simeon and Levi invade the city, killing every single man in it, while they are completely helpless.
Abraham’s reaction is not one of joy over the victory over his enemies, but anger at his unwise sons, who let their rage over their sister’s rape drive them to an act that was far beyond the scope of the original crime. To wipe out an entire village for one man’s crime was not the “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” proportionate response that the Torah outlined.
Famously, he lamented, “You have made me stink in the eyes of my neighbors.”
In the same way, this Florida pastor is making Christians and Americans stink in the eyes of their neighbors. Not all Muslims are terrorists; in fact, it’s a pretty small percentage who are. To burn, or even threaten to burn, the Islamic holy book may bring this Florida pastor some sort of momentary satisfaction, but it’s the sort of act that can spur – and has even begun to spur – all sorts of hatred.
I’m not saying the terrorists would have left us alone had this fellow not threatened to do this; but it is an act that will insult and offend a whole lot more than just the terrorists.
And that’s why it’s unwise. And that’s why this fellow’s a complete idiot.