Just another thing that flagged my curiosity . . .

Is it more disrespectful to burn the Koran than the American flag?

Worshippers in Pakistan poured on to the streets after prayers, chanting “Death to America”, and burning American flags. In Jakarta, hundreds gathered noisily at a mosque. Thousands marched through the streets of a Palestinian refugee camp in Gaza.

The unrest began this week after Newsweek published an allegation that American military interrogators had desecrated the Islamic holy book in an effort to rattle detainees at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The report said that they had placed the Koran on the lavatory inside inmates’ cells and had “in at least one case, flushed a holy book down the toilet” .

The report was condemned by the Pakistani Government, and Khurshid Kasuri, the Foreign Minister, demanded an apology and severe punishment for any soldier found guilty. Hardline Islamic groups said that they would hold protests but before that could happen violent protests erupted in Afghanistan.

Significantly, Saudi Arabia, a key US regional ally which is usually slow in speaking out, became the first Arab state to comment officially yesterday, expressing “deep indignation” and calling for a quick investigation and for the perpetrators to be punished.

The report was denounced initially by the US chargé d’affaires in Kabul and then by the Pentagon and the State Department. As unrest gathered pace, Dr Rice issued an appeal: “I want to speak directly to Muslims in America and throughout the world. Disrespect for the Holy Koran is not now, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be, tolerated by the United States. Disrespect for the Holy Koran is abhorrent to us all.

“There have been recent allegations about disrespect for the Holy Koran by interrogators at Guantanamo Bay and that has deeply offended many people. Our military authorities are investigating these allegations fully. If they are proven true, we will take appropriate action.

“Guaranteeing religious rights is of great personal importance to the President and to me. During the past few days, we have heard from our Muslim friends around the world about their concerns on this matter. We understand and we share their concerns.

The article is accompanied by this picture of an activity so common that these days it raises nary an eyebrow:

FlagBurning.jpg


I have no way of knowing whether U.S. soldiers burned or desecrated the Koran at Guantanamo, as has been alleged. (Or Abu Ghraib, for that matter.) But I would like to take a logical and objective look at the essential nature of this allegation, which seems to be causing at least as much of an uproar as the allegations of torture. Maybe more.

The Koran is a book of various assertions. Whether or not it contains the literal word of God is a religious dispute. It is certainly a symbol to many people -- at least as much of a symbol as a flag. I am not in favor of burning books, nor am I in favor of burning flags. But is burning one any worse than burning another? Bible burnings are not particularly in vogue these days, but considering the legality of flag burning as symbolic speech, there's no law I know of that would stop something like this:

Another idea I had right after the election was to mount a campaign of Bible Burning. Remember a few years ago when the political establishment had to drop what it was doing to try to stop flag burning? For some reason this totally symbolic act by a tiny number of wingnuts drove the political establishment nuts. So I was thinking, if flag burning drives ‘em crazy, how about Bible burning? But I think this is probably not a great tactic for a few reasons: it’s scary and negative, evoking images of Nazi book burnings, it ignores the liberatory threads of some religious folks, and it only highlights what we’re against, not what we can be for. I do like it because it could be an insane diversionary tactic – wouldn’t it be great if church groups spent time banning bible burning instead of banning abortion? We need to be creative, but also be thoughtful and not allow our own fear and prejudices to lead us into our own intolerant actions. Intolerance is a far greater threat to the fringe than to the mainstream.
In a similar vein, I also read that one Rev. Flip Benham sponsors Koran-burning events:
Rev. Flip Benham is the Director of Operation Save America and Operation Rescue. Kneeling on the sidewalk, trying to stay out of the view of cops whose nod to order was insisting that people keep moving rather than completely blocking the walkway, he explained the mission. “This is the church in the street. Where faith becomes biography.”

This was the closing of Operation Save America’s week of activities in Columbus. It was Family Day in front of the women’s clinic. OSA came to Columbus to burn the Koran, a Pride flag, a copy of the Roe v. Wade decision. They came to “burn those abominations” and call the “nation to repentance.”

Is the test of what constitutes free speech simply to be one of how many people are upset?

Another question: would the Times dare to display a picture of a Koran being burned at a demonstration? If I discovered demonstrators doing that and uploaded a picture of it to this blog, why would that be any different than what I just did by uploading the Times picture?

I am at a loss to understand why.

Another example of how logic fails.

UPDATE: According to Little Green Footballs, there's no evidence to prove the allegations of Koran burning.

That's the MSM for you folks! Getting people all stirred up for no good reason, and making me waste valuable blogtime!

UPDATE (05/15/05): A Sunday headline in the Philadelphia Inquirer is referring to the unevidenced report as the "Koran case." Does that mean the case isn't closed?

AND EVEN MORE (05/15/05 -- 9:16 pm): Newsweek now admits that the story was wrong:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Newsweek magazine said on Sunday it erred in a May 9 report that U.S. interrogators desecrated the Koran at Guantanamo Bay, and apologized to the victims of deadly Muslim protests sparked by the article.

Editor Mark Whitaker said the magazine inaccurately reported that U.S. military investigators had confirmed that personnel at the detention facility in Cuba had flushed the Muslim holy book down the toilet.

The report sparked angry and violent protests across the Muslim world from
Afghanistan, where 16 were killed and more than 100 injured, to Pakistan to Indonesia to Gaza. In the past week it was condemned in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Malaysia and by the Arab League.

On Sunday, Afghan Muslim clerics threatened to call for a holy war against the United States.

"We regret that we got any part of our story wrong, and extend our sympathies to victims of the violence and to the U.S. soldiers caught in its midst," Whitaker wrote in the magazine's latest issue, due to appear on U.S. newsstands on Monday.

That's nice. At least they apologized.

Will the Inquirer will issue a correction too?

As for those who died, their bad news is permanent.

posted by Eric on 05.14.05 at 02:56 PM







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Here is a little quiz...do any of the following images bother you in any way? Burning the American flag "Modified" Confederate flag "Modified" Gay flag These images are linked-to on Classical values here and here If any do then you... [Read More]
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Comments

Disrespect is in the eye of the beholder...if you consider it an affront to deface the flag then you allow yourself to be insulted by those who choose to burn it for that express purpose...Strategically it is a very stupid thing to do, to put that much emotion into a piece of cloth...or a book for that matter.

Read more about the srategic weaknesses of symbols and allegiances on my blog.

I think I will add this concept to that theme in a new post - thanks for the inspiration!

http://www.barrell.com/blog/archives/2005/04/symbols_and_ell.html
http://www.barrell.com/blog/archives/2005/05/pledge_redux.html

--Dylan

Dylan Barrell   ·  May 14, 2005 11:16 PM

The report said that they had placed the Koran on the lavatory inside inmates’ cells and had “in at least one case, flushed a holy book down the toilet”.

Flushed it down the toilet? Has it occurred to nobody just how ludicrous this idea is?

Ever tried to flush a book down a toilet?

Ed Minchau   ·  May 15, 2005 3:55 AM

I have flushed a few posts. The Internet's a toilet, right?

Eric Scheie   ·  May 15, 2005 11:20 AM

would the Times dare to display a picture of a Koran being burned at a demonstration?

burn one, take a picture and see

Instafaggot   ·  May 16, 2005 6:16 AM

We should respond in kind to acts of burning the American flag by such religous bigots who have no concept of religous tolerance. For every American flag burned in protest, ten copies of the Koran must be burned. If they are so blinded by their religion, why should we tolerate such acts of hatred toward us? It is time for the PC gloves to come off, and defend ourselves before it is too late.

James   ·  May 17, 2005 12:28 PM

I see a major backlash for this in the eyes of people in civilized nations, this shows how barbaric these people are, the sanctity of life means nothing, did you see outrage when our citizens were being beheaded, was there protests then, no. These are just idiots that need a means to vent there frustrations on the west. We all need to purchase a Koran and have a public burning, that Freedom of expression, we cannot damage the Koran but it's okay to burn our flag. What would happen if they saw on TV thousands of Korans being burned. Interesting. It would be worth the couple of bucks

Steve   ·  May 17, 2005 12:38 PM

I see a major backlash for this in the eyes of people in civilized nations, this shows how barbaric these people are, the sanctity of life means nothing, did you see outrage when our citizens were being beheaded, was there protests then, no. These are just idiots that need a means to vent there frustrations on the west. We all need to purchase a Koran and have a public burning, that Freedom of expression, we cannot damage the Koran but it's okay to burn our flag. What would happen if they saw on TV thousands of Korans being burned. Interesting. It would be worth the couple of bucks

Steve   ·  May 17, 2005 12:38 PM

Does this prove the old adage that the pen is mighter than the sword?

bryan   ·  May 17, 2005 3:58 PM

I would love to burn a Nazi flag and a Communist flag while waving an American Flag (Old Glory). And, why is the Koran more sacred to the Establishment than the Bible, the Crucifix, the Mass, the Blessed Virgin (the Queen of Heaven) -- the Judao-Christian* tradition of America and the West?

"You are reading a Crusader book"

*"To be a good Pagan, you must be a good Christian**."

[**in the opposite of the National Council sense of the word "Christian")

I considered burning the Koran over on my blog. Some don’t like the image of book burning and suggested a proper desecration would be with bacon fat or other appropriate pork product. In either case, showing our contempt with symbolic speech is an option.

link: http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/2005/05/lets-burn-koran.html

Jason Pappas   ·  May 26, 2005 10:28 AM

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