Arrest This Man

And his little Dove, too. With predictable ghoulish clarity, the American media is goading the Reverend Terry Jones to follow through with his Koran bonfire on September 11th, while politicians (both kinds) and religious leaders of all stripes are urging him not to do it.

Of course, there is no story if he doesn’t do it–and media hate that. And if it’s called off he will be called a coward for capitulating to the “supporters” of a religion he has t-shirted as “of the Devil.” Jones has stated that if Jesus was alive he would light the first match. And he has said, as all cultic leaders do, that a gunfight with the police wouldn’t faze him and his followers: “We’re prepared to die for what we believe in.” Echoes of another Jones, another catastrophe.

Mr Jones is all the usual cultic suspects rolled into one. He is a gay-basher, a hate-monger, and a crusader for the old time religious value of intolerance.

He founded the Dove World Outreach Center as a front for his hate-inducing sermons and grandstanding.

He is a Christian Triumphalist with a clear millennial vision, which he saw previewed on Septmber 11, 2001: the first fiery signs that the Antichrist was entering the world. He considers the pastors and priests organizing “prayer” and loaves of bread protests around him “lily livered Christians” for failing to stand up to the the threat of Islam. –Although it is not clear why, if Islam betokens the end-time, Mr Jones would want to oppose it: in his theology anyway, it’s the last act in a very big plan wrought by God himself.

And what do Gainesville officials do? Besides praying and dissuading, they have denied Mr Jones a burn permit. Perhaps the next recourse might have been for him to order a hundred porta-potties to the parking lot of the Church?

But no, Jones says the burning will go ahead as planned. There’s something, as every Klansman knows, about a fire.

Meanwhile, we are all missing the point and the President of the United States is missing an opportunity. The same president who personally intervened in a squabble between a fumbling Harvard professor and a Cambridge cop when the former locked himself out of his house is staying away from this one.

Despite the fact that the country is in wars with Muslims all over ther world, both hot and cold, and that the burning of Korans is likely to be seen as the most vicious symbolic attack on the Islamic faith since Urban II called the First Crusade.

There will be riots, there will be murders and bombings, there will be dead Americans and others. All because one undereducated self-ordained cowpoke took refuge in the First Amendment’s free expression clause.

Loaves of bread, prayer marches and picket signs–“good religion” vigorously expressed–are not going to have an effect on this donkey of a man so deeply out of touch with modern religion that he may as well be Osama bin Laden’s cavemate.

Mr President: You are a lawyer. You know the Constitution. You know the difference between hate speech and incitement. You know the line is thin, but that once it is crossed the damage cannot be undone.

I’ve seen it with my own eyes. During my time in Pakistan, in 2009, the mere rumour that some Christians had “desecrated” pages of the Koran led to disaster.

Four women, a man and a child died as Muslim militants set fire to Christian houses in the town of Gojra. Two men died later of gunshot wounds. Houses were burned and streets strewn with debris as people fired at each other from rooftops. There were bloody riots throughout the country. Then it was “revealed” that the rumours which led to the unrest were false and probably started by some children.

But Mr Jones is real. He will use real matches and real (if doubtless inexpensive) copies of the Koran. This very dangerous man has publically announced his intention to flout the law and to cause riots, even gunfights. He has already cried fire–real fire–in the crowded theater of global religious tension.

Mr President: Arrest this man. Do not turn this discussion over to political theorists, Constitutional talking-heads and interfaith tweeps.

If the dignity of Henry Louis Gates was important to you and the chance to be seen defusing a “racial situation,” this is infinitely greater and a thousand times potentially more harmful.

Arrest him without delay. Deploy the National Guard. Surround the Church. Be seen to be doing something courageous in this instance.

Your top general, not known for emotionalism, has already announced the consequences on the ground in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan. But it will spread–you should pardon the expresion–like wildfire. You will have let it happen.

You will be criticized, but your critics won’t prevail in this argument: you are trying to prevent loss of life. You are not trying to save Korans.

If you do not arrest this man, Christians in Pakistan, Lebanon, and corners of the Islamic world will be in jeopardy. Some will be killed; churches will be torched.

If you do not do this, American-Muslim relations, already lying in the dust will suffer an unimaginable blow. And Muslim Americans will consider you weak and treacherous.

Please, Mr President: show us this man in handcuffs and a U.S. marshall doing his sworn duty before Saturday.

Thank you.

8 thoughts on “Arrest This Man

  1. Four women, a man and a child died as Muslim militants set fire to Christian houses in the town of Gojra. Two men died later of gunshot wounds. Houses were burned and streets strewn with debris as people fired at each other from rooftops. There were bloody riots throughout the country. Then it was “revealed” that the rumours which led to the unrest were false and probably started by some children.

    So, would you say that the violent barbarians are at fault for failing to control themselves, or would you say that they are blameless (because they are not capable of being civilized), and instead it was the fault of the false rumors?

    Don’t get me wrong, I detest the course of action that this delusional nutjob has undertaken, but as long as it is legal for Unites States flags to be burned as a symbol of free expression in a free country, then I would say that no mere book can be placed above that symbol.

    I think that a more appropriate tactic would be to burn a copy of every major religious text as a demonstration against religious extremism of any kind. September 11 would be an appropriate day for such a demonstration.

    It is not the provocative expression that must be stopped, but the violent reaction to it. If Muslims react with violence in this case, then they are demonstrably NOT a religion of peace.

  2. Very important and urgent, well said, and may it be heard. Please arrest this Islamophobic Pyromaniac, please Mr Obama! It’s his responsibility now isn’t it? And failing that, (time is short!) please America, make a citizens’ arrest. Before Saturday. That misinterpreted, abused ‘free expression’ clause ought to be taken out of the First Amendment. It’s been so badly applied and now its abuse is potentially cataclysmic.

    • I believe that this act is provocative, and it is very bad P.R. but to limit constitutionally guaranteed free speech as a response to terror is not the way to combat terror.

      If constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression is suspended in this case, then terror and the fear of violence wins, and democracy and freedom of expression loses. As a nice side bonus, radical Islam exerts even more power over the world.

      I know that this an extreme case, but it is the extreme case that make us take our values seriously.

  3. Arresting him may be called for. For what it’s worth, I’m hoping that a lot of Christians and people in general can get behind the idea of having a “Read the Qur’an Day” as an alternative to “Burn the Qur’an Day.” This seems like it could be a good way to acknowledge the free speech of others with whom we disagree, while using our freedom to say something very different, and hopefully loudly enough that we too will be heard.

    Even those who strongly disagree with things they read in the Qur’an can and should participate. It isn’t “Read and agree with everything you read” day but “Reading and disagreeing is better than burning” day.

    I’ve also set up a Facebook event for this, to make it easier to spread the word.

    But you may already have a competing “arrest this man” event that conflicts… 🙂

    • That’s a good plan James, but while I appreciate your good intentions, they won’t negate the effects of that man’s pyromaniac actions. I am very concerned that if he is allowed to carry out his plan, you can guarantee there will be a fatal backlash. That’s why I cannot understand why he has not already been arrested for being at the very least a public nuisance, and I sincerely hope that a responsible American citizen will take time out from reading the Qur’an, to arrest this man before he burns the rest on Saturday.

  4. That’s right R. Joseph we should cave into terrorism and give them what they want; restricting our freedom of speech to things that don’t upset their precious feelings. Like it or not, you don’t get to decide what is or isn’t free speech, the courts do by interpreting the 1st amendment. Since the courts have ruled that the disgusting actions of the Phelps family are consider covered by the 1st amendment, then how is it that can you decide that actions of the disgusting “Rev” Jones is any less protected?
    Where would you draw the line and what criteria would you use?
    Religious beliefs run the gamut from mildly silly to life threatening. We should not allow any of them to have any control over us. What the hell are our freedoms worth if we are willing to give them up in the face of danger?
    “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. ” B. Franklin Memoirs of the life and writings of Benjamin Franklin (1818).

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