THE MANY WAYS TERRY JONES DOES NOT GET IT

In the wake of Friday’s attacks on UN police and staff in Afghanistan, Terry Jones continues to be unrepentant and demanded the US and the UN take “immediate action” to retaliate against the attackers.

Excuse me! Did I get that right? Terry Jones wants immediate action taken against the attackers?

Wasn’t everybody going along with their ordinary squabbles employing suicide bombers and deploying their IED caches in the field, when he stepped in, put the Qur’an on trial, soaked it in kerosene and lit it on fire??? It was Mr. Jones who drew first blood when he burned the Qur’an, not the Afghans. So does he still want immediate action against the attackers. If so, how quickly can we have him and Mr. Sapp in a cell for hate crimes?

INEVITABLE RESULTS

He still does not get that none of the events which have taken place in the Muslim world since 20 March would have happened without the actions he and Wayne Sapp took. Why, precisely, should the US do anything to the attackers?  It is not their country to do anything with. The parties who were harmed by these actions are the UN, its workers and their families. The UN has standing to request redress from the Afghan government, but not the US. Meanwhile, the citizen of the hour, Mr. Jones, is safely ensconced in the US where nothing can happen to him at the hands of the people who carried out these attacks, although they would dearly love to have a piece of him. As would a growing list of other people. If he has any luck, no harm will come to him and Mr. Jones will remain free to exercise his rights to be an internationally known bigot who does not have a clue and seemingly is not inclined to get one.

That Mr. Jones would call on the UN to immediately retaliate against the attackers clearly demonstrates that he has no working understanding of the history or mission of the UN. Nor does he have an understanding of the mandates given to UN troops when they enter a country. What is ambiguous about the description of UN  troops as “peace keeping” forces? Their mission is not to wage war, but to try to keep warring factions from killing each other. Mr. Jones, on the other hand, is very intent on waging war against Muslims and the Qur’an, as demonstrated by his words and actions.

While saying he feels “devastated” by the killings of the UN workers in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, Mr. Jones continues on saying, “We don’t feel responsible for that.”

My knee-jerk response to that statement is incredulity and outrage. Mr. Jones was told by a large group of well respected, knowledgeable leaders from the President on down months before he burned the Qur’an that if he went forward with his plans, these types of  violent attacks and popular outrage would be the result, yet, he discounted all he was told and went ahead with his ill-conceived plan. The part that continues to blow my mind is that he sees absolutely no similarities between the violence and hatred of his own actions and those of the attackers. They are, in fact, born of the same darkness of the heart and mind, differing only in their intensity and culture.

MR. JONES WAR AGAINST ISLAM

Mr. Jones continues to say that the time has come for the UN “to hold Islam accountable,” calling on the UN to  act against “Muslim-dominated countries” and tell them that they “must alter the laws that govern their countries to allow for individual freedoms and rights, such as the right to worship, free speech and to move freely without fear of being attacked or killed.”

One scarcely knows where to begin in response to those statements. What ideas are floating around in Mr. Jones’ head is anyone’s guess.

To begin with, Islam is a religion, it is not a country, a person or legal entity that can be “held accountable.” Whether one agrees with the practitioners of a religion or not, one is to respect their right to practice their faith, to follow their traditions. The problems come when, through the guise of religious freedom and freedom of speech, some people choose to break basic universal laws, such as those against murder and commission of hate crimes. Neither have anything to do with religious freedom or freedom of speech, but are blatant attempts to erode the foundations upon which civilisation is based. Mr. Jones and his friend Wayne Sapp quickly come to mind as two candidates who are attempting to get people to swallow that their actions are constitutionally protected under the tenets of religious freedom and freedom of speech. If we buy this rationale, we are in more trouble than we can possibly imagine.

Just how does Mr. Jones define “Muslim-dominated countries?” One gathers that he believes all countries with predominately Muslim populations would be on the list, but would any country with Muslims in leadership constitute “Muslim-dominance?” Where does he draw the line?

Lacking that information, I am going to go out on a limb here and say that religions do not dominate countries, men do. In countries where the populations are predominately followers of Islam, the crux of the problem is the leaders and power-brokers who are advocating the violence and who sometimes wield a choke-hold over their constituents. The clothes they are dressed in may look and sound Islamic, but it is the same old lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride that are at work, and have been since the beginning of time. So the problem is the message they are preaching and the motivation behind their message. It is deception, pure and simple, but no different than the deceptions under which Mr. Jones labours. He seriously thinks that what he is doing is morally right and good. What he does not understand is that the angry mobs also believe they are morally right and good.

ESSENTIAL FREEDOMS

All right-thinking, honourable men strive for essential freedoms. But where Mr. Jones gets the idea that anyone should demand other countries have to change their laws to achieve his concepts of individual freedoms is beyond me. Has he never heard the term “sovereignty?” Each country has the right to make what laws they see fit, as long as it does not abrogate the rights of other sovereign nations. While we may advocate at many levels to see that essential freedoms are guaranteed for everyone, no one has the right to demand another country change its laws. Certainly, history is replete with nations who have ignored the rule of law both within and without. From time to time, other nations have had to step in and broker changes, whether that be the result of diplomacy or of war. But no one, at any time, has the right to demand a country change its law to suit outside interests.

It is amazing that Mr. Jones, who uses his constitutional freedoms so generously, would deny the same freedoms to other people. As tragic and horrific as the mob violence is that is taking place in the various countries following the burning of the Qur’an, how these events are handled is a determination for each country to make. While we would advocate for justice, in reality, there may be no justice to be found. There is no way to put Mr. Jones and Mr. Sapp on trial in Kabul for actions which should be crimes in the US. Nor would justice be achieved if we could. Under Afghan law, they would both be put to death for what they have done, desecrating the Qur’an, which is also not justice.

CAN THE DOTS BE CONNECTED?

It was the end of the NY Times article that I found disconnected and unsettling.

“It is not that we burn the Koran with some type of vindictive motive,” Mr. Jones said. “We do not even burn it with great pleasure or any pleasure at all. We burn it because we feel a deep obligation to stay with the court system of America. The court system of America does not allow convicted criminals to go free. And that is why we feel obligated to do this.”

On the video, a pastor named Wayne Sapp is seen igniting a kerosene-drenched copy of the Koran with a plastic lighter. Members of the church watch the book burn for several minutes while several photographers snap pictures.

Finally, Mr. Jones says, “That actually burned quite well.”

None of that makes any sense. Burning the Qur’an has nothing to do with criminals going free or the preservation of the American court system. It has to do with Mr. Jones and Mr. Sapp misusing the freedoms they have been given that other people have died to protect in order to strike out at people they want to force to live life their way or not at all. The continuing irony: Mr. Jones and Mr. Sapp using their freedoms trying to take other people’s freedoms away.

Only in the end does Mr. Jones show his true colours in his comment “That actually burned quite well.” For someone who claims to take no pleasure in burning the Qur’an, he sounds pleasantly surprised with the results, something which sends a frisson of foreboding down my spine.

— J. E. Clark | 5 April 2011

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SOURCES:

NY Times: Pastor Who Burned Koran Demands Retribution (2011/04/01)

Washington Post: Ex-church member discusses life with Rev. Terry Jones’ Florida church (2011/04/04)

YouTube: Pastor Wayne Sapp Defends Quran Burning On 9/11 (Chris Matthews)

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