"What Pastor Jones was intending to do was gratuitously offensive - but what made it potentially insane was the disregard for its consequences. What I find utterly depressing about this whole affair is the extent to which these were taken as a given - a fact of the world to which we have to adjust. In case anyone is unclear about what this is, let me spell it out: the burning of the Koran would have had disastrous consequences because everyone with any sense understands that there are not only people who consider a book to be more more sacred than the lives of their fellow human beings but who are both willing and able to use murderous violence in order to see the incarnation of this belief.
It is the routinization of this - the acceptance of this as a banal fact of life - that I find so absolutely depressing. It shows itself in the comments made by even people who are resolutely opposed to any of the claims made by politicized millienarians. Martin writes, "In their fundamentalism and intolerance, Pastor Jones and the Islamists are mirror images of each other." No, I don't think so. The reason that there was such an intervention over this matter is that everyone understood that if this group of fanatics had burned the Koran, people would have died. But Pastor Jones did not threaten to kill anyone. In contrast, death threats had already been made - not just against Mr Jones, which is in itself insane - but against Americans in general. Because merely being one of the some 330 million citizens of this nation is enough for you to deserve death because of your association with the behaviour of fifty embittered religious eccentrics. "
Absolutely. When some Orthodox Jews burned New Testaments in Israel a couple of years back, as part of their campaign against evangelising by Messianic Jews (who accept Christ as the promised Messiah), then-President Ehud Olmert didn't beg them to desist Obama-style, on the grounds that it would lead to terrorist attacks on Israelis or Jews worldwide. No army chiefs condemned the burnings as putting troops at risk, as General Petraeus did. I didn't see national leaders all over Europe urging Israel to take action. I doubt that anyone from the Israeli Chiefs of Staff got on the phone to the burners.
Because no-one supposed that Christians worldwide would consider that the actions of a few Israeli book-burners was a justification for attacks on any Jew or any Israeli insitution. Had such attacks taken place (there were none AFAIK) they would have been condemned by all - not least by those so vehement against Pastor Jones. No one would have said 'what did they expect if they burn Bibles?'.
But everyone assumes that Muslims worldwide will consider that the actions of a few American book-burners is a justification for attacks on any Westerner or any Western insitution. This view's pretty much internalised by now. While no one would ever say so explicitly, in practice we expect a lower standard of behaviour by Muslims than we expect from Christians - and we adjust our own behaviour accordingly - which is why useful lefty idiots will be demonstrating against the Holy Father who would never dream of demonstrating against Yusuf al Quaradawi.
As Salman Rushdie put it :
"When people ask me how the West should adapt to Muslim sensitivities, I always say - the question is the wrong way round. The West should go on being itself. There is nothing wrong with the things that for hundreds of years have been acceptable - satire, irreverence, ridicule, even quite rude commentary - why the hell not? But you see it every day, this surrender".