I was pondering this NY Times article about Americans and their fear of immigrants, specifically Muslims. This connected in my mind to the developing story of internet-famous pastor [of a 50 person church] in Gainesville, FL named Terry Jones. His foiled plan, however infamous still, was to commemorate the 9th anniversary of the attacks on the WTC by burning at least one Quran.
Allegedly on his website (which has since been pulled down by his web host) he listed 10 good reasons to do it. I wanted to write something about it before tonight, but felt conflicted. One one hand, I feel pretty strongly that it is a bad idea and a cheap publicity stunt that makes many of us look like fascists to the world. On the other hand, I was hoping that the story was not going to be covered by any media. Writing about how we shouldn’t pay attention to this man inadvertently might bring more attention to the moment.
Thankfully, now that the event is canceled, I feel released to say how ludicrous I think the idea was. Nearly as absurd is Jones’ claim according to VOA news that he negotiated the change of venue for a proposed mosque two blocks from the former World Trade Center location.
In the VOA article, Jones is quoted as saying “The American people, as a whole, do not want the mosque at the Ground Zero location.” I think that’s a pretty fear driven statement that has more to do with his own prejudices than reflecting either consensus of Americans or even American Christians. It also seems like a convenient excuse to cover up whatever real reason there was to not do such a outrageous antic. Maybe it was pressure from the Pentagon. Maybe it was the Mennonite Central Committee’s open pastoral letter to Anabaptist churches that did the trick.
Regardless of why it was kiboshed, it was a close call.