Pastor Terry Jones is in the news again. You may remember him as the man who proposed to burn a pile of Qurans last year on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. In response to intense pressure from President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates among others, Jones demurred and canceled his plans.
Until this month, apparently. After holding a "trial" for the Muslim holy book, Jones and his congregation burned it. Luckily for him, there's no law against being a bigoted ass, so everything is fine and absolutely nobody has been harmed because of the shortsighted intolerance of a radical preacher looking for publicity.
Nobody, that is, except for the 11 U.N. staffers killed on Friday in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif. Afghani protesters, apparently outraged over the Quran burning, stormed the U.N. offices in the city, overpowered police and stole their weapons, after which they murdered several security guards and U.N. personnel.
In response, Jones, who has apparently forsaken any grasp on reality, has said that the U.S. must respond violently against the protesters and absolutely refused to accept any responsibility for inciting the riot.
Of course, it is incumbent that the U.S. respond to the rioters who murdered the staff, and we have. Obama released a statement condemning the attacks, calling them cowardly and unconscionable. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon responded similarly from Kenya, deeming the attacks "outrageous and cowardly," according to ABC News.
The blame, however, doesn't rest solely on the shoulders of the rioters. It's evident that Jones was well aware of the violence his actions could incite; if he wasn't, he wouldn't have cancelled the original demonstration in September. In full knowledge, then, of the dangers posed to Americans and allies – military or civilian – in Muslim nations across the world, Jones elected to go ahead with his irresponsible and petty demonstration.
This sort of Islamaphobia"is the reason America will never be able to peacefully coexist with Muslim nations: We're frightened of them to the point of committing spiteful, hateful acts with little meaning. Americans blindly lump all Muslims (and Sikhs, Arabs, various Indians, et cetera) into one group: dangerous Middle Eastern people.
This hearkens to the blind racism of the antebellum South during arguably one of the most shameful periods in American history. We tout our modernity, brag about America's cultural hegemony over the world, expect other nations and peoples to kowtow to our desires but don't grow as a people. We simply shift our distrust and hate from one group to another, often with little regard to the realities of said groups.
Jones' actions, while legal and protected under the First Amendment, nonetheless reflect on the American people as yet another example of our close-minded arrogance and fear. Unfortunately, while such actions usually result in nothing more than blustering and hurt feelings, Jones has indirectly caused the deaths of 11 innocent people. Their blood lies on his juvenile hands.