Pastor Jones in Gainesville, Florida and his congregation of 50, have captured the attention of the world by proclaiming their intention to burn the Quran on this coming anniversary of 9/11. The story is found here. Almost everyone from Angelina Jolie to Sarah Palin to General Peteraeus has weighed in on the issue urging the pastor not to go through with it. The first amendment covers this type of behavior and there’s not much legally that anyone can do to prevent the book burning.
While everyone is focused on the pastor, we seem not to have noticed the extreme reaction of the Muslim world. “If this happens,” says Mohammad Mukhtar, a cleric and candidate for the Afghan parliament in the Sept. 18 election, “I think the first and most important reaction will be that wherever Americans are seen, they will be killed. No matter where they will be in the world they will be killed.” Apparently, the Muslim world is holding all of Amercia responsible for the actions of 50 people. And what about America’s reaction? Even though building a mosque at ground zero is offensive to many Amercians, we are tolerant of it, while at the same time intolerant of a book burning in which the Quran is the main course. Who decides when and where tolerance is to be used or not used? Maybe we should extend a little more tolerance to Pastor Jones (not support, just tolerance), and advise the intolerant and enraged Muslims to calm down. Instead we react in fear. Why does our tolerance lean toward the folks who want to kill us? At least Pastor Jones and his 50 congregants don’t plan to kill Americans if we start burning the Bible. It amazes me how fast the Muslim world has extended their violence to all of us. Maybe this Middle-Eastern quick temper (which reveals a little of how they see us) should be cause for national concern and not so much the burning of books.
Tolerance is, I think, the last and only virtue of a decaying society. In pursuit of this one virtue, we have left all other values behind. No wonder we don’t know when to be tolerant and when not to be.