David Petraeus is right.That church burning the korans in Florida will incite muslims to kill Americans, particularly American soldiers.Why? Well, in part, because David Petraeus and the media have decided to magnify the event and guarantee it’ll be featured on the front page of every major newspaper in the Middle East.Ramzy Kilic of the Council on American-Islamic Relations surprisingly sounds wisest here:
“He just wants to provoke the Muslim community,” he said. “Why give him attention? No one pays attention to the drunkard walking down the street.”
Let’s not, however, be fooled by the thinking that this act will incite Islamists in some special way. If Islamists did not have koran burnings to incite them to kill Americans, they would just find something else. Heck, they may go back to soldiers in Iraq using the koran for target practice.I think it is bad form for the military to start applying pressure to influence the political activities (and this is clearly a form of political speech) of American civilians. Petraeus is essentially attributing direct responsibility for American deaths to the activities of American citizens (and I hasten to point out that he made no similar public pronouncement about the activities of antiwar demonstrators who, at least arguably, caused American deaths by giving the jihadis reason to believe they could drive us out of Iraq given enough casualties).Ultimately, this issue is not about tolerance of Islam, but about fear of Islam. The elite in this country have no problem with American flag burnings or Bible burnings. Heck, the American military burned a pile of Bibles lest proselytizing happen. No Christians went out and beheaded troops or media talking heads. There were no riots in the streets of Washington, D.C. by aggrieved Christians.Contrast that with the Islamic world. Show a cartoon of Mohammed, you die. Burn a koran, you die. Reject the faith, you die.Ultimately, and what is too politically incorrect for the media or David Petraeus to say, is that Islam is largely incompatible with Western values when significant portions of the religion — not just the fringe — are driven to riot over koran burnings, cartoons of Mohammed, and the like.More specifically, Petraeus’s actions teach the same lesson to both us and the Islamists that the Mohammed cartoon did: Islamists learned if they are sufficiently violent Western governments and elites will fold like a cheap suit and we learned that Islam, as practiced by large swaths of the muslim world, is a violent religion that apparently can’t operate in tandem with a civil society.Now, all that said, I think this pastor in Florida is terribly misguided. The message of Christ is one of grace and hope. Christians are told to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything [Christ] ha[s] commanded.”Burinng korans does not accomplish that. Neither, I am certain, does it glorify God in any way, shape, or form — particularly knowing with certainty, whether we like it or not, that this act of a Christian church showing not love, but hate, will incite people to violence. I would encourage this pastor to stand down — but I’m not going to wring my hands over it. If not this, there’ll just be something else causing riots in the “Arab Street.” This is just today’s excuse.