Wednesday, September 08, 2010

General Petraeus tries to put out a Fire

A number of American leaders want Reverend Jones to drop his plan to burn Korans. They complain that burning Korans is a bad idea, though they admit it's legal. The complainers, General Petraeus among them, have listed the negative consequences and ill will that are likely to follow.

The complaints sound remarkably similar to those emerging from the debate about building a mosque on Park Place next to Ground Zero. In one case, Americans are imploring other Americans to put their displeasure and anger aside, and show instead that Americans are tolerant people who can solve problems rather than express hate, even though they have the Constitutional right to express themselves as Reverend Jones hopes they will.

However, in the other case, muslims are telling America they can build a mosque wherever the law permits, because, well, because they can. And if America doesn't like it, then America can lump it. Tough noogies. Are any muslims telling the leader of the mosque that maybe it would show good faith to build the mosque somewhere else? No.

It seems this is how things always go with muslims. Last week, when the leader of Israel and the leader of some Palestinians were preparing to meet, Palestinian gunmen from Hamas murdered four Israelis in the West Bank. One of the dead was a pregnant woman. Did Israel launch an attack on Hamas, the governing body of Gaza? No. Did the Hamas government begin an investigation and attempt to catch the killers? No.

Instead, cheers and praise. To commemorate the killings, about 3,000 muslims gathered in Gaza to celebrate the slaughter, hailing it as a heroic deed. They handed out sweets to passersby, the usual muslim celebratory practice. And so it goes.

From the New York Times -- September 8, 2010

Gen. David H. Petraeus warned on Tuesday that any video of Americans burning the Koran “would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan — and around the world — to inflame public opinion and incite violence,” endangering the lives of American soldiers.

A State Department spokesman called Mr. Jones’s plan “un-American.” Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, said any activity “that puts our troops in harm’s way would be a concern to this administration.”

Several clergy members in Washington and Florida said that there were efforts to dissuade Mr. Jones from proceeding with the event, but that he appeared unlikely to relent.

The religious leaders in Washington said in their statement, “We are appalled by such disrespect for a sacred text that for centuries has shaped many of the great cultures of our world.”

Interfaith events are not unusual, but this one was extraordinary for the urgency and passion expressed by the participants. Some of the same religious leaders later met with Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to urge him to prosecute religious hate crimes aggressively.

Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said: “We know what it is like when people have attacked us physically, have attacked us verbally, and others have remained silent. It cannot happen here in America in 2010.”

The clergy members said that those responsible for a poisoned climate included politicians manipulating a wedge issue in an election year, self-styled “experts” on Islam who denigrate the faith for religious or political reasons and some conservative evangelical Christian pastors.

The Rev. Richard Cizik, president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, said: “To those who would exercise derision, bigotry, open rejection of our fellow Americans of a different faith, I say, shame on you. As an evangelical, I say to those who do this, you bring dishonor to those who love Jesus Christ.”

The summit meeting was initiated by leaders of the Islamic Society of North America, an umbrella group of mosques and Muslim groups, who contacted Jewish and Christian leaders they know from years of joint interfaith projects.

A Catholic priest, the Rev. Mark Massa, executive director of ecumenical and interreligious affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote the draft of the statement. About three dozen clergy members representing Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, Catholic, evangelical and Orthodox Christian groups refined it at the meeting.

They did not take a stand on whether to support the proposed mosque and community center near ground zero in Manhattan, saying, “Persons of conscience have taken different positions on the wisdom of the location of this project, even if the legal right to build on the site appears to be unassailable.”

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