Book Burnings

Sep 08 2010 Published by under Politics

Not long ago, I wrote a long piece about the resurgence of fascism as a mainstream political movement in the U.S.   The battle over an Islamic center in New York could perhaps be seen as an isolated incident by those who are completely blind, but as mosques and Muslims are attacked across the U.S., a trend has emerged: it’s open season on anyone demonized by the New Right.  As Sarah Palin yells, “don’t retreat, reload,” a line that brings cheers from her 2nd Amendment-loving but 14th Amendment-hating followers, real people are reloading.

Fascism incites its followers to demonize the Other, to physically attack him and all he stands for.  Once it becomes the new normal to attack Muslims, burn their books, and forbid their houses of worship, all it takes to spread the hate further is to accuse enemies of the cause of being Muslims or Muslim-sympathizers.  The spread of lies about President Obama's origins, religious beliefs, etc. aren't just the rantings of a few nut jobs. They are part of an organized effort to create hate, division, and to delegitimize a lawfully elected and constituted government.

It's often been said that all that is required for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing.  But that ignores two facts: bad people are doing plenty, and other bad people, who wish to be seen as "mainstream" are keeping mum.    Where are the "sane" Republicans and others on the right condemning the planned burning of Qur'ans by a Florida pastor?  Some religious leaders and Democrats have spoken out, but where is Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and the other leaders of the Right?  John Boehner made a tepid, general statement about it, similar to one being used about the so-called Ground Zero mosque:

“Just because you have a right to do something in America does not mean it is the right thing to do. We are a nation of religious freedom, we’re also a nation of tolerance,” Boehner said. “I think in the name of tolerance people ought to really think about the kind of actions they’re taking.”

No, John, this is what you need to say:

" Book burning has no place in a civilized society.  If we do not speak out loudly against this act, we are all equally culpable of this hateful act."

Friends of mine of a more conservative bent love to rationalize away the most disturbing trends on the right with such phrases as, "no one listens to those crazies," and, "that's not what real Republicans are about."


Until American conservatives explicitly condemn the Sarah Palins and Glenn Becks, the New Right will continue to rise to the top of the GOP, will be The Right in America.  These folks aren't just going away.  As long as the GOP and other conservatives tolerate these new fascists, they are guilty: guilty of hate crimes, of bigotry, of destroying American ideals.

I accuse you, all of you on the right today, and call on you today to publicly renounce the New Right and their hate-filled rhetoric.  If you can't do this, you are not an enabler of fascism---you are a fascist.

47 responses so far

  • James Sweet says:

    No no, you don't understand. See, moderate Muslims need to apologize for extremist Muslims, but moderate Republicans don't need to apologize for extremist Teabaggers. Do you get it now? It's not that complicated. :p

    The worst thing about the book burning is that it's not even really clear what his point is, other than "Islam is bad, mmm'kay." As I posted on another blog, if somebody wanted to stage a protest against, say, Female Genital Mutilation which involved buring Qurans, that would probably be ill-advised at this point in time, but it would at least have a point...

  • Paul Dorio says:

    Excellent comments, although I get a little nervous when I start seeing whole groups generalized into a label. I have always considered myself fiscally conservative but socially centrist-to-slightly liberal. I too condemn book-burning and any other actions that are performed out of hate for another group. I think it is important to remember too that Sarah Palin was fairly rejected by the populace. She doesn't speak for me that's for sure. I have a hard time knowing just exactly for whom she does speak! And Glenn Beck and any other pundit may be distasteful and spew garbage on a daily basis, but maybe if more people just turn the channel then fewer of these silly deprecating media hounds will continue to exist.

    As we begin the Jewish New Year, and ten days from now will honor the holiest Day of Atonement, may all people of all religions come to know more tolerance for each other.

    Thanks again for your post.

    • Steve Thoms says:

      "...but maybe if more people just turn the channel then fewer of these silly deprecating media hounds will continue to exist."

      But the EXACT opposite is happening and has been happening for 15 years. Before it was just Rush Limbaugh, Bob Novak and Bill O'Reily that were the loony ones. Then Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson jumped in. Before long the entire conservative dialog was dominated not by fiscal conservativism, but outrageous, paranoid, homophobic, racist, xenophobia.

      Now, with Palin, Beck, Van Susteren, Cavuto, Santorum, Coulter, Huckabee, Scarborough, Doocy, Dobbs...These are THE voices of American (and increasingly, Canadian) conservativism. They are not the fringe: they are manifold, and they are driving the dialogue of EVERYONE down. These are the people you truck in with.

  • PalMD says:

    Well, I gotta say, that's not enough. You don't get to just say, "they're not us".

  • CoR says:

    I hear you. I wish this nonsense would stop escalating.

  • What's really hard about this for me personally is the cognitive dissonance I experience when people I genuinely like--whom I thought were misguided but basically decent--seem to think this is okay. These same folks who would call our country to war if someone tossed a few new testaments into a fire. Beck et. al. have poisoned their minds, and I don't have an antidote. It's heartbreaking to be a patriot at this moment in history.

  • Dani says:

    Its a classic self-fulfilling prophecy: we treat all muslims as if they're evil haters of the american freedom, and these actions only serve to encourage the notion that we use our american freedom for evil.

    The problem, however, is that when it comes to media and publicity, mad ravings are going to generate more profit than peaceful, rational behaviors, and it also holds true that bad publicity is better than no publicity. Republicans can talk good all they want but its moot if no one hears it. So it really is a question of how we can get these less extreme republicans heard? Or even, how can reasonable politics be made entertaining? I mean, if you search twitter for recent hot-button news stories, you're likely to find quips in place of real opinions. Our current societal structure promotes entertainment value over content.

  • PalMD says:

    Cop out. All that may be true, but if GOP leaders and everyday Republicans speak out, it makes a difference. You can't tell me that no one would cover John Boehner or Newt Gingrich disavowing hate.

  • It seems futile, but I've added my (well, mostly your) voice: ping

  • Nathan Myers says:

    Anybody in a position to speak out against rising fascism, and doesn't, is one of them. Anybody who didn't march against the Iraq invasion is complicit. Anybody who isn't calling for prosecution of the torturing murderers in the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command is complicit. And how is it that tobacco and lead-mining executives still walk around loose?

    Start with the worst. But which is that? The fascists have the greatest potential for harm, but the corporate executives have the most to answer for. Prosecuting JOSC and its masters for war crimes would put the fascists on notice.

    • zuska says:

      What the heck do you mean, Nathan? We can't call on the leaders of the GOP to speak out against fascism in their own party unless we simultaneously take on every other battle for every other worthy cause?

      I don't need to know "what's worst" to know that the GOP party leaders need to speak up, now, against fomenting hate, book burning, and spreading fascism.

      • Nathan Myers says:

        Every morning I take a shower and also brush my teeth; I hope you do too, but you lead me to doubt. We can call on the Reds to speak out against rising fascism in their ranks and on the Blues to step up and clean house at the Pentagon. Tolerance for fascism, whether among the rabble or at the Rathaus, breeds like cockroaches.

  • ecologist says:

    I find myself asking, why am I not on Orbitz right now, booking a flight to Gainesville? To stand wherever this idiot is doing his burning in silent protest. Or to stand with a sign expressing my outrage at his un-American conduct. Or to show up with a fire extinguisher.

    I have all the usual excuses. That makes me ashamed.

    At some point, we will have to stop making those excuses.

  • Adam says:

    I feel I have been placed in the renowned company of Hell; actually I’m a much more nuanced “bigot”. Perhaps I might introduce you to what I am beginning to think must be called the Atropos Thesis. I hope you have some generous submission limits. There a bit of material to cover and since I’ll be on the road soon, I will not have the opportunity to compact the verbiage. My apologies for that.

    My opposition to Imam Rauf’s project, by whatever name it is called comes from the fact that the financing of the proposed structure will come from the same tainted pool of Wahabi-Salafi “charity” moneys as did the 9/11 attack itself. It irks me no end that the purveyors of hate will get to build an Arc de Triomphe from which to gloat over the site of their most notable success. The plot isn’t all that difficult to follow and doesn’t even require hate for Muslims.

    By way of background, the Muslims whom I have met were recent immigrants where one or both spouses were professionals who moved to the US to build careers, raise families, and do what we all do. During my late wife’s struggle with the disease that eventually killed her, her friends from work who are Muslim as well as Muslims on the hospital staff were, to the last person, caring, kind and supportive. I don’t think that I would have survived that year without their presence. So, obviously my beliefs about the Wahabi-Salafi charity system come from my deep hate of these people.

    The term “charity” is somewhat mis-leading in this instance. In common with charities in most non-Muslim parts of the world, the zakat (poor tax) provides food, clothing, shelter, and educational materials to needy communities. In western religious charities, Beecher’s Bibles (shipping cases marked as Bibles from the printers, containing Sharps Rifles (?), with boxes of ammunition below and layers of Bibles above) for the loyal God-Fearing anti-slavery population of Kansas before the U.S. Civil War, are an aberration. For Islamic charities it has always been part of the program. Since Islam has frequently been situated amongst hostile populations, Islam among Kufaari, Shia among Sunni, and Wahabi among common “apostate” Sunni, the charity finances were, and are, profoundly opaque. Currently there is a constantly changing roster of organizations, in addition to personal giving, operating under the laws of many countries which amounts to a virtually impenetrable system for money laundering. Historically, the zakat was collected locally and the general preference was to distribute the proceeds locally. Since WW-II, the oil huge oil extraction operations in the Persian Gulf meant that ~90% of a much richer zakat system comes from Saudi Arabia and its environs. Virtually all of those zakat proceeds go somewhere else via the opaque charity pipelines.

    The increase in the availability of charitable funds due to oil is fine enough, except for the fact that the funds are controlled by those with the Wahabi-Salafi ethos. The terminology comes from reference to Muhammad Ibn Abd-al-Wahhab (1703-1792) the founding theologian of the conservative Islamic sect. Since the followers of Wahab demonstrated some excesses of zeal non-diplomatic intervention by the Ottoman Turks was required during the 19th century and in the 1920s corrective action by the Arabs was required. The current followers of this sect prefer terminology such as Salafi which identifies them as followers of “the early ones”, i.e. the Islamic leadership immediately after the death of Mohammad. The mainline of Sunni Muslims seem to hold that the Quran is perfect and complete. The apparently contradictory verses instructing Muslims to be peaceful and tolerant of their Kufaari neighbors and the sword verses ordering Muslims to “kill all unbelievers where you find them” (an obvious paraphrase) relate to vastly different circumstances, i.e. co-existence vs total war. Since the West allows Muslims to practice almost all facets of their religion, a significant proportion of the Muslims are content to live and raise families with everyone else. (The extent of the size of the population who are willing to co-exist is another issue on which I don’t yet have an opinion.) The followers of Wahab however are profoundly distrustful of human abilities to deal with the ambiguities of co-existence. Since theology allows for human weakness, the Wahabi have chosen the absolutist theology of total abrogation. In abrogation, the latest verse or law supersedes or totally replaces the former. Islamic writers seem to like examples such as the teachings of Jesus abrogating some of the laws of Moses. The later verses of the Quran refer to the historic period of brutal war so the effective rule is to kill all the Kufaari who will not submit wherever you find them until Islam rules the world. This causes some upset in the Sunni Muslim world since the Wahabi sect has not honored the traditional injunction against criticizing other Muslims and making takfir (declaring a Muslim kafir or an apostate). Therefore “modern” or cooperative Muslims are also on the target list.

    The Wahabi-Salafi leaders are brutal but they are nobody’s fools. They remember what happened when large military units came to discuss theology and now they have the power of the purse. The madrassas in south Asia have young male students of non-Arab speaking cultures memorize the text of the Quran in Arabic while Wahabi “educators” tell them what it supposedly means. They seem to be big on the “sword” verses. Girl’s schools get beatings, explosives, or lately, poison gas. Islamic “schools” in the West get lots of support if the texts and publications used are Wahabi and the supervisors are true believers. After decades of complaints, the texts still refer to Jews and Christians (Children of the Book) as apes and pigs. That is profoundly disturbing since I can never remember if I am supposed to act like a pig or an ape. The never ending parade of charities provides weapons and explosives to those who believe in the final war of Islamist world domination (;;;; Particularly successful subsidiaries have been the descendents of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun) inspired by Sayyid Qutb who came to study in the US in the late 40s. Qutb concluded that Americans were beasts who talked of un-Godly things, only prayed once a week at best, allowed their women to cavort half naked in public and had crappy haircuts and were therefore the irredeemable enemies of Islam. He and many of his supporters were executed by Egypt since the Brotherhood had developed a taste for murdering government officials. Since the Wahabis prefer to stay close to home, the enthusiasts of the Brotherhood proved to be willing and dedicated operatives. Hamas in Gaza and Groups such as CAIR in the US are “derived” from the Brotherhood core (Summarized:

    The 9/11 Commission tracked the support of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks to Wahabi-Salafi charity system but could find no involvement of the Saudi royal family. The Wahabi-Salafi charity system is to isolate all donors from any of the adverse consequences of actions at the periphery and it works stunningly well. Imam Rauf has portrayed himself as a friendly, ecumenical Sufi trying to “build bridges”. The GZ location is crucial to Rauf plans. The non-English subtitle to his book is “A Call to Prayer from the World Trade Center Rubble: Islamic Dawa...” The refusal of Rauf to describe Hamas as terrorist is instructive. Rauf has said "The Islamic method of waging war is not to kill innocent civilians," but he then evades, asserting that “United States' policies were an accessory to the crime that happened", bringing up Hiroshima, the Klu Klux Klan, and US alliances with “oppressive regimes”. Rauf obviously misspoke; he must have meant non-Sharia or non-Islamist oppressive regimes since he seems happy to visit Hamas and the Wahabi redoubt. He was in any event taking the same tack as Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a supporter of the families of suicide bombers, whose $10M donation to New York City was returned by Mayor Giuliani in October 2001, after he publicly suggested that the attack was the fault of US foreign policy.

    Imam Rauf organization should be considered in RICO terms (Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization), or more accurately a JICO, funded from the same bloody charity pool as the 9/11 operation that destroyed the Towers. Imam Rauf is not building some locally funded mosque. The objection to the structure (for me, and I believe most others) is about the persistent use of tainted Wahabi-Salafi controlled funds to establish a hostile indoctrination and terror operations “bridgehead”, as well as a 15 story monument overlooking the site of their most memorable achievement. Besides funding terror attacks, recent notorious Wahabi fatwahs prescribe the death penalty for co-education and de-criminalize the taking of exposed meat (rape of “uncovered” women). Approximately 8 years ago the Wahabi mutawwa'in religious police drove female students back into a burning dormitory to their deaths lest their half naked bodies drive men to sin. More recently a young man delivered groceries to the 75 year old woman who had been his wet-nurse and sitter since he was born. For receiving a man in her home without being covered and “mingling” without a suitable guardian of her morals, the woman was sentenced to 40 lashes, 4 months imprisonment, and expulsion back to her native Syria. Does anyone think that the mentality that produces such a system will settle for a lending library and a kiddie swim club for the tens of millions of dollars that they will direct to Imam Rauf through “loans” and “donations”? In his new 15 story tower, the good Imam behavior might be guided by the enthusiasm that both Hamas and their “colleagues” in Hezbollah took in emulating Mohammad’s disposal of enemies by throwing them from high places.

    My objection to the project is not an objection to a Muslim presence in Manhattan. Is seems as if the reaction of many Muslims during times of adversity is to treat any criticism or attack on any Muslim person, place, or thing as an attack on the totality of Islam. In 2007 CAIR, a spin-off from Qutb’s Egyptian club, criticized Giuliani’s rejection of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s check as precisely that, an attack on Islam. This isn’t the old world. The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church is being brought (at last) to account for the toleration of priestly sexual abuse of children. That is not an attack on the Catholic faith anymore than blocking actions of the brutal Wahabi-Salafi sect in New York are an attack on the faith of Islam no matter what Imam’s supporters are saying.

    The good Imam’s supporters will undoubtedly consider this opinion as a bigoted attack on Islam. Just don’t include me in with Limbaugh.

  • Paul Dorio says:

    All this erudition. Does the collective knowledge and learning of the readers and contributors of this and other scientopia posts imply tolerance too? It seems not for some of the contributors at least.

    Anyone can say anything on any blog. It is their perogative. But in order to be useful, in my opinion, one might wish to stop being divisive and attempt to build cohesion. As I stated in my first post, I think book burning is wrong. But PalMD and a few other commenters would have me believe that the only way to protest is to get on a plane and stand outside the house of the man who leads the 50 parishioners. I think I can be more useful if I stay at home and continue to spread ideas such as tolerance and reason. To be radical/reactionary, Democrat/Republican, conservative/liberal, Muslim/non-Muslim in today's world seems to imply that you are an extremist who is either supremely right or horribly wrong, depending on the perspective of the viewer.

    I don't agree. Half of the country did NOT vote for Sarah Palin. Half of the country did NOT vote for Barack Obama. If I voted for Obama, I am NOT automatically a genius who "knows" that the world will be saved now that the Messiah has come and is elected President.

    And I am NOT a bigot if I did NOT vote for Obama.

    Basically, PalMD, I agree with your very well worded commentary that book burning (and by implication all hate-related actions) is heinous and wrong. I stand with you, in virtual solidarity, and condemn the action in question. But I disagree with the accusatory manner in which you and several others here attempt to lump everyone who disagrees with your point of view into some category with (again, I'll say it) TV pundits who think they know something more than their unpleasant opinions.

    Two more things: Steve Thoms - you're right. American conservatism has gone down a weird and sad path, hopefully towards oblivion. The leaders of that "side" have lost their way so drastically as to make it sad to say that I am "fiscally conservative." I don't like being labeled and yet I do it to myself as I try to explain a point of view. Inevitable I guess, yet still unfair.

    And Adam: Impressive knowledge is obvious. Thanks for the perspective. What interests me also is how far we've all come from the post-9/11 world. The current backlash against the Muslim backlash is obviously a comment by most of us hate-haters against the profiling and other anti-Muslim sentiment that began and rose after 9/11. What I find equally interesting, though, is how accepting most people become after rejecting the more conservative views of the post-9/11 sentiments. There will always be people who want to harm others. These groups will come from within other seemingly reasonable, kind, considerate and tolerant groups. Over time they will grow and fester and finally break out with their version of "right" and act out of hate.

    I continue to develop and profess my view of tolerance: ALL of us have a similar origin. Tolerance and respect for one another is the only thing that ALL of us must do, in my opinion.

    • Vicki says:

      You're not a bigot if you didn't vote for Obama.

      If you insist that he's "not your president" because he's black, or a Democrat, or from the big city, or not your kind of Christian, you're a bigot. If you spread rumors that he's Muslim and therefore somehow illegitimate, you are doing bigoted things, and in that minute you are a bigot. If the president--any president--converted to Islam, s/he would still be president. There is no constitutional right to have a president who shares your religion.

      • Paul Dorio says:

        Vicki - Nicely put. Once elected, it is our duty to support our officials, while still evaluating future situations intelligently of course. Besides, do most of us really have the experience and foresight to know whether a current President's actions are "right" or "wrong" in the big picture? Perhaps actions taken will turn out to be the greatest things ever, but will we know that until much later? I think not, though many of us think we do.

        And about the "if you insist..." part: I wholeheartedly agree and no further comment needed because any rebuttal would be obtuse and wrong. (how's that for dogmatic.)

  • PalMD says:

    Paul, step back for a sec. I take you on y0ur word that you and I agree about the heinousness of certain behaviors.

    A comment on a few of yours (yes I'm ignoring the other dude's novel above):

    But in order to be useful, in my opinion, one might wish to stop being divisive and attempt to build cohesion.

    On the internets, we call that "concern trolling". I think it's clear that I chose my words pretty carefully, so I must have meant what I said, and how I said it. The fact that you don't like my uncivil tone matters little to me, or I would have written it differently in the first place.

    But PalMD and a few other commenters would have me believe that the only way to protest is to get on a plane and stand outside the house of the man who leads the 50 parishioners. I think I can be more useful if I stay at home and continue to spread ideas such as tolerance and reason. To be radical/reactionary, Democrat/Republican, conservative/liberal, Muslim/non-Muslim in today’s world seems to imply that you are an extremist who is either supremely right or horribly wrong, depending on the perspective of the viewer.

    Straw man. I did not insist that anyone go to FL. And false equivalence. This is not a "everyone sins" kind of issues. A specific political element in this country is breeding and capitalizing on hate. It's irrelevant if someone else "seems" radical to you.

    And I am NOT a bigot if I did NOT vote for Obama.

    You do love those straw men. This is a typical tactic of the New Right, claiming to be "persecuted" for "disagreeing". The problem with the New Right and the Silent Assenters is not that they did not vote for one person or another, it's that they are actively spreading hate and suspicion, or in the case of the Silent Assenters, allowing it.

    • Paul Dorio says:

      "Concern trolling." "Straw men." "Fascism." -- While I may have gone to school for more years AFTER completing high school than all the years leading up to and including it, I wish I had had the opportunity to take more/some poly-sci and similar classes so I could stand next to you and yours. I find myself referring to the wonderful world of the internet to review/learn some of the terms you toss at me with obvious comfort.

      Anyway, it makes me wonder who these Silent Assenters and New Right people are, other than the obvious public personalities you have noted. I don't know anyone down here in Florida (where I coincidentally live, btw) who would condone book burning. I do however, know a bunch of particularly (and uncomfortably) conservative people. In my opinion, most polar viewpoints tend to come from ignorance and lack of exposure. As I pointed out to a few people the other day: when's the last time you actually met a Muslim or even a non-Haitian black person? Not very common down here in a region of 95% white people. I at least have had the opportunity to travel and live in multiple different parts of the world and country, respectively.

      And, you are right, although I didn't know the label of "concern trolling" - you are certainly free to write whatever you want. And I appreciate your thoughts. I look to interesting and intelligent viewpoints to learn something about the world, the writer and to improve myself. In my line of work you can't be sarcastic or rude or you quickly find administrators breathing down your neck. I also get sensitive very easily so I get tense when someone throws accusations out, even if they're not directed at me. As @hrana said, "he doesn't mean you and me." But, as a reader, a person may wonder, "does he mean me?" even though I know he couldn't possibly because everything I am is the opposite of the hate-mongering you railed against.

      But you are the one who made a call to action, despite your comment that mine was a straw man argument, with phrases/passages such as "explicitly denounce" and "I accuse you, all of you on the right today, and call on you today to publicly renounce the New Right and their hate-filled rhetoric. If you can’t do this, you are not an enabler of fascism—you are a fascist."

      I'm pretty sure you were telling someone somewhere to stand up and denounce the idiocy that is Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Book-burning-Person and parish, and other similar ideologues.

      Stepping back, though, and reading over your post and other comments (many times now) I agree with you and don't have any issues with it except to say that those people have the right to Free Speech just as you and I do. Nothing we can do about it except, as I said before, turn the channel (and write/say anything you want about it of course).

      And if all you were doing was putting in-your-face, thought-provoking commentary out on the net for us to read and ponder, then you've done it and done it well.

  • Dianne says:

    It irks me no end that the purveyors of hate will get to build an Arc de Triomphe from which to gloat over the site of their most notable success.

    This comment alone betrays your lack of understanding of the project and its placement in NY real estate. You can't see the WTC site from 51 Park. It's behind several largeish buildings with another being built as we "speak". The neighborhood is not even the same as the WTC, Park is in Tribeca, the WTC in FiDi. This may seem like a weird quibble to a non-New Yorker, but it's actually fairly critical in Manhattan: when a single building houses several thousand people (as my appt building does), neighborhoods are small and tend to be quite insular.

    The BCF site has been empty since long before 9/11. Since the 1990s, if long time residents of my neighborhood's memories can be trusted. It was damaged in the WTC attacks. No one else wants it and I am happy that someone is actually taking the site on since currently it's not useful to anyone except maybe the cockroaches. If you want to stop the project, by all means feel free to buy the site from the current owners and put whatever you want in there. 9/11 fetish pornography or a collection of Mohammed cartoons, for all I care. But if you're not interested in doing that, stay out of real estate deals that don't concern you.

    I've heard the accusations of connection with al Qaeda before. They all share something with your post: total lack of proof. Couldn't you at least pretend to support your accusations with a footnote or a link or two?

    I include you in with Rush Limbaugh because you've included yourself in with him by your completely non-nuanced racist rant. If you don't want to be included with him and those of his ilk, at least do the decent thing and denounce the Koran burning. Virtually everyone has done so including the church the Koran burner started in Germany. US generals have begged him not to do it because he is putting troops in danger. He said, effectively, screw the troops. Do you also want to put lives on the line for one act of snit?

  • Dianne says:

    Ok, so maybe I'm going to continue ranting a bit. Pal, sorry if this is just completely off topic. Out of towners trying to destroy my neighborhood just rile me up.

    Last Sunday, there were two protests in Tribeca. One in favor of the Park51 community center project* and one against. I talked to people in both places. The people at the anti-protest brought a (fake) missile with them to show how peaceful they were. Then they started ranting about how Obama was a Muslim and supported terrorists. I tried to talk to them but as soon as they figured out that I was against their position the nicest thing they had to call me was "terrorist". On 9/11 I was in Bellevue taking care of people injured in the attack. I stayed there after the rumor that hospitals would be targeted started (and was considered credible enough that the administration sent non-essential personnel home and told "essential" personnel that they could leave if they felt uncomfortable.) So being compared to al Qaeda by a bunch of people who stayed home and masterbated to scenes of the towers falling didn't really please me.

    In contrast, the pro-protest was very calm. I saw one young woman talk pleasantly for at least 10 minutes to a rather aggressive young man who was against the project. I don't know if she convinced him or not, but she at least showed restraint and engaged him. I can't say that any of that group looked like radical Muslims. Burkas were distinctly lacking and one of the men was wearing shorts. Probably because the group involved is Sufi, which, if I understand correctly, are the Uni Unis of the Islamic world. And punishing them for al Qaeda's deeds is a bit like demanding reparations from the Church of England for an IRA bombing.

    In short, if I hadn't been convinced already, I know whose side I'd be on after seeing the protests: that of the rational people in favor of the center, not that of the hate spewing conspiracy theorists against it.

    *Can we at least get one thing straight? It's not a mosque. There is a prayer space planned but calling a 15 story community center with a pool, classrooms, and so on a "mosque" because it has a prayer space in it is like calling a hospital a "church" because it has a chapel. I've been hoping that they build it quickly because the neighborhood could really use another pool. But then again do I want to go to-or even moreso take my daughter to-a place that's going to be a target for terrorists? And the teabaggers will eventually try to sabatoge the place violently. They're that sort of people.

  • PalMD says:

    Di, that comment is so full of win.

    • Zuska says:

      Indeed it is. Every bit of it. But this might be my favorite part:

      "...calling a 15 story community center with a pool, classrooms, and so on a “mosque” because it has a prayer space in it is like calling a hospital a “church” because it has a chapel."

      Of course, logic and accurate description have no place in, and actively work against, hate-mongering.

      • Dianne says:

        Blush. Thanks! But I should admit that the comment Zuska liked the best isn't original to me. I'm pretty sure I got the comparison from reading someone else's commentary (wish I could attribute and give proper credit but I can't remember any more where the idea came from.)

  • Donna B. says:

    Pal, why don't I get to say "they're not us"? Isn't that exactly what you're saying? And isn't that exactly what you're asking Palin, Beck, et al to do, except that you want them to use really really strong blunt words when doing it?

    BTW, Palin has spoken out against the book burnings. I only know that because I accidentally ran across a link to it yesterday. Neither you nor I have time to keep up with everything she or the others say or, especially, don't say. (I'd have to give up reading you and Orac to do that!!)

    I haven't "spoken out" against the publicity hound book burning wannabe either. It would be a shame, I think, if that were taken to mean I support him or have neglected some "duty" to demonize him.

  • PalMD says:

    No, Palin offered a bunch of self-serving bullshit:

    Book burning is antithetical to American ideals. People have a constitutional right to burn a Koran if they want to, but doing so is insensitive and an unnecessary provocation – much like building a mosque at Ground Zero.


    In this as in all things, we should remember the Golden Rule. Isn’t that what the Ground Zero mosque debate has been about?

    The only analogy between the book burning and the so-called ground zero mosque is that the New Right is behaving like a bunch of fascist, hate-filled assholes.

    • Paul Dorio says:

      Polite disagreement:

      Another analogy can be offered:

      In our great country, one can burn the American flag, although I hope all of us participating in this discussion would agree that such an act is heinous and disgusting. So, unfortunately or not, book burning (torah, quran, King James bible, etc) is allowed and protected by the basic tenets of our society. While I may joke with my wife that Free Speech is over used, I absolutely hold that freedom as one of our most dear rights.

      • Nathan Myers says:

        Burning is the standard and respectful way to dispose of a tattered flag. A book, perhaps, not so much. Our flag has become awfully tattered, of late.

        • Paul Dorio says:

          Certainly you don't equate the retiring of the American flag by burning with the images we all must have seen (right?!) of our flag being burned and stomped upon by angry masses of one sort or another. Surely that must be an oversight? Here is a link to the proper way to retire an American flag:

          -- A far cry from the latter example that I use here and that was implied by me earlier.

      • andre3 says:

        Amen, Paul Dorio. I took this post as a little overly-harsh. There is nothing inherently wrong with book burning. There is something wrong however with a government that either forces book burning, or allows the burning of some books but not others. Or, I guess in my mind, a government that bans book burning outright.

        In the end, most people dislike book burning because of the governments that it is associated with, much the same way they dislike the Chaplin mustache because of who it was associated with. There is nothing that makes either the act of burning a book, nor that rare facial hair evil in and of itself, it's the association we have with it.

        Calling people out on hypocrisy, or disagreeing with what they are doing is great. Saying that the act of burning a book is always an act of hate, is simply unfounded.

        • andre3 says:

          And it goes without saying (which is why I'm saying it now) that the books you burn must be your property. You cannot in society destroy the legal property of others.

        • MonkeyPox says:

          Yeah, in your perfect libertarian world, no one can be offended or afraid of a simple action of another.

          Grow the fuck up.

          • andre3 says:

            No, in my world, when people perform actions to scare others, the community comes together to oppose the hate and support those who are afraid.

            Maybe you should grow the fuck up and realize that we shouldn't demonize thought or actions because of associations from the past.

    • Galwayskeptic says:

      I would agree more with what PZ has to say about it:

      However, I'd like to add to that and make a point that many others have made, that the continuing media coverage being given to this idiot has played right into his hands. He has his first amendment right to be an asshole; we can't legislate against the burning of private property.

      The point has also been made that some democrats have come out and spoken against the book-burning. This is blatant hypocrisy. Barrack Obama, for all his virtues has not yet taken a clear stand against the anti 'ground zero mosque' brigade. The latter represents in my eyes true religious discrimination, and is endorsed by mainstream politicians!

      The burning of a book on the other hand is woefully ignorant, but not illegal or discriminatory.

      • Paul Dorio says:

        I was thinking about that very aspect of this discussion earlier (Obama and the "mosque"). I wonder if perhaps the politics of Obama "keeping his distance" and presumably not wanting to appear to be "catering to" Muslims could explain whether he has or has not "taken a clear stand." (Sorry but I have actually not been paying attention to the opinions/comments of the Pres on this matter)

        I'm not answering, just musing on that interesting (?) point.

  • [...] US far right has been supporting book-burnings. Here, a doctor has not just one, but two articles on the danger of such [...]

  • ginger says:

    I'm having a hard time with the idea that burning books is the same as burning flags or stomping the Host. Whether you burn one flag or fifty flags, stomp one Host or fifty, the symbolism is the same. No one burns a single copy of a book, though, because the point of the exercise isn't just expressing your loathing of the symbol itself. The intention of getting together a big pile of books and burning them is that you are eradicating the idea, erasing the publication of that information. I am against that no matter what the idea. I can't comprehend that the people who do this justify it under freedom of expression - the point of burning books is to show off one's utter contempt for the idea of freedom of expression.

    Burning a big pile of Korans, a big pile of biology textbooks, a big pile of Vogue magazines, a big pile of copies of Mein Kampf - I can't get behind it no matter what's in the book. Is that just me, failing to see the point?

    This isn't just about religious intolerance - it's also about censorship. I can't quite wrap my head around the fact that PZ, among others, isn't all over it. Maybe that's why Boehner and the gang can't quite get it together to denounce the burning - they are awfully fond of censorship.

    • Galwayskeptic says:

      @ Paul Dorio: Is this an acceptable political position to take in your mind? What that basically suggests is that he's pandering to teabaggers instead. He shouldn't be pandering to anybody. America has a constitution, and it is the president's duty, in my opinion, to uphold and protect it. A refusal to allow a mosque at ground zero, or any other place where property is available on the free market, represents to me a violation of the first amendment.

      @ Ginger: Burning a MILLION Qu'rans wouldn't erase the idea of Islam; much less a pile. You are asking us to evaluate what it says symbolically about attitudes towards Islam, while simultaneously suggesting very literal consequences. I hope these protests against book-burning represent the 'straw that breaks' Americans' patience with Islamophobes. At the moment, it seems to me to be a bandwagon, that everybody with a liberal outlook (and I would consider my own as such) has jumped on, without fully thinking through the consequences. What should the authorities do, in your opinion? Send down a S.W.A.T. team to keep him burning a book? Bullshit.

      I agree entirely that the wave of Islamophobia sweeping across America represents a dangerous and ignorant prejudice. However, I have to repeat my core argument: there is no legislation against the act and to try and forcefully stop him committing this stupid and controversial act would be a blow against -oft better used- freedom of speech.

      Our time would be better spent standing behind Muslims where they are actually being denied constitutional rights (it's not hard to find examples these days; the 'ground zero mosque' is the most salient example). Otherwise, this will continue in my mind to smack of a knee-jerk fear of fundamentalist Islamic retaliation against 'the West'; which we have to refuse to rationalise or justify, no matter how many Qu'rans are burned.

      • Paul Dorio says:

        Sorry, I got lost among Adam's "discussions," so I stopped checking back to this very interesting stream.

        Yes, the more I have thought about the whole book burning episode and the Ground Zero Muslim center, the more I realize it is purely a matter of freedom of speech and expression. In America, we do not condone censorship, though it happens. Instead, we cherish and argue to uphold our Freedom of Speech at every opportunity. Unfortunately, that also includes KKK rallies and book burnings by backwoods Florida pastors.

        The Muslim center controversy is an unfortunate by-product of what happens when many people are targeted by a few misguided individuals who happen to be of one particular religion. Thereafter, anyone of that particular religion may be profiled for similar behavior and scrutinized (by some, not all people) with suspicion.

        It is our duty to overcome suspicion and skepticism and dispel hate and bigotry. I hope that each person, of all religions and backgrounds, can somehow learn to find tolerance and appreciation for one's fellow man.

        Yes, idealistic. Not impossible.

  • Adam says:

    The term “novel” is the nicest and most literate terminology that anyone has used to call my views “a pile of s___”, ever. I offer my complements to a fellow, if antithetical, nuanced bigot. Besides, at best it is a micro-novelette. And as a matter of fact, despite the accolade, it is non-fiction. I enjoyed Tommy Pynchon but have not a trace of the man’s skills at word-craft. I omitted a blizzard of links or footnotes since I felt the followers of this site were capable of using the particular names and terms involved to construct a useful web search of their own. I do admit that the Atropos title is no longer appropriate.

    If it explodes, burns, or bleeds, it was probably financed through Saudi-Salafi money. The Salafis do not have a total monopoly. The physical attacks and murders of Christians, the rape of Christian school girls, the refusal to allow church construction or renovation, the legal harassment over personal documentation or conditions of marriage are probably local projects. These do however originate from an intolerant view of all non-muslims as some form of sub-human as taught by the Wahabi-Salafist theologians. If visitors to this blog are curious, and not totally entrained by some form of politeness or correctness, search on relevant terms to investigate the influence of Saudi oil zakat by the descendents of Muhammad Ibn Abd-al-Wahhab, and the Muslim Brotherhood children Sayyid Qutb such as HAMAS. In fact, an English translation of the charter of HAMAS is interesting although very limited if you ignore the multiple reasons that the Jews are cursed by Allah and not worthy of life and the excerpts of Czar Nicholas’s redaction of the classic work of fiction, the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Perhaps a video version would be more entertaining.

    Looking these things up is not an attack on Islam or on your Muslims neighbors. I am sure that Anwar al-Awlaki is a rare outlier among American Muslims just as Timothy McV____ was among American non-Muslims. I can not believe that any of the Muslims I have known of could even conceive of their non-Muslim friends, co-workers, or neighbors in a context comparable to the Salafi world view. My concern is over a facility financed by funds from a group hostile to the very basis of Western civilization. So as the Creationists argue, “Study the Controversy.”

    I did not include the Florida circus in my factual “novel” since I was trying to keep to a single topic. I have some sense of my limitations. The Dove WOC is a descendent (probably without any personal communication) of the Westboro Baptist Church of the Roving Abomination. The Kansans scream their filth with impunity by being exquisitely precise in their observation of the local laws. Imam Rauf has held forth frequently that US Constitutional law is consistent with Sharia law. We all know that assertion is either a lie, a hallucination, or a large New York garbage scow full to over-flowing and ripened by the summer sun (,

    I have written to the “White House” suggesting that the Dove WOC performance was a good “teaching moment” from which the President could explain that the strenuous protection provided to the believers of a faith did not extend to the material by-products of any such belief as long as the material was legally obtained. Preparing that message was a difficult trial for this factual micro-novelette-ist, since that particular branch of government only allows for 2,500 characters in a communication and seems to even count the spaces in the lines between paragraphs against the total. Under those conditions, I couldn’t even produce a decent shopping list. In truth, I didn’t expect a person President Obama) whose early life only allowed him to see the peaceful and tolerant side of Islam to be able to confront the challenge provided by the over-reaching Islamist enforcers of literal Sharia.

    I am probably not a good person to comment about these things. I worked summers through high school and college as a plumber and, as noted in my first comment, assisted my late Wife during what turned out to be a fatal disease, so I don’t get all that excited by piles of foul smelling stuff. I have learned to be pretty good at ducking. The Minister of the Dove has thus far honored the laws of the US and has avoided the obscenity of the Westboro Baptist Sewer and Garbage District, to plant the flag in Constitutional territory adversely claimed by the over-reaching enforcers of Sharia. Imam Rauf and the President have been silent about the apparent disagreement between the coverage provided by the Constitution and the coverage claimed by Sharia. I sort of enjoy the repartee. The Dove has been holding right at ¼” per foot.

    There has been concern about Islamists around the world reacting in a violent manner against Christians, Americans, or Westerners in general. I have a Sony computer running Windows XP, for which, if I had the money, I could surely prove was a violation of the Constitutional prohibition of double jeopardy. At odd moments, some Microsoft application will takeover the CPU until I use the Task Manager to kill the rogue. I always enjoy the pop-up panel that warns that interrupting an application may cause the operating system to become unstable. How would I know? It’s Windows. A number of sites keep a tally of foreign Muslim attacks on Christians, women or Kufaari (e.g. Shall we evaluate Islamist attacks on September 12 by a simple Student’s T or should we look to a move sophisticated trend analysis. I have not heard of any statements by Imam Rauf or President Obama to the international community about the legalities of burning a material object. Perhaps they see that such a statement to international Islam would be pointless. It is then relevant to ask about the appropriateness of international Islam using Wahabi-Salafi funds to build a bridgehead in Manhattan.

    The discussion of how the proposed structure is described is a public relations exercise. “The mosque serves as a place where Muslims can come together for salat (prayer) (Arabic: صلاة‎, ṣalāt) as well as a center for information, education, and dispute settlement)” ( An “Islamic Center” or a “Community Center” for Muslims is what a mosque would have been for Muslims in a non-Muslim land, just like Manhattan. The old plumber in me is intrigued by the swimming pool. What would Mohammad have thought?

    The topic still hovers around the intent of the project. Mommy and Daddy, who were of different Eastern European ethnicities, which therefore limited my early access to either of their families due to residual intolerances, stressed that I would be known by my friends (after I had answered for my personal “works”). In the common law of our British “Mother Country”, silence is consent. I read that under Sharia, the bride signals here consent to marriage by her silence, as did Safiyah. Imam Rauf has refused to condemn the attacks of Hamas on civilian targets as terrorism since he wished to “build bridges”. He has similarly been silent about the harsh treatment of women and the Kufaari by the Salafi in Saudi Arabia and their use of the oil zakat to fund terrorist acts. I do sincerely wish that the Imam Rauf has a joyful honeymoon with his new bride. I wonder if Mrs. Obama has been consulted about her new roommate.

    Perhaps if Imam Rauf still wishes to build his honeymoon bridgehead in the New World, he should select a location with natural beauty and a great view. I think Secaucus still has space available.

    • Dianne says:

      Really? I had no idea Timothy McVeigh, the IRA and the anti-abortion terrorists were funded by the Saudis. Or are they simply not terrorists in your mind simply because their financing came from other sources?

  • Epinephrine says:

    Ginger - I don't agree that it's about censorship. One can in theory burn a book to express how strongly one opposes the ideas within it without being pro-censorship.

    The burning of these books certainly isn't about censorship, it's about manipulating people. It's about stirring up hatred, giving other racists a way to show their strength of numbers, and of course to intimidate the minority. I agree that there are times in the past when book burnings have been about censorship - when they gather every copy of a book and pitch them all into the blaze. This is just cheap theatricality in the name of hatred and bigotry.

  • [...] of my posts from last spring came to  mind as I considered the kerfluffle about religious book-burning on 9/11. I have pasted it below so you don’t have to click back [...]