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Petraeus Remark on Florida Church Religious Activity Sends a Message

The International Security Assistance Force commander released comments today by David Petraeus, speaking in his capacity as a U.S. General and head of ISAF in Afghanistan. Asked a question about the plans of a church in Florida to burn a Quran in a few days, Petraeus responded with the following:

It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort in Afghanistan. It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems. Not just here, but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community.”

“I am very concerned by the potential repercussions of the possible Koran burning. Even the rumor that it might take place has sparked demonstrations such as the one that took place in Kabul yesterday. Were the actual burning to take place, the safety of our soldiers and civilians would be put in jeopardy and accomplishment of the mission would be made more difficult.”

“Images of the burning of a Koran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan — and around the world — to inflame public opinion and incite violence. Such images could, in fact, be used as were the photos from Abu Gharyb. And this would, again, put our troopers and civilian in jeopardy and undermine our efforts to accomplish the critical mission here in Afghanistan.”

Petraeus’ remark, made on the job in his position as a General, certainly sends a message. Here’s the message I get: apparently, an American military leader thinks it’s his job to tell Americans what they should and shouldn’t say.

I don’t have quite as loud a megaphone as David Petraeus, but I have a message for him nonetheless:

You weren’t speaking as a private citizen. You were speaking as a General. It’s not the job of the military to regulate Americans’ speech. Butt out.

8 thoughts on “Petraeus Remark on Florida Church Religious Activity Sends a Message”

  1. Mark says:

    I disagree with you. General Petraeus was addressing a situation that he, as a military leader, believes will endanger his troops in the field. I think that it was completely within his role to speak out in this situation because he has identified a potential threat to his troops and has taken action to ameliorate this threat.

    1. Jim says:

      Mark, just trying to understand where you’re coming from here: are you saying that if the military considers an act of free speech by an American to be a threat, it should take action to ameliorate that threat?

  2. Horatio says:

    It’s a military threat to ever offend anyone who’s pissy? Give me a break!

  3. Mark says:

    We’ve been fighting wars in the Middle East for years now and during that time we’ve been trying to assure the population that this is not a religious war. We keep telling them that we are fighting against an extreme group of individuals who distort the Koran and the Muslim faith to their own ends. We have been trying to win their hearts and minds by showing them that we are tolerant of and accept their religion.

    And then all this shit happens to Muslims in America. It sure appears that it’s becoming a holy war of Christians vs. Muslims. All the efforts our military has been making to keep religion out of our war efforts is being derailed because of a small group of Christian religious fundamentalists who really do want to make this into a religious war. General Petraeus never said that these individuals do not have the right to say whatever they want to. He just advised that their inflammatory rhetoric may hurt the military’s cause in other parts of the world, and that they should think more about the ramifications of their words before speaking (or taking other actions).

    We’ve already seen demonstrations against America because of the news reports of what’s happening in America. I have no doubt that the Taliban will be able to use all of this to increase their recruitment against America. We’re just proving that they have been right all along and that we really are fighting to destroy Islam.

    It’s pretty ironic that many of the voices we here from the religious right say that American Muslims should show a little respect to the memory of the September 11 attacks by not building their religious center so close to Ground Zero in NYC, but now they are showing even less respect to Muslims by attacking Mosques and burning Korans.

    1. Horatio says:

      I agree, Mark, and the use of anti-Muslim bigotry as a political organizing tool for the Republican / Tea Party candidates shows that withdrawal from these pointless wars is long overdue.

      1. Mark says:

        The sooner we withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan the better!

  4. SNIPE says:

    Mark some people just don’t get it don’t waste your time because of citizens such as yourself I am proud to serve in the US Navy and be an American. It is disquieting to see fellow Americans so ignorant narrow-minded they need to get a reality check try living in a different country and truly recognize the freedoms we have and never take for granted that freedom is never free it is paid for by the blood of thousands sacrificing their lives JUST SO THEY CAN SPEAK THEIR PETTY MINDS WHILE SITTING ON THEIR COLLECTIVE DUMB-ASSES trashing the very government and military protecting their liberties tragic and ironic but it is encouraging to see there are true Americans regardless of religious ethnic affiliations who want freedom liberty and pursuit of happiness and recognize and appreciate the costs each sailor airmen marine soldier and their loved ones sacrifice to keep freedom.

    Grateful US NAVY Sailor

    1. Jim says:

      All right, SNIPE, you’re saying two things. One of those things is repeated versions of “so many people don’t understand the sacrifices and big costs paid by members of the military.”

      Take that away and you have the second part: “it is disquieting to see fellow Americans so ignorant narrow-minded they need to get a reality check try living in a different country and truly recognize the freedoms we have.” That and “PETTY” and “DUMB-ASSES.”

      But it was the General, David Petraeus, who was suggesting that a Florida pastor not exercise his American freedoms. If freedom’s your thing, what point are you trying to make regarding the policy issue of whether that American should exercise freedom?

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