Oh, there’s been a big international hue and cry about Florida Terry Jones declaring he would burn a Quran on September 11 before declaring he wouldn’t. Islamic and Christian and Buddhist leaders from around the world and government leaders from the President, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense and White House Press Secretary all the way down to visiting FBI agents on Mission:Intimidate have all insisted that the act of burning a Koran would lead to massive riots, terrorist attacks and the downfall of the universe as we know it. We need to restrict freedom, they all explained, in order to protect freedom.
Let’s fact check that claim.
Yesterday, the Westboro Baptist Church burned a Quran at noon in Kansas. The world has not erupted in flames.
On New Year’s Day 2010, a burned Quran was found in a parking lot outside a mosque in Orange County, California. No riots ensued.
Back in 2008, the Westboro Baptist Church burned a Koran on the street in Washington, DC. No terrorist attacks followed.
In 2006, Flip Benham of Operation Rescue / Operation Save America burned a Quran in a ceremony in Mississippi. No summits were required to prevent another international war.
In 2005, students at Virginia Tech did get upset when a burned Koran was left at a campus mosque. But after a while it turned out that a Muslim student had left it for the mosque to dispose after it had gotten accidentally scorched. No one was killed or even injured over the incident.
Also in 2005, a burned Quran was found outside a mosque at Indiana University in Bloomington. Students got upset, but resolved the tension through dialogue.
History shows that burnings of the Quran are nothing new. The widespread outrage over the possible burning of a Koran is new. What’s changed is the decision by religious, political and media figures to use the possibility of a burned Quran as an excuse to fire people up and to take freedom down another notch.