Koran-burning Terry Jones represents the height of moral bankruptcy, says Tracey Barnett.
You irresponsible imbecile. Not only do you have blood on your hands, you have become a symbol of moral bankruptcy in the great American cartoon.
Congratulations, Terry Jones, you got your wish. We're paying attention now.
I don't know where your God lives, but I sure as hell wish it wasn't Florida.
For once, across the entire spectrum of political media, from newspapers to Fox News to the smallest local television stations, the United States press actually tried to ignore Terry Jones, the pastor of a tiny 50-person evangelical congregation in Gainesville, Florida, who burned the Koran in judicial robes after presiding over a mock "trial" condemning Islam last month.
As fellow Pastor Wayne Sapp lit a kerosene-drenched Koran on fire, Jones watched the holy book burn for several minutes, then remarked on a video they would later post proudly on their website, "That actually burned quite well."
In a freakish outbreak of public responsibility, the US media let it go unreported.
Not that it wasn't newsworthy. It was just that every assignment editor with half a brain knew this story crossed the line. They knew, because they had been down this road before last year when the press graciously splattered this man's rants across the nightly news - and got played.
Last September Terry Jones found his 15 minutes of fame by publicising his threats to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11. Jones went from obscurity to the worst kind of celebrity - a dangerous one.
In response to his threats, an effigy of Jones was burned on the streets of Kabul where rioting would kill one man. Three thousand protested on the streets of Jakarta.
Suddenly this unknown local church pastor was getting a personal phone call from the Secretary of Defence, Robert Gates, entreating Jones not go through with it. Even Sarah Palin condemned him.
He was Joseph Fritzl with a Florida tan, wrote Leon Dische Becker in the Daily Beast. But Jones didn't seem to care.
His very own circus had come to town. A herd of satellite-television trucks parked on the grass outside the barracks-shaped church. For the first time in his life he got a taste of a national pulpit. His congregants printed up T-shirts that said, "Islam is of the Devil". Jones got 12,000 Facebook friends and an agent.
Somehow irony proved to be kind. An imam in Orlando, Florida, took the initiative to visit Jones and suggested that the two of them visit New York to persuade Imam Fiesel not to construct a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero, reported the Daily Beast.
The gesture appealed to Jones' vanity. He could be seen to be doing something to stop the spread of Islam while having a face-saving way to back down from the death threats that were now pouring in.
Jones backed down, promising he wouldn't burn the holy books, "not now, not never".
That is, until obscurity got too quiet a year later. Two weeks ago, Jones reneged on his promise. Dressed in mock judicial robes to preside over his "trial", he took a stove lighter to showcase his hatred. This time the Western mainstream media actually chose not to play.
But hate travels fast - and in new ways. Not only did Jones post the burning footage on his website with Arabic subtitles, but a Coptic Arabic channel broke off its live stream to cover the proceedings, relaying it throughout the Middle East.
The reaction was explosive.
Twenty people have now died in riots entering their third day across Afghan cities. Seven of the deaths were United Nations staff killed when their compound was stormed in the formerly peaceful city of Mazar-i-Sharif. Four UN guards would not fire on unarmed protesters. They were beaten to death with their own rifles. Two foreigners were beheaded. In Kandahar, more than 80 were wounded.
Anger doesn't justify murder. Still, Jones sees no connection to him. "We don't feel responsible for that," Jones told Agence France. "This just shows you the dangers of radical Islam."
There is now a US$2.2 million ($2.8 million) bounty on Jones' head, issued from Pakistan.
Hatred won on both sides; fresh caskets are its prize. Another gesture, another line has been drawn, further reducing the full dimensionality of 300 million American people to a ridiculous cartoon. Next to the dead and injured, I mourn that most.
The American enemy just grew a new head - and it turns out to be a sadly ignorant man who most Americans would revile, if they ever knew his name.
Jones' son, Luke, told the Washington Post: "We're not big debaters. We're not very well educated. We're just simple people trying to do the right thing."
Joe Klein of Time magazine wrote of the preacher, "If there is a hell, he's just guaranteed himself an after-lifetime membership."
For me it's as simple as Jones' hatred; I am ashamed he is an American.
Click to view image: 'Pastor Terry Jones'
|Liveleak on Facebook|