If a Koran burning falls in a forest...
Today, I'm writing about Willow Smith's new single. Not because I want to. It's for America.
Have you heard "Whip My Hair?" Go listen to it! It's great! This isn't nepotism! Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith are fabulous, and I endorse their offspring!
Remember that schoolyard advice your parents gave you when there were bullies? "Ignore them. They'll go away." Or about scabs? "Don't pick at it. That's what the scab wants." Or about radical ministers who insisted they were going to burn the Koran on 9/11? "Just walk away."
That's what I'm doing.
Of course, we can breathe easy now. We know that Koran-burning thing isn't happening. The pastor has backed down. But we're left with the question: What if we'd followed that schoolyard advice?
Sure, the AP and FOX News said today that they wouldn't cover the Koran burning if it did happen. This raises the question: If a tree falls in the middle of the forest, and the tree already has had more publicity than some combination of God and Lady Gaga, does it still offend millions of people?
I'm going to go out on a limb and say, "Probably."
It was too late for the media to take the high road. The problem with today's media is that there are doers, and then there are bloggers. For every doer, there are about eight or ten bloggers who follow him or her around strategically constructing mountains out of the dunghills he or she leaves behind. Pastor Terry Jones in Florida left a huge dunghill, and we all went wild. "Religious intolerance on a controversial day!" we shouted. "We can draw so many connections! We're going to treat these objections like wards of the state and raise them!"
Sure, people said a lot of insightful things and raised larger points, and thickets of index fingers flew in every direction. Perhaps we were moderately enlightened. But perhaps not.
At a certain point, things cease being talked about because they are newsworthy and start being newsworthy because they are talked about. The Koran burning definitely crossed that line. Some might argue that a small, private act of hatred still has international ramifications. But maybe if we stopped fanning the flames of hatred with a lot of hot air, it would help. Maybe.
In the meantime, go listen to "Whip My Hair." Seriously! It's a wonderful song.
| September 9, 2010; 4:15 PM ET
Categories: Petri | Tags: Alexandra Petri
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