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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.

By Alexandra Petri  | September 9, 2010; 4:15 PM ET
Categories:  Petri  | Tags:  Alexandra Petri  
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Well, we won't have the Koran burning, although we seem to already have islamic rioters protesting its having happened.

There is this particular thing hanging out there that nobody wants to look at.

Everybody in the West, from the Pope through the President and his cabinet, and leaders of both parties, and religious leaders, and just plain everyone EXCEPT the Rev Jones was loudly against it.

So every Muslim commentator decided that Jones' threatened act of disrespect was the concerted work of the entire West to oppress Islam.

Did even ONE leader in the Islamic world tell his followers that the rev Jones was just one loopy individual, and quite obviously didn't speak for America, or Christianity, or any other group outside his very restricted church?

WE in the West must remember that al Quaeda, and al Shabob, and Jamal Islamia, and every other terrorist organization using Islamic values as its organizing principle don't represent ALL of Islam, even though there is no consistent voice WITHIN Islam making that claim. But no where in Islam does anyone make the demand of their followers to give the West the same consideration.

So I guess that respect is a one way street. Islam gets to demand it, but is under no obligation to respond with any particular respect for anything NOT of Islam.

Jones should have gone ahead and burned that consignment of unsellable Korans.

Posted by: ceflynline | September 9, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

What I wish is that the pastor would conduct the Koran burning but would burn only those chapters / suras that advocate violence. I wish he would read each of those suras outloud and then symbolically drop a copy in the fire. Then I wish he would present the local imam with a copy of the new version of the Koran, revised for the 21st century.

Heck, maybe I'll do it.

Posted by: RedderThanEver | September 9, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

RedderThanEver: Will you also then do the same things with the parts of the Bible that have been used to advocate violence?
If a man still prophesies, his parents, father and mother, shall say to him, "You shall not live, because you have spoken a lie in the name of the Lord." When he prophesies, his parents, father and mother, shall thrust him through.

ceflynline: What's your point? That doing the right thing is only good when all sides hold up their ends of the bargain? I'm pretty sure that some definition of morality somewhere mentions something about doing the right thing even when you perceive others not doing the right thing.

Posted by: schwemm | September 9, 2010 8:52 PM | Report abuse


My point is that I have finally run out of cheeks. I am willing to let ANY religion have its own principles, whether it is women as property, as in Islam and in the LDS, or burning the books of religions you don't like.

Now if the books were taken from a Mosque and burned the theft and vandalism are reprehensible, but since the Rev had paid for the books, they are his to do with as he chooses.

My point, though, is that I think I intend to demand of Islam the same respect they demand of me. Respect is always a two way transaction, and I have kept my end of the bargain and discovered that Islam NEVER keeps its end for much longer than I feel proper.

Right now a woman awaits stoning in Iran, having only Ramadan standing between her and being buried alive and killed by lots of trauma. The entire Western World, the same people who protested Rev Jones, protests this.

Islam is at best indifferent and in fact totally unmoved by OUR values, which are not of any particular value to Islam.

Where is there any Islamic demonstration of respect for OUR values?

No where.

When Islam learns to show respect for the rest of the world I may reconsider my total loss of respect for Islam, but I won't bother to hold my breath.

Islam gets as much respect from me as I get from Islam.

Posted by: ceflynline | September 9, 2010 9:30 PM | Report abuse

"Islam gets as much respect from me as I get from Islam."

I have used those very words myself. As a woman, I grant Islam as much respect as it grants me...which is none.

schwemm -- This country is not at war with Christianity (at least, those of us who aren't liberals or Leftists aren't at war with it), and Christianity is not at war with us, including liberals and Leftists. This discussion, and this article, is specifically about a proposed Koran burning, for which I offered a reasonable alternative. When Christians begin wrecking as much havoc on the West in the way of bombings and other forms of mass murder, then I very well may suggest a Bible burning. But in case you haven't noticed, Christianity has done a pretty good job of reforming itself...and I say this as a non-Christian.

I repeat what I've said numerous times in posts to articles on this website: Islam is not a religion but instead is a religio-political system and international men's club -- a Muslim good ol' boys club, if you will. It is completely at odds with everything we value in the West. It holds as one of its central tenets that infidels must convert, become Dhimmis (second-class citizens subject to subjugations and special taxes), or die. Woman are treated worse than chattel and viewed as the cause of otherwise "good" Muslim men succumbing to sin (and thus must bear the burden of covering themselves, to hide their sinful natures and allow men to be good). It is anti-science, anti-art, anti-free thought, prescribing Muslims' every move and requiring prayer five times a day. It is bent on world domination, through a combination of warfare and conquering, colonization, and higher birthrates. Islam is mass delusion, stuck in the 7th century. Why should I, a 21st century scientist and product of Western Enlightenment, have to show respect to such backwardness? What does Islam offer our country that we need to invite it in and make it comfortable here?

Islam needs to go.

Posted by: RedderThanEver | September 9, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

And one more thought, schwemm or any other lib who happens to read this: In my opinion, liberals are at war with human nature...or at least, human nature of most of the enlightened Western world. It is human nature to have contempt for willful ignorance coupled with arrogance, which is what I and millions of others see when we see Muslims strutting around. They have contributed exactly zero to civilization for over 1000 years and yet they act like they're the greatest creatures on earth. I challenge any of you to read some of the website. Read how they earnestly implore their Imams as to how they should scratch themselves in a way that is "halal" rather than "haram." And speaking of which -- "haram" means unholy, which is ironic, given that the term "harem" is derived from it. That is only further evidence of their utter hypocrisy, in that they believe they can kick up their heels and do whatever they like in a non-Muslim country since we're all a bunch of infidels.

No, I am contemptuous of Islam as I am of most dogmatic religious types. But I save special contempt for Islam because of its violence. There is no such thing as "moderate" Islam, just as there is no such thing as slightly wet water. Islam needs to go.

Posted by: RedderThanEver | September 9, 2010 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Every Muslim has its own first Koran for the rest of his or hers life and they always keep it at the highest place in their home. So whatever this fanatic Christian pastor is burning, it belongs to him because he bought it, he paid for it and he did not take it from anybody. In fact if he burns Koran that actualy belongs to somebody who is Muslim, the pastor would be better off shooting himself right would be less painfull for him and we could burry him with his head and torso together.

Posted by: BOBSTERII | September 10, 2010 12:00 AM | Report abuse

thoughts on extremism around the world:

Posted by: critta10 | September 10, 2010 12:07 AM | Report abuse

Thank you for the musical recommendation, Ms. Petri, and the insightful commentary, especially the "objections" humor. Indeed, the fascination with flightful information adds to our sense of dred and confusion, as we long for stable indicators. Even the weather seems out of sync, though we still get sunrise everyday. We yearn for something more reliable (and understandable!) than nature, and so we build our monuments to establish meaning, remedy, and reminder. This controversy has cast a light through my brain to fall upon a particular shadow. The inspiration follows...

To truly portray the tragedy of the world Trade Center, the carvings of each victims name should be followed by carvings indicating, after proper determination, the ethnicity and religion of each victim, in consultation with the surviving relatives, American Blacks being indicated as being either African-American also naming the state of birth, or, as the American ethnic name of choice (not color-based) chosen by relatives of the victim. This will display properly, that the humanity affected by the effects of the tragic inhumanity, covers the spectrum of humanity, and also will convey that none are barred from the lessons taught, and to be learned, of equality, at their feet. The list should include the names of those victims lost at the other sites, as well.

Posted by: JulianPembrokeSteptoeForTragedys_End | September 10, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

There are laws in the Sharia that oppose the constitution of which this country is made. Islamic countries with Sharia do not guarantee freedom of speech, freedom of religion, do not even outlaw slavery or respect the equality of women. Will Muslims in America publicly renounce Sharia? Will they denounce the verses of the Quran and Hadith that incite violence against non-Muslims? NO THEY WILL NOT! They recite them every day in their prayers.

Quran 9:5: Then when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the tax, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

Yes, so merciful. There are many more examples online, check mohammedan. org this is more than a "religion" it is something cruel and dangerous.

Posted by: Resist_Sharia_law_it_opposes_human_rights | September 11, 2010 12:12 AM | Report abuse

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