Home > Uncategorized > My Family And Friends Speak Volumes About Pastor Jones And The Qu’ran

My Family And Friends Speak Volumes About Pastor Jones And The Qu’ran

This past week we saw a bewildered, confused Pastor Terry Jones of an obscure Gainesville, Fla., church back down after gaining international hysteria he would lead his flock in burning the Qur’an.

Today, Sept. 12, nine years and one day after the 9/11 terrorist attack on the twin towers and Pentagon, Pastor Jones’ 15 minutes of fame mercifully is over. Time will tell whether the blowback will continue in Muslim countries.

It sure sparked a lively and thoughtful debate of divergent opinions among my family and friends in sort of an informal survey I conducted. The results are a microcosm of that heard around the nation.

But, first let’s briefly recount events of these horrid recent days sparked by Jones and at most 50 members of his Dove World Outreach Center. The Islamic holy works were to be burned on the Sept. 11 anniversary, he told the Associated Press, to “address radical Islam and send a very clear warning that they are not to retaliate in any form” ever again.

Citizen journalists in blogs, Facebook and Twitters tweaked in a feeding frenzy forcing the so-called main stream media to join the fire like sheep. It was the biggest non news event of the year.

Jones was a deer stuck in the headlights quickly drowning in publicity he may or may not sought. At first, he prayed for the proper decision. Suddenly the nation’s howitzers were aimed at him. Gen. David Petraeus said the Qu’ran burning would jeopardize the safety of his troops in Afghanistan, followed by other generals, followed by voices of caution by Secretary of State Clinton, President Obama and a personal call from Defense Secretary Robert Gates. He was visited by the FBI.

Pretty heady stuff for a man drowning in publicity now of his own making. Then he lied, shifting the cause to the proposed community center and mosque 2 1/2 blocks from Ground Zero by New York Imam Faisal Rauf.

By Saturday, Jones appeared on the Today Show, and, when pressed, said: “We will definitely not burn the Qu’ran, no.”

Of course, receiving death threats may have been a factor.

“Even though we have not burned one Qu’ran, we have gotten over 100 death threats,” Jones said. “We feel that God is telling us to stop…” Welcome to prime time, Rev.

Which brings us to my family and friends.

The efficacy of Islam since 9/11 has been challenged as an evil, self-serving religion by a group calling itself TheReligionofPeace.com which provides the nucleus for the anti-Muslim arguments in this country. It was referred to me by a friend, a health insurance broker. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of its contents. Essentially, it picks parts of the Qu’ran and other works to prove the website’s contentions. I would offer a similar dichotomy of the Bible of selected verses that would justify any kind of human behavior such as castigating homosexuality and posing eye-for-an-eye punishment. Any fool can find dirt if he digs deep enough.

Among the passages:

The Qur’an:

16:106 — Explains circumstances to compel a Muslim to lie.
3:28 — Not to take people outside the faith as friends unless it is to guard themselves.
40:28 — A man “must hide his faith” among those not true believers.
3:54 — “And they (the disbelievers) schemed, and  Allah schemed (against them) and Allah is the best of schemers.” The Arabic word for scheme is makara which means deceit.

From the Hadith:

Bukhari (49:857) — “He who makes peace between the people by inventing good information or saying good things, is not a liar.” Lying is permitted when the end justifies the means, the website writes.

From Islamic law:

“One should compare the bad consequences entailed by lying to those entailed by telling the truth, and if the consequences of telling the truth are more damaging, one is entitled to lie.”

This mistrust of Muslims runs through the conservative element of my family and friends.

From a family member in law enforcement:

What is killing me is that the liberal pukes that fought so hard to allow people to burn the America flag (especially at a soldier’s burial in protest of the war) aren’t fighting the same fight for a group of yahoos who want to exercise their 1st Amendment rights.

They are already at risk because our political leaders can’t make a good, tactical decision because they are afraid someone’s feelings may get hurt. If the Muslim world gets upset and wants to inflict punishment upon us, then bring it on.  I’m sick and tired of this group pushing their beliefs onto us to accept, while they exploit our laws and hide under religion (or inside of mosques).  This is just a ruse to further tear apart our values and the fabric of our society through media propaganda.  One thing is for sure, the media, Pastor Jones, and the Muslims are all “stuck on stupid”.

Challenged by a more liberal cousin in Arizona, the 15-year veteran in law enforcement said:

It is concerning to me that employers are being pressured to change their business practices to adjust to the Muslim customs, such as the woman who wants to wear a particular head-dressing or scarf while wearing her Disneyland uniform, or Muslim police officers who want to be allowed to have fully grown beards while in uniform to stay within their tradition, or (even worst) supervisors who fail to address poor performance issues with employees who may be Muslim for fear of official retaliation because of the prevailing politically correct climate (i.e. the Fort Hood jihad).  This is the new ‘race card’ that will be tossed at employers…   I know from the law enforcement community that terrorist cells (having the Islam nexus) are constantly testing our security and attempting to infiltrate our land to cause harm, which is rarely reported by the media.  Right now, I think one significant threat is our lack of knowledge of distinguishing appropriate religious practices from those that might indicate a potential for violence or self-radicalization.  Anyway, I concede that we need to uphold the principles or religious tolerance and democratic constitutionalism, but do so with due caution.

From a cousin who is an attorney in international law in San Diego:

As to “liberal pukes” and their hypocrisy, I think it’s a bit heavy handed.  After all, it was the ACLU that supported the Nazi Party’s right to march in Skokie many years ago….those liberal pukes.  I used to be a liberal puke but now I am so tired of it all.  I never watch TV “News”.  For the most part, media outlets on the left and right and center are generally devoid of analysis and thoughtful critique.

The only part of (his cousin’s) commentary that I find potentially troubling is the “tear apart our values” phrase.  Too often, I think this notion of “values” is code for some group’s political or social agenda.  I don’t know (his cousin) well enough to interpret the comment as such a code but for the most part when people talk about “values” the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.  I can only give you my perspective which is derived from having lived a significant part of my life outside of the U.S.  Unlike most nations, we are not defined by a concept of nationality in its most basic sense — we are not a people, a tribe, an ethnic group, etc.  We are not defined by these concepts.  The Brits, as descendants of the native tribes of the British Isles historically found it easy to hate the French, the descendants of the Gauls and the Normans who invaded their country a thousand years ago.  Mexicans define themselves as the “cosmic race” resulting from the mixing of Indian and Spanish blood.  Muslims fracture along the lines of Sunni and Sufi Islam.  The Persians and Arabs are in a heated battle for control of the region and the only thing that detracts them from their mutual animosity is their greater animosity toward the outside world…

When defending “our values” becomes a call of us vs. them, that’s when things start to fall apart.  These are concepts that emphasize differences over similarities and allow us to hide behind the disguise of exaggerated differences to dehumanize others and justify our hatred and in the worst cases, violent action against them…..those Infidels, those Krauts, those Japs, those Spics, those Gringos, those Ragheads, those Kikes…damn, they are everywhere.

For me, and this is where our nation stands apart, “our values” lie in the fact that our country is unlike almost all others in the world.  Our identity is based not on nationalism or tribalism that can set us apart from others.  Rather, it is based on ideas, on rule of law, on impartiality of institutions, on justice and on application of all of these concepts fairly and equally to all of its subjects.  This is a remarkable and unique concept….Liberty and Justice for all baby.  That means you too “Reverend” Jones or whatever your name is.  You want to burn the Koran — have at it.  You want to burn the flag — have at it.  I think it’s pretty stupid but no one said the Constitution applies only to the smart ones….it protects the dopes too.  But the brilliant thing is that the “marketplace of ideas” lets the dopes air their stupid ideas and when they do, they simply reveal themselves to be the fools or the bigots that they really are.

From a nephew, a school teacher in Northern California, who offers this voice of reason:

We allow Neo Nazis and the KKK to hold rallies, we allow picketing the funerals of gay people with signs that say, “God Hates Faggots,” and we allow people to stomp on (and burn) the American flag at the funerals of fallen soldiers. This is America, and in America, we have the freedom to express ourselves as we see fit.

But does that mean we always should? All of these actions deeply offend people, and for good reason. They offend Christians, Jews, and Muslims, they offend people of color and people of different sexual orientations, and they offend soldiers that died for this country, and their loved ones who mourn their loss. Actions like these also offend common decency.      One of the biggest problems we humans (across the globe) have is that we generalize too much. On too many occasions, people have tried to apply negative characteristics to entire groups of people, when really, it cannot be done. Imagine suggesting that all Christians were the same? With its religious right, left, and middle and numerous denominations, Christianity has a multitude of expressions across the globe. If someone were to say that Pastor Jones or (better yet) David Koresh were examples of “typical Christians”, we’d dismiss the accusation as being unfair, untrue, and ignorant. They reflect but two people’s viewpoints amongst at least a billion in Christendom.       As such, I think we have to acknowledge the same could be true of Islam. We act like we know something about the topic, but let’s face it, none of us really do. We don’t learn anything about Islam in school, and few of us … even know any Muslims. Lumping ALL Muslims into one category as though they were one united, organized front is convenient, it’s easy, but it’s pure fantasy.       In fact, what large group of people on this planet IS united and organized and ALL on the same page? Americans? White people? Latinos? Blacks? Asians? Democrats? Republicans? Gays? U.S. military personnel? The Poor? The Middle Class? The Rich? Christians? Jews? When one looks at any single group of people on this planet, you will find a multitude of opinions within those communities.        Perhaps it is time that we (the human race) grew up and held a higher vision for ourselves.

From a friend and former newspaper colleague:

For a self-promoting preacher to say “God wants us to do this” and smugly say Gen. Petraeus is wrong, is pure arrogance.  I’d go the general one better: Not only is it a danger to American troops, but it is an open invitation to extremist groups in the Muslim world to again bring the battle to our homeland, in that its message would seem to say “Americans hate Muslims and see you as our enemy,” and to say so with a highly offensive, deliberately provocative stunt.

From my brother, a senior vice president of a bank in Portland, Ore.:

I think what’s interesting is that absent the media, that’s all worked up in a lather over this madness, the American public seems pretty nonchalant.  Is it because what’s he proposed for burning?   Disbelief that these people are real?  Or, tacit agreement?… The irony of the whole affair intrigues me.  I mean, do we really want to look like such assholes in the eyes of the world?  I personally think not.

From my brother in Paris who has lived in Europe for 35 years:

But the issue for me is that there are plenty of fundamentalist crazies in the Islamic world and a few of them might try to do something violent.  There would no doubt be some demonstrations that could turn nasty.

With all of the stupid business over the Islamic center in New York and what appears to be a serious inferiority complex suffered by a sizable minority of Muslims, the pastor’s sermons and proposed burning of the Koran is not a good thing.  Freedom of religion is one thing and central to the U.S. tradition, but it seems to me that inciting riot by silly acts is not a good thing either.

And, finally, from a sister-in-law in Denver:

Our Bible study group met tonight and we all agreed that this preacher’s Christian values are askew – thank God that he has withdrawn this inflammatory act that has fueled the liberal press.

————

EPILOGUE

I think what we have here is what President Obama would call a teaching moment. Lesson One: The frenzy of media coverage on a confused flock of zealots to exercise its first amendment right was shameless. irresponsible and stupid. That became evident when Jones said he never read a passage from the Qu’ran. Lesson Two: The frenzy reopened a legitimate debate of Islam which President Bush said a week after 9/11 was a “peaceful, loving” religion. A large and growing vocal contingent of mostly conservative Americans reject that blanket assessment. I find it rather disconcerting that burning books in America at worst is violating local burning ban ordinances and polluting the environment.

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