Having been instructed to never be a spectator to unfairness or stupidity, I feel compelled to comment on the tragic levels of stupidity to which human beings can stoop. How else can one describe the murder of innocents, the launching of protests, and the coddling of fanatics by world leaders, all over a simple-minded act of childish defiance by an otherwise forgettable small town pastor? If this is not stupidity in its highest form on display for all to see, then I don’t know how to recognize idiocy when I see it.
Afghan Muslims, in a trumped-up fit of outrage over the burning of a Qur’an half a world away, have engaged in days of protests, setting fire to buildings and cars, blowing each other up and murdering UN workers and their fellow Afghans. These fanatics were not even aware of the burning of this one book until Afghan President Karzai decided to publicly condemn it. What motivated him to do this, knowing what would likely occur, is not clear, but someone in his position should have more foresight and better judgment.
The protests have grown in size and it is unclear if it’s just mob mentality at this point, or, if as the New York Times is reporting, local mullahs are inciting people to act. A blogger at UNDispatch.com has written that local religious clerics called upon the citizenry to protest and someone fed the crowd a tale of hundreds of Qur’an being burned in the USA.
To compound the tragic stupidity, government officials, likely with the best of intentions, are only making matters worse by giving this non-story some semblance of importance. Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) suggested free speech should be limited, the White House condemned the “burning of a holy text” going so far as to call it un-American. The president of the bishops’ conference of Pakistan said that the US must act to prevent actions by extremists and other fundamentalist Christians! At least President Obama added what would appear to be the fairly obvious statement that the attacking and killing of innocents in response to a book burning is “outrageous and an affront to human decency and dignity.”
Book burnings have a long and sordid history, with the most damaging cases typically involving either irreplaceable texts or an act of suppression by authorities, some religious, some not. This case is neither. This is nothing more than a publicity stunt in a minuscule congregation of fools who held a mock trial and found a book guilty. I won’t dignify the moronic head of this unimportant group of publicity hounds by including his name or the name of his so-called church.
The resolution of this must come from the Karzai government, cracking down on what this really is, which is criminal activity. Arrests must be made, crowds broken up and religious leaders called to task for allowing this to continue, and if any of them can be shown to have incited these riots, brought to justice for their crimes as well.
When will the religious hierarchy grow up and tell their flocks (and how apropos that moniker is) that behavior of this manner is an insult to everything that is moral, everything that is humane? At what point will humanity mature enough to understand how ludicrous this fanaticism is? Texts written by anonymous authors thousands of years ago in an age of darkness and ignorance are still driving people to what can only be called madness. When will government leaders stop giving credence to these assembled bits of parchment by calling them holy? When will we outgrow these superstitious fables of humanity’s youth and begin the process of healing our wounds and our psyche? I have no answer, but I have a hunch and it’s a depressing one.