Palin, Romney denounce Koran-burning

Glenn Beck’s against it too, of course. The grand irony of this crank pastor’s publicity stunt is that he’s trying to force the public to confront a difficult issue — when, if ever, is it appropriate to offend Muslims? — but doing it in such a grotesque, notoriously fascist manner that he’s guaranteed a united front against him among pols and pundits. Denouncing a book-burning is as easy a litmus test for decency as it gets in American politics. So here’s Mitt, for the record:

“Burning the Quran is wrong on every level,” the former Massachusetts governor said in a statement to POLITICO. “It puts troops in danger, and it violates a founding principle of our republic.”…

While Romney was critical of the idea, he did not line up with those who have suggested that Jones should not be permitted to carry out his plan.

And here’s Palin:

Book burning is antithetical to American ideals. People have a constitutional right to burn a Koran if they want to, but doing so is insensitive and an unnecessary provocation – much like building a mosque at Ground Zero.

I would hope that Pastor Terry Jones and his supporters will consider the ramifications of their planned book-burning event. It will feed the fire of caustic rhetoric and appear as nothing more than mean-spirited religious intolerance. Don’t feed that fire. If your ultimate point is to prove that the Christian teachings of mercy, justice, freedom, and equality provide the foundation on which our country stands, then your tactic to prove this point is totally counter-productive.

Our nation was founded in part by those fleeing religious persecution. Freedom of religion is integral to our charters of liberty. We don’t need to agree with each other on theological matters, but tolerating each other without unnecessarily provoking strife is how we ensure a civil society. In this as in all things, we should remember the Golden Rule. Isn’t that what the Ground Zero mosque debate has been about?

I have quibbles with both of them about the particulars, albeit not their overall conclusion. Romney’s using the same line as Petraeus in trying to make this about the troops; I explained yesterday why that’s problematic. Palin’s response is better, but while I agree with her basic point about the Ground Zero mosque — just because you have the right to do something doesn’t mean you should — I think that’s a tougher case than this. Like Tom Maguire says, it’s at least possible that Feisal Rauf and his colleagues mean well. I’m skeptical given the questions raised by Hitchens and others about things Rauf has said about, say, the Iranian form of government, and I don’t understand why, if he’s interested in building dialogue, he’d proceed with a project that’s alienated many more people than it’s attracted. But this passage from his op-ed in today’s Times is vastly more encouraging than a book-burning, needless to say:

From the political conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians to the building of a community center in Lower Manhattan, Muslims and members of all faiths must work together if we are ever going to succeed in fostering understanding and peace.

At Cordoba House, we envision shared space for community activities, like a swimming pool, classrooms and a play space for children. There will be separate prayer spaces for Muslims, Christians, Jews and men and women of other faiths. The center will also include a multifaith memorial dedicated to victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.

I am very sensitive to the feelings of the families of victims of 9/11, as are my fellow leaders of many faiths. We will accordingly seek the support of those families, and the support of our vibrant neighborhood, as we consider the ultimate plans for the community center. Our objective has always been to make this a center for unification and healing.

Says Maguire, “The [Koran-burning] pastor surely has the right to deliver a wholly negative message, but he is not trying to change minds and I would not compare that to the mixed message of the Ground Zero mosque.” In fact, some American Muslims also oppose the GZM in the interest of reducing cultural tensions. Some are canceling Eid celebrations this year because they happen to fall this week. (“Particularly, people are taking care not to do any celebrations on the day of 9/11, because it is a day of tragedy and we have to be sensitive. That’s the mood of the Muslims, generally very subdued.”) Others, like Asra Nomani, are using the Koran-burning to encourage introspection among Muslims about the Koran’s more vicious passages and possible paths to reform. Thoughtful, good-faith gestures like that go a long way, which is what I meant last night when I said I hate to think of the Zuhdi Jassers out there having their feelings hurt by this crank’s publicity stunt. You run that risk too with things like “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day,” of course, but I trust in the context there — a series of violent threats against blasphemers — to clarify who the real target is. It’s harder to tell who the target is in this case, and deliberately so per the historical baggage associated with book-burning. I hope this tool’s enjoying his 15 minutes.

Update: To the great surprise of no one, apparently this guy and Fred Phelps have collaborated before.

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David Strom 6:01 PM on March 29, 2023