I hate to devote a post on a day as solemn as this to the Levi Johnston of fringe Christianity, but after three days of saturation press coverage, you deserve closure. So here’s the media’s man of the hour using the escape hatch that I and others expected he’d use: He says one of his goals all along was to remind people of how dangerous Islamic fundamentalists can be, and since that mission’s now been accomplished, there’s no need to actually light a match. As I write this, MSNBC is replaying footage from 9/11 of the World Trade Center collapsing; between that and the daily reports of troops killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan, I’m … pretty sure most people were going to get that reminder today anyway. As for the message he’s received from providence, I wonder: Will God be passing the same one along to the copycat Koran-burning preachers?
I think, wish, and hope that we’re done with this guy now, but one more note before we leave him for good. Jones didn’t expose anything about jihadism that we didn’t already know; what he did expose is how pathetic and sensationalistic the media can be (we knew that too, of course, but the sheer extent of it in this case is astounding) and how weak the government’s defense of free speech remains whenever jihadis start getting restless. Read Charles Lane’s withering indictment of Obama for more on that. How bad did it get? This bad:
According to officials familiar with the situation, the FBI visited Pastor Terry Jones several times. There is no law against what he wanted to do, they told him, but they were concerned about what might happen to HIM if he went ahead with his Koran Bonfire. They talked to him about being a potential target for violence and threats and told him the story of the Danish cartoonist and other people who have had their lives changed by making this kind of bold statement. They also told him they were concerned that civil rights violations and hate crimes might grow out of what he was planning to do and they wanted him to understand that.
Who among us hasn’t fantasized about federal agents knocking on the door to say, You don’t want to die, buddy, do you? This’ll be spun, I’m sure, as the feds merely being concerned for Jones’s welfare and wanting to make sure he wasn’t caught off-guard by the risks. But in practice they’re operating as emissaries for the same sort of scum who killed Theo Van Gogh. It’s intimidation by proxy, and the proxy is the FBI. And of course, it comes complete with a heavy-handed insinuation that if jihadis go nuts and commit, ahem, “hate crimes” over this — which they’re likely to do, notwithstanding the fact that the bonfire is off — then it’s really kinda sorta Jones’s fault, isn’t it? Repulsive.