It’s a brilliant and highly readable essay. I especially enjoyed these bits
After dominating world headlines last September with the proposed stunt—which surfed off the protests surrounding the Park51 Islamic center two blocks from ground zero on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks—Jones had promised, “We will definitely not burn the Koran… Not today, not ever.” But carnival-barker hate-mongers love attention, and Terry Jones reversed his pledge when he started to feel like maybe the world wasn’t hanging on every pronouncement that emanated from his ironically named “Dove World Outreach” church. And so, on March 20, he held a mock trial for the Koran in front of 30 parishioners.
It is a high-cost stunt. And the fact that it stands at the awkward intersection of constitutionally protected free speech and demagogic book-burning shouldn’t distract us from the real-world impact of Terry Jones’ ignorance. Sure, it’s worth reminding people that Jones could have burned a Bible on his grounds and no one would have been murdered in retaliation. But condemning him is not the same thing as caving to the threats of Sharia law.
Now Terry Jones is shedding crocodile tears, saying he is “devastated” by the violence, but it was entirely predictable. At the time of the book-burning, he also played sober and solemn, saying: “It is not that we burn the Koran with some type of vindictive motive… We do not even burn it with great pleasure or any pleasure at all. We burn it because we feel a deep obligation to stay with the court system of America. The court system of America does not allow convicted criminals to go free. And that is why we feel obligated to do this.” This bit of self-delusion deserves extra scrutiny because it captures a strain of extremism we’ve been increasingly seeing: radical action as a reluctant obligation, an expression of fidelity to deeper principles.
There’s more. I would only add, Terry Jones is no Christian and his Church is no Church. He is simply the Fred Phelps of Florida, and nothing more. He deserves the disdain he receives for the same reason that Phelps does: because both are deceivers and liars and misrepresenters of the truth.