Pastor Terry Jones will burn 3000 copies of the Quran. A group of American Muslims will donate blood in response.
While this pacifist reaction is good, why do Muslims, who are professionals, who contribute to the economic and social life of the U.S., have to get defensive and try to "overturn the image of Muslims?
9/11 has indeed left a deep scar on the American psyche, but twelve years have passed. Iraq happened before that. The United States administration has subsequently used drones resulting in the death of civilians in places where it presumes the perpetrators of the act, or of further destruction, are hidden. The 'war on terror' has not managed to get a windfall of terrorists, but of villagers, body bags of its own soldiers, and the booty of a few leaders, from North Africa to the Middle East and the Af-Pak region. It was a Pakistani doctor who led them to Osama Bin Laden.
In none of the countries the U.S. government intervened in to bring about peace has there been peace. There is no promised democracy.
Terry Jones is a poor caricature of the real thing. He merely hits out at a religion. That his hate manages to resonate at all is a telling commentary.
Hillary Clinton had said during his first such outing:
"It's regrettable that a pastor in Gainesville, Florida with a church of no more than fifty people can make this outrageous and distressful, disgraceful plan and get, you know, the world's attention."
It should have been more than regrettable, except that freedom of expression is so huge that no one wants to mess with it, except perhaps the NSA.
The World Muslim Congress members who will donate blood are doing the right thing, but do they need to invoke Prophet Muhammad's message that to "resist evil by evil is evil"? This does sounds like a reaction to the pastor's evangelism. He stands exposed and ought not to be dignified at all. The blood drive can take place without being 'inspired' by his threat.
I understand that as citizens they would want to keep their slate clean. What they should realise is that it is clean. Americans who understand how violence works, how prejudices are formed, would not tar them. It is evident from the peace rallies and interfaith meetings. They are equal in the eyes of the law, so they have an equal stake in rights and duties. And their duties are most certainly not to be pushed into a corner by a preacher who cannot even practise his own faith with fealty, and needs a bonfire of other scriptures to assert himself.
He had declared September 11 as "International Judge Muhammed Day", and it reveals his mindset. Some Islamists get incited by his antics, proving they belong to the same family. Why are reasonable American Muslims playing into it, even if peacefully? They state:
"Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear."
In any situation, the source is questioned. Why do they not have the courage as Americans to call the bluff of Terry Jones? Is he not violent, too, in intent? The point is not a book, or Book, or however the faithful would like to term it. It is the motive. It is the need to create a frenzy. In what way is he not besmirching the name of his religion? Do we hear about Christians attempting to clear the name of their faith because of him and others like him?
For those of us who do not practise any organised form of religion, this becomes a bit difficult. If we as much as speak up against what is clearly a phobia, we will be branded with the faith. It is disturbing to watch religion even in secular societies — covertly, hence more dangerous — take over the narrative of the state. And the state is most amenable to play along to enshrine such versions of good and evil as are morally sanctioned.
As I wrote once, the world is a museum of dissonance.
© Farzana Versey
An earlier post on how predator-like a museum of objects can be: Re-exhibiting 9/11
Cartoon: Huffington Post