Learning From Reverend Jones

Talk about a “teachable moment!” An unknown Florida minister with a barely-existent congregation announces that he will burn Korans on September 11, and the whole world reacts, on cue. Demonstrators in Muslim countries burn American flags; religious leaders of all denominations rush to out-do one another in condemning Rev. Jones; President Obama and Secretary of Defense Gates plead with Jones not to disrespect the Koran; General Petraeus warns that he is endangering American troops; the FBI leans on him; MSNBC invites him to appear on television and then cuts him off without allowing him to utter a word, so dangerous is his message!
Now Reverend Jones says he will not burn any Korans after all. Why should he? If this was a bit of guerrilla theater, it succeeded beyond anything he could have imagined.
Rev. Jones’s stunt prompts the question: what lessons of September 11, 2001, have we internalized? Nine years after President Bush declared Islam a religion of peace, does anyone believe it? Apparently not. Christianity really is a religion of peace, which is why Bible burnings prompt zero news coverage, let alone hysteria throughout the Executive Branch.
Nine years after the world called on moderate Muslims (of whom there are undoubtedly a great number) to reform their religion and marginalize the extremists, how well have they succeeded? How hard have they tried?
Nine years ago, the United States responded to an act of war with a determined and largely successful military campaign that decimated al Qaeda’s leadership and severely degraded its military capabilities. Does anyone believe that in 2010 we have the stomach for a similar response to renewed violence by Islamic terrorists?
Nine years after September 11, 2001, which adversary is on the march? The public reaction to Rev. Jones’s act of theater suggests the answer.

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