While it is commonplace to blame the internet, the twenty-four hour news cycle, or the electronic global village of today's globe, the pastor would never have been heard of beyond the limits of Gainesville, Florida were it not for another, very simple and highly inconvenient fact.
And that fact is, Geeko?
Here it is. Get a grip on it. We are all scared to the point of blithering idiocy by fear of Muslims. To sharpen the focus a bit, we are frightened out of our wits by the probability that some individuals, using this insult to Islam as an excuse, will turn violent, start blowing themselves to Paradise while taking those in unfortunate propinquity along for the ride.
There is beyond doubt sound reason for the fear which has come as a necessary consequence of pastor Jones' intended bonfire of Korans. As the world found out a few years back, the capacity of Muslims for violent response to what most in the West see as picayune acts is profound. Whether the rumor of Korans being flushed down latrines in Gitmo or the cartoons of a Dane himself outraged by suicide bombings carried out by men shouting, "Allahu akbar," the result was mob violence around the world.
The sensibilities of Muslims to presumed offenses against their premier prophet or their sacred writings boggles most Western minds as it does the less emotionally invested within the Muslim world. The Muslim reaction to any perceived slight on the Koran is justified by the recurrent animadversion that it constitutes the literal word of the deity and must not be splotched by the stain of human action. The possibility that once the presumed words of the deity have passed through the mind and hands of man they have lost the proximate provenance of the divine and are simply one more artifact of humanity is beyond the pale of consideration for many, (most?) in the Muslim community.
Thus the burning of a Koran is an act of profound sacrilege. As such the True Believer has the duty of responding with violence, with destruction, with murder.
That simple progression well expressed in recent years throughout the world gives rise to and justification for our fear of what will happen before the flames of burning Korans have faded in the Florida sky. And, it is this which has given pastor Jones the unprecedented capacity to rivet the attention of the American president as well as his counterparts in Europe and Asia, to capture the media as if at gunpoint.
Under all the calls for Mr Jones to refrain from carrying through his threat of Koranic combustion is the unspoken, pervasive fear of the hours, days, and months to come. How many will die because some Muslim somewhere has seized upon the Jones Conflagration to maim, to kill, to destroy? For how long will the toxic smoke from the Gainesville event circle the world, inflaming how many Muslims to how many acts of murder? How many Americans will finally pay the price for Mr Jones' quest for fame?
There is no doubt but leaders of Muslim states as well as the Organization of the Islamic Conference have been in a race to outdo one another in both the vitriol of denunciation (as if the US government can intervene, but these dudes don't get that fine point being unused to any sort of restrictions on the capacity of government to suppress) and the insinuations of horrid things yet to come should the Korans be rendered into smoke and ash. Along with the leaders the mob has already gotten up and running, spewing the usual "Death to America" slogan along with promises to join the jihad.
There is a high probability that should pastor Jones proceed, there will be Muslim mobs in the streets, Muslims with suicide vests will detonate themselves, Muslims will join the jihad, the relations between Muslim majority states and the US will worsen. That is to be expected. For these negative results not to occur will require divine intervention--an unlikely proposition at best.
But, then what? The question Muslims both high and low in position never ask: What will be the consequences of our venting our legitimate rage at this blasphemy?
As recent polls have shown, the American public has been demonstrating an increasingly negative appreciation of Islam and Muslims. The argument has been advanced that this decline in positive perceptions has resulted from a combination of ignorance and the blandishments of vocal opponents of all things Muslim.
There is no denying the fact that most Americans are not well versed in Muslim history, Islamic theology and jurisprudence. There is no reason to believe that most of We the People see any need to remedy these presumed lacks. Nor is there any reason to assert that even a great increase in knowledge of the history, theology, or jurisprudence of Islam would alter the negative perception in the slightest.
The poor view of Islam and Muslims held by most Americans is the direct result of actions performed by Muslims. The suicide bombings, the violent misogyny, the waves of Muslim men chanting, "Death to...," the spewing of hatred for the values and imperatives held dear by Americans on the part of assorted Muslim clerics have combined to lower the esteem in which Americans hold the religion and its adherents. At the same time, these factors, all of which are directly and easily observed in all their full and blood toned color in all the media, have vastly increased both the fear and the loathing with which many Americans view Islam and Muslims generally.
Another factor is at work. The concept of deference has long been eroding in the West generally and the US in particular. The pace of erosion has increased with the growth of horizontal means of communication including but not limited to the internet. This means the power once held by the opinion molding elites both in the US and Western Europe no longer exists to the degree it did even twenty years ago.
It no longer matters what presidents, or high officials, or church leaders, or pundits might contend. The old elite no longer can pronounce and expect the hoi polloi to tug their forelocks in obedience. The elites have been chorusing the need for "tolerance" and "interfaith respect" while the Legions of the Great Unwashed have observed that when it comes to Islam and Muslims the avenues marked "tolerance" or "respect" are one-way streets.
There is a profound and evident dissonance between what can be directly observed about Islam and Muslims on the one hand, their demands for special treatment as well as their reflexive resort to violence in response to irritants, and the bland statements from the "Betters," the "Older and Wiser," the self-appointed custodians of what is right and wrong, permitted and impermissible on the other.
The takeaway for Muslims is simple. Insofar as there are violent, murderous reactions to the admittedly very ill-advised Koran burning, the American public will show a further downward trend in its collective view of Islam and Muslims. This will have an impact on the policies of the US in both foreign and domestic affairs.
The US Marines have a motto of recent vintage, "No better friend; no worse enemy." The same motto can apply with utter accuracy to We the People. It would behoove any Muslim, here or abroad, to consider that his actions can have consequences.
Muslims do not have any patent on the right to be insulted.