by Kevin Ward (and I couldn't agree more...)So, Terry Jones burns a Koran in Florida. A willful,deliberate act designed to be provocative and inflame passions. But, Mr. Jones, like his buddies at Westboro Baptist lives not only in a free country, but in a nation that holds firm that his freedom is natural to his humanity as endowed by our creator. A free man may reject and ridicule those with whom he disagrees or finds disagreeable. Our Republic has effectively codified the oft cited but often ignored precept by Voltaire: "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
We have for quite a while now been libeled "Islamophobic" if we dare to point out the professed faith of those who have murdered and maimed in praise or defense of "Allah". The Fort Hood shooter yells "Allah Akbar", the gunman in Germany does the same. It is virtually ignored and of course it's never labeled terrorism. It's never pointed out in mainstream outlets that they took lives in the name of God. Denial is a bitch if you're afraid to be labeled "intolerant", or a "bigot" or an "Islamophobe". So we treat it as random violence, rather than an altogether demonic act of terror.
At this moment the numbers are all over the place, but at least twelve people have died and two beheaded in Afghanistan in a demonstration protesting Mr. Jones's Koran burning. It has been roundly condemned. What about bringing the perpetrators to justice? This is the same country we liberated where missionaries were killed just for possessing a "Holy Bible". It sure is comforting to know that one will be killed for either defacing a Koran and possessing a Bible. It need not be uttered, but to shed blood in the name of God is an act of barbarism.
The matter at hand as regarding the burning of the Koran does not rise to the attention of the President and does not for diplomatic purposes warrant an official response. Mr. Jones actions are reprehensible as an act of provocation, but is an action grounded in the deepest roots of American life and values. His actions did not necessitate a murderous rampage. But it did, or at least it was the pretext to justify murder.
I'm tired of placating thugs by ignoring their actions as a defense of faith. I'm tired of moral relativism as an excuse to coddle and appease savage theocratic ideologues. I'm tired of our most shameful chapters in history as a justification for moral relativity. As a nation we have struggled with our demons, but those spirits were confronted by a good people compelled to fight injustice in furtherance of American ideals. What made this nation great is not that we are free of sin or shame, but that we had the courage of greater convictions. Those who murder in the name of God do not identify their actions as sin or shame for they in their mind's eye are the servant of God, avenging his honor. That is the fundamental distinction between those who burn books and those who would kill innocent people in mourning the fate of printed type.
It's time that we proudly asserted our values, for those principles in our Constitution are not merely the province of Americans, but the natural human order. It is the clearest expression of human dignity and our inherent,natural rights. Free speech can be abrasive and hateful, but we don't kill for being offended. We protect it. As we should. If God gave us free will, then we are free to reject him and the faithful certainly have no fear for the future because one chooses to bite the apple.
As Americans we must reject calls to sanction or incarcerate Mr. Jones for his behavior. We must defend his right as disruptive as it is. To abandon a noble defense of our inalienable rights as an individual free man or woman sends a clear message that we may be intimidated into abandoning our most cherished principles. The United Nations has at the behest of Muslim member nations sought to pass a resolution or reach an agreement called "blasphemy laws". This is an attempt to define criticism of faith or religion as a human rights violation. It is an effort to deny our most precious right of free speech. It is an attitude that tries to kill Danish cartoonists, an effort that justifies killing Dutch film makers and driving a young American woman into hiding for suggesting "Everyone Draw Muhammad Day".
Are we failing our republican principles out of fear for losing Saudi oil that finances wahabist madrases? Are we so fearful of attack that we would rather live obediently than stand at the watchtower of democracy? Are we too timid to do as Voltaire and die defending the right to speak freely? Are we so offended by others that we fail to recognize an effort at the erosion of our natural rights?
There are many things that are antithetical to a free society and people. In a free country we reject the very notion, the concept of heresy,apostasy,blasphemy and sacrilege. In a free society nothing and no one is sacred,not even God. If he had meant anyone to avenge his name he would've given them wings. In the meantime, we must publicly reinforce our dedication to defend our core principles. The founders in the Declaration of Independence pledged their lives,their fortunes and their most sacred honor. We are obligated to perpetuate their sacrifice. It may leave a bad taste in our mouths but we must defend Terry Jones. It's the right thing to do. It's the American Way. We'll leave his final judgement on the matter to a higher authority, but we must stand guard against those who imagine they have wings and do the will of God.