I’m not sure how this cuts across the attitudes of my colleagues here. And I certainly agree that Lindsey Graham’s response is a mess.
But if you go by some of the stuff in my e-mail box, on Twitter and elsewhere around the web, there’s almost a celebration of Koran burning in some corners. I don’t think we should ban the act, but I’m not about to condone it either.
I am in total agreement with Mark about the importance of cultural confidence. But it seems to me that in our culture we can believe two things simultaneously without getting too confused.
1) Burning books — any books — is bad. Burning holy books is really bad. How bad? Well, that’s open to debate.
2) If you do decide to burn books, you are not responsible for the acts of barbarism and butchery that take place half a world away in (partial or alleged) protest of your act.
Up until very, very, recently the act of burning books symbolized precisely the sort of intolerance and closed-mindedness our culture rightly condemns or at least shuns. It would be a very weird irony if we started celebrating the burning of books as a way to prove how tolerant and open-minded we are.
Again, burning the Koran is legal and it’s not an excuse or justification for murder and barbarism. But just because Koran-burning proves that some people are barbarians, that doesn’t make it right or good.
I condemn Koran burning, not because it excites the savages, but because that is what I believe decency requires.