9/11 tributes are tricky business. The plans to build a memorial shaped like the impact crater of United 93 were scuttled because the design resembled a crescent moon, the symbol of Islam. I couldn't believe people were protesting that, but they were. I've said it before and I'll say it again -- Islam did not commit these horrible crimes, terrorists did. But as I've pointed out here recently, there seems to be a growing backlash against Islam, something that makes the post-9/11 days look like an ice cream social.
Let's turn the Sine Timore Viewfinder to Gainesville, FL. There's a pastor there named Terry Jones, who is in charge of a fifty-member church there since 2008. He plans to commemorate 9/11 with that grand ol' Christian standby, a book burning. Now, before you think like me and send him a copy of Confessions Of An Heiress by Paris Hilton (note to my "friends" who gave me that gag gift: you ever pull a number like that on me again and I'll zonk every last one of you. We've been allies for decades, you know the dark forces you are toying with), it's not a general book burning. He wants to burn copies of one specific book -- the Quran, the Muslim holy book.
I understand freedom of religion and all that. Just like people have the right to burn the flag, they have the right to burn religious representations. However, just as he is free to express himself that way, people like me are free to express themselves by calling him an asshole. This is the most fitting tribute to the dead you can think of? To troll a bunch of people who had nothing to do with 9/11? You are making war on innocent bystanders. Congratulations -- you're a terrorist.
I've mentioned before that there seems to be a real upswing in anti-Muslim sentiment. Well, for once, this has hit humanity's universal disgust switch. People from the church in Germany he founded in the 80's are saying he shouldn't. The Gainesville Fire Department refused to grant him a permit, but Jones says he'll do it anyway (whoa! What a rebel!). People from all angles including Mitt Romney (which I honestly didn't see coming) are telling Jones not to do it.
There are concerns about overkill. Some are saying that people like us protesting this guy are actually bringing more attention to him and his cause, that we should ignore him.
This is the wrong response.
This is not about bringing attention to him.
It's about bringing attention to us.
The actions of this one man are going to be used to paint Americans as intolerant racist assholes. Every voice that joins in protest is saying, "He is not one of us! We will not let him speak for us! And we will not be judged by him!" We are showing the world that his hatred is not ours, that we are a caring nation, not this bitter man fighting his own insignificance.
He will get his fifteen minutes of fame one way or another. It is up to us to do something positive with it.