I oppose the Qur'an-burning. I don't like the burning of books. I'd rather that the contents of the Qur'an, and the ways that jihadists use those contents to justify violence, be known. However, these people are free to do what they want to do. Petraeus would do better to tell the Afghans that in America we have freedom of speech and expression, and that we put up with speech and expression that we dislike without trying to kill the speaker. He would do better to tell them that their likely murderous rage over this event is an outrageous overreaction, and that any bloodshed over this would be a heinous crime, far dwarfing any crime they think the people in Florida are committing.
The idea that in wartime one should be careful not to do anything that the enemy is likely to respond to with irrational and even murderous anger may seem tactically wise at first glance, but ultimately it is a recipe for surrender. One is already accepting the enemy's worldview and perspective, and working to accommodate it, instead of working on various fronts, not just the military one, to show why it is wrong and should be opposed.
Of course, to that Petraeus and his ilk would respond, Well, we are not at war with Islam or the Qur'an, and so to burn the book is a needless provocation. This ignores, however, the war that the Organization of the Islamic Conference and other Muslim groups are waging today against the freedom of expression -- and ignores also the ways in which Islamic jihadists use the Qur'an to justify violence and make recruits. Without approving of the burning, Petraeus should be defending the Florida church's right to do as they please, and using it as a teaching moment in Afghanistan to say, We are going to defend our vision of society, no matter what you bring against us.
Tuesday, September 07, 2010