Last week, U.S. press agencies, usually alert to anything incendiary enough to garner media attention, virtually ignored the act of outrageous bigotry and ignorance perpetrated by Florida pastor Terry Jones and his miniscule congregation against the sacred text of a billion Muslims throughout the world by holding a trial and “convicting” the Qu’ran of heresy then “executing” it by burning. Like many papers, the Chicago Tribune devoted about a column inch to the story, which was buried deep within the paper. But several days later, the president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, decided for his own unfathomable purposes to bring the deed to prominence, igniting a predictable conflagration among highly-sensitive Muslims in his own country and Pakistan.
The outcome was an attack on the UN compound that left seven deaths. Predictably, Jones finally obtained his prize of media attention by being interviewed on national television. He failed, predictably, to express either regret or repentance, claiming that his innocent gesture was merely a pretext for Muslim violence. And so it goes. Mission accomplished.
As with the horrendous antics of members of the equally tiny Westboro Baptist church of Topeka, the combination of egregious ignorance, hate-driven intolerance, and a desperate need for attention, aided by the media that inexorably feeds the fires of sectarianism, has illuminated the fact that fundamentalist extremism is hardly confined to Islam. Terrorism takes many forms. And in the United States, the Supreme Court seems intent to guarantee that it remains a sacred and protected right.
You might wonder, What would Jesus do? Up against the hate-mongering Joneses and Phelpses of this world, he would simply be crucified. Again.