Florida Pastor Terry Jones is planning on burning a Koran this weekend. For some reason, this is the hottest news around. Even President Obama has weighed in on the controversy during an interview with George Stephanopoulos:
OBAMA: If he’s listening, I just hope he understands that what he’s proposing to do is completely contrary to our values of Americans. That this country has been built on the notions of religious freedom and religious tolerance. And as a very practical matter, as commander of chief of the Armed Forces of the United States I just want him to understand that this stunt that he is talking about pulling could greatly endanger our young men and women in uniform who are in Iraq, who are in Afghanistan. We’re already seeing protests against Americans just by the mere threat –
STEPHANOPOULOS: What more could happen?
OBAMA: –that he’s making.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What are you worried about?
OBAMA: Well, look, the … this is a recruitment bonanza for Al Qaeda. You know, you could have serious violence in places like Pakistan or Afghanistan. This could increase the recruitment of individuals who’d be willing to blow themselves up in American cities, or European cities. You know and so you know, I just hope that, he says he’s … he’s someone who s motivated by his faith.
But I wonder, which is a better recruitment tool for potential terrorists: the burning of a Koran or the following news items from the past month or so? Consider:
- Civilian death toll in Afghanistan “soared” by more than 30% since 2009
- Taliban asks for independent commission to investigate civilian deaths, insisting that they are not to blame. U.S. says they don’t want to grant Taliban legitimacy by negotiating with them, stonewalls the issue.
- 12 American soldiers on a secret “kill team” have been (allegedly) caught murdering Afghan civilians for sport. They then (allegedly) took pictures posing with the bodies, mutilated them, and kept fingers of the dead as souvenirs. They were turned in by a fellow GI, who was then beaten and told to keep his mouth shut and stop “snitching”. Originally five soldiers were arrested, now seven more have been arrested as part of the cover-up and assault on the whistleblower.
- Doctors in Fallujah, site of a major assault by U.S. forces in 2004, are complaining of a deluge of cases of serious birth defects and cancers in the wake of the U.S. military action there. Increases in cancer, leukemia, and infant mortality are greater than those reported by the survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings (which were also perpetrated by the U.S.).
- U.S. to spend $100 million on air base expansion in Afghanistan, “with construction efforts continuing into at least 2011. Oh, you didn’t think we were leaving, did you?
- Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai: private contractors [think Blackwater Xe] are engaged in terrorist activities, working with “Mafia-like” organizations, and “looting and stealing from the Afghan people.” The Department of Defense is investigating at least 9 cases of “terrorism-related acts” by our personnel or contractors.
But yeah, I’m sure the Koran thing is a big deal too. I believe that burning a Koran is an example of First-Amendment protected free speech, just as I believe that there is every right for Muslims to build a mosque cultural-center a few blocks from Ground Zero. Mr. President, given that you are the commander-in-chief of our armed forces, when can we expect some accountability and truth about our imperial adventures in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, etc…? Why is burning a Koran so much more likely to be used as a terrorist recruiting tool than all the civilians that we are killing?