Columbia, MO by David Rosman September 9, 2010
Dear President Obama, Senators McCaskill and Bond, and Representative Luetkemeyer:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;”
The proposed burning of Qur’ans by Pastor Terry Jones and his Dove World Outreach Center (an ironic name for a church with such anger) brings two “rights” into conflict. The foremost is the freedom of speech, championed by the likes of Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York in defending Terry Jones’ right to burn the holy book of the Islamic faith as protecting that freedom. Bloomberg’s personal conflict by also supporting Park51 Center would cause the normal man ulcers.
The other is the “Establishment” and “Prohibition” clauses, honoring all religions while protecting the American citizen from a state sponsored religion.
However, these rights come some restrictions. Here, the Freedom of Speech, the right to express personal opinion without fear of government reprisal, is the primary issue. One of the restrictions includes the threat to national security. This is the exception for which Army intelligence analyst Pfc. Bradley Manning is being court-marshaled and Wikileaks to be on the hot seat for publishing 77,000 classified documents. In World War II, it was simplified to “Loose Lips Sink Ships.” Endangering the lives of others, putting the nation in threat, the releasing of classified documents, language inciting violence are all prohibited.
General David Petraeus did not mince words when he said that the proposed actions by Jones and his following would “endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort (in Afghanistan). It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems. Not just here, but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community.”
With the exception of the “lunatic fringe,” Americans are condemning the proposed action as one. But words alone are not enough. With two days left before this defamation and destruction of one of the world’s great holy books, why haven’t the American people taken action? Why has no anyone sought to formally stop this “burning at the cross” through the court system, demand a court injunction to stop the burning. Threaten Jones and his followers with arrest for endangering American lives here and abroad?
As an American, the protection of the freedoms of religion and speech are paramount issues of my personal morals. However, when the abuse of those freedoms threaten human life, life wins every time.
Can you imagine how angry you would be if the Torah or the Christian Bible were to be burnt as a matter of protest in any other country, Muslim or not? Do you think Mayor Bloomberg would support the burning of the Torah or Christian Bible? Would you be angry enough to take to war?
Now you understand how every Muslim, even moderate Muslims who support the efforts of ridding the world of the radical and violent element of their beliefs, will feel on Sunday morning.
Show the world that America means what it says, that our values of religious freedom and free speech are tempered by our concern for the wellbeing of all humans, regardless of religion, skin color, nationality, ethnicity, language or any other barrier we can erect.
Ladies and gentlemen: By every means possible, stop of the Qur’an burning by Terry Jones and his congregation. Stop it now before the war against terrorism becomes a religious war and all lose!
Post Script – After this was posted, Terry Jones announced that his publicity stunt was being cancelled. He claimed that the reason for the proposed burning focused on the Park51 complex in lower downtown Manhattan. This is far from what he told his congregation of 50 or the foreign press over the last months. Jones now believes that his little venture will cause Park51 to move locations, as it is a “sign from God.” I do not think God would forsake one of His three faiths.
Regardless of Jones’ reasoning, he has put the United States and our citizen in graver danger at home and around the planet. His disregard for humanity and American virtue is beyond description. It is my belief that Mr. Jones’s action posed a breach of national security and will continue to seek efforts for his arrest accordingly.
David Rosman is an award winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in Communications, Ethics, Business and Politics. David is also an ordained minister. You can read more of David’s commentaries at ColumbiaMissourian.com and New York Journal of Books.com.