JONATHAN CHAIT SEPTEMBER 8, 2010
[Guest Post by Isaac Chotiner]
Considering the ever-increasing amount of anti-Muslim paranoia and bigotry, it is essential that opponents of such sinister nonsense focus on actual examples of discrimination and violence. Alas, the brouhaha over the Koran burning seems to have obscured existing problems in American society. Of course burning Korans is damaging and hateful, and of course it is worth condemning the idiots who are threatening to do so. Then there is this, from Associate professor Muqtedar Khan, in The Washington Post:
The act will scorch Muslim hearts everywhere. The searing pain will never be forgotten.
Really? The pain of Koran burnings will never be forgotten? If this self-pity weren't silly enough, Khan goes on to say:
I would rather burn in fire myself, than watch a Quran burn. I am amazed at how millions of Americans who are decent and honorable can watch this happen.
The reactionary note gets louder when Khan adds:
No matter how ugly the act the Constitution permits this, is not an acceptable excuse. The Constitution does not permit this. The Constitution forbids cruel and unusual punishment. For Muslims this is worse than torture.
Khan should speak for himself and not pretend to know what other Muslims (including other Muslims who have, over the past decade, actually been tortured) are feeling. Burning Korans is insanely dumb and offensive, but being offended is part of living in a free society. If thirty dolts can really inflame people enough that American soldiers will be put at risk, then the blame still lies with the people actually committing acts of violence. The reaction of Khan and others to this potential incident only exacerbates a disconcerting and depressing moment in American life.