Last fall, extremist mustache enthusiast Pastor Terry Jones, who really put the idiot into ideologue, did his best to stir up national attention and controversy on the heels of the "Ground Zero Mosque" debate by threatening to burn the Koran. After he placed his tail between his legs, lost the majority of his congregation, and collected a free car, we thought we'd heard the last of this silly, pretty pathetic human being. But he just couldn't let go of the media spotlight, and after a dormant period, he finally burned a copy of the Koran. And now, several UN workers are dead as a result.
Afghans who said they were angry over Jones burning the Koran stormed a UN compound in northern Afghanistan yesterday, killing 12 people, including seven foreigners. Protesters burned a US flag at a sports stadium in Herat and chanted "Death to the US!" and "They broke the heart of Islam!", echoing Jones' incredibly dumb mock trial of the Koran a few days ago. In the end, more than 20 civilians and insurgents were arrested after the melee. Today, violent protests continued, and nine protesters were killed in Kandahar where hundreds marched holding copies of the Koran. Some of the victims over the last two days were reportedly beheaded.
But just because the furious Afghan protesters directly blamed the escalating protests on Jones, calling the protests retaliation for his Koran burning, doesn't mean that Jones feels he bears any responsibility for the deaths. "We do not feel responsible, no. We feel more that the Muslims and radical elements of Islam used this as an excuse," Jones told ABC. He went on to explain that the massacre was inevitable, and not spurred on by his absolutely pointless public demonstration: "We wanted to raise awareness of this dangerous religion and dangerous element. I think [today's attack] proves that there is a radical element of Islam."
In an interview with ABC months ago, Jones was asked directly why he would burn the Koran, and if he thought it would convince Muslims of anything other than the fact that Jones hates them: "No, I think that they will probably be hurt and insulted by it...When people burn the flag, when they burn the Bible, when they burn down churches, I'm also hurt and insulted. But we feel this message to that radical element is that important. In fact, to a certain extent, we would expect for moderate Muslims to agree with us." He both predicted the result of his actions, as well as preemptively hid behind his excuse: that he's only after the "radical element" in the Muslim world.
Pastor Terry Jones didn't kill those people; the reactions of some of the protesters was extreme and deplorable, a reflection of a culture which is still intolerant of criticism or dissent. Burning a book, or drawing a cartoon, does not warrant a response of death threats or murder. But at the very least, Jones set this particular tragedy in motion with his theological belligerence and arrogance. He blatantly attempted to antagonize extremists Muslims by staging his mock "trial" and "executing" the Koran...and what for? What was his point? What did the world gain, or learn, by his insulting gesture? His inability to take any responsibility publicly, to acknowledge the destructive nature of his actions, shows just how cowardly and selfish he is. We really thought we were done writing about Jones. We wish we didn't have to write about him. But this is important: fuck off Pastor Terry Jones.