Last month, I wrote about a group of abortion protesters who'd burned a Quran (NEWS FLASH! - Gays don't get Abortions). A bunch of nuts calling themselves Operation Save America were protesting at an abortion clinic and, along with the Quran, burned a Gay Pride flag. As protests go, this was completely off-topic - Islam is anti-abortion and gays don't get them. In any logically consistent world, 'pro-lifers' would be big fans of both groups. But no one expects the rapture right to be either logical or consistent - pointlessly antagonistic, sure - but not logical and consistent. And it's the pointless antagonism that's problematic.
Charles C. Haynes, senior scholar at the First Amendment Center, wrote for the Gannet News Service on the 13th:
When Christian activists burned a Quran in Mississippi last month, you could almost hear Osama bin Laden cheering them on.
For years, al-Qaida has spewed propaganda to convince Muslims that America's "war on terrorism" is a thinly disguised "war on Islam." Now Christian Right groups are helping to make al-Qaida's case.
The Mississippi burning of Islam's holy book was part of an anti-abortion rally held by Operation Save America in Pearl. According to their leader, the Rev. Flip Benham, this wasn't the first Quran-burning - and won't be the last.
Islam opposes abortion, but that makes no difference to Christian groups bent on saving America from a list of evils "detestable to the Lord." Along with Supreme Court decisions and the rainbow flag (other things tossed into the fire), the Quran represents what they describe as "an insidious lie perpetrated by Satan himself."
In other words, this isn't helpful. Not that these christian jihadists give a damn. This is just another example of how the right demonizes Islam. At the same time they tell you that we're liberating and democratizing a deserving people in Iraq, they try to convince us that we should hate every muslim - arabs in particular. "Recently the Rev. O'Neal Dozier, a prominent Florida minister, spoke on radio about Islam as a 'dangerous religion,'" Haynes tells us, "Dozier is organizing fellow pastors to block an Islamic center in their neighborhood because, he says, 'we don't want our area to be a breeding ground for terrorists.'"
In addition, Hayne writes, "For American Muslims, America is becoming an increasingly dangerous place. In the last few weeks, a pig head was thrown into a mosque in Maine, a bullet-ridden Quran was deposited in front of a Tennessee mosque and an Islamic center in Ohio was threatened (the same site where a pipe bomb exploded last December). Religious freedom doesn't mean much if you live in fear of practicing your faith." Why are people doing this sort of thing? Because rightwing idiots are telling them to hate muslims and arabs as violent, primitive, and subhuman.
When the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, Rush Limbaugh dismissed it this way, "[Reading from AP report] 'One detainee wrapped in an Israeli flag, some were shackled hand and foot in fetal positions for 18 to 24 hours, forcing them to soil themselves.' Ugh! I thought they did that anyway over there. But this is news to me that this is news." Are we fighting for them because they're people deserving freedom and dignity or are we fighting them because they're primitive monkeys who crap their pants?
CNN's new gasbag and failed comedian, Glenn Beck, on the other hand, thinks it's a hoot to make fun of muslim names; "They're firing the guys they find, you know, Mohammed-Mohammed-Mustafa-Mohammed that happens to be working at the airport. You know, that's on the FBI Most Wanted list. If they happen to discover that he's actually still got a job there, they'll fire him. But, Mohammed-Mohammed-Mustafa-Mohammed is probably still applying for a job and is probably still working at some airports."
"I don't care whether you were born into the religion, or you chose the religion. It is, at its core, a violent, violent religion... And I also believe that this Muhammad guy is just a phony rag-picker... as long as we have stories like that about the religion of Islam, then it is perfectly legitimate, perhaps even praiseworthy, to recognize Islam as a religion of vicious, violent, bloodthirsty cretins." -- Neal Boortz, radio host
"Who ever heard of such a bloody, bloody, brutal type of religion? But that's what it is. [Islam] is not a religion of peace." -- Pat Robertson, Televangelist, former republican presidential candidate, and noted lunatic
"They say, 'Oh, there's a billion [muslims].' I said, 'So, kill 100 million of them, then there'll be 900 million of them.'" -- Michael "Savage" Weiner, radio host
"Jesus set the example for love, as did Moses. I think Muhammad set an opposite example." -- Jerry Falwell, televangelist and founder of Liberty University
"We should invade [muslim] countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." -- Ann Coulter, plagiarist and noted stick figure
Again, how is any of this helpful? Often, these idiots will take a verse from the Quran out of context to 'prove' that it's all about jihad. But you can do the same with the Bible:
"Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods. In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully. If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock. Then you must pile all the plunder in the middle of the street and burn it. Put the entire town to the torch as a burnt offering to the LORD your God. That town must remain a ruin forever; it may never be rebuilt. Keep none of the plunder that has been set apart for destruction. Then the LORD will turn from his fierce anger and be merciful to you. He will have compassion on you and make you a great nation, just as he solemnly promised your ancestors. 'The LORD your God will be merciful only if you obey him and keep all the commands I am giving you today, doing what is pleasing to him.'"
Clearly, Christianity is 'such a bloody, bloody, brutal type of religion' - as Pat Robertson might put it - that it calls for the destruction of the infidels. It says so right there in the Bible! That's obviously what christians are all about - at least, if you're coherent in your arguments.
The right's message about the middle east is very confused - arabs are no different than anyone else when their argument requires them to be and bloodthirsty monsters when they need a different argument. There is no coherent message sent to the base.
At the very center of the right's arguments regarding Islam and the middle east is racism, pure and simple. Either the people living there are unsophisticated and need to be guided into democracy and enlightenment or they're all potential suicide bombers who need to be cleansed from the Earth.
Either way, they have no grounding in reality.