After controversial Pastor Terry Jones led a burning of the Quran that sparked riots in Afghanistan and led to dozens of deaths, the right-wing media has come to the defense of Jones, absolving him of any responsibility for the riots. But there were warnings, including by Gen. David Petraeus, that the planned Quran burning could lead to deaths in Afghanistan, and Petraeus has said that Jones's actions have harmed the war effort in Afghanistan.
Florida Pastor Burns Quran, Sparking Riots In Afghanistan
AFP: "Koran Burnt In Florida Church." On March 21, the Agence France-Presse reported:
A controversial US evangelical preacher oversaw the burning of a copy of the Koran in a small Florida church after finding the Muslim holy book "guilty" of crimes.
The burning was carried out by pastor Wayne Sapp under the supervision of Terry Jones, who last September drew sweeping condemnation over his plan to ignite a pile of Korans on the anniversary of September 11, 2001 attacks.
Sunday's event was presented as a trial of the book in which the Koran was found "guilty" and "executed."
The jury deliberated for about eight minutes. The book, which had been soaking for an hour in kerosene, was put in a metal tray in the center of the church, and Sapp started the fire with a barbecue lighter.
The book burned for around 10 minutes while some onlookers posed for photos. [Agence France-Presse, 03/21/11]
Burning Leads To Afghanistan Riots, In Which Dozens Were Killed, Including Seven UN Workers. According to the New York Times, the Quran burning led to violent, deadly protests in Afghanistan. From the New York Times:
Afghan protests over the burning of a Koran in Florida continued Sunday for a third day, with three more people killed here.
That brought to 24 the number of people killed in Afghanistan since Friday, when a mob overran United Nations offices in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, killing seven United Nations international staff members.
That was followed by two days of disturbances in Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan, with businesses closed and young men rampaging through the streets, flying Taliban flags and chanting anti-American slogans.
The police fired into crowds Saturday, killing 9 people and wounding 81, all by gunshots, but were more restrained on Sunday, as representatives of the protesters met with government officials in an effort to defuse the violence.
Still, 40 more people were wounded and 2 more killed Sunday in the confrontations between the police and protesters. Two policemen were killed over the two days here, apparently because some of the protesters were armed and shot back at them. [New York Times, 04/03/11]
Jones Canceled Plans To Stage Quran Burning In 2010 After Pleas From Defense Community. Previously, Jones planned a Quran burning on September 11, 2010, in order to protest a planned Islamic community center to be built in the neighborhood surrounding ground zero. Jones later canceled his planned burnings following calls from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, General David Patreaus and others. [ABC News.com, 9/9/10]
Following Riots, Right-Wing Media Come To Jones's Defense
Hoft Claims Jones Was "Right" When He Claimed "I'm Not Responsible" For The Riots. In an April 3 post on Gateway Pundit, Hoft quoted Jones claiming "I'm not responsible" for the deaths in Afghanistan. Hoft responded: "He's right. Pastor Terry Jones went on to say that the radical Muslims will find any excuse to attack us. He's right about that, too." [Gateway Pundit, 04/03/11]
Red State: "UN Staffers In Afghanistan Killed Due To Barbarism, Not A Burned Koran." In an April 2 RedState.com post, Lori Ziganto quoted President Obama urging "all parties to reject violence and resolve differences through dialogue." Ziganto responded:
Oh, really President Obama? They killed 20 people because of "differences" (like the burning of a Koran) that can be resolved if only people would have a nice rap session? I suppose he can now pat himself on his smug back for being such a good multicultural Citizen of the World ™. While President Obama and the media prostrate themselves at the altar of multiculturalism, what they are actually doing is proving themselves to be fools and racists.
This line of thinking, which condones such barbarism and persists in delusional moral equivalency is revolting. It is excusing evil acts by taking away any culpability people have for their own actions. They are showing their bigotry by saying that people just don't know any better or are willing dupes easily led, not of their own accord. This must end. This is also not a "difference to be resolved with dialogue".
Some things are just right or wrong. Some things are just good or evil. Some evil people commit acts of barbarism because they want to. Unlike President Obama and his fellow travelers, I refuse to excuse it and I refuse to ignore that reality. [Red State, 04/02/11]
Red State Calls Condemnation Of Jones's Quran Burning "Utterly Revolting." In an April 3 RedState.com post, Ziganto reported that lawmakers are considering formally condemning Jones's actions and called such proposals "utterly revolting." The post went on to say that "[Sen. Harry] Reid flat-out says that Terry Jones caused the murders -- murders committed at the hands of other people. People apparently so simple-minded that they cannot think for themselves and cannot possibly know the difference between right and wrong." The post further condemned Sen. Lindsey Graham, claiming the only cause of the deaths were "evil barbarians" and said "It also puts [troops] at risk when you remain willfully ignorant to that fact and, instead, attempt to put the blame on others." [Red State, 04/03/11]
Powers Complains Of "Clamp[ing] Down On Somebody Who Burned A Book In Florida." In an April 4 post on MichelleMalkin.com, Doug Powers discussed proposals to formally condemn the Quran burning and wrote:
If somebody, say, puts a crucifix in a jar of urine and calls it "art," some on Capitol Hill not only won't press for hearings, but they might even give it federal funding in spite of how many Christians it might offend. But in this instance free speech seems to be subjective.
People were murdered in Afghanistan and members of Congress are pondering how to clamp down on somebody who burned a book in Florida. Now that's problem solving, DC-style. [MichelleMalkin.com, 04/02/11]
Hot Air: "Jones Was A Publicity Hound Looking For Attention," But "That Doesn't Make Him Responsible For Murder." In an April 2 post to Hot Air, Ed Morrissey wrote:
Interestingly, I had a conversation about this with a family member yesterday. While I agreed that Jones was a publicity hound looking for attention, that doesn't make him responsible for murder. The only people responsible for murders are those who commit them, and those who specifically incite them to kill. Any other position eventually wipes out free speech, free religious practice, and freedom altogether. If we held others responsible for the acts of every nutcase whose violent reactions may or may not have connections to something they did or said, we would have no speech at all -- a point we made repeatedly during the Left's Loughner frenzy, which they conveniently forgot during the Madison protests. [Red State, 04/02/11]
Petraeus, Gates Had Warned That Burning Quran Would Put Troops' Lives And War Effort At Risk
Petraeus 2010: Quran Burning "Could Endanger Troops And It Could Endanger The Overall Effort." When Jones originally intended to stage the protest in September 2010, Afghanistan commander Gen. David Petraeus warned that the burning could be used as propaganda by the Taliban and put both U.S. troops' lives and the overall mission at risk. From the Wall Street Journal:
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said the planned burning of Qurans on Sept. 11 by a small Florida church could put the lives of American troops in danger and damage the war effort.
Gen. David Petraeus said the Taliban would exploit the demonstration for propaganda purposes, drumming up anger toward the U.S. and making it harder for allied troops to carry out their mission of protecting Afghan civilians.
"It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort," Gen. Petraeus said in an interview. "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.
The Journal also noted that Jones issued a statement saying, "We understand the General's concerns. We are sure that his concerns are legitimate." [Wall Street Journal, 10/06/10]
Gates 2010: Jones's Planned Quran Burning Would "Put The Lives Of American Servicemembers At Risk." A September 9, 2010, ABC News.com article reported:
Gates called Jones between 4 and 4:30 p.m. today, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said, and "expressed his grave concerns that going forward with the Koran burning would put the lives of American servicemembers at risk, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he urged him not to proceed with the burning." [ABCNews.com, 9/9/10]
Petraeus 2011: Condemned "Hateful" Burning, Noting It "Poses New Dangers For The U.S.-Led War Effort." Following the March 20 burning, Petraus warned that the burning could hurt the war effort. From the Wall Street Journal:
The Quran burning by a Florida church, which sparked three days of deadly rioting in Afghanistan, poses new dangers for the U.S.-led war effort against the Taliban, coalition commander U.S. Gen. David Petraeus warned in an interview.
Gen. Petraeus, who commands some 150,000 U.S. and allied troops here, spoke after Afghan rioters angered by reports of the sacrilege sacked the United Nations compound in the city of Mazar-e-Sharif, killing seven foreigners, and went on a lethal rampage in the southern city of Kandahar, waving Taliban flags.
"This was a surprise," Gen. Petraeus said. The Quran burning in Florida, he added, was "hateful, extremely disrespectful and enormously intolerant." [Wall Street Journal, 04/03/11]