That sodden old pie, Terry Jones, is trying to get back into the news. It was only a year ago when his Dove World Outreach Center (has a church ever had a more ironic and inappropriate name?) burned President Obama in effigy to protest his…let’s see…illegal presidency, his satantical support of gay rights and for being “a great friend to Islamic terrorist governments.” And now Jones wants to light the bonfires again for 2,998 Korans.
After first making world news in 2011 for burning a Koran to allegedly protest Islamic extremism, it appears that Koran burning is back on the church bulletin next to an announcement for the End of Days Pancake Breakfast.
It seems, however, that Jone’s Lunatic Who Cried Wolf act has gotten a little stale to news agencies that don’t seem all that anxious to air his inarticulate dribble every time his ego runs on empty. So Jones is posting his intention of burning the Korans on September 11th on fringe websites (like his own).
Personally, I believe that to burn the sacred document of any religion is, in itself, an extremist position, and is dangerous, disrespectful and deceitful and creates paradoxical parameters that will ultimately collapse on themselves. While we protest and go to war to contain extremism, we have also begun to define our reality with expressions of extremism in order to suppress our fears. The result of this malestrom is ethical madness.
I am concerned as this extreme behavior pulls the mainstream slowly toward its own abyss. Not from the nasty deeds of the right or the left; not because of capricious liberalism or rigid conservatism; not because of Republicans or Democrats; rather it is a conspiracy of extremes to form a fog of ignorance and blind conceit.
Far right extremists have taken hold of the once moderate center of Republicanism to convince too many Americans that their ultra-conservative movement will produce more affluence and better protection by following exclusionary and divisive principles.
You cannot tell Americans who covet the principles of freedom that restricting civil rights or invoking theocratic and intolerant legislation will lead us to a greater realization of liberty.
When liberalism moves toward extremes it compromises its own credibility by putting its ideals ahead of the concerns that Americans measure at their own kitchen tables.
You cannot convince a public that cannot pay their electric bill that placing restrictions on utility companies is the answer, even if placing restrictions on utility companies IS the answer.
Is the responsibility for this trend toward immutable, yet myopic, dogma equally shared by the right and the left? Well, not quite. David Roberts, a contributor for Grist.org, concluded that while the left has, indeed, moved to the left over the past 30 years, the right has moved nearly 4 times farther to the right (http://grist.org/politics/asymmetrical-polarization-the-lefts-gone-left-but-the-rights-gone-nuts/).
His theory was confirmed by a friend who’s been in Washington for the past 7 years who tells me that his conservative colleagues on Capitol Hill can no longer follow their political conscience and work toward bi-partisan cooperation. Now they have to concede to the activism of the extreme right that will not allow them to stay in office if they so much as work with a Democrat. Republicans in this Congress will not break rank; not out of ideological gallantry, but rather to impede any progress from this administration, and to insure their equity within the party.
It wasn’t always this way. When I was a boy during the Vietnam War the “dissent” that many Americans felt toward government policy felt…noble. My memory may have idealized that unrest, but there was a prevailing feeling, whether on the right or the left, that our debate was destined to bring the world to a better place. Today it seems that both sides are primarily motivated to keep the other side from making the world a lousier place
There is a center that can entertain both liberalism and conservatism but it has been lost. Yet it is from there that effective and principled legislation can be derived as the cooperation of conflicting ideologies is the realization of our constitutional government. Was John Adams, perhaps, too prophetic when he said, “Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself”?
I always suppress a little laugh when some people say they’ll leave the country if America continues down this path toward cultural and religious hegemony, but I will say this: If we allow our great Republic to fade because it has fallen into the hands of extremists who create fear and emotional frenzy from false information; who fan the flames of intolerance by burning books; who believe in restricting the liberty of legal immigrants in order to apprehend those who are not; or who deny access to civil rights because of their religious dogma…