Setting The Record Straight

In four days, the fact that Pastor Jones’ Koran book burning event was made a sensation in America has been erased from the collective memory of the news media.

Four days.

Actually, I was getting the sense of this back on Thursday, so that would make it three, but that’s nitpicking.

Somehow we have entered a period of navel-gazing in which we express shock – shock!! – that the media picked up this story, as if General Petraeus had never said anything. Thus is he held blameless and the mainstream media is held responsible for having made a sensation out of Pastor Jones, an extremist Christian with a tiny congregation who demanded too much wool from his flock and was thus chased out of Germany a while back.

This blame is thoroughly misplaced.

Yes, the book burning was news in the Middle East, and had been since a condemnation by a major Islamic university in Cairo, said by some to be the closest thing they have to a Vatican for Islam (sui generis). That’s not the point.

Petraeus made it news in the United States.

And why shouldn’t he have? Here you had a serving general, in uniform, the anointed head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, essentially our Proconsul for the Asian theater, arguing that this book burning was a national security threat aimed at the men and women in uniform of the armed forces of the United States of America.

And you’re trying to tell me that it’s not news?

What is this nonsense?

Now, I’m not a fan of what Gen. Petraeus did. At all. Distasteful as this might be, it is a sacred right of Americans to perform actions of religion and politics that are distasteful to others. No faith has a right to have its holy books preserved against all harm under the law, as Sharia law demands. That is not the U.S. Constitution that Gen. Petraeus is sworn to uphold. His job is to defend the right of Americans to practice any religion, or none, not to pontificate on the wisdom of doing so, and certainly not characterizing the practice of freedom of religion and freedom of speech as having shades of sedition, treason or the act of an enemy combatant.

That’s when the media ran with it, demanding, and receiving, piles of condemnations from the Secretary of State, the President of the United States (echoing Petraeus’ words initially, then expanding to argue that burning holy books is un-American and contrary to the principles upon which America was founded, which is a bad joke considering what the Vatican thought of the heathen protestants of the Americas, and vice versa), and a whole legion of other figures lining up. We had the ambassador of Pakistan demanding Glenn Beck condemn it (though Beck already had). Even Sarah Palin asked that the pastor stand down, as if this was a military nation-at-war issue.

So now we have a bunch of hand-wringers moaning over how the terrible mainstream media made a sensation out of Pastor Jones. In the process, in the vast majority of cases, Gen. Petraeus’ unwise media intervention has simply vanished into the ether, after three to four days only.

Combine this with Fox News’ refusal to cover the book burning (if it happens) and the AP’sĀ promiseĀ of preemptive self-censorship (no images of the burning, no audio), and a crazy MSNBC segment where Pastor Jones was cut off from a live feed without being able to say a word, leaving the other side of the debate with a nice speech and the host saying they hope the Pastor reflects on these words and “we don’t need to hear any more,” and well…

Just which rights and freedoms are we defending in Afghanistan, again?

Seems to me we’re throwing them away so fast, no one will ever need to succeed in snatching them from our grasp.

P.S. The book burning is stupid, stupid, stupid… but in America, unlike Canada and many other countries, the man has a right to do it. Perhaps not much longer, the way all this is going…

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