Trial by Fire

In the latest National Review, Dalrymple sorts through the issues involved in Rev. Terry Jones’s recent burning of a Koran. Dalrymple notes that, even if Jones had known that Muslims on the other side of the world would cause mayhem as a result of the book burning, his actions cannot be said to rise to the level of incitement or provocation, because murder and mayhem are not reasonable responses to the burning of a book.
And yet:
Unfortunately, Jones’s action will only have reinforced a fetishistic attachment to a text that, for all those who do not believe in its divine provenance, seems irredeemably dull, flawed, and riven by contradiction. Carlyle’s description of it as a confused, wearisome jumble that could be read by a European only from a sense of duty still seems accurate.
But one does not go to the trouble of ceremonially burning a book that one deems unimportant. Jones, who in the past has been accused by his own minuscule church of being a publicity-seeker, accused the Koran of responsibility for every kind of crime, thereby himself making a fetishistic object of it, but an object with an exactly opposite moral valency from that ascribed to it by the Afghani mob.
Read it here (purchase required)

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