This past week we witnessed a herky-jerky jumble of intolerance. Books burned. Flags burned. Bridges burned. Threats were made. Demands were decreed. And absolutely nothing was accomplished. Except a deepening of visceral divide. The soap opera of this week would almost seem silly if the implications were not so sinister.
As much as I detest those who threaten violence to silence those who draw cartoons, I am equally disgusted and condemn the reckless actions of those who try to silence voices by burning books.
While the pastor in Florida called off his plan to burn, a number of others did burn or destroy copies of the Koran. One near Ground Zero. Another in front of the White House. And radical Muslims around the world responded by burning American flags.
Our founders understood how important freedom of speech is to the freedom of man. They managed to defeat the most powerful tyrant on earth in their day without burning or banning a single book. The American experiment was based on mutual respect, acceptance of differing religious beliefs and common decency. Burning anyone’s sacred scripture is an affront to all of these.
The world needs more voices not fewer. More faith not less. It is not God that tells man to hate, kill or stifle thought. It is a fringe understanding of religion. God beckons us to seek His face. I refuse to believe that a loving Father would punish honest and bold questions. But I do believe there must surely be eternal consequences for those who hate or kill in his name.
Let us not fail to recognize that this week we witnessed Christian extremists behaving in ways made infamous by a monster fascist. The reactions by Muslim radicals only mirrored the minds of those in Iran who currently stone people to death for what they call the “sin of homosexuality.”
The world has once again come to a point where it cowers at best and, at worst, appeases crazy and dangerous men of all philosophies of God and man. We must again link arms and unite despite our differences against evils that only wish to destroy or enslave no matter the god they hide behind. “The truth shall set you free” is more than a phrase — it is a universal principle that cannot be changed by a bonfire or suicide vest.
History teaches us what happens to those who not only burn books, but also to those who do not respect freedom of speech — especially when most find it vile and offensive.
In the interest of our very survival, we must again stand for something and recognize the universal laws of what the founders called “nature’s God.” America will be great again when we stop debating whose side God is on and do the work in our own lives so we can rest assured that we are on His side.
All humans must recognize the hour in which we find ourselves and choose love, compassion, understanding and truth. We will not agree on many things. We will have many spirited and passionate debates. But on the words of Jesus of Nazereth we must agree: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
In the end, it will be neither extreme that prevails, but rather those who embrace the ideas that our founders taught were self evident. That all men are created equal and have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We must all teach our families correct principles and allow man to govern himself.
On 8/28, hundreds of thousands joined arm-in-arm to restore honor in their own lives, as well as to our nation. May I suggest that one one part of the honor that we have lost is what used to be known as common American decency. We are not Germany 1939, nor are we Afghanistan 2000. We do not burn books or blow up historic religious icons. An honorable and decent nation recognizes acts of ignorance at home and abroad. The dual lessons of 9/11 instruct us to be watchful, vigilant in reading signs of warning, while radiating our essential American character, a message of God-blessed goodness and kindness, for the world to see.