I believe there is something being unnoticed or unexplored in the Quran burning sideshow and debate; is Islam being placed outside of what constitutes freedom of religion and the concomitant debate in America?
First of all, myself and everyone I associate with objected to, was vocal about, and detested the proposed burnings of the Quran by the opportunistic and pathetically deluded Pastor Jones.
However, watching the debate over the last couple of days, I have very conflicted emotions and not about the almost very stupid action - about the debate.
I watched a discussion on CNN yesterday and the Muslim participant, by way of introducing his comments, stated that the Quran was the voice of God - sacred. None of the other (non-Muslim) participants challenged him on this point. My point being: can't this be said about the Christian Bible, the Torah, the Book of Mormon, and a Lakota Prayer Bundle? In my opinion, with this omission, the discussion became a dishonest and potentially destructive excercise. It reinforced and substantiated the perception of, what appears to be a majority of Americans, Islam as a religion apart and a people apart; something to be misunderstood and feared. I may be forgetting and overreacting, however, searching my memory, I can't recall a single discussion where someone pointed out that all religious peoples would feel the same about the burning of their books. Discussing Islam or any religion in this fashion sets-up the religion being discussed as "sacrosanct" - beyond or above discussion. Like it or not - this is not the American way.
The Muslim participant appeared to occupy a unique place in the discussion and the world - and he did, but only because it was his "Book" that was threatened to be burned. He did not express solidarity with any other religion by way of comparison. He didn't say, " All of us, all of us various peoples of the various books, understand the pain and anger of having something you cherish potentially destroyed." In his defense, none of the other participants went there either.
In my opinion Rev. Jones was not threatening to commit a sacrilege against just Muslims - he was threatening all people's whose divine inspiration resides in something tangible that can be violated or defiled. The challenge here is to connect and "risk" solidarity with the "other" and see them as friends, brothers, sisters, neighbors.
Watching the discussion I caught myself feeling un-sympathetic. This is out of character for me - I've been accused of being congenitally empathy ridden.
I've realized that my uncharacteristically strong reaction to the Muslim participant in the discussion is informed by my intellectual and personal connections to Mexico and therefore Spain. Medieval Spain was an Islamic Caliphate for hundreds of years. It was known as al-Andalus and during most of its existence and it may have been one of the most tolerant and progressive societies ever. it appears to have been the intellectual bridge between the Classical era and the Renaissance. Would there have been a Michelangelo or Galileo without al-Andalus? Probably not. This society was tolerant of all "People Of The Book" - Christians, Jews, and Muslims working, worshiping, and living together. I guess I wanted the Muslim fellow to speak of al-Andalus.
Kevin is an Artist, Writer, Carpenter and Gallerist in Texas.