September 13, 2010

The Reverend Jones, like that other Reverend Jones who dispensed fortified Kool-Aid to his followers in Guyana, may not be entirely sane. Having demonized Muslims and their religion, he announced his decision to delay the Big Blaze with a Muslim cleric standing beside him. If that Imam was of a devilish religion, what was Jones doing with him? When some Muslims in Baghdad vented their anger on Baghdad Christians by killing Anglican church guards, Jones stated, “€œIt is time for us to join together in the western world, in the Muslim and Christian world, to condemn such acts.”€ Either “€œIslam is of the Devil,”€ as he originally stated, or it isn”€™t, whatever that means. When his campaign turned bloody, as everyone from Plato to General Sherman could have told him it would, he suddenly became Mahatma Gandhi. Where are the fire and brimstone of yesteryear, when Africans, Catholics, Jews and, if there had been any handy, Muslims were lynched beside fiery crosses?

The latter-day Father Coughlin suddenly became the white Nelson Mandela when he urged, “€œWe would right now ask no one to burn Korans. We are absolutely strong on that. It is not the time to do it.”€ Uh, when is the right time? If not the ninth anniversary of 9/11, the tenth? Will Terry put the world through this again? If he does, will we have the sense to ignore him? He will merit attention, but of the psychiatric variety.

Any book worth burning is probably worth reading, and I predict Koran sales in America will take off. If you want my advice, which you probably don”€™t, try the translation by Marmaduke Pickthall. Pickthall, an English traveler who wrote the beautiful Oriental Encounters: Palestine and Syria, 1894-1896, converted to Islam and produced a poetic translation of the seventh century holy book. (I was given a copy of Pickthall’s translation by Fawzi al Ghussein in April 1986, a few days after Ronald Reagan used the US Air Force to murder his seventeen year old granddaughter, Ra”€™fat, and many other civilians in Tripoli, Libya.) Pickthall, like that other Muslim convert, Muhammad Asad (born Leopold Weiss in 1900), found great consolation and wisdom in the Koran. So do millions of other people throughout the world, and I hope they won”€™t hold it against the Christians in their midst if a loony preacher in Florida lost his way.


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