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Shame on us for making Pastor Jones a celebrity

The Pastor may be legally entitled to set the Qu’ran alight – but that doesn’t make it right.

The president’s comments on the Florida pastor’s plan to burn copies of the Qu’ran on September 11th were well judged.

I just want him to understand that this stunt that he is talking about pulling could greatly endanger our young men and women in uniform who are in Iraq, who are in Afghanistan… You could have serious violence…. This could increase the recruitment of individuals who would be willing to blow themselves up in American cities or European cities.

Yes, a stunt is exactly what it is – a disgusting and irresponsible stunt. What a shame that the issue has come to such prominence that the president needed to respond to the question. I’m sure the overwhelming majority of Americans deplore what the pastor intends to do: this is not a question of his expressing some larger strand of opinion. The best way to deal with an obscure nutcase pastor, with no following but for a handful of fellow nutcases, was to ignore him. Instead, we in the media granted him his dearest wish: national celebrity. (It’s a story, you see. And if he goes ahead, and people die as a result of the anger that his actions provoke, that will be another story. We just do our job.)

This is not even a controversy in the usual sense. The country is not divided on it in the way it is divided on the mosque near Ground Zero, for instance. But, since you have brought that up, notice the logical parallels. The authorities might be able to get the Qu’ran-burning preacher for burning some object, any object, in a public place without the proper permissions. (This is America, after all.) But burning or otherwise desecrating the Qu’ran, once you have the necessary permit to set something alight, is constitutionally protected…

Clive Crook is a senior editor of The Atlantic, a columnist for National Journal, and a commentator for the Financial Times. He worked at The Economist for nearly 20 years, including 11 years as deputy editor.

Read the full article at The Atlantic.

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