Friday, April 1, 2011

America: We're Not All Sapps

This post is a continuation of:
Quite a few folks in Afghanistan are dead. They were killed when a protest in that country turned violent.

In my opinion, whoever pulled the triggers in Afghanistan is responsible for those deaths. I also think that a pair of Florida preachers indirectly encouraged the killings.

One of them now says that he's sorry the folks in Mazar-i-Sharif are dead. I think that's nice, as far as it goes. I also think the deaths were avoidable.

Seriously: What did Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp think would happen when they burned a Quran?1

I'll get back to Sapp's America, and the world where the rest of us live, after some news and views about the Florida/Afghanistan situation:
"Pastor of church that burned Koran calls Afghan mob killings 'very tragic'"
Richard Fausset, Los Angeles Times (April 1, 2011)

"The Dove World Outreach Center is a small nondenominational church in Florida that reportedly has no more than a few dozen members. The church website describes it as a 'New Testament Church — based on the Bible, the Word of God.'

"Its online store sells T-shirts, ball caps and coffee mugs with the phrase 'Islam is of the devil.' According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks groups espousing intolerance, the 25-year-old church in Gainesville regularly professes anti-gay and anti-Muslim sentiments, with members at one point joining in an anti-gay rally with the Westboro Baptist Church, the group that brings signs that say 'God Hates' homosexuals to military funerals.

"Now news of the church's burning of a Koran has apparently incited a mob in Afghanistan to attack a U.N. compound there, killing at least eight foreign staffers...."

"...In an email statement released Friday, Jones did not say why he changed his mind yet again. He condemned the violence in Afghanistan, calling it 'a very tragic and criminal action,' and called on the U.S. government and United Nations to 'call these people to justice.'..."
"At Least 12 Killed During Koran-Burning Protest at UN Office in Afghanistan" (April 1, 2011)

"Thousands of protesters angry over the purported burning of a Koran by a Florida pastor stormed a United Nations compound Friday in northern Afghanistan, killing at least 12 people, including eight foreigners.

"Two of the foreigners were beheaded, Reuters reported. There were unconfirmed reports that the death toll was as high as 20.

"The demonstration in Mazar-i-Sharif turned violent when some protesters grabbed weapons from the UN guards and opened fire, then mobbed buildings and set fires on the compound, officials said. Demonstrators also massed in Kabul and the western city of Herat...."
"UN staff killed during protest in northern Afghanistan"
BBC News (April 1, 2011)

"At least seven foreign UN workers have been killed after protesters stormed a UN compound in the Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif, officials say.

"The compound was set alight as hundreds protested over the burning of the Koran in a US church last month. Several demonstrators have also been killed.

"Witnesses said the protest began peacefully but suddenly turned violent.

"A local police spokesman told the BBC the city was now under control and a number of people had been arrested...."

"...On 20 March, Pastor Wayne Sapp set light to a copy of the Koran at a church in Florida.

"The burning took place under the supervision of Terry Jones, another US pastor who last year drew condemnation over his aborted plan to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks...."
"Desecration of the Holy Qur'an"
Mohammad Jamil, Pakistan Observer (March 28, 2011)

"Controversial and ugly Pastor Terry Jones, a blot on the name of humanity, acted as a judge in a mock trial that ended with burning a copy of Quran at his Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida. The US strongly condemned the burning of Quran by a radical pastor in Florida. The spokesman said the Obama administration is deeply concerned about all deliberate attempts to offend members of any religious minority. But this condemnation is not enough; the US should invoke hate crime and put Terry Jones in the dock. Last year, he had called off the event after criticism from U.S. religious leaders, violent protests abroad and pressure from President Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. This time on actual burning of the Holy Qur'an, American politicians, media and intelligentsia are silent on the despicable and abhorrent desecration which glaringly exposes their hypocrisy and double standards. Had it been the sacrilege of Bible by some satanic elements in Pakistan, people of the US and European countries would have exploded in a noisy outrage, howling in unison to hold Muslim ummah responsible for it.

"Today, western countries see no evil at home and blame Muslim fraternity for acts of terrorism. And this isn't something particular to America; this profanity cuts across the entire western world, bespeaking of a kind of an unholy alliance between their temporal and spiritual orders against the Muslims and their religion, Islam...."
As I wrote earlier today, I think I understand why devout Muslims are angry about Pastor Wayne Sapp burning a Quran. Incidentally, American news sources that I've been following today have edited Sapp's name out of their Dove World Outreach Center/Afghanistan coverage. Why that is, I don't know. Moving on.

I also don't know why the Sapps of America do what they do. But I've got a notion about how they see the world.

Sapp's America

Narrow-mindedness, and a strong disinclination to tolerate differences, isn't a fundamentalist/evangelical/whatever monopoly. Not from my point of view, anyway. (April 1, 2011)

In this case, though, it's folks at the Dove World Outreach Center who outraged the beliefs of a great many folks, so I'm going to focus on a 'regular American' version of intolerance.

When I was growing up, it was easier to assume that a 'regular American' was someone with a genetic melanin deficiency and a British surname like Smith, Jones, or Taylor. (March 19, 2011) Some of those 'regular Americans' looked British, but were the children of 'foreigners' who'd noticed that Europeans all look alike, more or less: and that's almost another topic.

Every now and then, a few 'regular Americans' notice that 'their' country is just simply crawling with 'foreigners:' and go nuts.

Timothy McVeigh may be the best-known white supremacist in recent years, from his part in the Oklahoma City's Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing. (Another War-on-Terror Blog (June 6, 2009))

Please note, though: in my opinion, not all Americans with British ancestors are domestic terrorists. That sort of generalization is - suspect, at best. Again, in my opinion.

Fashionable Anti-Americanism, "Enemies of America," and Getting a Grip

When I was growing up, the current version of the Ku Klux Klan was a very high-profile group dedicated to 'protecting' America from people like me. (January 22, 2010) Or, rather, people like the person I became. They lost, which must have been terribly frustrating.

Can't say that I'm sorry about being tolerated in America, though.

I don't know what the Dove World Outreach Center says about the KKK, but - back to that LA Times article:
"...On its websites, the church 'accused' the Koran of 'inciting murder, rape and terrorist activities.'..."

"...[a member of the 'jury' that convicted the Quran said]...'Because I keep up with what's going on and I know that [Muslims] are constantly killing people, burning churches and killing Christians. Whether some guy in the U.S. burns a Koran or not, it doesn't make any difference.'...

"...'The thing that awoke me to the fact was when I saw the president and the Pentagon and all these world leaders coming out against Terry Jones' [plan] to burn the Koran,' she said. 'I realized that all these murders of Christians go on a daily basis and you don't hear an international outcry. But one guy in Florida - a nobody - says he's going to burn a Koran... and I thought, 'Something is really wrong with that scenario.' To me, it was the biggest, eye-opening thing to see the whole world has sided, apparently, with the enemies of America." "
(Los Angeles Times)
Fashionable anti-Americanism is, in my view, real - and is nothing new.

So is the assumption that those who disagree with the speaker's group are "enemies of America."

One of the things I like about this country is that, sometimes grudgingly, and always imperfectly, America has a long record of letting folks who aren't all on exactly the same page live together.

Without killing each other at frequent intervals.

America: Crazy Quilt of the World's People

A few decades back I ran into a discussion of the "melting pot" idea. The author said that America was more like a crazy quilt.

"Crazy quilt?" I often use Princeton's WordNet as an online dictionary, but I think they goofed by defining crazy quilt as "a patchwork quilt without a design."

A crazy quilt has a design - but it's not a tidy, regular one. Crazy quilts get made when someone has a collection of previously-unrelated pieces of cloth, and needs to make a quilt. When the quilt is done, each piece of cloth retains quite a bit of its original identity - but now it's part of a much larger whole.

America is sort of like that.3

Which seems to drive a few folks in this country nuts. And I've already discussed that.

A Cozy Little Village: Population 6,900,000,000 or so

America isn't one big block of interchangeable, like-minded, identical Westerners. That seems to be an intense frustration to this country's 'regular Americans' and their politically correct counterparts - but that's the way it is.

I'm also convinced that folks in 'Islamic' countries like Indonesia, Iran, Libya, and Sudan are not all alike.2 Also that there's more to the world than 'the West' and Islam.

Like I wrote earlier, I could claim that the acts of those two Florida pastors, and the reaction in Afghanistan, 'proves:'
  • The depravity of those heathen foreigners
  • An unholy alliance against Islam
    • By temporal and spiritual orders in the West
  • Religion is bad
    • Particularly Christianity
  • Muslims are all alike
Again: None of those assertions make sense. In my opinion.

My guess is that Mohammad Jamil, who wrote that editorial in the Pakistan Observer, gets much of his information about America through television and print media. If that's so, I can see why he might assume that "western countries see no evil at home and blame Muslim fraternity for acts of terrorism." Particularly if he concentrated on a small number of information channels. Which gets me into editorial bias, the nature of knowledge, and enough topics to fill a book. Several books.

Or Mr. Jamil may have relied on resources that emphasize America as a "melting pot" of people. That sort of thing was more popular in my youth, though. And there are many other possible explanations for the picture he painted of the West.

My hope is that folks in Pakistan, Florida, Afghanistan, Bangkok and elsewhere start realizing that - not everybody is just like their neighbors. Sometimes even their neighbors aren't like the folks next door were, a few generations back.

And that it's okay to live in a world where folks aren't all alike.

The Neighbors Will Hear

Back in the 'good old days,' villagers could burn a quran - and the odds were pretty good that folks on the other side of an ocean wouldn't find out.

I don't miss the 'good old days.'

I'm also comfortable living in a world where anybody who's interested may read these posts that I write.

Part of that comes, I think, from living in a small town here in central Minnesota. Here in Sauk Centre, if somebody runs down Main Street stark naked - the whole town will know. It's happened, by the way. (Sauk Centre Journal Blog (October 17, 2010))

The world is pretty much like Sauk Centre, that way - only bigger.

Do something stupid - and folks will find out.

I like living in the Information Age. But today's information technology, and the social structures that are evolving around it, mean that we can't count on word of whatever crazy stunt we pull staying a little neighborhood secret.

I think a reasonable standard for actions is this - what would I think, if someone else did that to something that's important to me?

'Do to others what you'd want them doing to you' isn't my idea:
"6 'Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets"
(Matthew 7:12)
Related posts:
News and views:

2 See:
  • "Indonesia"
    (last updated March 16, 2011)
  • "Iran"
    (last updated March 22, 2011)
  • "Libya"
    (last updated March 16, 2011)
  • "Sudan"
    (last updated March 22, 2011)(CIA World Factbook)

3 America's acceptance of diversity is more than tolerance of various ethnic groups - but that's a big part of the 'melting pot/crazy quilt' picture.

I'm a sort of case-in-point for what's been going on here. I'm mostly Irish and Norwegian, and retain quite a bit of my ancestral culture: including a taste for lefse and gjetost (pronounced "yaytost"). (Apathetic Lemming of the North (January 26, 2008)) My wife's ancestors came from the Netherlands and Germany - so our kids are a sort of northwest-Europe stew. Yet again more topics.

By now, I've got relatives who are Lakota, Pinoy/Filipino, and French. It's not that we're trying to be 'diverse:' more that we apparently don't think people are defined entirely by their ancestors. I'm not bragging - it's just the way it's happening.

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From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.