“The Daily Show” nailed it pretty well — we’re calling Christians extremists for burning Korans, and we’re calling Muslims extremists for reading them.
On the one hand, there are similarities between the two controversies. Both involve legal expression of 1st Amendment rights, and in both situations a case can be made that it would be wiser to refrain from this particular exercise of those rights. But there’s also a false equivalency being drawn, as we can see from the number of Republicans who are speaking out against the Koran-burning (usually mentioning the Muslim center in the same breath). There’s a big difference between doing something that causes offense, and doing something *because* it causes offense.
And all along, the wingnuts have been saying that the “Ground Zero Mosque” is some sinister gesture, rather than merely moving to a new location because the congregation has gotten too big for the old location. Condemning both the Koran-burning and the Muslim center, and thus creating a false equivalency between them, plays nicely into the GOP narrative.
PZ says Obama’s a “damned fool” for condemning the Koran-burning, while declining to comment on the “wisdom” (or lack thereof) of the Muslim center’s location. I’m not so sure. I think he may be treating them differently, not in terms of their rights but in terms of commenting on their wisdom, because in fact they are distinctly different situations.
The Muslims didn’t pick the Burlington Coat Factory in order to make some grand and silly gesture of defiance, while the idiots in Florida did decide to burn Korans on Sept. 11 for precisely that purpose. It’s worth keeping that in mind, even as we (hopefully) all acknowledge that the Koran-burners and the Muslim center folks both have constitutional rights to act as they’re acting.
(pic via SodaHead)