White House Press Secretary Jay Carney toed a difficult line yesterday in answering questions about Koran-burner Terry Jones, one walked less successfully by apologists for the behavior of rioters in Afghanistan who killed UN workers and others over the weekend in mindless outrage over the burning over their holy book.
Carney balanced condemnation of the Koran burning with a clear statement holding those who committed murder responsible for their crimes.
One, we absolutely condemn the burning of a holy text. We think it’s un-American and inappropriate — one. Two, nothing justifies — absolutely nothing justifies the kind of violence and fatal violence that we saw that took the lives of workers at the United Nations in Mazar-i-Sharif — absolutely nothing.
While I’m not too comfortable with the White House determining what is American and what is un-American, the fact is that Jones’s act is un-American. But Carney was unequivocal and forceful in condemning the Afghan violence, unlike some who have pinned all the blame on Jones or sought to explain the behavior statements like that of Time magazine Deputy International Editor Bobby Ghosh, who asserted that unlike the bible, the Koran is viewed as the direct word of God and so burning it is worse for Muslims.
Or, for example, this statement by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who fails to hold the Afghans accountable for their outrageous behavior.
His intolerant act has directly resulted in the deaths of at least 22 civilians and United Nations personnel in Afghanistan over the weekend.
Actions have consequences, and I am disgusted and saddened at the outcome of Mr. Jones’ narrow vision of the world. While we respect freedom of speech, this is tantamount to crying fire in a crowded theater.
Carney declined to answer a question about whether Americans have the right to burn the Koran, which is at least better than saying we don’t, because has horrible a thing it is to do, we have the right to burn the Koran, the flag, or anything else that’s not a house or a person. But if Carney came out sand said we have the right to burn the Koran, he might have endangered U.S. troops.
And thankfully, Carney indicated that the inept and craven policy of U.S. officials contacting Jones to implore him not to do this is over.
Our interest is not in elevating somebody whose behavior is inappropriate and un-American, or does not represent what we believe are America’s values. Our focus, however, is also on condemning the heinous acts that took the lives of U.N. workers in Afghanistan.
What do you think about this and how we should handle Jones going forward? Apparently, he’s headed April 22 to a mosque in Dearborn, Mich., the home of many Muslim Americans, to create more problems.