This article is from the archive of our partner .

A Florida church led by pastor Terry Jones has spent weeks publicizing its plan to burn Korans on September 11. But now that hundreds of people in Afghanistan and Indonesia are protesting the planned event and General David Petraeus has condemned it, saying it will endanger his troops, the U.S. is starting to pay more attention to this fringe but increasingly high-profile event. What does it mean for the U.S. struggle against terror? What are its moral and legal implications? Should the U.S. government try to intervene?

  • Sowing Hate Is Easy  Professor and liberal blogger Juan Cole writes, "Terry Jones, the Dove pastor, appears to want to prove Muslims are intolerant by provoking them to attack ‘Christians’ over the burning of their scripture. I.e., he thinks just like al-Qaeda, which wanted to provoke Christians to attack Muslims so as to demonstrate Christian imperialism. If what you want to do is spread hate and produce dead bodies, that is easy. Sowing rancor and harvesting corpses is no harder than piling up garbage. Producing love and tolerance and unity across ethnic and religious boundaries is what is hard, and it is very, very hard. The most difficult thing in the world, like balancing a pyramid on its nose. Which is why we honor the Gandhis and the Martin Luther Kings, who strive toward it on a large scale."
  • 'Not In My Name'  The National Review's Jonah Goldberg condemns, "I am at a loss as to how this isn’t a repugnant and stupid idea. Public book-burning, by its very nature, is offensive no matter what the book. Burning the Koran is idiotic on every level, even for people who think Islam is to blame for terrorism. What does this church hope to gain? Will congregants feel like they’ve struck a blow for the West? For Christianity? For America? The fact that David Petraeus has to intervene would be simply embarrassing, if there weren’t lives on the line — American lives (and the lives of moderate Muslims who’ve bravely aligned themselves with us)."
  • How It's Like Cordoba Center  Military blogger Jim Hanson thinks the burning is a bad idea that endangers troops. "But guess what, none of that trumps the First Amendment, so these land apes can burn Korans if that is what gets them to paradise. In the same way that Mr. Bridge Builder has the right to build at Ground Zero these clowns have the right to burn Korans. They just shouldn't. Neither one of them. But the bottom line is we should recognize and uphold the right to the most offensive kinds of speech."
  • World Must Understand Protected Speech  Libertarian blogger Doug Mataconis writes, "there isn’t anything the U.S. Government either can or should do to stop this Church from engaging in this activity. As distasteful as their actions are, they are protected speech and the idea of the state taking legal action because someone does something offensive to another religion is a concept that is simply alien to contemporary Americans." He says of the offended Afghans and Indonesians, "I don’t think the people protesting what this church is doing quite understand that. For the most part, nations like Afghanistan and Indonesia don’t have a concept of Freedom of Speech, or Freedom of Religion, that is anything like what we have in the United States."
  • How Technology 'Magnifies' Small Events  Juan Cole writes, "This sort of grandstanding by a tiny congregation with global ramifications reminds us that in the contemporary world, technology magnifies the power of individuals and small groups, which is a real problem when they are hateful."
  • Generalizing  Chris Albon sighs, "Americans generalize the actions of MidEast kooks. The Mideast will now generalize the actions of American kooks."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to