Terry Jones and his congregation of fifty in Florida are getting the limelight attention he so obviously craves by planning to burn Korans. And the world is willing to play along, pretending that this tiny, tiny group of hatemongers is somehow emblematic of the United States. Or maybe not, but he is big enough to cause a giant reaction:
The pastor of a tiny, fringe evangelical church in Florida on Tuesday rebuffed a plea for restraint from Gen. David H. Petraeus, who warned that a plan to burn the Muslim holy book could provoke violence against American troops and citizens overseas.
"Instead of possibly blaming us for what could happen, we put the blame where it belongs — on the people who would do it," Pastor Terry Jones of the 50-member Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., told the Associated Press. "We should address radical Islam and send a very clear warning that they are not to retaliate in any form."
Jones also said he was still praying over his decision and hinted that he might change his mind. "We understand the general's concerns and we are taking those into consideration," he told WOFL-TV in Orlando.
A coalition of Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders held a news conference in Washington on Tuesday to condemn Jones' statements and other slurs aimed at Muslims nationwide.
"The threatened burning of copies of the Holy Koran this Saturday is a particularly egregious offense that demands the strongest possible condemnation by all who value civility in public life and seek to honor the sacred memory of those who lost their lives on Sept. 11," said a statement by religious leaders organized by the Islamic Society of North America.
Religious leaders warned that Muslims overseas would interpret extremists like Jones as reflecting mainstream American attitudes toward Muslims. In Afghanistan on Monday, protesters made a point of wrapping an effigy of Jones in an American flag before burning both the effigy and the flag.
I understand the seriousness of the situation, I do.
What I don't understand why we can't all grow up, why nobody points out that this Terry Jones represents FIFTY people and not the United States of America, and why we can't have a conversation between cultures to explain that this guy is like one grain of sand on a very long beach and that religious extremists are NOT to be interpreted as representatives of mainstream opinions on either side.