Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Wait, those were Korans? Oops.

Making its way through the headlines this morning was this story.

U.S. troops stationed at our largest military base in Afghanistan were ordered to burn a pile of refuse.  They were unaware, however, that a stack of Korans was in the "to-burn" heap.  Only after several Afghans noticed the burned pages was anyone the wiser.  The Afghans scrambled to douse the flames with their jackets and with mineral water.  Military officials were quick to offer sincere and earnest apologies for what they called an "error, a mistake."  Knowing how things work in government-operated entities, I can totally see this comedy of errors happening.

Nevertheless, the Afghans accepted no such apology.  As ABC News reported:

"By the morning, hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside of Bagram [Air Field] and on the outskirts of Kabul. Some shot into the air, some threw rocks at the Bagram gate, and others yelled, "Die, die foreigners." Many of them were the same people who work with foreign troops inside the base. At one point, apparently worried that the base would be stormed, guards at the base fired rubber bullets into the crowd, according to the military."

"Die, die foreigners."  Tends to go against the tenets of most major religions but then what do I know?

I write about this today to demonstrate the dangers that religious extremists pose to the world.  Notice that I did not say religion, I said extremists.  And those are present in just about every faith.
If someone burns a Bible or an American flag, I'm typically rather indifferent.  This does not mean that I support either of those activities as I believe they bespeak the individual's utter lack of respect and should therefore be afforded none in return.  No, I'm simply saying that my principles are far stronger than either cloth or paper.  No one can destroy my beliefs through such a vulgar and infantile gesture.
Others of different faiths and nationalities disagree with me on this point.  To them, these burnings are cause for death and for destruction.  I find this to be an archaic ideology, reminiscent of The Crusades.  Then again, why should I be surprised?  Nothing much has changed it would seem in the past thousand years or so.  I enter into evidence a photo gallery of the Civil War in The Atlantic.  My apologies as I can't seem to find a direct link to the gallery I'm speaking of but I can at least get you in the vicinity.   Actually, I feel fairly confidant that if you browse the user comments on most of those articles, you will find the same things that I did.  Namely, North and South rhetoric still flying, the questionable idea of state's rights, and issues of slavery.  How little has changed.  How dangerous both nationalism and religious zealotry remain today.

If pressed, I would say that yes, I do believe the Koran burning was an honest mistake by our military.  It would seem an odd and counter-intuitive action after investing so many resources and losing...and continuing to lose...so many troops in action in Afghanistan.

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