In August, a Christian minister in Florida announced that on September 11, the ninth anniversary of the destruction of the twin towers, he would burn copies of the Qu’ran at his church. The announcement lit a flurry of anxiety by religious people, media and government regarding the possible effect of such an action. The action would only inflame inter-religious rivalry or even provoke American deaths in Afghanistan and elsewhere, claimed opponents. Government officials, from Defense Secretary Gates to President Obama opined The story quickly was interwoven with that of the proposed mosque near “Ground Zero” in New York, as Jones tried to broker an exchange between the possible cancellation of his Qu’ran burning event and a possible reciprocation by Moslems to cancel the proposed mosque.
On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” the day before the threatened burning, Jon Meacham, an Episcopalian Christian and renowned writer for Newsweek, personally appealed to Pastor Jones to adhere to his core Christian beliefs and put the needs of others before his own and cancel the proposed event. Then program producer cut away and Jones answered off-air. It was a tactic carefully designed to prevent Jones from using the opportunity to spread his beliefs on a national television network. On the same program, real estate
mogul Donald Trump explained how he had stepped in and offered to buy the
proposed mosque site from the current owner at a 25% profit, raising his on-air
offer to $20 million, if the balance would go to charity. “It’s a simple
solution,” claimed Trump.
Whether or not Pastor Jones is delusional, or just in the grip of fundamentalist beliefs, his action and the subsequent actions by others suggest just how interlinked are religion, media, government and business interests in America today. A religious fanatic can threaten to engage in an act of sacrilege against another religion and the nation’s media, government and business moguls together create an ongoing story with no predictable resolution.
Tomorrow is the anniversary date of the most important date in American history this century. What will this story of conflicting, competing, and cooperating interests bring next?