The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

82° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


“Play with fire, you’re gonna get burned”

It seems the only things that can unite a country are chaos and fear.  

Florida pastor Terry Jones pledged to burn the Quran on the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in response to the proposed erection of an Islamic community center near ground zero in New York City. Jones finally backed down Sept. 10 after few showed support for the act, though some Republicans did support Jones’ “”right”” to do so. President Barack Obama urged Jones to analyze the consequences of his actions and the possible safety threat he would be posing upon his own life and the lives of American soldiers overseas. Sarah Palin called the proposal “”an insensitive and unnecessary provocation.”” Unfortunately, in an effort to promote her own political agenda, Palin compared Jones’ plan to the persistence of the Islamic people to construct the community center.

The Republican response to Jones and the Islamic community center is frustrating. On one hand, they are ignoring the right of the Islamic people to build a place of worship wherever they want and are demanding the building to be built elsewhere; and on the other they’re defending Terry Jones’ right to burn the Quran without supporting the action. Republican opposition has yet to defend the Islamic people’s right to build their community center. Furthermore, Republicans are demanding that the New York government, or even the U.S. government, step in and block the construction of the Islamic center. Simultaneously, Republicans also continue to preach “”small”” government and discourage the meddling of the government in the private lives and affairs of citizens — what better way to interfere in someone’s life than to tell them they can’t practice their religion wherever they please?

What drives this seemingly hypocritical stance of the Republican Party?  It’s the same thing that drives Americans to be unsettled by Jones’ actions: fear.

Many Americans, regardless of party affiliation, fail to recognize the lack of direct correlation between Muslims and terrorist attacks. Many fail to recognize that the men who attacked the U.S. were extremists, who happened to be loosely following the Muslim faith. The Muslim religion doesn’t encourage people to go around killing themselves in the name of religion. Many times, terrorists will use religion as an attempt to justify their actions, believing that as long as it’s in the name of a good cause, it’s OK.  

Don’t believe it?  Jones’ justification for burning the Quran in the first place was that God told him to; his reason for cancelling the plan was, “”God is telling us to stop.”” These extremists use God as their justification for everything to seem as though they were given directions from a higher authority.

So before you buy into the fear or the Islam-o-phobia that is spreading faster than last year’s Swine Flu, remember that extremists represent a small minority of any group. It’s a shame that it took people like Arizona’s own Sen. John McCain to tweet “” … threats to burn the Quran will put American service men/women in danger — for their sake please don’t do it,”” to get Jones to stop.  

It shouldn’t take fear; it should take tolerance. Moreover, before ever considering the burning of a book or supporting someone who wishes to burn a religious text, remember the words of Heinrich Heine: “”Where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people also.””  

— Storm Byrd is a political science sophomore. He is also a student organizer for UAVotes, which is run by Arizona Students’ Association. He can be reached at

More to Discover
Activate Search