Shooting the Quran

An American soldier used a copy of the Quran as target practice.

He’s since apologized (via a letter) and been relieved from duty in Iraq.

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Hammond, commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad, apologized to the Radhwaniya tribe for the staff sergeant, who was a sniper section leader assigned to the headquarters of the 64th Armored Regiment. He also read a letter of apology by the shooter.

“I come before you here seeking your forgiveness,” Hammand said to tribal leaders and others at the apology ceremony. “In the most humble manner I look in your eyes today and I say please forgive me and my soldiers.”

The shooter, whose name was not released, shot at a Quran on May 9, villagers said. The Quran used in the incident was discovered two days later, according to the military.

Nothing good’s going to come of this.

But since we don’t have more information on who the person was who did this, consider the possible options:

1) The soldier was Christian. This was a religious “crime.”

2) The soldier had no religious motivation. He was just being an idiot.

3) The soldier was an atheist…

Let’s say it’s the third option.

You could say the soldier had every right to do what he (I assume it’s a he) did. It’s just a book, not a person. It’s akin to burned a flag. There’s no real victim. It’s symbolic. Everyone’s just overreacting.

Or you could also denounce his actions because, even as a symbol, it was an act of violence. And that shouldn’t be appropriate in any situation.

I’m curious what your reaction would be if — a purely hypothetical if — this soldier happened to be an atheist.

(Thanks to infideljoe for the link!)


[tags]atheist, atheism, Koran[/tags]

  • mikespeir

    There are atheist jerks just like there are theist jerks.

  • Sarah

    I find it highly unlikely that this guy was an atheist–not because atheists are incapable of doing idiotic things, but because it doesn’t strike me as the *type* of idiotic thing an atheist would do, if that makes sense. However, if he was an atheist, I think the same thing as in hypotheticals A or B–dude was being a moron and should have the book (so to speak) thrown at him at his court-martial. This Nobel-winner has probably just cost American soldiers’ lives, as I’d be amazed if there WASN’T a reprisal against local troops.

  • Milena

    I’d rather no one shot at any books whatsoever. I mean, why waste the paper?

    But seriously, just because someone, atheist or not, doesn’t subscribe to a given belief system doesn’t mean they should blatantly provoke its followers by shooting its holy text. Engage them in discussion, sure, but shooting at the Quran will do nothing, but anger Muslims. It’s destructive, and not productive, which is why it isn’t justified.

  • Richard Wade

    He’s an idiot regardless of his religious views. Whether you eat beef or your’e a vegetarian, it doesn’t change the fact that you’re an idiot to walk out into a field and provoke a bull.

    But I have the fitting punishment:

    He has to stay in Iraq until he, just like all boys in that region memorizes the entire Quran in his own language. Then he has to recite it in front of the same tribal leaders that his general had to apologize to, along with English speaking experts who can verify that he has passed his test.

  • Siamang

    You could say the soldier had every right to do what he did.

    Not necessarily.
    Military law may not be the same as civilian law in this instance.

    As others have pointed out, he’s there to do his part to advance American military efforts toward stability. He has failed, utterly, in doing this.

    This is like the head of a lobbying group telling people not to vote. Sure, it’s within their RIGHTS to say those words….

    And count me among the number of people who think that destroying books is a bad thing to do.

    I hope he’s not an atheist. If he is, he’s a pretty foolish one.

  • fideism

    Well, regardless it was a pretty stupid thing to do when you represent a huge army in a country characterized by Islam. It’s just asking for trouble

  • The Unbrainwashed

    I don’t think it was an idiotic thing to do. The Quran doesn’t deserve any respect. It’s a religious text that motivates so much backwardness and hatred. The only idiotic part of it was the fact that it might incite violence. Good thing those Muslims are civil right? We can really “engage them in discussion”. Are you fucking serious Milena?

  • http://saliental.blogspot.com/ salient

    Irrespective of whether or not he’s an atheist, he found a more effective way out of active duty than wearing a dress (a-la-MASH).

    Was it idiotic? Muslims are lunatic about their religion, so it was ill-advised in that sense. Do books deserve respect? Think about Hitler’s infamous book burning or “Fahrenheit 451″. This guy may not have reached the ignition point of paper, but Muslims have a very low ignition point.

  • Drew

    So Unbrainwashed,

    Can you provide us with a rational analysis of why this is anything but idiotic?

    Maybe list the pros and cons of what he did? Weigh them against each other?

    I think the guy’s an idiot. The only pros I can see are: it probably felt good when he did it.

    Some cons: He has raised tempers in a violent region, made more enemies for the US, and put human lives in danger. He has fueled emotion regarding religious conflict and cultural differences, which is absolutely counterproductive to rational thinking and progress.

    If he is an atheist, and this becomes widely known he’s also done his part to make atheists more hated in America.

    Of course, he doesn’t represent all atheists, and of course, no one is justified in grouping us all together. Too bad this is the real world, and that’s exactly what will happen.

    Anyway, I’d like to hear the good that has come from his actions– maybe I overlooked something.

  • http://feveredintellect.blogspot.com Viggo the Carpathian

    If it surprises anyone that this sort of thing happens just read this excerpt from skippyslist.com

    “One of the few perks you get while working on EOC is that you are allowed to watch the news during the day. During a slow period was a story that vaguely touched upon India and some issues involving the Hindu faith. SGT Generic became loudly confused after viewing this.

    At first myself, and the other soldiers present just figured that her knowledge of this particular culture was incomplete. No problem, we gave her a brief rundown on the highlights of that particular belief system, purely layman level stuff.

    “There’s no way people in India believe that!”

    We assure her, that yes, that is what most of the people in India believe.

    I just want to take a moment to remind you that the participants in this conversation are part of a military unit specializing in cross-cultural understanding. And that SGT Generic was in charge of several of us.

    “Why would they believe in reincarnation? It isn’t in the Bible, anywhere!”

    “They don’t follow the Bible. Hindu’s have their own holy books.”

    And then she adopted the tone. The one you use when you are trying to explain a very simple concept to a small, and possibly slow child.

    “But everyone follows the Bible. Even Jews use the Bible, they just don’t use the whole thing.”

    And as one, the various soldiers who worked for this very special lady, allowed our heads to smack onto our desks, and contemplated the fact that she was the one in charge.”

    Classic

  • http://saliental.blogspot.com/ salient

    Drew: “If he is an atheist, and this becomes widely known he’s also done his part to make atheists more hated in America.”

    I don’t think that he need be an atheist for religionists to label this an “anti-religious, atheist act”. More fuel for their paranoid fires.

    Statistically, he’s less likely to be an atheist than he is to be a Protestant Christian. I also think that this sort of action is more likely from a christian (the lower case is not a typo) than from an atheist, simply because a christian would be more likely to focus on the Qu’ran as representing the “wrong religion” as the cause of the strain of duty in Iraq.

    I think that he should have shot a picture of Bullsh with Rummy and Cheney.

  • Julia

    I’d be disappointed.

    But I doubt he was an atheist. Every time I’ve heard someone talking about the war in Iraq as a war on Islam, it was couched in the assumptions that the US is a Christian nation and that that’s the fundamentally (cough) relevant difference.

  • Milena

    The Unbrainwashed,

    I am serious. I see nothing wrong with at least trying to talk things out rather than taking the gun out immediately.

    Besides, your view of Muslims seems quite stereotypical. Do you believe that what you see on CNN is an accurate representation of Muslims as a whole? Yes, there are extremists, and unfortunately they do get more air-time than moderates. And of course there are huge cultural differences between the Middle East and America. But no common ground will be reached by shooting the Quran, or bombing the place.

    And saying that discussion wouldn’t work without even trying it seems pretty weak to me. If you don’t already interact with Muslims in your social circle, you could give that a go, at least, and see if they’re all uncivilized. Sure, they’re not necessairily representative of Muslims living in the Middle East either, but it’s a better starting point than not talking at all.

  • http://badidea.wordpress.com/ Bad

    I believe it’s also illegal in Iraq: in fact I think it might even be in the new constitution. I’m not sure how local laws apply to American forces though. But that’s probably the reason everyone refers to it as a crime: because, at least in terms of local law, it was.

  • http://www.evolvedrational.com Evolved Rationalist

    The Quran is just a fucking book. People should get over themselves.

  • http://www.aperfectfool.com Perfect Fool

    Atheist or not, he’s a US soldier in a war zone, doing something GUARANTEED to piss off not only his enemies but even some of the “friendlies” among the indigenous population. He is therefore an idiot.

    And in the event he is actually an atheist, he is providing ammunition to the enemies of atheism who wish to mischaracterize the rest of us as desecrators of ll things holy. Again, he is therefore an idiot.

  • TheDeadEye

    Meh, he’s only an idiot for getting caught. Dumbass should have collected the silly book after shooting it full of holes and then burt it in the privacy of his fellow soldiers.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ miller

    Kind of a stupid thing to do… but as far as stupid things go, the action itself was rather harmless. It’s just a book. It’s not the Guru Granth Sahib.

    And I think that the soldier’s faith or lack thereof is irrelevant, in itself. What matters is his motivation.

  • Claire

    A) I can’t believe that no one else has brought this up, but he probably didn’t know it was a quran. He said he didn’t, and that seems very likely – it’s not only a different language, it’s a different alphabet. Most likely it was just some book in a language he couldn’t read to him.

    B) While I’m generally not in favor of destroying books, destroying one single volume in not the same as holding a public book burning to destroy all books that conflict with certain ideas. It’s not on the same level.

    C) Even if he did know, compared to the kinds of things he has probably seen while serving in Iraq, it seemed like the very minor infraction that it was. Even compared to what we see in the sanitized news footage, it was nothing.

    D) Was it thoughtless? It seems so from his remarks, but blowing off steam is rarely a thoughtful experience. If his feelings were such that it was a choice between shooting a book and shooting a person, it wasn’t a stupid thing to do at all. Other soldiers have made the opposite choice.

    F) This has been completely blown out of proportion to respect the ‘sensitivities’ of the muslim world. Cultural sensitivity works both ways, and I don’t even see them trying. I see them rioting over cartoons of Mohammed, and riots are a lot more indicative of general public sentiment than any one person’s actions. The muslim world doesn’t even seem to want to try to understand the idea of free speech. It’s high time they got used to hearing it, even if they don’t want to embrace it for themselves.

    G) Don’t even get me started on the not-really-religious-but-still-really-ugly aspects of their society. A culture where it’s acceptable to kill a woman who was raped because she somehow shamed the family is NOT a culture that is entitled to point a lot of fingers or swoon over their hurt feelings.

    H) Deciding he’s probably or even possibly an atheist seems way ahead of the evidence. How about we just say we have no idea of his religious affiliation and whether it motivated his actions? At least until we know something.

    I) It would have been a lot smarter to bury the evidence.

  • Reynvaan

    Claire, you said:
    “F) This has been completely blown out of proportion to respect the ’sensitivities’ of the muslim world. Cultural sensitivity works both ways, and I don’t even see them trying. I see them rioting over cartoons of Mohammed, and riots are a lot more indicative of general public sentiment than any one person’s actions. The muslim world doesn’t even seem to want to try to understand the idea of free speech. It’s high time they got used to it, even if they don’t want to embrace it for themselves.”

    What this sound like to me is, “We try to respect them and their beliefs, but since they don’t return the favor we can disrespect them all we like. Then maybe they’ll know how it feels.” Please forgive me if I’ve misinterpreted you, but that doesn’t seem like a very mature or productive mindset.

    By the way, I’m with Milena 100% on this issue.

  • Claire

    Reynvaan, I think you have misinterpreted what I was trying to say, so let me restate it.

    We are bending over backwards to be sensitive, but I haven’t seem much evidence that it is doing any good, and it may even be counterproductive. Even after the apology, they are continuing to have hissy fits over one stupid book. It just doesn’t appear to make any difference to them that we have explained and apologized ( and not one of those fake apologies either – a full-on ceremonial apology). And while demanding that we respect their ways, they don’t extend the same privilege to us – which to me looks like a power play. I’m not seeing that letting them play us, if that’s what they are doing, will benefit either them or us, and may only lead to them becoming even less willing to make an effort to get along with other cultures.

    I think in the end that it’s far more important that we be true to our ideals, such as free speech or respecting human life more than a book, than to abandon those ideals in the effort to tiptoe around a culture that doesn’t seem to care if we are trying to play nice or not.

    Of course, not invading Iraq in the first place would have been the best way to accomplish that, but it’s Bush’s mess and we’re stuck with it. I don’t see any happy ending to any of this. With thousands dead and a country in ruins to put it in perspective, why are we even talking about one stupid little book? It shouldn’t even be an issue.

  • Claire

    Sorry, Reynvaan, I’ve just realized that that was a lot of words to explain something (poorly) that isn’t all that hard, I got bogged down in the details. So, here it is in a nutshell:

    Sometimes genuine understanding and tolerance means recognizing that there are real differences that can’t be resolved, and that sometimes it’s necessary to just agree to disagree, without apology, rather than continuing to hammer away at it long past the point of futility. Usually niceness works, but when it doesn’t, it’s time for some honesty and some setting of boundaries.

    It’s how I get along with christian friends and vice versa. Maybe it could work on the world stage as well.

  • http://atheistokie.wordpress.com Atheist Okie

    Hmmm…….

    He shoots the Quran and gets in trouble. I guess I should stop wiping my ass with the Bible. Seriously, when your in the middle of the desert and you get all those Gideon’s Bibles handed to you….makes great pocket paper. Read it for laughs, then wipe dat ass.

  • Terrence

    If the soldier happened to be an atheist, I hope his grouping was tight enough so as not to imply that atheists can’t shoot.

    We get enough bad press.

  • Zachary B.

    I suppose it really depends on the situation. All in all it can’t bring any good as you say, but he could’ve had some sort of personal reason for doing this, such as the death of a buddy, that drove him over an edge in anger.

    As you can imagine these things can lead to many more deaths due to the anger amongst the offended, and that is the main concern from the military point of view.

  • Jen

    I had a lot to say, but I mostly agree with what Claire has written.

    However,

    G) Don’t even get me started on the not-really-religious-but-still-really-ugly aspects of their society. A culture where it’s acceptable to kill a woman who was raped because she somehow shamed the family is NOT a culture that is entitled to point a lot of fingers or swoon over their hurt feelings.

    I dislike the general attitude I see often from Americans towards other cultures: Culture X believes in Cruelty Y, and we would never do that in America. Perhaps we don’t have a history of Honor Killings, but we have plenty of disgusting ways we disrespect women. For instance, how many prostitutes are killed in America every year while their killers are never found/ given a slap on the wrist? How is it that getting women drunk and exploiting them sexually is not only legal, but a popular video series? Why is it that when a woman is raped, her sexual history becomes part of the case? I could go on, but the point is this: I don’t see how we can judge other cultures when our culture as the whole has a million little ways we show women that they don’t matter.

  • Claire

    I hate the term ‘political correctness’, but I don’t know what else to call it, so I’ll just say that I’m only using it to refer to the over-the-top parts, not the common decency and good manners that was all we ever used to need.

    The biggest loss from the whole political correctness movement was a sense of proportion.

    It’s just plain gone.

    On the one hand, we have thousands dead and a country in ruins, and on the other hand we have a book with bullet holes in it, and it’s the latter we have to be sensitive about. Where’s the sense of proportion there?

    Now Jen has written

    Perhaps we don’t have a history of Honor Killings, but we have plenty of disgusting ways we disrespect women. For instance, how many prostitutes are killed in America every year while their killers are never found/ given a slap on the wrist? How is it that getting women drunk and exploiting them sexually is not only legal, but a popular video series?

    I usually agree with your posts, Jen, but this time I think you are way off base.

    On the one hand, we have “Girls Gone Wild”, and on the other we have dead women murdered by their own families. These things are not even close to comparable, but so many people can’t even see that anymore (or maybe just pretend they don’t) because we are all being so very sensitive about cultural differences. It’s a ridiculous comparison. Where is the sense of proportion?

    No, we aren’t perfect, and I live every day with the crap this society dishes out to women, but at least the women here usually live to fight another day. And they can drive. They can go out without a man to keep an eye on them. They can have a job. They can enjoy the sun in light clothing. They can go out on dates. They can decide who they marry. They can be involved in politics to change the way things are. They have a level of freedom to make decisions in their lives that the women of the middle east don’t even dream of anymore, even though they had them for a while in some places. The situations are so NOT comparable.

    Even if those ‘girls’ here do wonder when that video will come back to haunt them.

  • Polly

    It just adds fuel to the fire. It’s good he apologized.

  • Drew

    We all know it’s stupid of Muslims to overreact to this.

    The question is, did the guy’s actions address this problem? Was there any practical benefit at all?

    It’s not about PC. It’s a question of: did he consider the practical outcomes that his actions were likely to cause.

    This is a great forum to talk about how stupid Muslims are, but that doesn’t make the soldier’s actions any smarter. Unless you think his action was a principled stand that may have positive results, I don’t know how you can say it was a smart decision.

  • bernarda

    I am going out to piss on a koran and then trash it. If Allah doesn’t like it, may he strike me down and send me to everlasting torment. On second thought, I will douse it in melted pig fat and then throw it to the dogs. So there, Muhammad.

    For those who aren’t aware, Muhammad had a phobia about dogs.

  • http://woofkitty.blogspot.com Samizdat

    A stupid thing to do…but any over-reaction to this would be just as dumb as the Mohammed Bear thing: any attempt by Muslims to put humans’ lives at risk as a result of someone putting a bullet through their special book, that’s foolish and horrific.

  • http://ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    Has anyone considered the Muslims’ perspective? Has anyone imagined how it would feel if someone has shot at something that symbolizes what you hold most sacred? And then claimed that it was “nothing,” “no big deal?”

    Let’s imagine that a picture of an American soldier’s family was found in the same condition. The only thing that he gave him strength while he is stationed in Iraq. It gets stolen and trampled on, then shot at. What would go through your mind then?

    Would you just dismiss it as an “idiotic” act? And how would you feel if the perpetrator’s superiors (and his whole country) treated it as no big deal?

  • TheDeadEye

    Has anyone considered the Muslims’ perspective? Has anyone imagined how it would feel if someone has shot at something that symbolizes what you hold most sacred? And then claimed that it was “nothing,” “no big deal?”

    They can shoot at Bibles all day long; you wouldn’t see Americans rioting in the street. They can burn the American Flag and it *might* be newsworthy over here. They can burn a picture of a particular soldiers family, but that’s not going to enrage a whole lot of people.

  • Andrew

    Beeing a soldier and having been over there more than I want to admit, I know that ALL soldiers are briefed specifically on the Quran. The first directive… NEVER TOUCH ONE! Don’t use it for TP, don’t pick one up for a souvenier, don’t fucking touch them!

    This soldier knew better. It could have been a stres-related outburst, a poor attempt at humor, or pure cruelty, but he was wrong in any case.

    And he KNEW it was a Quran. It is hard to interpret them as anything else. They look a lot like our bibles. But they are usually smaller and open from the opposite side of course.

  • Mark

    You could say the soldier had every right to do what he (I assume it’s a he) did. It’s just a book, not a person. It’s akin to burned a flag. There’s no real victim.

    You don’t seem to be taking into account that this happened in Iraq and not in America. The laws are different in Iraq. How did you decide that you know what a person’s “rights” are in Iraq? If its illegal in Iraq to burn a flag or shoot at the Koran does an Atheist have the right to ignore the law just because he is an Atheist and is an American?

    I have been around the world a few times and it always amazes me to see Americans expecting that American law and American social customs apply everywhere.

  • Darryl

    Doesn’t matter who he is or why he did it, that was stupid and offensive. Just another in an endless string of offenses that always results from a foreign occupation. War corrupts everything it touches; we get more corrupt by the day. America has become a moral shithole.

  • Darryl

    I’m frankly shocked by some of the down-right stupid and insensitive statements I’m reading here. Claire, you have a distinctly insufficient imagination to not realize what an incident like this really means. Some of you folks need to make Muslim friends; perhaps that will snap you out of whatever world you’re living in. Thank you Andrew for your service and your insights.

  • Erp

    It was needlessly provocative. Note that to most Muslims shooting the Quran is like ripping the US Flag to pieces would be for most Americans. I can’t imagine what the US reaction would be if an allied soldier temporarily based in the US (perhaps on a joint training exercise) chose to use the US Flag for target practice.

  • TheDeadEye

    Some of you folks need to make Muslim friends

    No thanks. Just as I wouldn’t want to be “friends” with anyone associated with the Westboro church, I don’t feel the need to be “friends” with anyone of the Muslim religion. I’m not being racist here; I wouldn’t mind being friends with non-religious/agnostic/christian/jewish/buddist people of Arab desent.

  • http://ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    DeadEye,

    I don’t think I was clear enough on explaining my point.

    They can shoot at Bibles all day long; you wouldn’t see Americans rioting in the street. They can burn the American Flag and it *might* be newsworthy over here. They can burn a picture of a particular soldiers family, but that’s not going to enrage a whole lot of people.

    That is exactly the problem. You just described what we would do. Just because we would or would not behave in a certain way… just because our way of looking at things makes more sense to us, other ways of thinking must be wrong?

    Is it okay to impose the American way of thinking on the rest of the world? Why? Why must we hold the rest of the world to our standards?

  • http://saliental.blogspot.com/ salient

    “Why is it that when a woman is raped, her sexual history becomes part of the case?”

    Forgive me for going completely off topic here. I agree that what you say is historically true, but I thought that laws had been introduced that render such a line of defence inadmissable in court.

    Otherwise I agree that women are not always treated as well as they deserve in the US. However, you have mostly listed failures of the system to protect women, or First Amendment loopholes in the case of the plethora of objectionable videos. I see a distinction between failures and loopholes versus the deliberate devaluation of women under law.

    Someone did have a good point about not tarring all Muslims with the same brush. (Equally, not all Christians are Falwellians.) However, Islamic culture, Islamic law, and Islamic religion are more closely tied in the Middle East than are culture and religion in the West. Iraquis have valid secular reasons for resenting having their country invaded, but I think that we cannot ignore the fact that acts such as shooting a Qu’ran provide fuel for political Anti-West hatred-mongering.

  • http://www.otmatheist.com/ hoverFrog

    If it was his Quran then he is free to treat it in any way that he wants, although destroying a book is usually a terrible waste. If it is someone else’s book then he’s guilty of criminal damage. You shouldn’t destroy other people’s property, it’s not polite.

    What would be the reaction if a member of the Iraqi police (let’s say a Muslim) used a bible (King James version) for target practice? Assuming he’d paid for it.

  • http://ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    What would be the reaction if a member of the Iraqi police (let’s say a Muslim) used a bible (King James version) for target practice? Assuming he’d paid for it.

    That’s beside the point.

    If you stepped on my toes and I cry out in pain, would you say to me, “You’re over-reacting… I wouldn’t cry out if someone stepped on my toes.” ?? What you would do in the same situation has little relevance to me and my swollen toes. Your denial and insensitiveness could actually infuriate me enough to kick you in the shin.

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    I think the “It’s only a book” people are completely missing the point. And more to the point, I think they’re completely missing the context.

    This is not about freedom of religious expression. This is about a U.S. solider, a representative of our country in a foreign country, showing a disrespect for that country and its culture that is so callous as to be deliberately inflammatory. This is about a soldier in a hostile occupying force intentionally going out of his way to show gross disrespect for an object that is highly revered in the country being occupied. The question of whether that reverence is called for or not is completely irrelevant.

    I think it’s vital to remember the context in which this act took place. And that context is that, in Iraq, we are an occupying force that invaded their country on a tissue-thin pretext, and has been occupying their country for years, with devastating results and no end in sight. And this was an act of utter contempt for the people who we’re supposedly there to protect; an act that says, “We don’t give a shit about the things you hold dear, and we don’t have to, because we have the guns.”

    I doubt highly that this guy was an atheist. But if he were, my opinion would be no different. A soldier in a foreign country is a representative of our country. This act represented our country as contemptuous imperialists who are ignorant about the country we’ve invaded and don’t give a damn. It was grossly irresponsible.

  • Panda Power

    The only thing the Koran is good for is to be riddled with bullets since it was written by a false prophet.

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    Claire: “We are bending over backwards to be sensitive…”

    And once again I say: Look again at the context in which this act happened. This is not a conflict between equals in which there are misunderstandings on both sides. In Iraq, we are the hostile, invading, occupying, imperial force. We invaded their country on a pretext so transparent as to be insulting. We have occupied their country for five years, with tens of thousands of civilian casualties and the devastation of their infrastructure. A commonplace among Iraqis is that, hard to imagine as they would have thought this, things now are far worse in their country than they were under Saddam Hussein. They hate our guts. And they have every reason to.

    To then get put out because, hey, we apologized for this contemptuous insult to their culture, we’re bending over backwards to make up for it and why are they still having hissy fits about one stupid book… it’s utterly missing the point. It’s beyond missing the point. It’s as if a Mafia thug brutally beat someone halfway to death and pissed on their face… and then the Mafia boss apologized to the victim for their face getting pissed on, and got offended when the apology wasn’t accepted with gracious good humor. It’s lacking in a certain, shall we say, sense of proportion.

  • Maria

    I’m frankly shocked by some of the down-right stupid and insensitive statements I’m reading here. Claire, you have a distinctly insufficient imagination to not realize what an incident like this really means. Some of you folks need to make Muslim friends; perhaps that will snap you out of whatever world you’re living in. Thank you Andrew for your service and your insights.

    I agree. if he had done this in America that would be one thing, but doing it in a war zone like Iraq is just asking for trouble.

    No thanks. Just as I wouldn’t want to be “friends” with anyone associated with the Westboro church, I don’t feel the need to be “friends” with anyone of the Muslim religion. I’m not being racist here; I wouldn’t mind being friends with non-religious/agnostic/christian/jewish/buddist people of Arab desent.

    right, b/c all Muslims are bad. how is this any different from Fundie Christians who would never consider being friends with an atheist? It isn’t. congrats on sounding just like them.

    I agree with everything Greta Christina said.

  • TheDeadEye

    right, b/c all Muslims are bad. how is this any different from Fundie Christians who would never consider being friends with an atheist? It isn’t. congrats on sounding just like them.

    When was the last time that Atheists rioted in the streets because of a bullet-riddled book? Do Atheists murder their daughters when they flirt with a Christian soldier? Do Atheists blow themselves up in crowded markets, killing innocent women and children? Do ‘normal’ Atheists fail to speak out when other ‘jihadist’ Atheists do these horrible horrible things in the name of Atheism?

  • http://kkbarrett.blogspot.com Kristopher

    He was yanked out of Iraq for doing something stupid … deliberately acting to enrage people in a country the Army is trying to pacify.

    His action endangered other soldiers.

    US military personnel were instructed to not deliberately mock their religion while in country, simply as a matter of strategy. He disobeyed a lawful order, so he gets punished.

  • Claire

    Linda said,

    Has anyone considered the Muslims’ perspective? Has anyone imagined how it would feel if someone has shot at something that symbolizes what you hold most sacred? And then claimed that it was “nothing,” “no big deal?”

    Except, Linda, that that’s exactly what DIDN”T happen. Did you even read the article? The soldier apologised, a general apologized, some military official kissed a copy of quran, there was a whole ceremony of begging forgiveness and apologizing. What part of that says the US people over there treated it like it was ‘no big deal’? They handled it with kid gloves.

    Andrew said

    Beeing a soldier and having been over there more than I want to admit, I know that ALL soldiers are briefed specifically on the Quran.

    Thanks for that info, Andrew, I did not know that. Assuming this one looked like the ones he was trained to avoid, in that case it certainly means he was lying about not knowing what it was.

  • Claire

    Greta Christina said,

    To then get put out because, hey, we apologized for this contemptuous insult to their culture, we’re bending over backwards to make up for it and why are they still having hissy fits about one stupid book… it’s utterly missing the point. It’s beyond missing the point. It’s as if a Mafia thug brutally beat someone halfway to death and pissed on their face… and then the Mafia boss apologized to the victim for their face getting pissed on, and got offended when the apology wasn’t accepted with gracious good humor. It’s lacking in a certain, shall we say, sense of proportion.

    What the hell is up with the lack of reading comprehension around here? That totally misses my point, as most people did. To use Greta Christina’s analogy, it’s like the Mafia boss pissing in the victim’s face, and the victim getting upset about the pissing and not accepting the apology and EVERYBODY completely ignoring that the beating happened, like it didn’t exist.

    Why the hell is the victim bitching about the inadequate apology for the pissing instead of demanding an apology for the beating and appropriate recompense for that? Why is the Mafia boss pretending like the pissing is what deserves an apology and the beating doesn’t matter?

    Where is the sense of proportion in everybody focusing on the insult and completely ignoring the real injury? It’s like both sides are buying into the other side’s insanity.

    Although I’m beginning to think that around here it’s the lack of reading comprehension that is the bigger problem.

  • monkeymind

    Why the hell is the victim bitching about the inadequate apology for the pissing instead of demanding an apology for the beating and appropriate recompense for that?

    I can see 2 reasons why these villagers might be making “such a big deal” of the Koran incident. One is that protesting the US occupation is too dangerous, so protest over this incident has a symbolic value.
    Another reason might be that they don”t necessarily want the occupation to end right now, but just want the U.S. soldiers to act a little less like invaders and a little more like invited guests of their sovereign government.
    As for all the commenters who made comments about what “they” do when the Koran is insulted – did you read the article or watch the video? Apparently, this time “they” wrote letters and held a peaceful protest in which banners were held and slogans were shouted. If those people hadn’t been in middle eastern dress and waving arabic banners, would this have deserved the name “riot” or “hissy fit?”

  • Polly

    Apparently, this time “they” wrote letters and held a peaceful protest in which banners were held and slogans were shouted. If those people hadn’t been in middle eastern dress and waving arabic banners, would this have deserved the name “riot” or “hissy fit?”

    Thank you, Monkeymind. Americans are virtually brainwashed into seeing middle easterners as barbarians. So much so, that we can wage a campaign of slow genocide and mass relocation against the people of Iraq, who’ve done nothing to us, and then conclude that THEY are the ones prone to violence and overreaction when they dare to raise the smallest of objections.

  • http://www.otmatheist.com/ hoverFrog

    Thanks everyone. You’ve changed my perspective on this. While the Quran is just a book, merely paper and ink, it is also a symbol. While I couldn’t care less about someone destroying a block of paper with some squiggles on it that wasn’t what happened here. I did indeed miss the point. A dearly held symbol was defaced, I imagine that an analogy for America would be to use your flag for target practice. It’s just cloth but still, I imagine that some people would be offended.

  • Darryl

    Where is the sense of proportion in everybody focusing on the insult and completely ignoring the real injury?

    I see that you’ve yet to learn anything from all the good posts on this. Perhaps I can clarify this for someone with such formidable powers of “reading comprehension.”

    After all the suffering and death, destruction and humiliation undergone by the people of Iraq due to our meddling, doesn’t this shooting of their holy book just symbolize for them, in the most succinct and forceful way, the contempt in which Islam and its culture is held by the West, and especially America?

  • drew

    “When was the last time that Atheists rioted in the streets because of a bullet-riddled book? Do Atheists murder their daughters when they flirt with a Christian soldier? Do Atheists blow themselves up in crowded markets, killing innocent women and children? Do ‘normal’ Atheists fail to speak out when other ‘jihadist’ Atheists do these horrible horrible things in the name of Atheism?”

    Do you realize how vile and stupid this kind of thinking is?

    I want to write pages and pages, but what’s important here is a very simple concept: individuals are not defined by what other individuals do, regardless of whether they share certain traits.

    We all agree there are problems with the Islam in general terms, but you are absolutely foolish to think that there is no Muslim that is worthy of your friendship.

  • Marc E. Donna (ITY)

    Did’nt God (Allah), the omnipotent, the omniscient and the omnipresent see this man shooting the holy book called Quran? Is God capable of stoping this soldier man from shooting the holy Quran, which is in effect, ridiculing the “HOLY SCRIPTURES”? Why did’nt he do it? I don’t think he was watching what the man was doing. If he was , then God must be stupid. Very stupid.