Quick admission: I’m an American, conservative, republican-voting Christian who heartily disapproves of and laments Islamic Terrorism. And here’s 7 reasons I don’t think we should burn Korans:
1. The burning of books seems to me beyond luddite; it’s barbaric, a practice historically associated with the censorship of Nazi Germany and Communist Russia. If America’s enemies in the past have burned books, how much more should we avoid such behavior? But I promised not to make this political.
2. You should always have a very good reason to burn a book, a reason that outweighs the time, sweat, and talent that went into the writing and printing of that book. I’m a writer, and when I so much as see a book that hasn’t been read for decades moldering on a shelf, I get sad. When I see a book, any book, burned, I feel anger at the insult to the author and the printer, just as I would if I saw a painting scored or a sculpture broken.
3. Yes, brutal, viscous things have been done in the name of Islam. But Islam’s Holy Book is a HOLY BOOK for crying out loud! Whether or not it is the Word of God, it is a book that deserves at least the respect of a fair reading and an attempt to understand the doctrine and practice it teaches. To burn it is not just to insult those who devote their lives to following the book, but also to reveal the burner as someone who obviously has forgotten what books, especially world-changing books like the Koran, are for.
4. The Koran – even if it is, as some say, the ravings of a mad-man or the lies of a deceptive man – is a beautiful work of literature. I haven’t read all of it, which is my loss, I believe; still, the little I’ve read was poetic, earnest, and well crafted (not to mention painstakingly translated). Even if it is a lie of Satan, it is also work of human genius, and like other devilish books (the works of Nietzsche and Hitler come to mind), I would defend its un-burnt existance against those who would destroy it. I need Nietzsche’s books in my life, I think, to be a good Christian; but that’s a conversation for another time.
5. The Koran contains (and I write this as a Christian) much deep and profound truth. Its language about God is phenomenally beautiful and humble. Some of its teachings about the unified essence of God are absolutely imperative to a correct conception of (not to mention relationship with) the God of the universe. It is quite sad that the Koran, and Islam because of it, misses the Holy Trinity in its defense of Divine Unity, but that does not make many of its teaching about Divine Unity, nor its teachings about humility and submission to God’s commandments any less true nor applicable to our lives today.
6. Western Culture, both secular and sacred, owes a tremendous debt to the Koran-inspired Arab culture of scholarship and textual preservation. Most of the Ancient Greek texts we take for granted (Plato, Aristotle, etc…) were preserved and translated by Muslim culture at a time when the West had lost them, either through negligence or dumb luck. The bookshelves of the West, both mental and literal, would be smaller and poorer were it not for our Muslim friends. It would be an insulting and idiotic way to repay their love of texts and scholarship by burning their most prized book. It would be tantamount to saying we didn’t learn our lesson.
7. Finally, hasn’t anyone read Farenheit 451? Bradbury was not kidding. What is our culture coming to when we wantonly destroy books, a pillar of our culture? I for one refuse to support anyone who plays Russian Roulette with the foundations of Western Society.