Imagine the following scenario, if you would. America has been noted as a major originating country for a terrorist organization responsible for extremely deadly acts on Chinese soil. China sends in their military to root out the terrorist factions within the United States. While doing so, they make bases and set up camps. Now, China is not exactly known to be immensely friendly toward American politics or political aspirations, and it certainly hasn’t been terribly friendly with the major religion of the United States, Christianity. Heck, they’ve even been known to use Bibles for target practice.
Suddenly, you hear that at one of the bases in Texas, the Chinese accidentally set fire to several hundred copies of the Bible.
Now, maybe I’m crazy, but I could certainly imagine riots and violence sprouting forth from such a scenario.
See, about two weeks ago, several Qurans were accidentally sent to the fire pit used to burn garbage at Bagram Air Field, a large American base a bit north of Kabul, Afghanistan. This event caused several riots, which have killed over 30 people, including American soldiers. In an attempt to quell the violence, President Barack Obama apologized for the incident. Whether the apology actually calmed things down or not, several GOP members have been crying foul to Obama’s apology, such as Rick Santorum, Allen West and Newt Gingrich.
Now, a lot of people have been saying that, instead of apologizing for Quran burning, the Afghans should be apologizing to us for American flag burning and for the deaths of American soldiers.
People that say that are rather missing the point.
First, flag burning is legal in America. Why should they apologize for doing something we’re allowed to do? That’s like asking them to apologize for voting democratically.
Second, as we’re not actually at war with Afghanistan, just certain organizations within the country, I think it’s rather pretty well understood that the government is not approving of any loss of American life from people within their borders.
But none of that’s really the point, either. Ron Paul is one of the few (read as: only one I’ve seen) GOP leaders to get it right on this whole apology thing.
Remember that scenario I mentioned above? It’s not quite equally fair, truth be told. We’re not a third world country, and we’re on decent terms with China (at least through economy and trade). And our country doesn’t have as high a concentration of supremely devout Christians as Afghanistan has Muslims (though I did put the scenario in Texas for a reason). But violent riots are still feasibly possible with that scenario. After all, they’re invaders apparently disrespecting one of our more highly, widely valued religions.
The Santorum response to the apology especially makes me laugh. He said, “There was nothing deliberately done wrong here.” But, later, he said that Obama should have acknowledged that what happened was wrong.
Deliberate or not, it was wrong. And even if it wasn’t deliberate, we don’t have a record of respecting Islam or its practitioners. Our military has had members shoot the Quran for target practice. Our government has spied in mosques. We can talk about it not being deliberate all we want… would you believe it? I know, were I in their position, I certainly wouldn’t.
It isn’t wrong to apologize when something unfortunate happens. It isn’t “weak” to say, “We’re sorry and will attempt to ensure far better care is taken in respect to this issue.” Respecting other countries and other religions is not a bad trait. It’s a smart one. Which is something we’d really better start learning.