Terry Jones' "Burn a Koran Day" Is Incredibly Counterproductive

09/13/2010 12:28 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Gainesville, Florida pastor Terry Jones plans to remember those who lost their lives on 9/11 by hosting a "Burn a Koran Day." He plans to create a bonfire and throw copies of the Muslim holy book into the conflagration, because somehow this will cauterize the wounds suffered on that horrendous day nine years ago.

To Terry Jones and anyone else so misguided as to support something like this, I say go ahead. You and your followers are protected by the same glorious document that will allow the Cordoba House to move into its proposed location (granted they are not intimidated by Islamophobia) in Lower Manhattan. While the Constitution may protect you in this PR-stunt you are about to pull, I feel that you should know a few things before stocking up on lighter fluid and holy books.

1. The actions of a few do not represent the attitudes of the many.
There are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world. The number of al-Qaeda in the world is markedly lower. C.I.A. head Leon Panetta believes that there may be less than 50 al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Some estimates say about 300 al-Qaeda are in Pakistan. It is estimated that al-Qaeda may have several thousand members worldwide. Assuming al-Qaeda is the largest Muslim terrorist network in the world at 5,000 members, let's say that the other two dozen Muslim terrorist networks have 2,500 members each. So with these numbers there are 65,000 Muslim terrorists worldwide. That means 0.0043% of Muslims belong to a violently extremist perverted form of the religion. Burning the holy book of 1.5 billion people to seemingly get back at 65,000 of them is akin to burning the Bible because of the Westboro Baptist Church (and equally as useless).

2. Bullies look to get a rise out of people. This is exactly what Jones is doing, and doing brilliantly. Before the news cameras showed up at the Dove World Outreach Center, how many people even knew it existed? Jones is doing this to get attention, the same way that we see Middle Easterners burning the American flag during some kind of generic anti-American protest in Tehran/Baghdad/Kabul. Jones is no better than these America haters he thinks he is hurting with this stunt; they both do it for attention from the media.

3. The risks far outweigh the non-existent benefits. I can see it now: local media outlets in Middle Eastern capitals showing a bunch of "patriotic" Americans throwing copy after copy of the Qur'an into a bonfire while cheering. Then screenshots will start showing up on al-Qaeda recruitment literature, just as images from Abu Grahib and Guantanamo did. And for what? What do Jones and his followers gain from this experience? Some cathartic release of their hate of an Abrahamic religion that builds on their own holy books? And what does the rest of the country gain from this stunt, other than the image of a bunch of ignorant folks burning sacred texts?

Whether or not you believe Islam to be the religion of violence that Terry Jones and his followers do, sinking to the level of hate mongers by burning Qur'ans is, quite possibly, the most counter-productive thing you can do. Al-Qaeda hates this country for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which is the freedoms afforded our citizens. These freedoms will protect Terry Jones and whoever else wants to put their burning hate on display for the world to see. The late great Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars." We're Americans, and we can do better than "Burn a Koran Day."