September 16, 2012

Now THERE’S a Man Who Can Spark a Middle Eastern Riot


Why is it, I’ve often wondered, that anti-Semitic, anti-black, anti-gay, and anti-Muslim comments are considered hate crimes, while anti-white, anti-Communist, anti-Christian, anti-atheist, anti German, anti-Italian, and anti-Satanist comments are not?

            Before you go getting all uppity and start casting a few “anti-blindo crank” dispersions, I suppose I should clarify for the dullards. It’s not a racist question. I have no convictions or affiliations, and so don’t single out any particular groups. I simply don’t care for much of anyone, is all. Most people strike me as pretty useless, annoying, and dull. Especially those who get all fidgety about their chosen political or religious identities. Silly people. Still, even without convictions I nevertheless find myself asking questions sometimes, like why it is that certain groups get special protection, both legal and cultural, while others are fair game?

            Anyway, is it because those first groups are powerless, that they’re in the minority, that they’ve been through enough over the past couple of centuries and so need to be protected, while those in the latter group have all the money and power and so can be taken down a notch or two without any serious emotional harm?

            That seems to be the rational answer, but somehow I don’t think it’s the right one. These days could anybody seriously claim that the Jewish community is powerless or disenfranchised, or that most members of the gay community are living in poverty and regularly find themselves targeted by police?

            No, I think the real foundation of the hate crime dispensation arises out of fear. Those groups cited above tend to be a bit more thin-skinned than most, and there’s no telling what they might do if you piss them off. At the very least they’ll make a lot of racket about it. Or they might choose to set a neighborhood ablaze if they don’t get their way.

            The outrage always tends to be a very tribal thing. Consider the Muslims. They sure do riot and mark people for death at the drop of a hat, don’t they? The most innocuous little thing and they’re in the street throwing rocks. But I suppose they’ve had a lot of practice. Long before recent history, they rioted over Salman Rushdie and the Danish cartoonist. Then there was that whole “Crusades” folderol. Since that business in 2001, the United States government has gone to great lengths to treat the Muslim community with kid gloves, to reassure them that America loves Islam and how. For all the post-WTC platitudes that nothing had changed, that the terrorists hadn’t won, our leaders have bent over backwards to play nice with the Islamic community—not out of any real respect or understanding, but purely out of fear that if they look at a Muslim cross-eyed, planes will start dropping out of the sky left and right, and suicide bombers will start hanging around shopping malls in Toledo. My god, what if they get so mad they decide to cut off the oil supply? They’re scared to death of saying anything wrong, and you can hear it in their voices.

            Well, then comes along this Pastor Terry Jones from Gainesville to send all these years of delicate diplomacy straight down the crap hole. Now, I doubt that he and I would agree about most anything. Fact is, I have nothing at all against Muslims. No more than I do any other group, anyway. But I love this guy, even if he is stealing my old shtick.

            Back when I first started writing, my primary goal was to piss off as many people as I could every week. I quickly discovered this was an extraordinarily easy thing to do. People get all red-faced and blustery over some mighty stupid things. I found it all very entertaining and sad.

            Pastor Jones (of the Dove World Outreach Ministries, which either is or isn’t an hilariously ironic name, depending on how you look at it) took the trick to the next level, and I’m a bit jealous. Not only has he revealed a knack for sparking riots across the Middle East—he’s also worked the highest levels of the U.S. government into a tizzy not once, but twice. More than I could ever claim.

            Two years ago he prompted riots and an international incident after he announced September 11, 2010 would be “Burn a Koran Day.” Oooh, that made people mad and scared them to death both here and abroad. Who knew how far the Islamic fundamentalists would go in response? Things could get out of hand quite quickly and easily, right? Of course the media was a willing collaborator in the prank, but still I was mighty impressed. Reminded me of some of the pranks Grinch and I used to set up. I was a also amazed Jones wasn’t, um, disappeared after that one. He wasn’t, and now I’m sure the top brass at the FBI are being asked why he wasn’t.

            This time around he didn’t even have to do much to get those embassies burning—just go on YouTube and plug a new low-budget “movie” no one would have noticed otherwise. The riots have been spreading from country to country for a week now, apparently as a large scale game of post office is being played. Somehow I get the idea that once things quiet down a bit, Jones will be silenced this time around one way or another by one group or another, just to make sure he doesn’t decide to get cute again sometime down the line. All for exercising the simplest of First Amendment rights. After all, he wasn’t telling people to riot, to storm embassies and set fires and hurt people—he was just encouraging anyone who was interested to see a damn movie. And that now has him labeled a “crackpot” in the world media.

            My only problem with Jones is that he’s lazy. When I was pissing people off on a regular basis, I had to go out and uncover what would make them angry enough to threaten my life. In his case, he just sat back and waited for the Islamic community to do his legwork for him. They made it perfectly clear what made them really, really mad, and then he went out and did it.

            Of course there’s always the possibility that this “Pastor Terry Jones” doesn’t exist at all—that he’s in fact either a plant or a rogue government operative in place to publicly say and do the things that are only being whispered, either to let off steam, to prove a point, or to justify who knows what. Maybe someone’s trying to trigger the battle of Armageddon. It’s not unthinkable, given the kinds of nitwits and kooks who con their way into office on a regular basis.

            Ah, but that’s just some more of my paranoid speculation. In any case, in the end it only goes to show that Yeats was right. People with convictions, people who believe strongly in things—whatever those things might be—are the most dangerous people in the world.


You can contact Jim Knipfel at this address:

With occasional exceptions Slackjaw generally appears weekly. For email notification of other Jim Knipfel publications (books, etc.) and events please join the Slackjaw email list here.