I wrote this Wednesday night, and only learned of Jones’s reversal early Friday morning. Since it is now too late to write anything new, I give you my prediction, which was verified before I could make it!
Start of Prediction
When asked about his inflammable intentions, Pastor Terry Jones of Gainesville, Florida, said Wednesday,
As of right now, we are not convinced that backing down is the right thing.
These, I think obviously, are weasel words; of the same kind used by politicians from time immemorial. And Jones is a politician, because theology is not practiced by press release except by politicos.
No true hell-and-brimstone preacher will start any sentence in the passive voice, especially in words that practically shout “Spontaneous” Change Of Heart On Horizon. And again, no religious leader who, as it has been reported, has his congregation wear t-shirts bearing the ungrammatical slogan “Islam is the Devil”, will temporize that “backing down” is not the “right thing.”
Given this, my prediction is that Jones will not burn his Quran. (Incidentally, when did we stop spelling it “Koran”?) Further, I think that he will announce his intention to shelf his matches just before the burning is scheduled.
Seeing the world’s cameras on him, he will step up to the bank of microphones, conveniently provided by reporters with J-school “degrees” but not sense, and he will say something like the following: “I do not need to burn these Qurans. I have proved my point.”
And, in part, he will be right.
Now, the world is already ablaze, rhetorically speaking, from Jones’s threatened stunt. Ad my guess it is this conflagration is the only one he ever intended.
Mayor Bloomberg, perhaps recalling his public vituperation against critics of the near-Ground-Zero not-quite-a mosque, was forced to say that Jones had a right to flick his Bic. He also said that Jones wasn’t a wise man, words he did not use for the not-quite-a mosque builder Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.
Bloomberg wasn’t the only one forced to chew on his own tolerance. Everybody from the ACLU, to even some folks at MSNBC, all echoed the line that Jones had the “right” to warm himself by burning the Quran. But all these people then said he had the responsibility not to.
They’re right, of course. Jones does have a moral responsibility not to act like an ass. But Jones’s behavior is not of interest. For we can now ask why those people who so vehemently supported the right of Imam Rauf to build his not-quite-a mosque did not also say that the grand Imam had a moral responsibility to consider the feelings of others?
End of Prediction
I chopped off the end of the prediction (mostly about how Muslims are “outraged”), because the story in yesterday’s news has made it all obvious.
Pastor Jones has claimed victory, as predicted, by saying that Imam Rauf has “agreed” to move the not-quite-a mosque to a new location. From the New York Daily News:
“We have agreed to cancel our event,” Jones said. “We are, of course, now against any other group burning Korans. We would right now ask no one to burn Korans. We are absolutely strong on that.”
“It is not the time to do it,” Jones said, before veering off into his claims that his threats had caused the New York mosque developers to blink.
“The American people do not want the mosque there, and of course, Muslims do not want us to burn the Koran,” said Jones. “The imam [Rauf] has agreed to move the mosque,” he said.
Once more, if you did not know that Jones was a Pastor, you would never guess it from his words, which sound like what you would hear from any politician. Except that one of the reasons Jones gave was that he had a “sign from God” to stow his matches.
We may never learn, since the event has been canceled, and given the attention span of the media, but I believe as I originally predicted, that Jones never intended to go through with this plan. I say this because, even yet, Jones says, “[W]]e are not canceling the event, but we are suspending it.”
This, of course, is the standard way a politician milks publicity, trying to squeeze out every last second of coverage he can. He believes that by holding onto the kerosene, he’ll have a flock of reporters asking him his opinion of everything from US-Afghanistan relations, to President Obama’s choice of vacation destinations (no shallow topic, that).
He’s wrong. Seven or eight days from now, people will have forgotten Jones. And even if he sets another burning date, people the world over will realize that they overreacted the first time, and will thus ignore him.
That’s what he gets from playing with fire.