Response to criticism
One general tactic was to paint me as an un-American traitor who is desecrating the memory of the 9/11 victims. Someone said I can't possibly be an American; I must actually be a terrorist. Someone calls me a "Muslim extremist." Another commenter observes "sounds like a terrorist wrote this article."
On September 16, 2001, I performed first for families of the 9/11 victims, and then for soldiers from the Fighting Sixty-Ninth Regiment as they returned from rescue and clean-up work at Ground Zero. In honor of this performance, Col. Geoffrey Slack of the Fighting Sixty-Ninth Regiment gave me the regimental coin, saying "We only give these to someone who's done something special for the Sixty-Ninth." Since then, I have traveled the world with Cultures in Harmony, promoting a positive image of the United States.
Most of the criticisms are simply humorous:
- One fellow says "hippacrates get real." Assuming the misspelling of Hippocrates, yes, I agree that it's high time for ancient Greek physicians to "get real."
- One commenter opposes "saraha" law and claims vast experience with the "musklims." Is Saraha law like Sahara law (always travel with several big jugs of potable water)? Are the "musklims" the offspring of the musk oxen still found in Arctic regions? My views are "Niave." The capital N must mean that I share the views of Antony Niave, who according to LinkedIn is a telecom manager in the DC area.
- One commenter threatens to burn an "epogy" of Mohammed. I had to look this up. "Epogy" is a graphical analysis automation and numerical optimization framework. Sounds complicated: if you build one of those and somehow manage to connect it to Mohammed, that would be such an achievement that I don't think you'll want to burn it.
- One commenter says: "William Harvey, you should go play your fiddle for the war mongering mooslims and see how much they like it you idiot!" Are the mooslims related to the musklims? Are we talking baby moose? Because if we're talking Muslims, then I've played for them in the US, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Qatar, Egypt, Tunisia, and Turkey, and yes, they like it.
- Another of my favorites: "You sir are a stupid man. As a christian, I will turn the other cheek, but I only have two. Your muslims declared war on us, kill our people, and refuse to allow us equal consideration abroad. Your tratorous slobber is profoundly ignorant." Thank you for correcting me. I was laboring under the misapprehension that you had 17 cheeks.
And of course, there was the popular argument that I, an American of Jewish heritage, have Nazi sympathies: "Mr. Harvey. It is idea's like yours that help keep America's enemies on the attack. Your line of thinking is Treason. If people like you were in charge of ww2,we would all be goose-stepping."
Perhaps 1 of 20 comments is supportive. With such supporters, who needs enemies? One supporter just writes: "That's action is NOT Christian." Oh good. I am always mentioning the pernicious, perfidious That, the oddball of his family who labors in the shadow of his virtuous brother This. I'm so pleased you agree with me: That's action is NOT Christian. Another supporter says Mr. Jones will spew HATERED. Gasp. How can he? Red is such a beautiful color.
Yet behind the insufferable floods of infantile invective lie two points with which I cannot argue:
1. In 2010, there is no manner in which normal people could offend Christians to the extent of endangering their life. Perhaps an abortion doctor's life is in danger from extremist Christians who oppose abortion, but the average citizen or even a prominent author or artist can insult Christianity in any nation in the world without fearing for his/her life. One cannot say the same about Islam. It has been explained to me that this is because some Muslims feel that the word of God and the honor of their prophet really are more important than any human life. Moreover, although God is all-powerful, part of the "judgment" of any individual Muslim (in the views of some Muslims) consists of whether or not that Muslim has acted to enforce Islamic law on earth. Therefore, although their God would be perfectly capable of punishing transgressors, he will judge otherwise-upright Muslims by whether or not they themselves acted to punish transgressors.
To me, this is unacceptable. Nothing is more important than the sanctity of a human life, and an opinion that states otherwise is wrong. As correctly understood, Islam respects the sanctity of a human life.
2. No one can or should try to deprive Dr. Jones of his rights. I would not be proud of an America in which he did not have the right to launch this protest, and I would no longer call myself a patriotic American, as I do now. In America, we celebrate our freedom of choice. My letter was an attempt to convince him to change his mind, not an effort to convince the government to force him to change his mind.
One of my few more thoughtful critics writes:
I disagree most with reason 10, as should everyone else here. It's insulting and it puts the onus of terrorism on those being terrorized. In effect it's telling us to buy into terror by not treading on other people's toes for fear of "offending" them, lest they react with violence. This is dangerous and fearsome because offense is an arbitrary value that may change from person to person, and this is the root of an Orwellian government. Jones is endangering a book made of paper and leather; he is NOT endangering American lives. If someone makes the conscious CHOICE to react with murder and terror, that is their responsibility and the blame should be placed entirely on them. Understand: you may say and think whatever you wish, and you may offend whomever you want in this beautiful country we live in. If someone so offended reacts with violence, that is NOT YOUR FAULT. Let's start NOW illuminating this distinction between speech and thought and retaliatory actions. If a man in the UNITED STATES wants to burn a book, he has that right, and his actions are protected under our wonderful Constitution. If another man chooses to murder to protest, he is a criminal and shall be treated as such.
I do hope that Dr. Jones will choose not to burn the Koran, but I also hope that those Muslims who choose to protest him will do so without harming anyone. May we all continue our struggle for a world in which we may agree or disagree while still respecting each other and acknowledging that the most sacred value of all is the inalienable worth and dignity of each and every human life.