Josh Becker

      I collect books and I own the holy book of almost every religion. I have many bibles, both old and new, a Torah on a scroll, the Koran, the Bhagavad-Gita, The Book of Mormon, The Upanishads, Buddhist Sutras, "Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy (the Christian Science book), "Faith and Practice of New England Meeting of Friends" (the Quaker book), Bahá'u'lláh (the book of Bahá'i), "Then is Finished the Mystery of God" (Jehovah's Witnesses), as well as quite a few others. I have two whole shelves of holy books.
      Like all of my books, I love them. There's a whole world of knowledge contained in each one. I honestly just enjoy just holding them and leafing through them.
      However, I strongly believe in religious freedom, and I feel that everybody has the right to worship or not worship as they choose. I also believe that I have the right to take all of these books and burn them if I so desire. I won't, because, as I already said, I love them, each and every one of them - they're my books - but I can burn them if I want, and that includes the Koran.
      If I put all of these "holy" books in a box, drag it out to the center of my lawn, pour in lighter fluid, then toss in a lit match, no religion that I've mentioned will say a word or do anything - except the Muslims. If I burn my copy of the Koran, and the Muslims find out, it's absolutely OK to kill me.
      Some screwball pastor in Gainesville, Florida, with a congregation of about 40 people, threatens to burn copies of the Koran on 9-11. Suddenly, there are protests in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Indonesia, our President, the Secretary of State, and one of our highest-ranking soldiers, all appear on the world news begging this nut not to burn the Koran. Gen. Patreus said, "It will put our soldiers in harm's way. Well, for Christ's sake, you don't want to put our soldiers, our army, in harm's way! Except that's why they're there, isn't it? Protecting our freedom? Including our religious freedom?
      Radical Muslims blow up the World Trade Centers and kill nearly 3,000 innocent people, but we Americans have to follow their rules? Should we even hint that we won't follow the rules of Radical Islam and our leaders all get down on their knees and beg - please, please, don't make them hate us any more than they already do. Seriously, what kind of stinky horseshit are we dealing with?
      Have we become a nation of spineless wimps? If we don't follow the rules of our enemies, the terrorists who hate us to death, we're endangering our soldiers? If we don't want to endanger our soldiers, then don't send them to places like Afghanistan. If we just keep all of our soldiers here in America we'll greatly reduce the risk of casualties.
      But since we went to the trouble of training them, arming them, then sending them to places teeming with people who hate us, casualties must be expected.
      I don't want to see anyone harmed; but I also don't want to acquiesce to terrorists.
      I don't want to burn my Koran - it's a nice, 1942, hardcover edition - but I can if I want to! And the fact that al Qaeda and the Taliban will think less of me if I do means nothing!
      However, until the 99% of the other Muslims, the ones who wouldn't harm me or anyone else, stand up and mark a clear difference between them and al Qaeda, then how am I, some poor dumb schmuck from America's Midwest, supposed to know the difference?
      This is not an issue of what I do, or even some nutball pastor in Florida, it's an issue of what Islam does. If moderate Muslim leaders won't step up and say, "I'd prefer that you don't burn the Koran, or draw pictures of the Prophet Mohammed, but I won't kill you or threaten you if you do," then Islam is represented by al Qaeda and the Taliban, that's too bad too because I don't think that's what most Muslims believe. But most Muslims, I suspect, are motivated by pure fear, just as most Americans believe that Islam is a threat. We're all afraid of reprisals by terrorists.
      Well, Muslims, listen and listen well - I'm a Jew. My religion is 5,771 year old, which makes it 4,200 years older than Islam. Islam is as important to me as Mormon or the Moonies - you're all Johnny-come-latelies. Islam means as much to me as Zoroastrianism. You think I'm an infidel and deserve to die? Fuck you! I will not live my life in fear of you. Islam is the threat, not me - I just want to live in peace.