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Why America is not Afghanistan

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Why would reports of a man 8,000 miles away burning a Koran spark riots in Afghanistan when pictures of soldiers posing with dead Afghans, allegedly killed for sport, did not?

A German magazine published those photographs one day after Terry Jones burned a Koran in his church in Florida. The body count from the horrific and indiscriminate rioting is up to 17, with more than 80 injured.

Afghans did not know about the Koran burning until Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned it four days after it happened.

The April 2, Christian Science Monitor blames the riots on anger over troops in Afghanistan and Afghans’ “complex attitude to the ongoing foreign presence in their country.”

Baryalai Hakimi, of the National Center for Policy Research in Kabul, tells the Monitor that Afghans are used to civilians being killed; however, “The issue of killing civilians is serious, but not so serious as the Koran burning.”

Or illiteracy may be the reason, posits the news outlet. The story about the pictures is difficult to “translate,” whereas burning a Koran is easy to understand. (Translation: pictures are harder for Afghans to understand than reports of a distant occurrence.)

Religion (though you wouldn’t know which one from news articles) plays a part, leading the reader to surmise that the culprit is any religion — or all. According to the theme, upper-class people are reasonable, while the lower-class is manipulated by religion.

This framing of the story, while faithful to the liberal worldview, does a serious disservice to a critical issue. The presence of foreign troops is not the cause of a culture’s pervasive lack of respect for innocent life. Education and money do not guarantee morality or decency, and not all religions are equal.

Many Islamic terrorists were educated and middle or upper-class. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the underwear bomber, was the son of one of the richest men in Africa and studied at the University College London. Mohamed Atta, a mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, was the son of a middle-class lawyer. Nidal Hassan, the Ft. Hood killer, was a psychiatrist who grew up in America. The list goes on.

What goes unmentioned is the common link. Radical Islam does not believe that all men are created equal, nor that human life is sacred.

A Muslim man explained to Newsweek why mobs killed fifteen people, burned buildings, and ransacked a relief organization after Newsweek’s false report that a Koran had been desecrated at Guantanamo prison. “We can understand torturing prisoners, no matter how repulsive. But insulting the Qur’an is like deliberately torturing all Muslims. This we cannot tolerate.”

Radical Islam is not alone in devaluing human life. Communism and its various factions, all based on atheism, boast the highest number of victims of any ideology, responsible for over 100 million dead in the 20th century.

In contrast to both, Christianity believes we are all created in the image of God, and thus have equal value — and a higher value than any material item.

This is why don’t we see riots in America when Bibles are burned or desecrated — the destruction, at times, paid for by our tax dollars. Despite the campaign to secularize America and mock morality, we are a country with a culture based on Judeo-Christian principles from which everyone, including non-Christians, benefit.

When Terry Jones originally planned to burn a stack of Korans in 2010, the American Bible Society (ABS) ran a full-page ad in the New York Times. It simply said:

“Burning the Qur’an does not illuminate the Bible.”

ABS explained, “The intent of this ad is to communicate that the true Biblical response to those of other faiths — or no faith — is respect and civility in religious discussions, disagreements, and debates. Acts of hatred in the name of Christianity are antithetical to the good news of the Gospel so intrinsically expressed in the Bible.”

Terry Jones intended to be provocative, and has no remorse for the innocent people who have lost their lives. In his attempt to expose the violent nature of radical Islam, he has become nearly as calloused.

It is a misreading of events to indiscriminately blame this episode on the occupation of foreign troops, or poverty, or “religion,” or to tiptoe around the truth in order to appease a totalitarian faction, and thereby become servants to that master.

Frankly, the best response is to explain Christianity, the primary reason that America is not Afghanistan. The contrast shows the indisputable superiority — and civility — of a culture based on Judeo-Christian principles.