When Terry Jones publicly burned a Koran and put it on Youtube, the First Amendment did not protect his actions. He had reason to know that there was a likelihood of a violent reaction in Moslem countries where non-Moslem Westerners were present. The number of United Nations personnel who died in Afghanistan has not yet been determined but the figure at present is in the neighborhood of ten. Riots have broken out throughout the country.
The standard for determining if the First Amendment does not protect speech, which includes symbolic speech such as burning the flag or in this case, a copy of the Koran, was set out definitely in Brandenburg V. Ohio. Speech is not protected by the First Amendment if it constitutes advocacy (1) “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action,” and (2) is “likely to incite or produce such action.” There can be little doubt that Jones knew exactly what was likely to happen when he burned the Koran and publicized it globally via Youtube. The fact that it did happen only confirms his intentions. He cannot immunize himself by saying that he hoped what he was doing would not incite violence. He is guilty of the crime of reckless endangerment and Florida has an obligation to take action against him. He knew that his actions would place American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq in great danger. As soon as any of them is killed by a violent act he is guilty of knowingly encouraging it. His motive was precisely to have this result to get attention for himself as the leader of a crusade against Islam.
Is the inaction the result of not wanting to appear to be soft on Islam? If so, this is a disgrace. And because the effects of his actions went beyond the State of Florida the Federal Courts have jurisdiction over him. The Justice Department should begin an investigation to see what Federal statutes he violated by his actions. This is something that should not go unpunished. It is bad enough that Peter King, a Long Island congressman, launched a Congressional investigation into Islam. By doing so he gave sanction to what Jones did, basically encouraging it by his own rhetoric when he called for the halting of the construction of any more mosques in America.
America is at war in five Moslem countries with a major military base in another that is in the middle of a revolution against the government that is host to the base. Jones’s actions are a deliberate attempt to undermine America’s national security by engendering hatred against our troops. He is giving comfort to our enemies.
Apart from his criminality, Jones represents the kind of American stupidity that plagues the country in its foreign relations. America could end up losing all of its Moslem allies because of heavy-handed behavior that alienates the very people the country needs on its side. The last time this happened was during the Cold War, when people who called themselves conservatives like William Buckley opposed civil rights on the grounds that blacks were inferior and that the whites in the South had a perfect right to maintain their superiority.
Why an ardent anti-Communist like Buckley should have maintained such a stupid position is difficult to understand, particularly since he was an intelligent person. American racism hurt America during the Cold War. Black Africans were winning their independence and were being courted by the Soviet Union. Day after day at the United Nations, the Russians made gains by denouncing America as a racist country. America supported the Apartheid regime in South Africa, driving educated blacks into the South African Communist Party which took over the African National Congress. Marxist ideology was sweeping across Africa, threatening to deprive America of the critical resources there that it needed for military purposes.
Every day the Americans denied the blacks their rights the Communists gained ground. This ought to have been
obvious but white politicians in the South were not going to give up the race card that continued to win elections. George Wallace and his ilk were damaging America’s national security but they could have cared less as long as they kept winning. Wallace thought he could ride the race card all the way to the White House. Nixon’s “Southern strategy” won him the presidency but further alienated the Africans, even though Johnson had managed to get the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act through Congress. The only thing that saved America in Africa and the rest of the Third World was that the Soviet Union in the end had nothing to offer but a secret police.
Today some politicians follow the Terry Jones example, making life increasingly difficult for American troops in Afghanistan. But as before, none of these people care about the country. Terry Jones must be tried and convicted in order to prove these people wrong – yet again.