Not in America

Not since Joe the Plumber has one American been seemingly picked from obscurity because of something he has said or done. Most recently that distinction has fallen to Terry Jones — a Florida pastor who claimed he would host a Quran-burning this past weekend in defiance of a New York plan to construct a Muslim cultural center/mosque near the site of Ground Zero.

We all know the story, but what's disheartening about this is that, once again, the mainstream media has extrapolated the actions of one into "What's next?" hysteria.

God-inspired or not, what Terry Jones was promising to do is simply un-American. We don't burn our own flags. We don't like it when others do. And we sure don't burn the symbols of other cultures and religions simply because we have that right. I respect the constitutional rights of any American — every American, for that matter. But there's something inherently wrong with what Pastor Jones threatened to do before coming to his senses.

Most Americans are frustrated with the proposed mosque in New York City, but this "eye for an eye" threat was just that, and poorly conceived to begin with. Once Defense Secretary Robert Gates phoned Jones, this half-baked idea started to unravel in the pastor's head. I don't know that to be the case, but I would lay good odds in Vegas that's what happened. Pastor Jones didn't want to harm anyone. He merely wanted to send a message. What he was told would happen instead would be the potential loss of American lives overseas.

After all, this is the same faith that went radioactive after a Danish newspaper printed some humorless cartoons a few years ago. I can only imagine what would unfold if Jones went ahead with his Quran burning.

I wish I could say there was some valuable lesson to be learned from all of this, but I doubt there is. This episode strikes me as a case of how the enormous power of the media can drive an international incident to near-dangerous proportions. Either way, this shouldn't be allowed to happen in America.