Bonfire Feeding Frenzy
Alas, people are not commenting much on a judge's ruling that the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy is unconstitutional; a new proposal to break the Iraqi political stalemate; or reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan. The topic with the widest coverage and generating the most discourse is the Florida pastor's now-suspended Koran burning and the Ground Zero mosque. The front pages of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post all examine the on-again, off-again (now back on?) saga, which included a phone call from Defense Secretary Robert Gates to the pastor, Terry Jones, urging him not to go ahead. And Jones apparently heeded the message, thinking he also had a deal with an imam that would halt construction on the Cordoba House. After it turned out that Imam Muhammad Musri, who is based in Florida and has no ties to the mosque, had only promised to broker a meeting with the developers and not necessarily a construction stoppage, Jones said he would "rethink" the suspension of the book burning. And if you're hoping that's the end of it, Gateway Pundit's Jim Hoft says, "Don't expect this story to go away for at least another 48 hours."
In the Journal, American Muslim and former U.S. Navy lieutenant M. Zuhdi Jasser asks Cordoba House Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, "Where is your sense of fairness and decency?" He criticizes the religious leader for making Ground Zero "an Islamic rather than an American issue."
The Times front-page story examines how the story gained traction in the media, comparing the resulting international uproar to another Koran burning in Kansas, which was caught on tape but hardly registered two years ago. On Post Partisan, Alexandra Petri writes, "It was too late for the media to take the high road," and in today's news cycle bloggers can dogpile an issue to get attention. Richard Sanchez of Pajamas Media says it shows that "extremism unfortunately works" and "it always pays to have a crazy man in the room threaten things that reasonable people can take advantage of." The Swamp's Amy Sullivan calls the media's coverage a "shameful exercise in snowballing, piling-on, and lazy false equivalizing."
And Jihad Watch doesn't blame Terry Jones for the kerfuffle; President Obama, General Petraeus, and everyone else commenting on the situation "instead are effectively reinforcing the principle that violent intimidation works." Dan Drezner tells everyone to "Quit using the national security argument to persuade these idiots to stop" because it's just one more overreaction to terrorism following a series of overreactions. Ann Althouse is also concerned about the president's reaction, writing that "Obama propounds the stereotype of irrational Muslims who resort to acts of violence when they don't like what people are saying." Salon's Alex Pareene simply noted that Secretary Gates's phone call "is crazy." Juan Cole goes after everyone, from Jones (using a form of "psy-ops terrorism"), to the cable news networks, the administration, and Donald Trump, before providing a list of other news more fit to print.
Some bloggers are more dumbfounded than anything. Daniel Foster at The Corner writes that the situation is getting "curiouser and curiouser" and asks, "When did U.S. politics turn into Mad libs?" The Jawa Report thinks Jones's "deal" was just a "bluff" and the reverend would make a fearsome poker player.