Talking to Terry Jones

Today, Pastor Terry Jones of Florida tried to burn a Quran in Dearborn, Michigan. Dearborn is home to the most concentrated Arab-American community outside of the Middle East.  So, at best, he’s an idiot… at worst, he’s simply insane.

To tell you the truth, I could care less that he tried to burn a Quran (A jury in Dearborn ultimately decided that his “protest” would be a threat to public safety). He deserves no attention for that act. Nor does he deserve any attention for declaring that Dearborn is running under Sharia law.  Islamic law exists no more in Dearborn than it does in the Vatican.

Free speech is about exchanging ideas that lead to insightful conversation. Of course, free speech is also about allowing those who possess ideas that we hate to voice them freely. Pastor Jones is well within his rights to come to Dearborn and hold a conference about the perils of radical Islam. Burning a Quran, on the other hand, is the act of an idiot. And idiots should be ignored. Burning a Quran is not an act of free speech. It is meant to incite, intimidate, and restrain any sort of intellectual dialogue.

The real issue we should all be talking about is why it’s still okay to propose to do such racist things against Arabs and Muslims.

If the KKK wanted to hold a march in Harlem, clearly they would be allowed to do so. However, if they wished to lynch a black scarecrow, clearly they would not. Protests are one thing.  Acts meant to create widespread anger are another.

It is hard to assume that Pastor Jones is an intelligent man.  So I won’t blame him too much.  When he burned a Quran in Florida a few weeks ago, there’s no way he could have thought that the radical Muslims he was so afraid of might actually get pissed off.  There’s no way he could have known it would create mass hysteria.  As a result, 12 UN workers  and 4 Afghans died.  But he’s an idiot, an intellectual peabrain, a jackass, a crazy person, radical… so I can’t blame him too much.

But what is most disturbing is that these kinds of idiotic acts directed against Arabs and Muslims are still seen as being even a little bit legitimate. We have hearings and trials about them to see if they should be allowed to go on. A few weeks ago, Rep. Peter King even held a congressional hearing on the perils of radical Islam in America. What we saw as a result were some pretty ridiculous statements, especially from those who opposed the hearings.

I don’t get mad at people like Peter King and Pastor Jones. They’re idiots. I get more upset at the so-called progressive liberal commentators.  I hear them (and Jones and King, incidentally) saying things like “Most Arab and Muslim Americans are actually law-abiding good people.”

At first, it sounds like a pretty progressive thing to say. Some in our community even applaud such statements. But just change the players and it sounds different.

“Most blacks in this country are actually law-abiding good people.”

Now it sounds racist.

Law-abiding good people?  See, the default assumption is that we’re not.  So when people jump to our defense, they always start with that assertion.

“You know, most Arabs and Muslims don’t kill people.”  Wow, thanks.

Maybe there’s more idiots than I first thought.  You know, dealing with an idiot is actually quite difficult. What ends up happening is that the intelligent person ends up speaking to the level of the idiot. The opposite never happens. It’s an intellectual impossibility.

Think about it. You don’t ever see adults using big words with a baby.  Am I saying babies are idiots? Kinda. Instead, the adult holds up the baby, makes funny faces and speaks in “baby-talk.”

So, Pastor Jones, all I have to say to you is… “Who’s my favorite racist pastor?  You are, you are… Terry, look over here… Googoo gaga.”

About Amer Zahr 181 Articles
Amer Zahr is a Palestinian American comedian, writer, professor and speaker living in Dearborn, Michigan. He is also the editor of "The Civil Arab."


  1. I loved the ending! I actually am still laughing :)
    It is indeed a new and interesting angel to view things from, a new perspective, it did absorb some of my anger on the act itself! Which is to a certain point what he wanted to achieve! Make us angry, keep it going, and potentially push Muslims to act, hopefully radically.
    Well said!

  2. Well put. It is unfortunate that conversations start off having to clear the air. You said it well that it is sad that the default position is that Arabs are something rather than \law-abiding good citizens.\ This is a perception that will change with conversations like the one you’ve generated here. I hope this message carries beyond us like-minded types. It’s a message that needs to reach a wider audience. I applaud your effort.

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