Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning
"Where they burn books, at the end they also burn people."- Heinrich Heine (1823)
"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." - George Santayana
Heine's ominous warning came more than a century before the infamous May 10, 1933 Nazi book burning where Joseph Goebbels told the Berlin student book burners, "The era of extreme Jewish intellectualism is now at an end."
It was the beginning of the end for millions who would be gassed and then shoved into the death camp ovens over the next twelve years.
Today, we find a group of whack right-wing Christians operating under the Orwellian-labeled Dove Outreach Center. The group, which openly proclaims "Islam is the Devil," announced that they planned "to commemorate the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 by burning Korans."
Today, the Los Angeles Times reported that Gainesville officials denied the group "a bonfire permit."
I'm reminded of Pete Seeger's Where have all the flowers gone?: "When will they ever learn?"
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Update: Despite the denial of the permit, the Dove Outreach Center has vowed to proceed with its plan to burn Korans. I suppose one could call it an act of uncivil disobedience.
Update 08/20/10: There have been a number of comments, here, and elsewhere, raising First Amendment concerns about the City of Gainesville's decision to deny a bonfire permit. Deputy Chief Tim Hayes of the Gainesville Fire Dept., however, said that his department's denial was not related to the content of the books but on a city ordinance which prohibits the burning of "newspaper, corrugated cardboard, container board or office paper, which are akin to books."
No doubt, attendees from the Sarah Palin/Dr. Laura School of Law would regard it as an infringement of the Dove Outreach Center's First Amendment rights, should a group of concerned citizens peacefully surround these book burners, whom Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe describes as a "tiny fringe group and an embarrassment to our community," holding up signs which quote Heine's "Where they burn books, at the end they also burn people."
Update 09/07/10: General David Petraeus has expressed his concern that the proposed Quran-burning "could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort in Afghanistan."
What Petraeus fails to mention is that the swiftest way in which he and his boss, President Barack Obama, could insure the safety of American troops and ratchet down tensions between the people of the Middle East and those residing in the U.S. would be to immediately end our imperial occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan by way of a orderly but complete and total withdrawal of all U.S. military forces as well as all private mercenaries.