Did Media Negligently Create Koran Burning Controversy?

As the ninth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, and Americans fret about a Pastor they never heard of burning Korans to commemorate the event, people on both sides of the political aisle should be asking a serious question: did the media negligently create this controversy?

After all, Terry Jones has a tiny, 50 member, non-denominational church in Gainesville, Florida.

Should some unknown Pastor - with a following smaller than what's normally in line at an In-n-Out restaurant drive-thru! - wanting to burn Korans generate such a media firestorm that an international incident and our national security are threatened?

As Mike Thomas of the Orlando Sentinel wrote Wednesday, if you knew the real attention-getting background of Jones, the answer would be a definitive "No":  

This is a guy who looks like Jed Clampett wearing a Hulk Hogan mustache, who uses words like "tragical," who earlier this year launched a "No homo mayor'' campaign against a candidate in Gainesville.

Last year Jones sent the kids of the congregation off to school in "Islam is of the devil" T-shirts. Of course they got booted, which got Jones an enticing taste of media attention.

With none of this getting Jones the attention he craved, he decided to put a truck in a field with a sign on it saying, "International Burn a Koran Day":

It was like the three strawberries coming into alignment on a million-dollar slot machine. The New York Times and The Associated Press whipped out their notepads. The networks and cable stations broke out the indignant anchors.

Indeed they did as evidenced by NewsBusters reports here and here. And, as Thomas pointed out, Jones is just eating it up:

This is someone who can barely scrape together enough people to carry a tune in church, and now he has the world breathlessly waiting for his next words.

He is a regular Moses on the mountaintop, urging the spineless Christians to take a stand against the Muslim hordes. [...]
That all this might get some 20-year-old kid from Ohio blown away in Afghanistan isn't about to stop Jones now.

The good pastor has done found his version of 72 virgins and is living in paradise.

Indeed. And who are really to blame?

We created the Rev. Terry Jones from dust. And in two weeks, to dust he shall return. Then we'll move on to the guys who plan to run over the Quran at their monster-truck pull. Whatever it takes to keep your attention. [...]

We could help head off such future nonsense if we folded up the circus tent and left Jones alone with his blowtorch and 30 followers.

Maybe if Gen. Petraeus told the media that it isn't Rev. Jones who is endangering troops. That it is our coverage of Rev. Jones. That without us, this book burning would be little more than a grainy video on YouTube.

Exactly.

America like any country has its share of crazy people with crazy ideas. If such folks were ignored rather than given such a huge platform to spread their word from, we would all be the better for it.

Unfortunately, just as media were exactly what Jones needed, he fit their bill perfectly.

For weeks now, the press as a result of America's opposition to the Ground Zero mosque have been trying to convince the citizenry that we are an Islamophobic nation that hates Muslims. Despite the lack of any supporting evidence, this has been the media narrative for approaching a month.

With this in mind, an attention-seeking, unknown Pastor advertising a Koran bonfire was exactly what the press needed to prove once and for all just how much antipathy there is for Muslims here.

Sadly, they gave this guy his fifteen minutes of fame without any regard for the harm that could be done to Americans living abroad, in particular those fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. More hypocritically, so-called journalists are now blaming Jones for endangering the lives of others.

Wouldn't this not be the case if they ignored him? Isn't it all the press attention he's gotten that has actually caused this controversy? If media really are worried that his actions might result in an international incident, given how few people there are in his own area that care what he's got to say, couldn't they just similarly pay him no mind?

Consider that Gainesville and surrounds has 258,000 residents. This means that two-hundredths of one percent of the population of this city are members of his church. Right now there are probably more media vans in Gainesville than people who care what this guy says.

Can't press members claiming they're concerned with what his Koran burning will do just pack up those vans, go home, and do us all a favor? If nobody was there to cover the event Saturday, maybe Jones would change his mind and start thinking up his next attention-getting event.

On the flipside, this controversy has done us all a favor in exposing the media's hypocrisy concerning so-called "Islamophobia."

Consider that the press are largely in favor of the Ground Zero mosque despite being in the minority concerning this matter. They base their view on the Islamic center backers having the Constitutional right to build at that location regardless of how anyone feels about it. Yet, these same people are now in an uproar over Jones without a care for his Constitutional right to burn Korans.

As such, the media have shown themselves far more concerned for the feelings and the rights of Muslims than Judeo-Christians, and far more worried about offending foreigners than the 67 percent of Americans who are opposed to the Ground Zero mosque.

I guess we have Jones to thank for making this hypocrisy apparent to us. 

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.