“It’s not my fault! It’s his fault!”
That example of fourth-grad moral reasoning is now ricocheting around the media in the debate about Koran-burning in Florida and massacre in Afghanistan.
Obviously, the onus for murder is on the murderers primarily, and secondarily on those who deliberately incited them to violence. But that doesn’t put the people who deliberately provoked their murderous rage in the clear. If I set off a blasting cap next to a stick of dynamite, I can’t then
blame the dynamite for exploding complain about the explosion.*
In the battle with Islamic extremism, our most important allies – or enemies – are other Muslims. So Koran-burning, or publishing nasty cartoons about the Prophet, is simply unpatriotic. That would be true even if it didn’t sometimes lead to immediate slaughter of the innocent. Can you say “material support”?
I suppose I should be grateful for Lindsay Graham’s consistency; having supported a law against flag-burning, he’s prepared to support one against Koran-burning. People who deliberately deface the sacred symbols of others – and yes, the American flag is an object of quasi-religious devotion, no matter how much real Christians may regard that is idolatry – are lower than whale-sh!t, and that’s on the bottom of the ocean. (And yes, that applies to the clowns whose disgust for the institutional Catholic Church lead them to disrupt Masses or desecrate the consecrated Host.)
But I’d be more grateful if Graham would just read the damned First Amendment, meditate Hugo Black’s poetic formulation that “no law” means no law, and keep doing the other thing he’s doing, which is telling his fellow right-wingers that they need to grow up.
*Updated in response to comments. My point is not – as I thought I’d made clear – to exonerate the actual murderers or those who incited them, but simply that you your responsibility for the intended consequences of your actions remains even if one of the mechanisms is the action of someone else.