By Susan Brown
Forgiveness is a discipline that transcends cultures and bridges many divides when words fail. Without it, the world would look like the chaotic mess that is Afghanistan these days, where an alleged Quran burning by the U.S. military supposedly inspired deadly riots and the murder of U.S. troops.
The more the Obama administration apologizes for the burning, the more it fuels the sweltering rage within those who would much rather watch the world burn than to live in peace. Ahem. So, why are we apologizing, yet again? Because we have an administration that would rather bow to Saudi kings or to political pressure than stand up for the men and women who stand in harm’s way.
What was the Obama administration thinking when it sent senior Pentagon official Peter Lavoy to apologize to a group of D.C. area Muslims during their prayer services at ADAMS Center in Sterling, Virginia on February 24, 2012? Reports say Lavoy apologized numerous times during his brief speech at the Adams Center, which, incidentally, is one of the largest mosques in America.
According to a February 25 Fox News report, Lavoy told the group, the books were burned “unknowingly and improperly” and said our military “neglected, out of ignorance, long-established, correct procedures for handling religious materials.”
The Defense Department procedures he was most likely referring to instructs our military to handle the Quran using “clean gloves” that must be “put on in full view of the detainees prior to handling,” using two hands “at all times…in manner signaling respect and reverence,” and handling it “as if it were a fragile piece of delicate art.”
Lavoy reminded listeners that a string of Obama administration apologies to the Muslim world had already been lifted up by way of ISAF Commander General John Allen and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as well as a personal letter written by President Obama and personally delivered to Afghan President Hamid Karzai via U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker.
Lavoy reiterated “that apologies are never enough and do not erase this incident,” and then really stepped in it when he promised “We will hold people appropriately accountable.”
Sounds good. But, there are two sides to every story. Promising that people will be held “appropriately accountable” without full disclosure as to the circumstances surrounding the incident is disingenuous considering that the people to be held “accountable” may very well be scapegoats. I’ll admit I’m a bit defensive, because I have family members who faithfully serve.
Here’s the skinny:
CBS News reported February 21, 2012 that an anonymous “military official with knowledge of the incident” said it appeared the Qurans and “other Islamic readings were being used to fuel extremism, and that detainees at Parwan Detention Facility were writing on the documents to exchange extremist messages.”
Representative Allen West (R-FL) who was appointed to both the House Armed Services Committee and Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee concurs with the CBS report. In his February 26, 2012 newsletter, West said the Parwan detainees “used the Koran [Quran] to write jihadist messages.”
Based on this information, the detainees, and not the military, are to blame for the incident because they defiled their own sacred books, hence violating both Islamic cultural practices and the Parwan Detention facility contraband rules.
According to the same CBS report, Islamic teaching mandates that defiled Qurans be “burned or buried” meaning there is much ado about nothing because the military followed Islamic teaching as well as their own procedures for disposal of contraband.
I just put my boots on because it’s getting quite deep around here; shoveling manure is dirty business. As I see it, the only apology needed is to the U.S. military, which once again did their duty and are being blamed for it.
Susan Stamper Brown’s weekly column is nationally syndicated. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via her website at email@example.com.