A small Florida church is "suspending" its plan to burn copies of the Koran on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, according to its pastor, Terry Jones. The plan sparked international condemnation, and everyone from President Obama, Pope Benedict, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Gen. David Petraeus to Sarah Palin have asked him to call it off. Jones did call it off Thursday afternoon, citing a brief phone call from Defense Secretary Robert Gates and what he said was a deal to move the "Ground Zero mosque," but then reconsidered when it became clear there was no such deal with the Park51 organizers. Here's a roundup of reactions to the bizarre saga:
Jones "bamboozled" the media — again: Jones' "move the Manhattan mosque or I'll burn all these books!" stunt was clearly a "bluff," says Howard Kurtz in The Washington Post. But the media bought it, hook, line, and sinker. No surprise: they've handled this whole charade "like the Balloon Boy hoax, but with potentially deadly consequences."
Jones is squandering his "15 minutes": Will he burn them? Won't he burn? says Toby Harnden in The Daily Telegraph. At this point, who cares? "This whole episode is becoming so farcical that by the time he finally makes his mind up about what to do everyone may well be too bored to notice. That would be an outcome he deserves."
Just wait for the copycats: The fake "Ground Zero mosque" deal actually "extends his 15 minutes of fame a little longer," says Richard Adams in the Guardian. And now, "every crackpot and lunatic in America" will take note and "ape" his craziness. The good news is, thanks to Jones, Koran burning "may have stepped into that small set of things that are too crazy even for America."
The media pullout forced Jones' hand: Let's note that Jones balked after Fox News and the AP made the "clean call" of not covering his burning, says David Zurawik in The Baltimore Sun. Other media outlets followed suit, and "I am only half-kidding" by suggesting that Jones thought, "Without Fox News there to cover it, what's the point?"
We should have ignored Jones, but media cesorship isn't the answer: Jones already made his point "about 'the dangers of radical Islam,'" with the global frenzy over his "publicity stunt turned mega-clusterfark," says Allahpundit in Hot Air. But while it's easy to blame the media for "giving this crank a megaphone," or praise Fox for belatedly "denying jihadis easy propaganda" by publicizing the burning, that risks encouraging the press to "censor themselves in the future for fear of offending Muslims."
We're still left with a "growing stain of Islamophobia": The reason "Jones' plan generated so much attention was not because it was so far outside of the mainstream," says The Baltimore Sun in an editorial, but because "it was dangerously close to it." The ugly "mainstream" reaction to the "Ground Zero mosque," among other thing, shows that, despite the strong defense of Islam by Presidents Bush and Obama, much of post-9/11 America equate Islam with terrorism.