Dennis Loo

Sometimes asking for the impossible is the only realistic path

Dennis Loo

Dennis Loo
Los Angeles, California,
December 31
Professor of Sociology
Cal Poly Pomona
Author of Globalization and the Demolition of Society; Co-Editor/Author of Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney, World Can't Wait Steering Committee Member, co-author of "Crimes Are Crimes, No Matter Who Does Them" statement, dog and fruit tree lover. Published poet. Winner of the Alfred R. Lindesmith Award, Project Censored Award and the Nation Magazine's Most Valuable Campaign Award. Punahou and Harvard Honor Graduate. Ph.D. in Sociology from UC Santa Cruz. An archive of close to 500 postings of mine can be found at my blogspot blog, Dennis Loo, link below. I publish regularly at, (link below) and also at OpEd News and sometimes at Counterpunch.

MARCH 3, 2012 3:02PM

Burning Qurans and Burning Empires: Afghanistan in Turmoil

Rate: 7 Flag

In today's New York Times (3/3/12) the paper writes about the February 21st burning by U.S. personnel in Afghanistan of Muslim holy books, including at least four Qurans, which has sparked nationwide riots, citing the conclusions of a joint commission of three Afghan security officers and an American official:

"the military personnel involved in making the decision to get rid of the Korans and those who carried out the order did not set out to defile the Muslim holy book.

“'There was no maliciousness, there was no deliberateness, there was not an intentional disrespect of Islam,' he said."

I wonder if the writer of this story, Alissa Rubin, and/or her editors, are aware that this distinction that the joint commission is trying to make is a distinction without a difference. If you have already made the decision to "get rid of the Korans" by burning them in a big pile of books (over 1200 confiscated holy books and other books, taken from the prisoners being held by the U.S.), then where does the lack of "deliberateness" even enter the picture? How is the fact that the actors in this drama might not have "intentionally" meant to disrespect Islam change the fact that they decided to "get rid of the books" in the first place and thereby showed their disrespect by their actions?

Let us consider this from the perspective of fundamentalist Christians: suppose it is they who are being held captive by Muslims who are an occupying army in a heavily Christian nation. The Muslim authorities find that some of their American Christian prisoners have made marginal notes in English in their Bibles, which their Muslim captors can't read, and the prison authorities suspect that these Christians may be actually passing notes to each other and "organizing." The Muslim captors confiscate the Bibles and other holy books and decide to burn them.

What would the response be of the other fundamentalist Christians in the occupied Christian nation? If one of those under occupation was a certain Rick Santorum, who nearly vomited when reading JFK's speech asserting the centrality of the separation between church and state, what would be his response, since he thinks that his holy book, the Bible, contains the literal words of God? What would all of the other fundamentalist Christians do who also think that the Bible consists of the literal words of God, just like their fellow Abrahambic Muslim bretheren who think that the Quaran contains the literal words of God? Would they not respond in a similar manner?

Would Santorum's near vomiting result in his being force fed by his Muslim captors to ensure that this prisoner, this terrorist, was not signaling to his fellow terrorists that he and they should carry out a protest/hunger strike?

For the rest of this essay, please see where this was first posted. 

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Besides the unfortunate parallel to things like the Amristar massacre, the situation in Afghanistan is truly hopeless for the Americans and their NATO allies. Obama's withdrawal date of 2013 should be speeded up to six months. Our progress in Afghanistan is working about as well as our Vietnamization program in 1975. They don't call Afghanistan the graveyard of empires for nothing.
RWnut: Are you employing parody? Because if you are, it's a good job. If not, then this is exactly why the Arab world is outraged at the U.S.

As for Islam being a false religion: all fundamentalists of every religion think the others are all false. And they're all right.

ONL: Afghans are justly proud of their record of resisting invader and after invader.
I'm curious about something. Why aren't there riots and burnings when the Bible is desecrated in any manner? There are countries around the world that see Christianity as a false religion, which means they must get rid of the Bibles that wend their way through, yet we don't hear of great turmoil when it happens. Islam is the only religion that seems to react in that manner.

Personally, I have yet to figure out why three religions rooted in the same texts and philosophies have so much contention between them. But that's just me.

If you want to call Islam a false religion then you would also have to call Christianity a false religion because they both come from the same roots - they are both Abrahamic religions. Phyllis correctly points that out.

As to why there are not riots from Christians: I'd observe that since Christianity is the orthodoxy of the dominant powers - and this has been true for some time - that the response of many (not all) Christians to other religions is to invade and suppress those other countries, which is precisely what we see going on between the west and the US in particular and the Islamic world. They don't have to riot because riots are the actions of people who do not hold political power. This disputes aren't primarily motivated by religious differences. They're primarily about political and economic power.
This is good news for the peace movement. I don't see any way the NATO occupation can continue with the massive unrest that is occurring.
To think the rage is only about the burning of Korans is dishonest minimization. It is trivializing and denying the larger picture. The Afghans themselves say their frustration is over much broader issues like the US invasion, destruction, and continuing occupaton of their nation.
Superb, as usual.

What I find TRULY amazing is that there are yahoos amongst us angry that the Afghanis would shoot at our invading marauding troops.


That's fine. I will say this about you: you are quite different from most of your other political brethren in that you encourage debate.

Thanks Donegal and Mark.
Great piece, as always Dennis

"Let us consider this from the perspective of fundamentalist Christians: suppose it is they who are being held captive by Muslims who are an occupying army in a heavily Christian nation"

Let us also consider from the perspective of fundamentalist Christians whose country is being occupied by Muslim armies. And, let's also suppose that those fundamentalist Christians did not have incredibly effective, hi-tech weaponry amassed and at their disposal, while those Muslim armies did. Would they not find ANY means they could to affect their rightful place as human beings free to maintain their culture?

YES! YES! AND YES! They would in a heartbeat. And perhaps, the only means to strike back would be homemade bombs and rockets and in the extreme, suicide bombers; a resounding ring of familiarity there.

For decades, the “West” has forcibly and covertly interfered in the affairs of the Middle East for control of the oil deposits. As far back as the 1930s, 40s and 50s, covert operations were overthrowing their leadership, publically “to promote democracy,” (as if forcing “our” democracy down the throats of others is somehow democratic) but in reality, we all know it is about controlling the region for the ease of access.

America has a chronic, severe case of hegemony, so much so that many readily accept what we do, even though it's an inhumane act perpetrated upon others, as an inconvenience while pursuing “democracy and freedom.” And I say; blowback is, in this case, reaping what our government is propagandizing as terrorism and barbarism brought about “by our total innocence and our undying belief in God,” as if, just as with democracy, forcing “our” god down the throats of others is somehow godly.

Going to war to truly protect ourselves is necessary. Going to war to bully the world is neither democratic, nor, for you believers, “godly.” Time after time, we continue to place our young men and women in situations they cannot possibly hope to manage, and when their minds, those young psyches that are not meant to deal with gunning down another human being break, our government prosecutes them to divert attention away from the fact that THEY are the reason those young men and women are there to begin with.
Hey Boomer! Thank you. Absolutely so.