Allen West May Have a Totally Legitimate Point About the Afghanistan Qur'an Burning

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When Congressman Allen West starts talking about Islam, people whose livelihoods depend on pageviews usually break out their camcorders, because the odds are pretty good someone's going to get really offended.

But West has posted several Facebook messages about the recent uproar over the burning of several Qu'rans... and his "tell it straight and offend whomever I feel like" strategy doesn't seem horribly Islamophobic this time.

The brouhaha has been caused by the burning of several Qur'ans at a prison facility in Afghanistan last week; the violent reaction throughout the country has left...
... an ever-rising number of dead or wounded; just this morning, a suicide bomber killed nine Afghans at a NATO base in Jalalabad in what the Taliban said was "revenge" for the burnings.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai "initially responded to the Koran burnings with outrage," according to the Washington Post, but after his citizens started exploding people because of the incident, he backed off and asked for peace. What a fella.

Blame thus far has been leveled mainly at errors made by commanders at the base, but amid all this mess was one paragraph in a long story from the Post last week:
A senior U.S. military official, who asked to remain anonymous, said Tuesday that the Korans were removed from the prison library because they had radical or anti-Western messages scrawled in them.
The idea that the Qur'ans were being used to pass illegal messages inside the prison has been largely lost amid all the rioting and setting of fires and Republican outrage over President Obama's apology, but West isn't letting it go.

"When tolerance becomes a one-way street it leads to cultural suicide," West wrote on Facebook earlier today. "This time it immediately led to the deaths of two American Warriors... America is awaiting the apology from President Hamid Karzai."

He, like several of the Republican presidential contenders, criticized Obama's response.

"If we had resolute leadership in the White House, we would have explained that these Islamic terrorist enemy combatants detained at the Parwan facility used the Koran to write jihadist messages to pass to others," he wrote. "In doing so, they violated their own cultural practice and defiled the Koran and turned the Koran into contraband."

(In a second post today, he tried to connect the bombings to the U.S.-mandated contraception controversy, but that's a whole different story. Suffice it to say it's not the first time he's been off-base on the issue.)

Still, is it unreasonable to be aggravated by the Obama administration's response to the Qur'an outrage? At the risk of sounding culturally insensitive, it seems at this point that the debate has devolved into "you burned a book, so we're going to burn everything," and then Obama apologized for the book thing as American servicemen were killed over it.

We rang the Pentagon to see what the deal was with properly disposing of Qur'ans and if anything had been confirmed about the books being used to pass secret messages. Commander Bill Speaks wrote in an email that "the investigation into that incident is still underway. I can tell you that, regardless of the reason they were removed from the detainee library, ISAF's procedure for disposing of these texts requires involvement of the proper Islamic religious authorities."

So, nothing yet. But the issue right now looks to be that the Qur'ans were accidentally burned and were potentially being used to illegally pass messages among prisoners -- which certainly changes the tone of the debate. And, for once, West might be on the side of reason.


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7 comments
Jackmahogoff
Jackmahogoff

Even a blind squirrel occasionally finds his nuts .

Atlantic2006
Atlantic2006

Is it our policy to burn Korans?  No.

Were Korans burned by Americans?  Apparently so.

Was this done in error.  I hope so.

So what were you taught to do when you made a mistake?  Apologize.

Pete Pepper
Pete Pepper

Well even a broken watch is right twice a day.  Course the criminal West screws even that up by beating his "I wanna bomb everyone" drum yet again.For everyone who supports this yahoo, lets ask an important question.What if someone started burning all of your bibles?My guess is you would be a bit upset about it, especially if those people were occupying your homeland.Yes, the Afghan response to their books being burned is very extreme.  But this is just one more example of not paying attention to your history.  That country is impossible to conquer and they will over react to ANYTHING done by those trying to do it.  Its been this way all the way back before Alexander the Great.  And they LIKED him.We need to get out of that country, nuff said.

Curiousss
Curiousss

Passing messages in the books. Sounds like a reasonable possibility. BUT, this is how rumors and conspiracy theories start: someone announces a theory that sounds possible, then proclaims it as truth. I haven't heard anyone credible state that messages or remarks were found in the books. And West is known for his outrageous propaganda. So,  "West has a legitimate point."  C'mon, talkin' 'bout West! How can you believe anything from this guy?

ALLEN WEST MUST GO
ALLEN WEST MUST GO

It is Barack Obama's JOB as COMMANDER IN CHIEF to protect the troops from harm. It was CLEARLY the right thing to do to apologize. Allen West has about as much credibility on foreign policy issues as the neocons who lied us into Iraq.

glass slipper
glass slipper

When that asshole pastor in Florida had is "Burn the Qu'ran Day" it was the spark. Then to do it again in Afghanistan, no matter what stupid excuse you can come up with, what would you expect?

This region is highly unstable because of the invasion and the drone killings and now you are just spitting in their face with this latest fiasco.

Asshole West is still an fucking idiot and is one of the forces that is fanning the flames. Nothing good is coming from this and we need to get out of there and the whole Middle East.

 We need to look to our Southern neighbors and start establishing trade relationships down there and start divesting from the rest of the psychos that hate each other.

Rich Abdill
Rich Abdill

I'm not suggesting West is diplomatic enough to pull off any kind of nuanced foreign policy, but he wasn't the first person to bring up this message-passing business; we won't find out any details until after the investigation, and even then it probably won't be much.

But West is big on challenging conventional narratives, and this time it was more than just blindly disagreeing with whatever Obama decided to do -- what could be a big part of the narrative is being ignored. That could be because it's not true, but it's a big part nonetheless.

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