Lowering the ante

It bother me that sanctimonious jerks can so easily make me sympathize with certified, publicity-seeking creepy-crawlies. I really shouldn’t fall for this variation of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

But MSNBC out-creeped that Florida Koran-burning pastor (HT Best of the Web from the Wall Street Journal (subscription may be required)):

Shut Up, They Explained
Florida pastor Terry Jones’s 15 minutes of fame are up, but not before he occasioned one of the weirdest moments in the history of cable news, captured for posterity by the good folks at NewsBusters.org. Jones was a guest Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Here’s the full transcript of his appearance with co-hostess Mika Brzezinski, and Jon Meacham, recently deposed editor of Newsweek:

  • Brezezinski: We’ve really been debating whether or not to do this. Joe [Scarborough, the other co-host] says “no,” he doesn’t think it’s a good idea at all. He might be right. The Florida pastor, threatening to burn copies of the Koran tomorrow, is now saying his plans are “on hold,” after a local imam told him that the proposed New York Islamic center near Ground Zero would be moved. And joining us now from Gainesville, Florida, is pastor Terry Jones. And the reason we’re doing this is my worry is that the pastor’s going to have blood on his hands if he goes forward with this plan. So Jon Meacham just has a quick message for you, sir. Jon?
  • Meacham: Pastor, I just wanted to–this is Jon Meacham. I just wanted to suggest that Jesus said the night before he was handed over to suffering and death that he ordered his disciples to love one another as he had loved them. That was his central commandment, and as he died, he said that “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” The central message of the New Testament is forgiveness, and to put oneself in the place of another. And so I would simply appeal to you, as a fellow Christian, that the course you suggested is going to be incredibly dangerous, and would ask you to desist in the name of New Testament theology.
  • Brezezinski: All right, well said, Jon Meacham, and Pastor Terry Jones, we appeal to you to listen to that. And we don’t really need to hear anything else, so thanks.

[Italics added – Tipsy] That’s it! Jones appeared on screen but never got to say a word. The crazy pastor ended up looking more dignified than either the smarmy Meacham or the shrill Brzezinski. True, he didn’t end up burning any Korans, but it’s doubtful that Meacham’s smug sermon was what persuaded him.

The whole bizarre exercise reminded us of the time when The New Republic, having published an excerpt of “The Bell Curve,” devoted its entire next issue to a series of ritual denunciations of the book. Most of the contributions were repetitious and insubstantial, leading a reader to conclude that the purpose was not to further debate but to end the debate and atone for having participated in it in the first place.

It also calls to mind the late George Pearch, who under the stage name “Wally George” hosted a local 1980s TV show in Orange County, Calif., called “Hot Seat.” As the Internet Movie Database describes the format, “George expounds on his extreme right-wing political views and insults guests and audience members who don’t agree with him.” As we remember it, Pearch would bring a guest on, let him start saying something, then denounce him as a “lunatic liberal” and have him escorted off by security.

At least Pearch’s guests got to say something, and at least when they agreed to go on his show, they knew they were signing up to be abused. There’s a word for supposedly serious journalists, like Mika Brzezinski and Jon Meacham, who act like Wally George: unprofessional.

I am particularly appalled at Meacham’s roll-your own exorcism formula: “I adjure you in the Name of New Testament Theology! Come out! foul spirit! from this ludicrous caricature!” Has this ersatz Christian Meacham darkened the door of a Church lately? Has he cracked open a New Testament?

Meanwhile, at the Law, Religion & Ethics blog, Robert Cochran makes the simple point that “If fear of terrorism is seen as the reason we don’t burn Korans or the reason we move the mosque, we will get more threats.” Worthwhile short posting. Pretty little Ms. Brzezinski should read it.

3 thoughts on “Lowering the ante

  1. @Saladin: Book burnings generally, and Orthodox Jews burning New Testaments (not entire Bibles) particularly aside, Brzezinski’s and Meacham’s behavior still was appalling.

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