Gen. Petraeus said it may endanger troops if the Quran burning occurs. Hillary Clinton called their planned inferno disgraceful. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the international fiasco distasteful. Gov. Charlie Crist called it offensive.
Even President Obama has weighed in on Gainesville’s descent to international embarrassment, calling the Dove World Outreach Center’s now-suspended plan to burn hundreds of Qurans on Sept. 11 a stunt and contrary to American values.
Whatever you want to call it, we’re sure you have your own opinions.
And as much as we regret having to devote even more space to the blight of our city and deprive you all of Darts and Laurels until next Friday, we feel obligated to weigh in on the situation.
We’re mortified that our city of Gainesville — where we have proudly elected a gay mayor and embraced Islam On Campus; where we have a university defined by understanding and welcoming UF students — has drawn international backlash for a few dozen woefully misguided religious fanatics.
The fact that our city has been transformed into a media frenzy where the Dove World Outreach Center keeps chumming the waters with their zealous, ignorant war cries is not only an embarrassment, but rather a permanent scar on our city where perceptions will inevitably become fact.
Now that the international community has seen a handful of uneducated, close-minded attention whores preaching exactly the opposite of what we believe to be Christian values, Gainesville will forever have an image of being intolerant and unwelcoming to those who are different, whether this group chooses to go through with its plans or not.
We’re ashamed that students, fearing violence will ensue, feel the need to flee the city Saturday. We’re perplexed as to how anyone, even the handful of members of this “church,” no matter how distastefully uneducated and ill-advised they might be, can align themselves with such distorted versions of the loving messages of Jesus Christ.
We’re proud to see so many students and community members standing up for the rights of those who are different than them, especially on a somber day like Sept. 11.
Because that’s the true American spirit.
Although the Editorial Board strongly believes The Dove World Outreach Center is quickly contradicting its own message of peace, we also agree with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s statements that the “church” has a right to speak as it wishes.
As Americans, and as ones who cherish the right to free speech and freedom of the press, we cannot consciously advise these zealots, with their inaccurate portrayals of both Christianity and our city, to quiet down.
We must remember that however much we disagree with this scab of Gainesville that we want to flick away from our bodies, and however much we are disgusted by their incessant nonsense, they have just as much right to free speech as those who are protesting their protest.
But we also know freedom of speech does not govern what should be said.
What should be said is exactly the opposite of what our city might still turn into Saturday. What should be done is open our arms to diversity instead of burning books in a crime against humanity.
We can only hope the world will forgive our city for those who unfortunately choose to exercise their right to free speech in such a hateful way.