In the Arena

Afghan Massacre

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The first thing that you need to know about the massacre of 12 people that took place in Afghanistan today is that Mazar-e-Sharif is not a particularly radical town. It is not Pashtun, it is not Taliban. It is so quiet that NATO dispatched the near-pacifist Germans to keep the peace there. And so today’s massacre–in protest of the odious Terry Jones’ burning of a Koran on March 20–may be only a taste of what we’re going to see when the real religious fanatics get ginned up.

Jones has a right to burn the Koran. And Rick Warren has a right–no, more than a right: a moral responsibly–to blast Jones for the nitwit bigot he is, and to rally mainstream evangelicals against this profoundly disgusting, and extremely dangerous, act. Warren tries to stay out of the political spotlight and he is to be admired for that. But this is different and, as David Petraeus warned last time Jones threatened this sort of unChristian behavior, not just the lives of unarmed UN and other aid workers, but also of American troops, are at stake.

But there should be no confusion about this: Jones’s act was murderous as any suicide bomber’s. If there is a hell, he’s just guaranteed himself an afterlifetime membership.