In the Founders' concept of the "Marketplace of Ideas," bad ideas won't find as many buyers as good ones -- so good ideas ultimately will win. Here's a plan to put that concept to work.
"The NeoProgressive" generally is not intended to take sides in passing political debates. Its goal is to look past hotbutton issues to look for ways Americans of varying opinions can join together to pursue common, truly American objectives. My focus here is ideological, not inflammatory.
But sometimes events occur that call for citizens of good will to stop merely talking about principles, and start acting on them. This is such a time.
The misguided and misanthropic pastor of Florida's Dove World Outreach Center church has announced plans to burn thousands of Korans on September 11. He's doing this despite a clear warning from David H. Petraeus, the American general in charge of operations in Afghanistan, that doing so would jeopardize both the lives of American troops and prospects for success in that war:
Of course, in America, private individuals are free to both publish books and to burn them. The Constitution guarantees free expression, including offensive expression. But, if the Founders' "marketplace of ideas" concept is correct, there should be many more right-thinking people willing to print books than there are wrong-thinking people willing to burn them.
Accordingly, the NeoProgressive is gathering pledges from people who are willing to pay the costs of printing and distributing at least twice as many Korans as the Dove World Outreach Center burns on 9/11.
I don't propose this for religious reasons. I'm not Muslim. The book's content doesn't matter; what matters is establishing that more Americans support freedom of religion and expression than oppose them, and that there are more compassionate, tolerant Americans than there are narrow-minded, intolerant ones. By causing there to be more Korans in the world on 9/12 than there were on 9/10, we will be standing up for American ideals. And, if the same news media that cover the Koran-burning also report that Americans have created more Korans than they destroyed, we might even help save America's reputation in the world's Islamic community -- and, consequently, American soldiers' lives.
If enough people show interest in this project, I'll do the legwork needed to determine the exact costs involved and propose a method of distribution. At this point, I'd just like to know who's interested in participating and how much money we may have to work with.
If you think Korans4Korans is a good idea, please send me an email at Korans4Korans at gmail dot com, with your name, email, and what you might be able to contribute to the effort (in both money and skills -- I'm a mediator and writer and would love to connect with people who really know how the mechanics of this might work). And please follow the #Korans4Korans hashtag on Twitter.
M.S. Bellows, Jr.