Friday, September 10, 2010


by William Saletan

September 10, 2010

So let me get this straight: A Florida minister who has fewer than 50 followers, doesn't answer to any Christian organization, and doesn't even know the other pastors in his town set off panic and violence around the world by holding hostage a few copies of the Quran. He withstood pleas from the National Association of Evangelicals, the World Evangelical Alliance, the U.S. secretary of state, and the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Then, in negotiations with an imam from Orlando, he agreed to surrender his hostages in exchange for what he thought was a deal to relocate a Manhattan mosque from its planned site near Ground Zero. But the imam in Manhattan said he had made no such deal and hadn't even talked to the imam from Orlando. So now the minister says he was double-crossed and might burn his hostages after all.

Someday, perhaps after a few more Qurans, American flags, effigies, cars, and embassies have been torched, all of this will be sorted out. But for now, let's be clear about one thing this crazy episode has proved: Nobody in it controls anybody else.