I wasn’t going to write anything about the assault on the twin towers – the ninth anniversary of anything isn’t terribly interesting – and the event looks as if it is going to be more famous for what the West did in response to it than for what actually happened. Billions of dollars spent and scores of thousands dead.
In passing, I am rather surprised that there is still nothing there, after nine years. You would have thought the traditionally industrious Americans would have thrown up a skyscraper in a matter of months. They obviously need more Chinese.
One typically daft anniversary celebration has been from the Evangelist minister who was going to burn the Koran, or several of them. Obama has predictably gone over the top, the Secretary General of the UN felt unable to remain silent, and even the normally level headed General Petraeus has said the act could endanger American troops.
I must say if I were an Afghan or Iraqi, with an occupying force in my country, and it had descended almost into lawlessness, I wouldn’t be too worried if some nutcase in their country were burning books. Other preoccupations, you see.
The minister, or pastor, is called Terry Jones, like the 1970s comedian, and is the spiritual sustenance of a congregation of about 50 in the Dove Outreach Centre of Gainesville, Florida. Jones now claims he has done a deal with a New York imam that he will not burn the Korans if they don’t set up a proposed mosque and Muslim centre near ‘Ground Zero’.
The Dove Outreach Centre doesn’t look in much better shape than Ground Zero. Part of the cross on the wall seems to have fallen off. I should have thought this an important part of the fabric of the building, and suppose it is what comes of spending all your money on Islamic literature.
Anyway, I have friends who live in the Ground Zero area and they say that the proposed site for the mosque is in a deserted alley nobody ever goes down, and that no one local gives a stuff whether there will be a mosque or a Dove Outreach Centre.
I spend a fair bit of time advising people to forget their grievances over the second world war and I now think Americans should lighten up a bit about 9/11. Let's let them have their cultural centre, and let's not spoil the valuable work of reaching out to Gainesville's doves with the smell of burning books. That smell has assocations, Terry, and they are the wrong ones for you.