UPDATE: Note that the Qur’ans were apparently burned in private, not publicly, but some Muslims found the not-quite-consumed volumes and publicized it.
How many lives does it take to expiate four charred books? As you probably know, a few copies of the Qur’an were incinerated by Americans at Bagram air base in Afghanistan. According to the BBC:
US officials apologised on Tuesday after Korans were “inadvertently” put in an incinerator at Bagram airbase.
Officials at Bagram reportedly believed Taliban prisoners were using the books to pass messages to each other.
The charred remains of the volumes were found by local labourers.
That set off a series of riots that are continuing. Six Afghanis were killed by their own police, and now, according to today’s New York Times, two NATO troops have been killed as well. That is eight lives snuffed out by an accidental burning of words on paper—eight people who had friends and family who loved them. Think how you’d feel if your husband, daughter, or best friend were suddenly taken from you by a bullet. Now multiply those feelings by eight: that’s the amount of pain that this incident has caused. And that, of course, is only the latest in a string of deadly Islam-inspired “offense.”
President Obama has issued an apology:
“I wish to express my deep regret for the reported incident,” Mr. Obama said in a letter to President Hamid Karzai. “I extend to you and the Afghan people my sincere apologies.”
The letter was handed to Mr. Karzai by the American ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan C. Crocker, on Thursday afternoon in Kabul.
The acting spokesman for the American Embassy in Kabul, Mark Thornburg, confirmed the wording of the letter and that it had been hand delivered by Mr. Crocker to Mr. Karzai.
“The error was inadvertent,” Mr. Obama said. “I assure you that we will take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, to include holding accountable those responsible.”
Okay, apologies are necessary to stem this lunacy, but must they really discipline those who made the mistake?
It’s just pieces of paper.