Sigmund Freud, in the early 1930s, quipped that he was pleased to see that the German and Austrian antisemites appeared content to burn his books and not him. And, of course, within a few years, as things escalated, it wasn’t long before Freud, and Jews generally, arrived at the conclusion that they were in mortal danger from what popular politics had unleashed in the culture. What began as rhetoric and symbol transformed. The word became flesh.
Fast forward to 21st century America. George Bush, immediately after 9-11 and throughout his tenure as president, was insistent on separating Islam from the War on Terror. But a Rubicon has been crossed with the so-called ground zero mosque rhetoric, and it is the beginning of an evil inclination in the Republican Party. Attributing to Muslim Americans collective guilt for 9-11 is the new antisemitism, and you can’t unleash the dark energies of scapegoating without generating real mischief.
What, for example, would Freud say about the news of a Florida church planning to burn Qurans on the anniversary of 9-11?
Isn’t Muslim collective guilt the raison d’etre for this gesture? And wouldn’t the Herderite book burners of the 1930s have understood this impulse perfectly?
Here’s the India Times:
A Florida church said it plans to publicly burn copies of the Quran on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, prompting threats from Islamic groups and warnings the move will trigger a rise in hate crimes.
The Dove World Outreach Center of Gainesville, Florida said on its Facebook page it will hold an “International Burn a Koran Day” on September 11, asking other religious groups to join in standing “against the evil of Islam. Islam is of the devil!”
“Islam and Sharia law was responsible for 9/11,” pastor Terry Jones said.
And here’s an image of book burning in Berlin, May 10, 1933: