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Why burning a book is not a good idea
by David Solway
I note that many of the responses to my recent article "The Fire This Time" take me to task for considering Terry Jones' burning of the Koran as reprehensible. I seem to have been largely misconstrued and the point I was trying to make is lost. I understand the intention behind Jones and especially the gutsy Ann Barnhardt, but I could never burn a book, not even Mein Kampf. Both my conscience and my heritage forbid it. Moreover, book-burning in these instances reeks too much of a stunt.
More importantly, for all the bravado it exhibits (Jones) or the mettle it takes (Barnhardt), it is in the long run not an effective measure, and sets a precedent whose consequences cannot be foreseen and which may come back to haunt us. When one burns a book, one condones the burning of the library of Alexandria. There are other and far more effective ways of fighting evil, whether with the pen or the sword, with scholarship or with militant courage. Or both.
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