Terry Jones's 15 minutes of fame have run out, the foreign media have left Gainesville, and we aren't likely to hear much more about the fringe Florida preacher and his abandoned plan to burn copies of the Koran on Sept. 11. But there are some lessons worth taking away from the episode. Here are three:
1. While it's fashionable in some precincts to smear America as a nation of Islamophobes whose bigotry plays into the hands of extremists, the reverse is closer to the truth. A nation of Islamophobes would have rallied around Jones and his benighted band, but Americans of every stripe condemned them. Jones's proposed "stunt," President Obama said in a TV interview, is "completely contrary to our values." Attorney General Eric Holder called it "idiotic and dangerous." Secretary of State Hillary Clinton slammed it as "outrageous and . . . disgraceful."
The administration's denunciations were echoed across the political and social spectrum — by Sarah Palin and Franklin Graham, by Angelina Jolie and Glenn Beck, by the National Council of Churches, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and the National Association of Evangelicals. There was criticism from Florida's Republican and Democratic gubernatorial candidates and from dozens of members of Congress. The conservative Manchester Union Leader labeled the Koran-burning idea "deadly stupid." The liberal Los Angeles Times implored: "Don't fan the flames."