For once, I'm with Hillary Clinton. Regarding the Rev. Terry Jones, would-be Quran igniter, the secretary of state said, "It is regrettable that a pastor in Gainesville, Florida, with a church of no more than 50 people can make this outrageous and ... disgraceful plan and get the world's attention, but that's the world we live in right now."
"Get the world's attention" is putting it mildly. The until-recently justifiably obscure Jones is now famous on seven continents. He is doubtless far better known in the Muslim world than, say, N.Y. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has carried water for the World Trade Center mosque, and certainly better known than nearly all of those who have lined up to denounce him.
And what a long line it is! Take a number. Just about anyone in what used to be called Christendom who can command a microphone, starting with President Obama, has condemned the book-burning pastor. Gen. David Petraeus has warned that "Even the rumor that it might take place has sparked demonstrations such as the one that took place in Kabul yesterday. Were the actual burning to take place, the safety of our soldiers and civilians would be put in jeopardy, and accomplishment of the mission would be made more difficult."
Julius Scruggs of the National Baptist Convention reproved him, as did the Rev. Pat Robertson, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, Sarah Palin, the Vatican, Attorney General Eric Holder, Mitt Romney, Angelina Jolie, Ann Coulter, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Glenn Beck, and Gov. Haley Barbour, among many, many others.
All of the denouncers are obviously right, but why in the world were sane people called upon to respond to this flyspeck anyway? How did the Gainesville pastor become such a world-bestriding figure?
He became news because he fulfilled a need for the press. They had to have another side to the ground zero mosque story. Why? Because members of the press are total suckers for "both sidesism." There is nothing they like better in a news story than to present two conflicting views and to pronounce that "both sides" are guilty of provocation, mistrust, violence or bad faith. They are confident that truth nearly always lies between two extremes. Exceptions are made when the antagonists are Democrats and Republicans, or environmentalists and businessmen, but the generalization usually applies.