I have an opinion on the use of the Quran as a target for weapons practice by US personnel in Baghdad.
I was wondering what you other skeptics and/or atheists think.
My opinion is that I view the Quaran as “just another influential book”. Why should I feel any differently about somebody shooting at it as opposed to, say, a Betty Crocker Cookbook? The difference as I see it, is that I highly doubt somebody just picked a random book - which happened to be the Quran - to shoot.
I suspect, that just like burning a flag is very often a political and philosophical statement, rather than a matter of practical expediency (i.e. keeping warm) or random happenstance, so is any non-random shooting or burning the Quran. I firmly support the right of free speech, even to the point where a citizen is entitled to burn a flag, fly a flag of choice, burn or shoot any book he may choose. On the other hand, I propose that when an official representative (e.g. a soldier, or other government agent) makes a political statement, it is sometimes difficult to separate the person from the role and thus may be easily misconstrued as an official statement. I cannot help but think it was intentionally inflamatory.
It also occurs to me that some may be inclined to shoot a Quran, a Bible, a Kitαb-i-Aqdas, a Mencius etc. as a general statement of antipathy toward religion in general. But in selecting to assault only one holy book, one’s intention could be easily (mis?)construed as making a specific statement against a particular religion, and implicitly in support of some other religion. Due to this easy interpretation, it is logical for an observer to infer the protester supports some kind of deep antipathy toward a particular religion commensurate perhaps even with the disposition toward religious war.
Finally, I hold that the war in Iraq (and Afghanistan, for that matter) is a secular war against the secular impacts of an autocratic and malicious regime and ideology, which regime may (or may not) be motivated by religious philosophy. It is in keeping with the Enlightenment ideals of liberty, including religious liberty, for the actions and policies of our occupation forces to completely ignore religious issues until and unless they create deleterious secular or practical impacts, and then to selectively address those issues. To cast the struggle as being generally against a particular religion is antithetical to the best ideals of respect, tolerance and liberty humanity has ever conceived.