When I first heard the news that Rev. Terry Jones, a minister at the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla. was planning a “Burn the Qur’an Day” on September 11, I wondered if I had been transported back in time several centuries.
When I checked the history of book burning, I discovered that it is long and nefarious -- dating back to early Chinese emperors who set fire to works of philosophy that did not comply with state dogma. It includes the destruction of the magnificent ancient library of Alexandria, many burnings of the Torah and Talmud, and, at the time of the Reformation, Protestants burning Catholic books and Catholics burning Protestant books. In fact, the Spanish Inquisition was an equal opportunity arsonist; inquisitors burned Protestant books, Jewish books and even the Qur’an itself. In recent times, the Nazis conducted public book burnings that included the works of many Jewish intellectuals.