Thinking you could erase an entire civilization—
Thinking you could rewrite history or bring back the dead—
Or make a point? I don’t know you and I haven’t been following your story.
Only it shows up on news feeds, my sister tells me
Defense Secretary Bob Gates called you, the FBI
But nothing less than a sign from God could persuade you.
What the hell were you thinking?
An entire civilization. Civilizations. Plural.
It’s not just the damned A-rabs, you fucktard.
Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, Ottoman, Tartar, Mughal
Cities built under the desert sun, tombs and hanging gardens
Blue mosaics and calligraphy, the beautiful and sacred green
Towering mosques with glinting domes
And you want to burn it? Bomb it? Destroy it
To let the world know God lives in the U.S. of A?
I lived with an Egyptian, fair skinned,
Beautiful, large, dark eyes and curly black hair
Went to Sty, studying to be a neurologist,
Volunteered in Harlem and Brooklyn every weekend
To hand out food stamps and help people get Medicaid.
We talked about Cairo and Egyptian literature
And what it means to be raised in extremely religious cultures.
I had dinner with the parents. We had eggplant and rice.
I was fucking there when they blew out the Pentagon.
I lived there. I couldn’t get a call through to my parents
Because the air was thick with fractured signals and no one
I mean no one had a clue what the fuck was going on.
Went home and watched reruns of the Two Towers falling
Over and over and over again and that moment I remembered
When my sixth grade teacher told us something would happen in our time
That we would remember the moment we were when it happened.
I knew someone—his father died in one of the planes.
The one that landed in backwoods Pennsylvania.
Another person—his brother died in the Towers.
You—you live in fucking Florida. Don’t talk to me.
Don’t talk to me.
Yes. Yes, I am saying that I have more of a right to talk about this than you.
There are national events, and then there are events that take place
At your house. In your front yard. The TV in your living room
Isn’t worth shit.
There’s remembering, and then there’s remembering.
Do you get it? I have friends who had to decide
Whether they’d keep wearing headscarves, I have friends
Who get pulled aside every single fucking time they go to the airport
Who go to schools that teach in European History that
The Ottoman Empire was the Sick Man in Europe when actually
They were glorious.
They were fucking amazing when Europe was still rutting in the Dark Ages
Fucking pigs and eating rats carrying Black Plague thinking the Earth was flat.
You think that because the United States of sea-to-shining-sea America
Will be a superpower forever? You grew up in the Cold War
Faced your mortality with fear and paranoia like decaying uranium
You watched Reagan and Thatcher defeat Gorbachev
You saw the triumph of capitalism and family values
You ignored AIDS because those were just blacks and gays
You started seeing a helluva lot more ‘Spics and not just Cubans
Then there was The Internet, the tool of the Devil.
And you think God-bless America is going to last forever.
Defender of Freedom, Protector of the Democratic World
Winner of Wars, Slayer of Dragons, Prophet of Peace,
Keeper of Time, Guardian of Truth, Angel of Justice
Manifest Destiny America is here to stay. Eternally.
Heaven on Earth, Land of Milk and Honey and High Fructose Corn Syrup.
George W. Bush was your man. Jesus take the fucking wheel.
The Ottoman Empire ruled for over six hundred years.
Yeah. Six. Like the number of the Beast.
That must be why you’re burning the Qur'an.
Because of the demonic influences of the infidels.
The Qur’an is almost 1,500 years old.
Not as old as the Bible, I’ll grant you.
But older than yee-haw y’all U.S. of A.
Then again, all that history’s lost on you.
You are, after all, born and raised 100% homebred American.
What the hell were you thinking?
It’s the day before 9/11 and why are you burning Qur’ans?
My mother’s fake birthday is on 9/12. It’s a fake birthday
Because she was born under the lunar calendar.
She doesn’t know the solar day she was born. So she chose 9/12.
Our family would go out to dinner somewhere nice
And inevitably get into a fight, because that’s what my family does.
I’m not going to ask you what you want me to do to remember 9/11.
I’m never going to forget. It’s impossible.
Apparently, I’m remembering 9/11 by writing a poem
At 3 AM—the time Christ supposedly resurrected, wouldn’t you know—
On 9/10, asking you why you think burning Qur'ans is a good idea.
I’m not talking about freedom of religion or freedom of speech
Freedom of assembly, what our boys are fighting for in Iraq
Ter’rism and global security. I’m talking about memory, and fear.
What are you so fucking scared of that you decided
The only way to reclaim control or sense of your world was to burn books.
Books you’ve never read, never will read, never wanted to read
From a culture you don’t understand, don’t want to understand, and never will
Written fifteen hundred years ago in a time lost, by a person
Who was as zealous about faith and God as you are now.
If you were Muslim and served Muhammad, I think he’d be proud of you
He was ready to defend his faith by the sword, if necessary
Like Moses and the prophets before him—
Religion is a strange mix of bloodshed and tolerance.
What the hell were you thinking, burning the Qur’an.
I bet you condemned Harry Potter because it had witches
I bet you spoke against Darwin because he said evolution.
Darwin never said called it evolution. It was a theory of natural selection
And the origin of species. I know. I read the book.
I’ve known people like you, who say the only book a person needs
Is the Holy Scripture, Word of God.
What are you so scared of that your enemy is a book—not only believers
But the Word and its quiet power.
The same year 9/11 happened, I read Fahrenheit 451.
Are you prepared to memorize the Bible?
Of course you are.
But which one?
KJV, NKJV, NIV, SRV, original Greek?
If you’re going to burn the Qur’an, and have others help, know this:
The Qur’an lends itself to song.
The Bible does not.
If all the Bibles are burned tomorrow, will you sing the Psalms in verse?