Kenneth Wain and the Lifelong Engagement with Education
13. An Apprenticeship in Resistance: Art, Education, and Book Burning
One of the most notorious events that never happened during the year 2010 was Pastor Terry Jones’s proposed burning of a few hundred copies of the Qur’an on the ninth anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City. The Florida-based preacher’s call for an international “Burn a Qur’an Day” on Facebook sparked off a chorus of dissenting voices from various quarters, including U.S. President Barack Obama and the Vatican, as well as several anti-“Burn a Qur’an Day” groups on Facebook. Without doubt, his plan was confrontational, with political, cultural, religious, educational, and other implications, yet it was hardly an original idea. Book burning has been with us for as long as books have been written.
If we were to follow Freud’s interpretation of the Greek myth of Prometheus, in which he compares flames to “a phallus in activity” (Freud, 1990, p. 232) and speculates that primitive people likened the warmth of fire to sexual activity, or Bachelard, who compared primitive conquests of fire to sexual conquests (Bachelard, 1949, p. 75), we could say that Terry Jones’s decision to call off the Qur’an bonfire after the international media attention had escalated and the situation was threatening to spiral completely out of control was the biggest symbolic coitus interruptus of the year. Despite the fact that many people were relieved to hear about the preacher’s “withdrawal”, the media’s infatuation with Jones during the weeks leading up to September 11th led everyone to anticipate...
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