Some weeks ago, a Florida swamplands preacher burned a Koran, ostensibly in protest of that book’s promotion of violence. The same preacher had threatened the same burning a year ago, but relented in the face of widespread disapproval.
Almost as soon as match touched page, Muslims half a planet away began rioting. Arab Muslims, incensed at the libricide, took to the streets and killed seven United Nations workers in northern Afghanistan.
Neither camp learned much from the biblioclasmic events, especially with regard to public relations. Floridian swamp-preachers, having long labored under accusations of ignorant fear-mongering and rabble rousering, gained no ground to the contrary. And Arab Muslims, accused by one of those preachers of revering a book which promotes violence, certainly did their international image no favors killing seven innocent UN relief workers several continents removed from the event.
The lesson neither team absorbed is: when you labor under stereotypes on behalf of a cause, you do that cause no favors by playing into those images.