Clinton: Don’t judge America by ‘aberrational’ Quran-burning plan

When asked today about the Quran-burning plan of a Florida pastor, Secretary Clinton once again condemned "this outrageous and distressful, disgraceful plan" and said, "[W]e want to be judged by who we are as a nation, not by something that is so aberrational." (That’s probably how Muslims feel when judged by 9/11.) She made the ...

ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images

When asked today about the Quran-burning plan of a Florida pastor, Secretary Clinton once again condemned "this outrageous and distressful, disgraceful plan" and said, "[W]e want to be judged by who we are as a nation, not by something that is so aberrational." (That's probably how Muslims feel when judged by 9/11.) She made the remarks this morning in the question-and-answer session after her pep-talk speech when Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, asked her, "What's your view on all this from the Department of State? How does this complicate your life?" Clinton responded:

Clinton: Well, I mean, we're a country of, what, 310 million-plus right now and -- I mean, it's regrettable that a pastor in Gainesville, Florida, with a church of no more than 50 people can make this outrageous and distressful, disgraceful plan and get the world's attention, but that's the world we live in right now. I mean, it doesn't, in any way, represent America or Americans or American government or American religious or political leadership. And we are, as you've seen in the last few days, speaking out. General Petraeus made the very powerful point that as seemingly small a group of people doing this, the fact is that it will have potentially great harm for our troops. So we are hoping that the pastor decides not to do this. We're hoping against hope that if he does, it won't be covered -- (laughter) --

Haass: Bonne chance.

When asked today about the Quran-burning plan of a Florida pastor, Secretary Clinton once again condemned "this outrageous and distressful, disgraceful plan" and said, "[W]e want to be judged by who we are as a nation, not by something that is so aberrational." (That’s probably how Muslims feel when judged by 9/11.) She made the remarks this morning in the question-and-answer session after her pep-talk speech when Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, asked her, "What’s your view on all this from the Department of State? How does this complicate your life?" Clinton responded:

Clinton: Well, I mean, we’re a country of, what, 310 million-plus right now and — I mean, it’s regrettable that a pastor in Gainesville, Florida, with a church of no more than 50 people can make this outrageous and distressful, disgraceful plan and get the world’s attention, but that’s the world we live in right now. I mean, it doesn’t, in any way, represent America or Americans or American government or American religious or political leadership. And we are, as you’ve seen in the last few days, speaking out. General Petraeus made the very powerful point that as seemingly small a group of people doing this, the fact is that it will have potentially great harm for our troops. So we are hoping that the pastor decides not to do this. We’re hoping against hope that if he does, it won’t be covered — (laughter) —

Haass: Bonne chance.

Clinton: — as an act of patriotism. But I think that it’s unfortunate. I mean, it’s not who we are, and we just have to constantly be demonstrating by our words and actions. And as I remind my friends around the world, in the environment in which we all now operate, anybody with an iPhone, anybody with a blog, can put something out there which is outrageous. I mean, we went through the cartoon controversy. We went through the Facebook controversy in Pakistan. Judith McHale, who is our undersecretary for public diplomacy, is on the front lines of pushing back on all of this all the time. And so we want to be judged by who we are as a nation, not by something that is so aberrational. And we’ll make that case as strongly as possible. 

This Quran-burning plan has been generating outrage around the world. In the Sept. 8 photo above, a group of Muslims and Christians in Jakarta, Indonesia, denounce the plan. The placard on the left states: "If the Quran burning takes place, America has failed as a champion of democracy."

Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2016 and was an FP assistant editor from 2007 to 2009. Twitter: @pjaroonFP

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