I don’t mention my hometown very often. Most of my bios just mention that I live in Texas. I don’t hide the fact that I’ve spent my life in Amarillo, my hometown and my current place of residence. But I don’t trumpet it, either, mostly because I like some measure of privacy in my life.
But I live here in a city with a metropolitan population around 200,000, way up in the middle of the Texas Panhandle (that little square notch at the top of the state). We’re sort of out on our own up here, closer to the Colorado mountains than we are to Dallas, and nearer to several other state capitals than to our own in Austin.
We’re more cultured than you’d expect, but we’re also just as independent-minded and no-nonsense and (insert cowboy adjective here) as you imagine Texans to be. Probably more so.
Amarillo is also a very conservative place, politically and theologically. Which is why I wasn’t surprised to hear, on Friday night, that even though the pastor in Florida had canceled his Quran burning, another religious person in Amarillo had vowed to burn one anyway, in solidarity. Or something.
Every community has crazy hateful people who think they’re doing God’s work, including ours.
Such a pronouncement was embarrassing, but this guy — I won’t name him — has a reputation in the area for being an embarrassment to his fellow Christians, and I didn’t feel the need to call any more attention to him than he usually tries to get for himself. Honestly, I didn’t want my hometown to get that kind of attention.
But I will happily report what happened on Saturday when he actually did try to burn the Quran.
He announced that he’d be doing it at a local park at 3 p.m. on Saturday. More than 200 people showed up at the park at that time, most of them to protest. Police officers were there, too, just in case.
There were signs that said “Love thy enemy” and “Love thy neighbor.”
The guy had a grill upon which he intended to barbecue the Quran. When he got ready, the jeering protesters put their hands on the grill and wouldn’t let go.
(That posed a problem.)
Then someone stole the guy’s lighter.
(That posed another problem.)
Then, while the attempted Quran burner was arguing with a few of the protesters, a young guy carrying a skateboard went up and snatched the Quran out of his hands. The skateboard dude got away and handed the book over to a leader from the local Islamic Center.
(That posed a spectacularly big problem, because apparently it was the only Quran he brought.)
The attempted Quran burner was left with no grill, no lighter, and no holy book to burn. All he had was some lighter fluid.
So he got into his car and drove away. The protest died down. Everyone went home peacefully, loving their neighbors.
Well done, Amarillo.
[Update: I’ve been informed via Twitter that the guy willingly
gave up his lighter when he realized the protesters weren’t going to let
go of the grill.]