On May 10, 1933, thousands of books were burned and tens of thousands of people gathered around Germany to hear speeches by the likes of Joseph Goebbels and other Nazi leaders. Many, if not most, of the books were pillaged from libraries. The stated purpose was to rid the German state of un-German books and un-German thought.
The threat made by pastor Terry Jones this weekend to burn copies of the Koran has of course been compared to this event. Notably (well, to me) different is that the pastor's plans were to burn copies of the Koran that he acquired legally. It would be quite a stretch to reasonably believe that there was any threat to burn every Koran in America, though some people insist on couching their argument in those implied terms. As a result of this man's stated intentions, he has received death threats and had hundreds of people marching outside his church chanting "Pastor Jones, you’re a clown. We don’t want you in our town”, some while also carrying signs saying "Love thy Neighbor". Well, I guess if he leaves town, he's no longer a neighbor so no need to love him. Though he chose not to go through with his despicable act, he continues to be vilified.
The question that I have is, while burning books is quite an obnoxious use of one's free speech, kind of like burning a flag or putting a crucifix in a jar of urine for an "art" exhibit, why the overreaction? My thinking is that the mobs allied against him are trying to feel powerful in reaction to fear. Not fear of Pastor Jones, but fear of the reaction of radical muslim extremists. Like any mob, they are weak but feel powerful in numbers.
My other, more open question is, would it have been "right" for those whose books were being burned back in 1933 to have issued death threats against those Nazis? Would H.G. Wells, Heinrich Mann, Ernest Hemingway, etc. have been justified in hiring hit men to kill Goebbels, etc. at that time, given only what was known at that time? Would this have been a justified "preemptive" war? Again, this was 1933.
Also of note is that during the Allied occupation of Germany after WWII, thousands of Nazi books and works of art were collected and destroyed. But such was the process of de-Nazification.