911 survivor trauma, American Muslims, Freedom of Religion, Islam not nonviolent, Mosque at Ground Zero
Update: very unfortunately, those speaking out against the Mosque are being blamed for the stabbing last night of a Muslim NYC cab driver. See the video ad up from agenda.org– I won’t link to it. I disagree with the message of this ad; this kid was responsible for his own behavior.
There is little to do for any of us except to exercise our freedom of speech. We cannot blame Gingrich or Palin for extremist right wing behavior. All of our arguments need to depend on logic and we should not commit the very sins we point out in others. I consider last night’s stabbing a hate crime, and the attack upon us on 911 as the ultimate hate crime. I stand by my view that to build a mosque at or near GZ pours salt on a wound and is an unnecessarily inflammatory thing to do.
Blogger’s note: After writing a short post/essay on Tuesday about the Mosque issue and getting good comments, doing more thinking/feeling/speculating, I’m following up….
An unfortunate outcome of the nation-wide debate over the Islamic Community Center’s proximity to Ground Zero is the painting of those in disagreement with one’s position with a very broad brush: this from Dick Cavett last week in the New York Times:
“I remain amazed and really, sincerely, want to understand this. What can it be that is faulty in so many people’s thought processes, their ethics, their education, their experience of life, their understanding of their country, their what-have-you that blinds them to the fact that you can’t simultaneously maintain that you have nothing against members of any religion but are willing to penalize members of this one? Can you help me with this?”
Sure, Dick. I’ll help. First of all, you ask the reader to agree with you that those opposing the location of the Center have faulty thought processes, ethics, education, life experience, patriotism…. in short, are defective as thinkers, Americans and human beings. Is it demonstrably true that those who think this whole thing is a very bad idea are just a bunch of right wing nut jobs?
Wow. Here’s some food for thought, not meant to be a broad brush, but to place things in a larger perspective:
Yesterday, numerous Iraqui citizens, members of the peace-keeping force and local police,– were killed by insurgents– Suni Muslims– proclaiming an Islamic State in Iraq– all of this in the wake of U.S. combat troop withdrawal. Also on the news: that Al Quaeda— the Islamic terrorist network– remains up and running in Yemen and that we should be alert. In other incidents over the past year, we saw the nabbing of a Middle Eastern kid holed up in Aravada, CO who was about to blow up the NY subway system— a Muslim, a massacre at Ft. Hood by a Muslim psychiatrist, an attempt to blow up a plane Christmas Day by a Muslim. Last month, 44 American troops with the grave misfortune to be in Afghanistan, taken out by Muslims– the Taliban. Two days ago, “The Ambassador of Death” unveiled (that’s what Amanejinidad called it)— Iran’s new bomb-laden drone, brought to you by a nation of Islam. Israel, our ally, under constant threat from Palestinian Muslims.
I’m sorry, but you want me– and everyone else– in the face of a host of incidents all leading back to Islam to believe that Islam is about love, tolerance, peace? That numerous declarations of holy war against the U.S. have not been issued by Muslim clergy and their followers? That the very Imam in question re the Cordoba Center never said of 9-11 that the U.S. had it coming? That each and every one of the aforementioned incursions into our peace of mind and our national security is an isolated incident on the part of the most extreme members of Islam?
The “there are terrorists and there are the millions of peace-loving Muslims” argument might have worked for one or two terrorist attacks affecting US citizens. But violence has bred fear and to call everyone’s fear “Islamophobia” as if it had no basis is to diss and diminish the sane and real concerns of many, many Americans. I do not, nor does any true humanist dispute that the United States of America itself has dirty hands when it comes to our treatment of others. I deplore that we ever went into Iraq and that we are in Afghanistan. We should be minding our own business.
I arrived at my point of view with my faculties up and running, Mr. Cavett. I am educated and I have good ethics, and I am a civil rights advocate with first-hand experience of exclusion and discrimination. I never in a million years thought I would link to Andrew Breitbart’s blog, but he posted Bill O’Reilley’s interview with the most cogent Muslim I have heard on the issue. For once, in his exchange with her, O’Reilley sounds semi-sane himself.
For a super-cogent, reasoned post by author Lauren B. Davis on the opposing point of view– that by moving the Center we are discrimating against Islam and Muslims and feeding a mob mentality– click here. And, my viewpoint is paralleled in another succinct take on the issue –from Irshad Manji for the Wall Street Journal.
Thinking Americans aren’t happy with this debate: no one wants to violate anyone else’s First Amendment rights– However, why, after 9-11, still at war with Muslim extremists, braced for another terror attack, another suicide bomber, Bin Laden still at large, should anyone be faulted for being wary of Islam and those who practice it? We should all watch the videography from that awful day. Anyone remember the footage of thousands of Muslims celebrating in the streets throughout the Middle East when this happened?
What about the rights of the survivors and the families of the dead–conceivably, freedom of religion for those people means to be able to pray on Ground Zero without having to look at a mosque— surely understandable when one considers that the hijackers shouted “Allah is great!” in their final seconds. Respecting and validating the anguish of the 9-11 survivors by gladly relocating a community center is something that peace-loving, tolerant, humanity-loving members of a religion might do– to rebuild trust in the alleged nonviolent practitioners of the faith of Islam.
In any event, since we live under the ongoing threat of more terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists, that the wing-nut Amadenijad will pull something, that at any moment more Muslim underwear bombers will board more jets and more explosive-clad Muslim would-be martyrs will board a subway car or blow themselves up in a super mall, the American citizen’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness went out the window a long time ago— something the pretty-talking mayor of NYC and liberals all gaga over the First Amendment seem to overlook. We are polarized and divided as it is. We can’t afford to go weak in the knees to appease Islamic extremism. Nowhere in this post do I contend that we do not have among us Muslims who deplore terrorism. I’m saying that it is unreasonable to expect the victims of terrorism to embrace Islam and be o.k. with a mosque/community center at GZ.
Well stated. You make a cogent argument against putting the mosque near ground zero. I agree with you. It just shouldn’t be done. It seems to me the muslim community ought to see how infllammatory such an act would be, especially to those people who lost loved ones on 9/11. However, I expect the muslim community to push this to the limit and take it to court if necessary. I don’t expect understanding, tolerance, or sensitivity from the majority of the muslims.
Thanks for weighing in, Doug. xj
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All of this may of course be moot, depending on what happens. But it’s still a really interesting workout for mind and heart. That which constitutes “the right thing” is in dispute. No, acting on moral imperatives, even to speak one’s mind, is not easy. To some extent Gingrich’s analogy is apt– that we wouldn’t put a Nazi war memorial next to a Holocaust Museum, or permit it to be put there. “Progressives” may find the comparison distasteful, but it illuminates the outright tastelessness and self-centeredness of a faith community that would flagrantly disregard the impact of the heinousness of some of its members. I wonder if the cultural and political divide can ever be breached. To not object to the construction of an Islamic facility at or on Ground Zero is to deny that we were attacked by Muslim extremists on 9-11-2001, that Muslim terrorists live among us and look and act like ordinary neighbors, that the Ambassador of Death lies in wait in its hanger.
Lyle Daggett said:
Actually, I think we can assign some blame to Gingrich and Palin and their ilk for extremist right wing behavior, which is, clearly, one of the kinds of behavior that such people as Gingrich and Palin are trying to encourage.
One of the points of contention (a phrase that maybe doesn’t adequately describe the degree of vitriol coming from some quarters) in this whole discussion concerns remarks made by Imam Faisal Abdul-Rauof — the imam associated with the proposed Muslim community center — in 2001, in an interview on 60 Minutes at some point after the plane hijackings in September. Some people allege that he said that “the U.S. had it coming” or other things to that effect.
In a transcript of the 60 minutes news story by Ed Bradley, and his interview with Faisal Abdul-Rauf and several other people, in what I take to be the relevant moment of the interview, is the following exchange (concerning the attacks in September 2001):
Bradley: Are you in any way suggesting that we in the United States deserved what happened?
Faisal: I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened, but United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.
Bradley: You say we’re an accessory? How?
Faisal: Because we have been accessory to a lot of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA.
Bradley [reporting in voice-over]: Bin Laden and his supporters were, in fact, recruited and paid nearly $4 billion by the CIA and the government of Saudi Arabia in the 1980’s to fight with the mujahadeen rebels against the former Soviet Union, which had invaded Afghanistan. [Bradley goes on to describe briefly how this recruitment and support led to the eventual founding of the Taliban government in Afghanistan.]
What I take Faisal to be saying here is not that “the US had it coming” or anything of the kind. What he is saying is that causes have effects: that repugnant political and economic and military policies and actions by governments and their financial backers sometimes have consequences.
I find nothing offensive about what Faisal says in the passage quoted above. I agree with what he says.
A full transcript of the 60 Minutes story and interview is here.
A more sane, rational response to people who oppose building the Muslim community center would be to redefine the discussion: to say that while the plane hijackers may have claimed to be Muslims or to be acting in the name of Islam, they did not in fact represent the majority of Muslims, any more than people in hoods who burn crosses on lawns represent the majority of Christians; and that the people who are proposing to build the Muslim community center are not the people who hijacked the planes or burned the buildings that day.
(This is, in essence, I think, one of the points Dick Cavett is making in the column I linked to in my earlier comment, and to which you refer in your post here.)
Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, particularly with something as deeply emotional as this. But it is still the right thing.
Jenne, well said. I have an idea, let’s go put an evangelical Christian church in the middle of Baghdad. (Oh, now I’m just fostering the argument I guess.) You might be interested in this, a back-and-forth I’ve transposed from the page of a Friend on Facebook. VERY interesting debate. Except for my own name I’ve deleted all the last names here in the interest of privacy, but I haven’t time to edit the spelling etc.
Newt Gingrich hit the nail on the head when he said: “And I think we ought to be honest about the fact that we have a right — and this happens all the time in America. You know, Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington. We would never accept the Japanese putting up a site… next to Pearl Harbor. There’s no reason for us to accept a mosque next to the World Trade Center.”
This is an OUTRAGE!!! You are wrong on this one Mr President. Most of us do not object to mosque, we object to THIS mosque and you know why!!!! This is going to be a gut punch come election time.
The simple solution is a ban on ALL religious buildings being built within 1,000 miles of a place where ANY MEMBER of ANY SPECIFIC religious organization did some harm to society.
OK, let’s tear down, and ban, every Catholic church within 600 feet of any school – we can’t have the memory of all those who have been abused by pedophile Catholic priests dishonored. And let’s tear up that Constitution thingy because that… guarantees EVERYONE the right to freedom of religion and we should only be handing that right out to Christians. Of course, we’ll have to forget how many wars and heinous acts have been committed in the name of Christianity. Seriously, this whole thing is ridiculous – the crux of the issue boils down to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights: do we uphold it or only apply and interpret it as convenient and expedient for our own causes?
Laurie Isabella Blair
There is such a thing as showing a little sensitivity.
Camille I’m with you sister! This mosque is the BIGGEST slap in Americas face. America in general is the ONLY country that caters to every foriegn person that comes here. I wanna see a women go over to Afghanistan an show her ankles. Will that be accepted cuz it is ok here? Nope. She’ll probably get beat down.
Consider these comments: http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/feature/2010/08/19/patriotic_muslim_american_on_the_mosque_mess/index.html
Sorry Jade, not at all the same thing!!!! AND, there are already many mosques in NYC. Not to mention, there are questions about the funding of this nightmare!! lol Greg…. 1000 miles?? Heck, I’d settle for it not being essentially right… on top of Ground Zero.
I can’t remotely be objective about this, it’s reprehensible at best IMHO… I guess some people think we should forgive and forget. Just see how many people that gets killed.
Greg, That was a wonderfully written piece and one that has merit and touches the heart. However, I can’t help but wonder WHY would any Muslim community want to build a mosque so close to Ground Zero? It seems the height of insensitivity….
Even with the purest of motives, it’s still a slap in the face to those who lost loved ones when the towers were destroyed by Muslim terrorists.
As long as Catholics can build churches next to playgrounds and Evangelicals can get all arm-wavy at faith-healing services, and Camille can do… whatever it is that Camille does… then Muslims have every right to build a worshipin’ hut a…nywhere they are legally entitled to. That’s what makes us Americans.
The 1000 mile restriction would make me happy. I am offended by churches ringing their bells on Sunday mornings. I’m offended by Mormons and JoHos knocking on my door trying to get me to join their clubs. But that’s the price of living in America and it is a pretty low price to pay for our 1st Amendment freedoms.
Laurie Isabella Blair
Again: a little sensitivity might go a lonnnnnng way?
Sensitivity? Who’s the offended party? Everyone wants to claim victimhood and play the “I’m offended” card. Seems to me that sensitivity is something to be exercised more and demanded less.
Laurie Isabella Blair
ideally I should be sensitive to what bothers or might offend you (and vice versa), and tread lightly.
Laurie Isabella Blair
this is not quite on a par with Jehovah’s Witnesses knocking on my front door and leaving me a copy of “The Watchtower.”
That’s the point. To _you_ it isn’t. And that’s fine. I can’t expect you to get all bothered about my being offended by JoHo visits. If I’m offended, that’s my problem. Ditto if you, I, (or anyone else) is offended by Muslims exercising Fir…st Amendment freedoms in Lower Manhattan. Too bad. We all need to grow up and not whine about having hurt feelings.
(Just to be clear… as Camille knows, I’m far from a Muslim sympathizer. I feel about Islam the way I do about Christianity. It’s all a load of hooey to me and I’d love for all worshipin’ huts to evaporate. But I share the First Amendment with brain dead yocals and insensitive Americans who all get to practice what they want so long as it is lawful.)
I’ll shut up now, meaning (of course), no offense. 😉
Laurie Isabella Blair
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Voltaire, (Attributed); originated in “The Friends of Voltaire”, published 1906, by S. G. Tallentyre
Laurie Isabella Blair
Dick Cavet had some relevant comments on this yesterday.
What other churches might be objectionable because of the horrific acts of some of its members? Maybe we shouldn’t have Christian churches in the South wherever the Ku Klux Klan ope…rated because years ago proclaimed white Christians lynched blacks. How close to Hickam Field, at Pearl Harbor, should a Shinto shrine be allowed? I wonder how many of our young people — notorious, we are told, for their ignorance of American history — would be surprised that Japanese-Americans had lives and livelihoods destroyed when they were rounded up during World War II? Should all World War II service memorials, therefore, be moved away from the sites of these internment camps? Where does one draw the line?
Read the whole thing at:
Laurie Isabella Blair
I think Dick Cavett (and you, my dear Gregory) have admirable sentiments and rationales, but you are looking at this issue in a vacuum. You can’t. People are not abstracts – they are human. And you cannot fault someone for being human. Only for being inhuman.
Laurie–I so appreciate the time and effort you put into your comment and the exchange you had on FB. Very interesting. I hear the same arguments made again and again as if the analogies worked and this weren’t an exceptional situation. From where I sit/stand, it feels to me that to have lost someone in 911 would haunt me for the rest of my days. I would hope that rationale people would comprehend the vast difference in the impact of surviving the trauma of 911, and the inconvenience of changing the location of a community center.
It seems that everyone’s hot buttons are being pushed in this debate. I reiterate that we are under threat from radical members of the Islamic faith and have absolutely no obligation to put the welfare of American Muslims in front of anything. I do not understand why liberals are afraid to support the 911 survivors.