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Monday, August 16, 2010

[Politics] I try to keep politics out of this blog, but the manufactured controversy over the Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero is almost 100% political theater, so I feel it's relevant.

Various opportunistic politicians on both sides of the aisle (today, Majority Leader of the Senate Harry Reid) are nosing in on whether a liberal Islamic organization should build the Islamic equivalent of a YMCA a couple of blocks from the former site of the World Trade Center. (It's actually patterned on the 92nd Street Y.) These demogogues are calling the cultural center a "mosque" on the grounds that it will have a room for prayer, in addition to its swimming pool, offices and auditorium. Because mosques are, y'know, scary.

(Muslims are required to pray five times a day. Without a prayer room,  employees would have to pray in the street.)

I'll leave aside the question of why who builds what in lower Manhattan is the business of anyone outside of lower Manhattan (locals are for it). Or how holy we really consider Ground Zero if the plan is to build an office tower there for Conde Nast, so they can print more Glamour articles about how to give your guy a mind-blowing orgasm.

But from a narrative perspective, this is insane. The guys who flew the planes into the towers did it because they wanted to provoke a war between the United States and all Islam.

Most of the world's billion-plus Muslims do not want or consider the US to be at war with them. After the attack, there were spontaneous candelight vigils in Tehran.

One reason Al Qaeda has failed utterly to follow up 9/11 inside the US is because Muslims in the US refuse to buy into their nutty narrative. American Muslims generally don't think they're at war with America. They believe they're Americans. And they keep on calling the police when they find out that someone is trying to blow up their country.

If we want to stop Al Qaeda in the US, we should be cheering every time someone builds an Islamic cultural center. We should franchise Cordoba House and put one in every city. ("Cordoba," because in medieval Cordoba, Jews, Christians and Muslims lived together in peace while the rest of Europe was in the Dark Ages.) We should be insisting that in the US, we don't care if you're a Christian, a Muslim or a Pastafarian. Nothing would take more wind out of Al Qaeda's sails. Nothing would make America safer from fringe-Islam terrorism.

If, on the other hand, you want to give Al Qaeda as much support as possible, then do exactly what Harry Reid and Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin are doing: shout that we don't want a mosque in Lower Manhattan, because all Muslims are our enemy. Compare Muslims to Nazis, as Newt Gingrich did.

When you promote Al Qaeda's narrative, you are helping Al Qaeda. You are helping Al Qaeda.

Don't do it.

Please?

Labels:

25 Comments:

As Newt Gingrich has often said, without property rights, there can be no America. We have too much government interference in our lives. Government isn't the solution, it's the problem.

Wait, what? They want to open an Islamic Cultural Center relatively near Ground Zero?

Forget everything I previously stood for. We need more government intrusion to make sure these religious people don't exercise their property rights in NYC. Government must step in and interfere into the private dealings of these property owners and their religion.

-signed "Consistent Conservative"

By Blogger Ryan Paige, at 7:22 PM  

And then there's this tweet...

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 10:07 PM  

I'm Catholic by birth. A hundred years ago they'd be talking about me.

There is nothing American about opposing a cultural centre. Islamic or otherwise.

You are on the side of those who argued Kennedy would listen to Papists; who smeared Al Smith with the same. You are on the side of those who interred Japanese Americans. You are on the side of those nativists who stoked anti-immigrant mobs in the 1880's. You're the ones who suborned the original sin, the worst stain on our country -- slavery. And you are no friend of the framers, or of those who fled oppression to land at Plymouth Rock.

You do not defend America by destroying America.

And make no mistake. You are destroying America.

And that is why we will fight you.

By Blogger DMc, at 11:05 PM  

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

By Blogger lsfjslfkjlk, at 11:36 PM  

"Or how holy we really consider Ground Zero if the plan is to build an office tower there for Conde Nast, so they can print more Cosmo articles about how to give your guy a mind-blowing orgasm."

Well, as a guy....

By Blogger Tim W., at 2:47 AM  

I really hope Harry Reid loses. His "leadership" has been a great gift to the GOP--that nutless, whispering sycophant. Liberals have to start holding Democrats accountable.

By Blogger David, at 6:02 AM  

I think one of the self-defeating parts is that the reasonable people agree with th esentiment that what happens in NYC isn't really the business of anyone outside NYC, so they're not voicing the opinion that the entire fiasco or racist objection to the idea is rediculous. Only the racists are vocal.

By Blogger J.Rai, at 10:06 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

By Blogger The_Lex, at 10:32 AM  

Article surveying & some analysis on the media contribution to the "Ground Zero Mosque" theater:

http://yhoo.it/aGtQR7

By Blogger The_Lex, at 10:33 AM  

I find it interesting that many of those same Republicans bitching about building a 'mosque' on 'hallowed ground' have absolutely no problem with all the strip clubs there.

Sacred ground, my ass.

http://www.politicususa.com/en/ground-zero-strip-club

By Blogger Brandon Laraby, at 3:50 PM  

Yes, if I were writing this story and I wanted to prolong the conflict- I would have characters do this very thing. It isn't just the demagogues opposing anything Islamic near their holey hole in the ground, it is also the Muslims who insist on building there in the first place.

They have every right to build there, they have the stated intent of building bridges and it would be wrong for the government to stop them- but thousands were murdered there in the name of their god and they don't think that it would cause some strife to go there to proselytize?

By Blogger Clint Johnson, at 8:06 PM  

@Clint: It wasn't causing any strife until Sarah Palin and her gang decided to make an issue of it. New Yorkers weren't marching in the streets. And frankly, New Yorkers will march at the drop of a hat.

Suppose the Catholic Church wanted to build a building near a grade school in Alaska, and some people in Miami said they were upset because some Catholic priests abused children. Would you agree that the Catholic Church should be "sensitive" and not build near the school in Alaska?

Now suppose the building was a center devoted to helping the victims of child abuse. Would you still say the Catholic Church shouldn't be building anything at all near a school because some of their priests abused kids?

One group is preaching tolerance. The other one is preaching intolerance. Which side do you want to be on?

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 9:43 PM  

@Clint: Were you taking on the voice of multiple point of views there, or were speaking from your own views?

Just wondering because I had a similar reaction as Alex. If my crackberry didn't work well with the Web, I probably would've made my own retort.

Then I thought that maybe you were providing the different point of views in their own voices. . .if done imprecisely, can make for strong reactions.

By Blogger The_Lex, at 9:55 PM  

I meant exactly what I said, they have every right to build there and the state would be morally wrong in forbidding it- but that they should have expected a negative reaction. I didn't mean to leave the false impression that I supported that negative reaction in any way.

The negative reaction of those politically driven ideologues you point to is the very one that they should have expected. How could anyone not expect this to happen? The politically motivated diatribes of those like Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich are going to happen and our actions should be based on reality, not wishful thinking. If I were to go with wishful thinking, I would go with the working assumption that the normal reaction worldwide would be that of a rational atheist. At best that would get me ostracized and at worst I would be stoned to death.

@Alex: A more apt analogy would be if there was a place where a small group of delusional Catholics had systematically raped 3000 children in one day while saying that it was in the name of their god... and world wide a small but visible minority of Catholics paraded in the streets and celebrated what had happened... then another group, that represented that VAST majority of Catholics who condemned this horrible act, had decided to build a community center a couple hundred feet away to try and heal the rift that the despicable acts had created. You're saying that they shouldn't expect a negative response from some people? Tolerance is all well and good but it doesn't exist in a vacuum, politics and human nature still holds sway and shoving against it out of a sense of self rightousness rarely brings progress.

@The Lex: My view is that of an atheist individualist. I think that the actions taken on 9/11 condemn only those who planned it and executed it. I do not believe that there is a god and that there are any "sides" in this conflict other than those that people make for themselves. Guilt by association is a game I don't play. I am also a rational person who understands that most of the world doesn't play by my rules and that I would be sore disappointed if I were to conducted myself like they did.

By Blogger Clint Johnson, at 12:50 AM  

And the answer to your people building the "community center with a mosque in it" should've expected this argument: Americans should be better than how Gingrich, Palin and so forth are acting.

Seriously, Gingrich's argument that we don't need to allow a mosque to be built in the US because Saudi Arabia doesn't have a Christian church? Americans are better than that.

And the worse thing is that this whole anti-mosque anti-Muslim sentiment is not just around Ground Zero. As Jon Stewart on the Daily Show demonstrated, this prejudice against building mosques has been displayed across the country, from Wisconsin to Tennessee, not just around Ground Zero.

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/jon-stewart-tries-to-find-a-new-home-for-the-lower-manhattan-islamic-cultural-center/

Americans are better than that.

Does this mean Muslims shouldn't build mosques in the United States? If that's the argument, then Al Qaeda has won. Americans are living in fear of ALL Muslims. Nice way to alienate Muslims and probably to give Muslims the motivation to join up with Al Qaeda.

The sad thing is, though, Al Qaeda hasn't inspired this prejudice and hate among white-bread Americans. It's pretty much always been there. Al Qaeda has pretty much inspired white-bread Americans to show their prejudice because apparently they have a reason for it and trying to take away the First Amendment rights from people who aren't Christian (and, I think as an atheist, you would be someone who would appreciate that).

Americans should be better than this, or Al Qaeda has won.

By Blogger The_Lex, at 7:44 AM  

Your "narrative," of course, is dependably leftist, but you are, of course, a screenwriter and roses are red.

However, I have lived in a Muslim-dominated country and I have a few insights on the matter. Islam is and always will be at war with the West (not to mention specifically the US). That most of the world's Muslims don't consider the US to be at war with them--how you would empirically know this is beyond the point--is simply because they aren't following closely the tenets of their own religion which brooks no others before itself. You'll see this for yourself if you live in say, Iran. But you wouldn't, would you?

That you feel "right" in questioning the motives and admittedly slovenly way the pols are going after the Ground Zero Mosque is why the West will lose this war it doesn't think it's fighting.

To know more, peel yourself from your keyboard and read Nomad by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

By the way, love your books! Suggest you keep riding your strongest horse.

By Blogger Fred, at 10:53 AM  

Yes, Americans should be better than that- all humans should be better than that. But wishing it were so does not make is so and acting as if it were so is a recipe for disaster.

Building centres elsewhere is causing grumblings and resentment that will probably simmer for years without boiling over into rash action. Minor idiocy is to be expected but tolerance and moderation should be the order of the day in the vast majority of cases.

I'm not saying anything about what is right or wrong, I am saying that we do not live in some Berkeleian idealism that is malleable to wishful thinking.

They should have expected an outcry while planning it and if they go ahead with the construction they should expect deluded people, goaded by some of humanity's worst characteristics, to do something stupid and damaging.

It will be all the worse because they will be feeding the baser elements on both sides of this conflict. You do realize that holy wars don't need the consent of the majority right? It is not a democratic process and even if the religious fanatics and war mongers are only one percent that is still over a hundred million people who believe that Islam is in a holy war with the West.

I am saying that it behooves the more rationally parties on both sides to tread very lightly.

Maybe it would make more sense to build an Abrahamic centre that houses all three of the interested parties? This in itself would cause problems but any blow against one of them would be a blow against all.

The goal is a more tolerant and rational world- but we need always be cognizant that we build it in the world we live in now.

By Blogger Clint Johnson, at 12:39 PM  

Hmm... I'm torn here. On the one hand, I think we're a stronger nation when we are inclusive in our principles. I don't think the rights of Muslim Americans is in question on this, I think it's a matter of taste. Are we supposed to be magically healed back up as a nation 9 years later? I think we'd like to think we are, but that's an awfully short national memory.

Healing doesn't come from poking open wounds. 9/11 is still an open wound, folks.

In an age when we still hold, say, Christianity as a whole responsible for the actions of its most vocal and powerful historical ancestors (The Crusades), we are supposed to forgive and forget the 9/11 attacks in just 9 short years? The bombing of the USS Cole? Add in the things which aren't happening to us directly but which are in our news cycle, like women being stoned to death in public and... our national psyche is supposed to be put back together when we think of Islam?

I think that's reaching. It's asking for a kind of righteous moral perfectionism of America that I don't think we'd ask of anyone else.

If Muslims want peace, want restoration with America, it's a door that goes both ways. Maybe trying to build an Islamic center of any kind so close to such an open wound is poorly thought out in the first place? Simply because one has the right to do a thing, doesn't mean it is the most healthy, tasteful or right thing to do.

Just my 2 cents.

By Blogger Harlan, at 2:53 PM  

Fred: "Islam is and always will be at war with the West (not to mention specifically the US)."

That's interesting, because I thought Islam was much older than the US.

And while it's true there is a history of conflict between the West and the Middle East stretching back over a millennium, I can't help but think much of that conflict could have been reduced if Western countries didn't have a propensity for invading the Middle East and actively undermining their democratic processes. For some reason, the locals there don't like that.

By Blogger David, at 6:18 AM  

@David: You're just feeding the arguments of the "realists" and the self-described "Unrepentant right-wing nut" (see Fred's blogger profile).

There's apparently a Clash of Civilizations going on, represented by the West and all the Muslims in the world. If the Muslims aren't forgiving the West for the Crusades that occurred centuries ago, then why should the US forgive ALL Muslims for the act of some fringe Muslims 10 years ago, especially when supported by a fringe terrorist network and an ultra-conservative state regime that has been destroyed, even though the remnants of that tribe are still fighting for power in Asia? This Clash of Civilizations won't end until the West has performed religioucide on Muslims everywhere (immediately or through attrition) or the Muslims step up, say "mea culpa" and perform reparations for all the harm that they've done to the World.

What BS!

Simply put: We're in a Cycle of Anger and Violence that's part of the human condition from the dawn of time. It won't end until (a) the religioucide I mentioned above occurs, which is the way of the coward, or (b) one party mans up, realizing that more of the same won't end the cycle. Then someone needs to do something new, different, innovative and game changing to the human condition for the Cycle of Violence and Anger to end.

But that someone or some people has to rise above the rest, see the Cycle of Violence and Anger as a sham of Fear and Pride. The Cycle only serves to provide entities with a sense of identity that requires an enemy to destroy, which justifies other entities to do the same. People like Fred sound like some kind of Cold War propagandist because, after all, the US needs an enemy to compete with and destroy for national purpose and patriotism. Otherwise, what would life be about (other than material and economy gain for the Haves and the Powerful)?

The whole thing reminds me of the types of things that I hear couples say when they're in a huge fight where their pride is at stake. Neither person wants to apologize because they're not in the wrong. People are more interested in being right than being happy and together. The whole thing goes on until one or both sides are willing to humble themselves over something done or the couple breaks up (or murder occurs, in some cases).

That's where the "realists," the "Unrepetant right-wing nuts" and people feeding on the Muslim-hate propaganda are coming from. They see it as a tit-for-tat, quid pro quo type of thing. They're not willing to man up and rise above the ruckus for true resolution and reconciliation. Because, after all, they can't be wrong, because they're the ones that are important. At least, their pride and fear are the important things to keep alive. Or maybe they simply fear other people thinking this way.

Who cares if the world would actually be better upon making some kind of cultural and civilization-based growth? We have to preserve the wholesome values important to WHITE BREAD AMERICA (or Western Civilization, as they like to call it), after all.

Personally, I vote for something new and game changing for the human condition. Wish I could come up with it.

By Blogger The_Lex, at 8:21 AM  

@David: You're just feeding the arguments of the "realists" and the self-described "Unrepentant right-wing nut" (see Fred's blogger profile).

There's apparently a Clash of Civilizations going on, represented by the West and all the Muslims in the world. If the Muslims aren't forgiving the West for the Crusades that occurred centuries ago, then why should the US forgive ALL Muslims for the act of some fringe Muslims 10 years ago, especially when supported by a fringe terrorist network and an ultra-conservative state regime that has been destroyed, even though the remnants of that tribe are still fighting for power in Asia? This Clash of Civilizations won't end until the West has performed religioucide on Muslims everywhere (immediately or through attrition) or the Muslims step up, say "mea culpa" and perform reparations for all the harm that they've done to the World.

What BS!

Simply put: We're in a Cycle of Anger and Violence that's part of the human condition from the dawn of time. It won't end until (a) the religioucide I mentioned above occurs, which is the way of the coward, or (b) one party mans up, realizing that more of the same won't end the cycle. Then someone needs to do something new, different, innovative and game changing to the human condition for the Cycle of Violence and Anger to end.

But that someone or some people has to rise above the rest, see the Cycle of Violence and Anger as a sham of Fear and Pride. The Cycle only serves to provide entities with a sense of identity that requires an enemy to destroy, which justifies other entities to do the same. People like Fred sound like some kind of Cold War propagandist because, after all, the US needs an enemy to compete with and destroy for national purpose and patriotism. Otherwise, what would life be about (other than material and economy gain for the Haves and the Powerful)?

The whole thing reminds me of the types of things that I hear couples say when they're in a huge fight where their pride is at stake. Neither person wants to apologize because they're not in the wrong. People are more interested in being right than being happy and together. The whole thing goes on until one or both sides are willing to humble themselves over something done or the couple breaks up (or murder occurs, in some cases).

That's where the "realists," the "Unrepetant right-wing nuts" and people feeding on the Muslim-hate propaganda are coming from. They see it as a tit-for-tat, quid pro quo type of thing. They're not willing to man up and rise above the ruckus for true resolution and reconciliation. Because, after all, they can't be wrong, because they're the ones that are important. At least, their pride and fear are the important things to keep alive. Or maybe they simply fear other people thinking this way.

Who cares if the world would actually be better upon making some kind of cultural and civilization-based growth? We have to preserve the wholesome values important to WHITE BREAD AMERICA (or Western Civilization, as they like to call it), after all.

Personally, I vote for something new and game changing for the human condition. Wish I could come up with it.

By Blogger The_Lex, at 8:44 AM  

By showing and enabling (as the "realists" seem to be doing) prejudice and intolerance to Islam, as a religion, and the rank-and-file who are not terrorists, evil dictators, fomenters of violence, etc., you are letting the terrorists win.

As Martin Niemoller said in regards to Nazi persecution of Nazi enemies then himself (I've probably just lost any argument pertaining to this topic here):

"THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

THEN THEY CAME for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up."

By Blogger The_Lex, at 10:26 AM  

OK, just re-read the entry. Quoting Niemoller is not an instant lose in the argument because Gingrich already directed the Nazi comparison at ALL Muslims.

By Blogger The_Lex, at 1:06 PM  

Commenting on this is entirely a propos---US politics is managed via competing story lines. There's no relation to the real world we work and eat and die in. Joseph Goebbels did the same thing. And there is no requirement for craft, just cunning---unlike the discipline you are usually talking about here.

By OpenID bigbalagan, at 1:59 PM  

Thank you Alex!!!

By Blogger Être Ou Ne Pas Être Jack Russell, at 9:44 AM  

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