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Steve Likes to Curse
Writing, comics and random thoughts from really a rather vulgar man
Five Reasons Why the Opposition to the “Ground Zero Mosque” is Bigoted and Bogus 
Monday, August 9th, 2010 | 12:17 pm [commentary, religion]
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Since I first weighed in on the controversy surrounding Cordoba House, the so-called “Ground Zero mosque,” it seems like I’ve been writing about nothing else. Here I go again.
Friends have been annoyed by my insistence that bigotry is at the root of the anti-Cordoba protests. And yet, I see no other explanation. Not every person who opposes the mosque is a bigot, but they have allowed themselves to be led by bigots. The facts admit no other interpretation. Below I’ve listed five reasons why the outrage over Cordoba House, publicly encouraged by Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, among many others, is illegitimate:

1. Muslims are already praying there, and have been for months.

One of the buildings at the future site of Park51 is a former Burlington Coat Factory which has been
used as a prayer hall by Muslims for nearly a year. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf leads Friday prayers and reads in Arabic from the Qur’an. Worshippers kneel and pray in the direction of Mecca. Everything that critics of Cordoba House claim to find so offensive has been taking place without controversy since September 2009.  

Speaking of suddenly deciding something you’ve long tolerated is unforgivably insensitive . . . 

2. Muslims have prayed inside the Pentagon since a month after 9/11.

Cordoba opponents claim that the former World Trade Center is hallowed ground, and that the very idea of an Islamic presence at the site of a horrific act of Muslim terrorism is insulting. But the Twin Towers weren’t the only targets on September 11, 2001. The Pentagon was also attacked that morning. A month after the attacks, a memorial service was held at the Pentagon. Speaking at that service was Abdul-Rasheed Muhammad, a Muslim Army chaplain who read from the Qur’an. The Pentagon has also hosted regular Ramadan celebrations, which feature uniformed American military personnel kneeling on prayer rugs and chanting prayers to Mecca. All of this occurred without controversy, as witnessed by this uncritical story on the Pentagon Ramadan celebrations from the right-leaning Washington Times.  

3. Contemporary, moderate mosques like Cordoba House discourage terrorism. 

Many of the protestors have claimed that Cordoba House will be a “victory mosque,” a shrine to the extremism of the al-Qaeda terrorists who committed the crimes of 9/11, which will encourage more radical Muslims to act out and attack the United States. Yet, a study published in January by Duke University and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and supported by the National Institute of Justice, shows that mosques like Cordoba House actually discourage the radicalization of young Muslims. Modern, moderate mosques like Cordoba not only preach a more spiritual, peaceful form of Islam, and denounce the acts of violence committed by their fundamentalist co-religionists, they also encourage a sense of community and acceptance, making young Muslims less vulnerable to extremist groups that recruit from the alienated and disenfranchised.

4. Outrage over Cordoba House is emboldening anti-Muslim bigotry across the country.

Opponents of Cordoba House have largely tied their objections to its proximity to Ground Zero, but their outrage has spread to other communities that can’t cite 9/11 as an excuse. Planned mosques have been protested and denounced in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Temecula, California, and Sheboygan, Wisconsin since Cordoba House became a national story. These protests have nothing to do with reverence for the victims of September 11, 2001. They are displays of religious intolerance, pushed by fear, ignorance, and bigotry, and the Cordoba protests only encourages them. 

5. Cordoba Initiative leader Feisal Abdul Rauf is our ally, not our enemy.

Conservatives like National Review’s Andrew C. McCarthy have spent a lot of time and ink to insinuate that the imam who leads the Cordoba Initiative, Feisal Abdul Rauf, is a radical who supports terrorism. McCarthy insinuates because he has no facts with which to argue. Rauf is one of the
principle promoters of a peaceful, contemporary, ecumenical form of Islam. He has repeatedly denounced terrorism, and worked to encourage friendly relations and cooperation between Muslims, Jews and Christians. Rauf describes the Cordoba Project as being modeled on the YMCA and YMHA. He is one of the good guys.
Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 | 01:05 am (UTC)
Steve, after reading all your posts on the subject,I get the feeling that you are for the mosque simply because Sarah and Newt are against it.

I enjoy your blog. I think you are talented. I don't always agree with you, but I respect your opinions. And you have always been welcoming and respectful to me and other commentors even when you disagree.

so, if you will allow me to say so as respectively as I know how, I think it is very sad that the large majority of people who are asking for some degree of decorum regarding what is appropriate near ground zero must also defend themselves against accusations of bigotry and/or stupidity.

The 61% of New Yorkers who oppose the mosque, are they all just mindless Palin zombies? I hope that you and others who are of your mindset will take the time to read Neda Belourchi's plea and ask yourselves if she too is a bigot. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/06/AR2010080603006.html

Steve, I would also like to point you to one of your own posts where you criticize a church near you for its ostentatiousness. The post I'm refering to is "The Harald Mail gives free publicity to a misogynist church." Isn't it at all possible that people are only now beginning to oppose the mosque despite it having been quietly doing its thing for nearly a year because the new plans are ostentatious, not to mention, provocative, so close to ground zero? In your post about the church you seemed to have a real problem with the church's expansion, and felt the money used for it could have gone to better causes, why is it wrong for others to feel the same way about a mosque at ground zero? I can think of a million better uses for 100 million bucks, can't you?

I think your post about the misogynist church is very telling. Comparing it to your stance on the mosque, its apparent that you are far more critical, far more suspicious of Christianity,its adherents, and its ambitions than you are of Islam. You are willing to give Rauf and his crew a pass for wanting to build a mosque near ground zero but just months ago the renovation of a church near your town made you angry.
Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 | 03:04 am (UTC)
I don't think everyone who opposes the mosque are taking marching orders from Palin or Gingrich. I think many are, and I think, unfortunately, that many of the others just haven't given it any more serious thought that a jackass like Sarah Palin has.

I would be very happy to hear that the Cordoba Initiative had decided to build a homeless shelter, or free 24-hour soup kitchen on its property rather than an Islamic center. You're right -- there are lots of better uses for $100,000,000. But how ostentatious the complex is going to be is not the issue.

The leaders and members of Emmanuel Baptist who I wrote about awhile ago, who spent millions of dollars on unnecessary and self-serving renovations, have their heads so far up their own asses, they don't seem to even realize what problems exist in their community. The organizers of Cordoba House, to the contrary, seem acutely aware of theirs.

Reading Rauf's testimony to the Landmarks Commission, I got the impression that this was a person who knew his people, knew his community, and genuinely wanted to be of use to it. He is a Muslim, and because of that he and I, I'm sure have much to disagree about. But he strikes me as a good man, a moderate who wants to steer his religion away from radical fundamentalism, away from the Dark Ages mentality that results in acts of terrorism and brutal treatment of women, gays, and non-Muslims, and toward peace, cooperation, and modernity. He doesn't seem to want a Muslim-dominated world, but a pluralistic one where Muslims can play an important role. It's not that I'm giving the guy a pass -- that's what I see. He doesn't strike me as a bad guy. He strikes me as the sort of person I would wish all Muslims (or Christians, for that matter) to be.

So, given that Rauf himself is not a radical, not a threat to national security, not an al-Qaeda agent bent on thwarting our Constitution, what am I to think of those who insinuate that in a few months' time he'll be running a terrorist training camp out of the Cordoba mosque?

The article by Neda Belourchi is powerful, and she is free to feel however she wants about the Cordoba project. That doesn't make her right, and it doesn't legitimize the opposition.

The resistance of Belourchi and her fellow 9/11 victim families, and of many other Cordoba critics, seems to boil down to this: "We know not all Muslims are terrorists, but we still don't want a mosque near Ground Zero. We just don't want it."

While this is a milder, less offensive sentiment than the bile that Newt Gingrich has been spewing about Islamic conquest, it is still essentially what Sarah Palin has been saying. And it just isn't good enough. These people are not aliens. They are not a hostile occupying force. They are Americans, and they have a right to build their goddamn mosque.

They claim their intentions are peaceful, and that they home to facilitate understanding, reconciliation, and healing in the community that is still marred by the destruction and grief of 9/11. They have given no reason I can see to doubt their sincerity. If you, or 9/11 victims' families, or anyone else choose, despite all evidence to the contrary, to presume sinister intentions to the Cordoba project, that's no fault of theirs.
Thursday, August 12th, 2010 | 05:40 pm (UTC) - Here is the attitude ...
... that I think you're saying "should be ignored":


And Rick, "I think building a mosque near ground zero is stupid" is not an argument. It's as close as you've come to offering one, but it doesn't qualify. If you say "it's stupid because so many are against it," that doesn't really qualify, either. I think Steve's point is that the "reasons" given for opposition so far are terribly bigoted, nonsensical, emotion-based, and---in a word---irrational. He's given you lots of reasons why he thinks this. You haven't rebutted a single one of them, as far as I can tell. Haven't even tried!

And anon: "'We don't want it because we don't want it' is completely rational when your talking about the place of death for 3,000 Americans." Um, no, it's not! Not even close! And if you can't see that, then you fall into Steve's category of those for whom "there's no talking to them."
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Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 | 02:57 am (UTC)
I think building a mosque near ground zero is stupid, and it's not because Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich are against it. I could care less what these two think. I just think the fact that this group wants to build an Islamic cultural center somewhere that sustained damage on 9-11 is stupid. If they don't realize how pissed off this is going to make people, then they are truly clueless. The building that is currently at this location was condemned by the city because of structural damage sustained on 9-11. This is the very reason they want to build there.

If they don't understand why this is offensive to a lot of people, maybe they shouldn't be the ones trying to foster better relations between Islam and the West. If this is truly their goal, they are doing it really badly.

This reminds me of the Westboro Baptist Church. Though they have the right to stand outside funerals of fallen service members and protest, they are offending and pissing off a lot of people. The same thing applies to this group. They have the right to build this community center, but they are going to really piss off a lot of people.
Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 | 03:42 am (UTC)
"If they don't understand why this is offensive to a lot of people, maybe they shouldn't be the ones trying to foster better relations between Islam and the West. If this is truly their goal, they are doing it really badly."

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 | 04:17 am (UTC)
But Rick, the people building this mosque are not the same people who knocked down the Twin Towers. The only thing they have in common is identifying themselves as Muslims.

That's why the opponents of this mosque aren't justified in being pissed off about it. Because the people building it never did anything to them. Those who are pissed at this mosque are conflating the Muslims building it with the Muslims who committed those crimes on 9/11. That's wrong.

It doesn't matter whether the people behind the Cordoba project realized people would be pissed at it or not. People don't have any rational justification to be pissed over this, so their protests aren't serious and deserve to be ignored.
Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 | 05:12 am (UTC)
Wow. "you deserve to be ignored." I'm loving all this tolerance and bridge-building. I'm thinking this is the same kind of dialogue Rauf wants to. "Everybody just shut up because we're morally better than you."

Check it out. We all know they are not the same people that knocked down the twin towers. Really, we do. We are not stupid. We know they are not the same people who committed murder at ground zero, but they ARE the people who want to build the largest mosque in the world as close to ground zero, as close to where 3,000 people were killed as they can get. And we find that deeply disturbing. It pisses us off, hard as that might be for you to understand.
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Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 | 05:17 am (UTC)
They aren't the same people, but they choose to believe in most of the same stupid things as the people behind 9-11 believed in.

They chose this location because it's as close to ground zero as they can get. They shouldn't be surprised that some (most?) are offended by the symbolism. I don't think they are. I think they welcome it.

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Sunday, August 15th, 2010 | 05:09 pm (UTC)
2 blocks from ground zero is not ground zero. Ground zero literally means that, 0 distance from the point. In NYC, the most densely populated city in the US, entire neighborhoods change in two blocks distance. In fact, the small island in which the WTC lives, everything is a few blocks from everything else. Go to google, take a look at how many mosques already exist around the site of WTC. There are what, a million muslims living in NYC? They share the city and pay taxes with Christians, Jews, etc. They should be allowed to build this peaceful religious building there. There is nothing indecent about what they are doing or where they are doing it. To the guy who compares this to the Westboro church - apples to oranges. To take that stance is to believe that all of the world's 1 billion muslims, and the US's 3 million muslims, are somehow connected to the events of 911. Terrorists were responsible for 911, a microscopic portion of anyone who writes the word "muslim" on their paperwork. You have obviously never lived next to, worked with, played with muslims in your own community and have no idea what they really think or do. You can dislike their religion all you want, to each their own. Here in the US, we have the freedom of religion, and you can take it or leave it. Just leave them alone.

If the writer above was victimized by a blonde haired man, that shouted "For the blonde haired people, praise to the blondes!" while vicitmizing you, you would likely connect your dots to exclude all blonde-haired people in your neighborhood, citing that allowing them to move in would be in bad taste.

The arguement against this building clearly stems from bigotry, and not logic. To those bigots, who cares if you are angry? You are a bigot afterall so we expect you to be angry at things that don't matter.
Monday, August 16th, 2010 | 03:07 am (UTC)
I realize you like to just make stuff up, but you honestly expect anyone to believe there are a million Muslims in NYC? Have you ever even been to NYC? Everything is not just a few blocks from everything else. Just because that's the way it looks to you on TV or Google doesn't make it true.

The reason this group wants to build on this specific location is because the building that sits there now was structurally damaged in the attack. If it was close enough to sustain catastrophic damage as a result of the Muslim terrorists flying airliners into the the WTC, I guess it's close enough.
Monday, August 16th, 2010 | 03:32 am (UTC)
I don't make things up. Two blocks in NYC is dramatic. I'm almost to New Jersey in a few blocks. Everything is tightly packed together. Everything except the park.

It doesn't matter where the build it, as long as it is at least on the other side of the street, in my opinion. Go look up the Mosques in NYC. Why do you think there are so many concentrated in the NYC metro area? (hint - there are a ton of muslim people living there) There is NOTHING fishy about building a new one in that area. Rather, it's expected behavior.
Monday, August 16th, 2010 | 03:33 am (UTC)
"The reason they want to build there..." is all based on your negative assumption. You know what you do when you assume. Just for a minute, allow yourself to assume positive intent.
Sunday, August 15th, 2010 | 06:27 pm (UTC)
to summarize what the opposition to the mosque has argued in this thread:

1. They hate islam. They are acting as if we never had muslims or mosques and that building one is something brand new (there are dozens in NYC alone already). They cite attrocities that happen outside the US as examples of why islam should not be allowed in the US. Fortunately, in the US we send criminals to prison when they break our laws. Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of our 3 million US muslims live in peace with us, contribute to our communities, work for a living, and pay taxes.

2. They *say* they don't think that all muslims are terrorists, but they use analogies that require that all muslims be considered terrorists.

3. They worry about what a large number of bigots are concerned about. They really care about the feelings of bigots, and want to make sure that we are not making a huge PR error when not considering their irrational reasoning. (like when you see a picketer outside with a sign that says "mosques are monuments to terrorism".

I am not a muslim, but I live next to, work with, play sports with, share dinner with several muslims in my community. They are all good people and contribute well, raise good kids. There isn't a bad bone in their body. It saddens me to see what's being said here. I am not at war with them, and they are not at war with me or my country.
Sunday, August 15th, 2010 | 07:37 pm (UTC)
I think at this point, the accusations of bigotry piss me off worse than the mosque.

I ask, one more time, is Neda Belourchi a bigot too? Because she's also part of the nearly 70% of the population your calling bigots.

So you know a few Muslims do you? Well aren't you just the epitomy of multi-culturalism.

But, I have a Muslim friend too, you see. He's from Morocco. He and I both love Nora Jones and Santana. Last time I saw him, we drank a bottle of wine together (He always buys.) He's the nicest, friendliest guy you'll ever meet. Not a big fan of the Jews, though. Why didn't I mention this personal friendship I have with a moderate muslim earlier? Well, because after reading your post I can see that I was very right about how stupid, "but, but, I have muslim friends!" would come across to other readers.

I am not at war with muslims either. I am not a bigot. I just don't like what Imam Ruaf is trying to do.
Monday, August 16th, 2010 | 03:25 am (UTC)
Her plea not to build the mosque is very emotional. I feel for her. However, she is an anomaly within this whole discussion. To even mention her is to ignore the pink elephant in the middle of the room.
The force behind the opposition to the Mosque is far greater than she is, and is indeed rooted in bigotry.

If you don't like Imam Ruaf, then don't pay attention to him.

Do you really think that we should start a petition to stop Pat Robertson from preaching on television? I mean, the guy made a worldwide call for the assassination of Hugo Chavez, called Ariel Sharon's illness an act of god, financed two presidents with human rights violations in other countries, Called hindus "Demonic", called islam "satanic". OR, you could just do what I do, and change the channel to ESPN.
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