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Steve Likes to Curse
Writing, comics and random thoughts from really a rather vulgar man
Rational conservative contributions to the Park51 debate 
Tuesday, August 24th, 2010 | 06:39 pm [commentary, religion]
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I wanted to write about something else today — really, I did. Then two things happened. First, this morning I heard on the radio comments made five years ago by Feisal Abdul Rauf, the chief imam behind the Cordoba Initiative, the group sponsoring the Muslim community center in lower Manhattan that is currently named Park51, was formerly named the Cordoba House, and is most frequently and most inaccurately referred to as the “Ground Zero mosque.”
Rauf made the comments in response to a question during an appearance at the University of South Australia’s Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre in 2005. A full transcript of the appearance is viewable
here, and the relevant question and response are quoted in their entirety below: 

SPEAKER: The question I have, being Christian, and brought up a Christian but having a great tolerance of other religions, having been privileged to visit middle eastern countries and Africa and having been into mosques and understood Muslim people sharing with me their beliefs, all of that sits really well.


The issue that I don’t know the answer to is that where in Islam there are fanatical people who teach their young people to do atrocities, like they have done, like our near neighbours and Jamia Islamia have done, and they do that in the name of Islam, they do it because they regard people like ourselves as infidels, etcetera, and they poison the minds of these young boys and girls to commit these atrocities in the name of Islam with a view to gaining eternal reward.


Why is it that the broader Muslim community, who we can co-exist very peacefully with great acceptance of one another’s beliefs, why can’t the broader community see that that sort of thing doesn’t happen and control it and teach their young people that what those people are doing is really poisoning their minds and it is against their Islamic beliefs which you have alluded to earlier?



IMAM FEISAL ABDUL RAUF: Thank you. That’s a very important and excellent question. The answer is it is being done. The broader community is in fact criticising and condemning actions of terrorism that are being done in the name of Islam. I just came from a conference in Jordan, Amman where there were over 170 leading Muslim scholars from almost every part of the Muslim world, including some of the most important names like Sheikh Tantawi of Egypt, Sheikh Ali Gomaa, who is the Chief Mufti of Egypt, the Chief Mufti of Jordan, the Sheikh Al-Qaradawi, who is a very very well known Islamic jurist, highly regarded all over the Muslim world. They included fatwas obtained from people like ..... Istani who could not attend but also issued a fatwa condemning acts of terrorism and stating that the attribution of infidel to others is not something that should be done and is outside of the ethics of Islam.


Islamic law, the text of Islam, the Koran is quite explicit on describing Christians and Jews as people of the book, and throughout Islamic history even Islamic scholars in India have actually included Hindus as being people of the book because Hindus were not yet involved - were not part of the society, of Arabic society, at the time of the prophet.


The complexity arises, sir, from the fact that - from political problems and the history of the politics between the West and the Muslim world. We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaida has on its hands of innocent non Muslims. You may remember that the US lead sanction against Iraq lead to the death of over half a million Iraqi children. This has been documented by the United Nations. And when Madeleine Albright, who has become a friend of mine over the last couple of years, when she was Secretary of State and was asked whether this was worth it, said it was worth it. 

What complicates the discussion, intra-Islamically, is the fact that the West has not been cognisant and has not addressed the issues of its own contribution to much injustice in the Arab and Muslim world. It is a difficult subject to discuss with Western audiences but it is one that must be pointed out and must be raised.


How many of you have seen the documentary: Fahrenheit 911? The vast majority - at least half here. Do you remember the scene of the Iraqi woman whose house was bombed and she was just screaming, "What have they done." Now, I don’t know, you don’t know Arabic but in Arabic it was extremely powerful. Her house was gone. Her husband, I think, was killed. What wrong did he do? I found myself weeping when I watched that scene and I imagined myself if I were a 15-year old nephew of this deceased man, what would I have felt?


Collateral damage is a nice thing to put on a paper but when the collateral damage is your own uncle or cousin, what passions do these arouse? How do you negotiate? How do you tell people whose homes have been destroyed, whose lives have been destroyed, that this does not justify your actions of terrorism. It’s hard. Yes, it is true that it does not justify the acts of bombing innocent civilians, that does not solve the problem, but after 50 years of, in many cases, oppression, of US support of authoritarian regimes that have violated human rights in the most heinous of ways, how else do people get attention?


So I’m not - I’m just providing you with the arguments that are happening intra Islamically by those who feel the emotion of pain. Half a million Iraqi - there’s a sense in the Arab and Muslim world that the European world and Western world is just - does not care about our lives or human lives. There’s a perception in much of the Arab world and the Muslim world that the issue is about race. That the Palestinian Israeli issue is less about religion than it is about race because about 25 per cent or more of the Palestinians or the Arabs are Christian. Many people in the West are unaware that Palestinians are not uniformally Muslim.


There is a large number of Arab Christians but they are not regarded as being equal. These issues have to be looked at, have to be recognised, have to be addressed and have to be solved. And this is why in our initiative we have urged a resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict as being number one on the list of things that need to be done because you address this problem and a whole host of problems will be addressed automatically.


How many of you have read the book: The Tipping Point? Are you familiar with that book? It is a fascinating book. I strongly recommend it. It talks about, and a very lovely example, there are many examples that I don’t remember, about crime in New York City and how just the removal of graffiti on the subways, New York City subways, reduced crime in New York City. Now, how would you argue the link between graffiti on the walls of the subway and crime? It’s hard to determine but in fact it was proven to be so.


It is much more evident to many people what the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict will do, and as Tony Blair is urging, urging, the resolution of this crisis and the lethargy with which the Bush administration has been actually engaged in trying to resolve this crisis amplifies the perception, in the Arab and Muslim world, that our pain is not heard. Our anguish is not heard. And simple things like when President Bush went to Iraq on Thanksgiving to address the United States troops based in Iraq, he did not speak at all to the Iraqi people.


He could have left a taped message addressing the Iraqi street congratulating them on removing a tyrant that they all wanted to have removed, and saying, you know: I have asked Congress to allot 70 billion dollars of which I’m hoping to have so much for education. Speak to the people. He does this every year in the United States. Imagine if he came to this country and there were US troops stationed here, spoke to them, didn’t speak to the Australian people. How would you feel?


How many of you have seen the documentary: The Fog of War? It is an important documentary in which Robert McNamara was interviewed and it’s a documentary which is supported by 11 or 12 - I think 11 lessons, if I’m not mistaken - and the first lesson he points out is empathise with the other side. The number one thing that we need on the part of the West is to empathise. To see yourselves from the eyes of the other.


If it’s a man who wants to have a wonderful relationship with a woman, you have to see how you look from the eyes of a woman. If you are a white man seeking to deal in Australia with the Aborigines, you have to learn to look at yourself from the eyes of the Aborigines, and you will see things that you cannot see otherwise. The West needs to begin to see themselves through the eyes of the Arab and Muslim world, and when you do you will see the predicament that exists within the Muslim community.


I’m not saying this to condone. Acts like the London bombing are completely against Islamic law. Suicide bombing, completely against Islamic law, completely, 100 per cent. But the facts of the matter is that people, I have discovered, are more motivated by emotion than by logic. If their emotions are in one place and their logic is behind, their emotions will drive their decisions more often than not, and therefore we need to address the emotional state of people and the extent to which those emotions are shaped by things that we can control and we can shape, this is how we will shape a better future. Is that hand still up there?

It’s a long response, but given how often the “United States has more blood on its hands than al Qaeda” bit has been quoted today, often twisted to justify headlines like “Ground Zero Imam: America Worse Than Al-Qaeda”, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to just run the whole thing.
Rauf is correct, purely on the numbers — American military action in the Middle East has killed far more civilian Muslims (and non-Muslims living in Muslim lands) than al-Qaeda, or even Saddam Hussein. We didn’t mean to — those deaths are chalked up as collateral damage — but that’s of little comfort to parents weeping over the corpses of their children.
There’s a reflexive hyper-patriotism that has been flaring up during this “Ground Zero mosque” debate. It troubles me, as it did when it caught fire in the months following the 9/11 attacks. It’s a mindset that insists the United States is and always has been purely innocent and purely heroic in its intentions and its actions. When someone like Rauf points out that many in the Muslim world feel a very deep, very personal enmity toward the United States, they are attacked as America-haters, as inciters of terrorism
Middle Eastern Muslims don’t hate America because American bombs have flattened their towns and stray bullets from the muzzles of American guns have cut down their friends and families in their homes, or because American administrations have given aid to totalitarian regimes that have brutally oppressed their people. No, they hate us because of our freedom, our decadent culture, and our Christianity.
Observing that the United States is responsible (albeit unintentionally) for the deaths of perhaps hundreds of thousands of Muslim civilians is not the same as arguing that we deserved 9/11, or that al-Qaeda and other terrorist gangs are only launching suicide attacks because we have given them no other choice. It is a necessary first step toward seeing a complex and daunting reality for what it is.
Second, I noticed two voices of reason on this issue coming from the right. The first belongs to John Guardiano, who wrote about “The Right’s Anti-Islam Extremists”
yesterday for FrumForum. After wagging his finger at the “legacy media” for painting conservatives as bigots and extremists, Guardiano admits that too many prominent right-wingers have conformed to the stereotype during the Park51 controversy: 

Consider, for example, the Washington Examiner’s recent headline, “Muslims, not Americans, are religious bigots.” Substitute any other minority group for Muslims and consider the sensibility that the headline then conveys.


“Blacks, not Americans, are religious bigots.” Or: “Jews, not Americans, are religious bigots.” How about: “Hispanics, not Americans, are religious bigots”?


That doesn’t sound right, fair or just, does it? The clear and unmistakable implication is that blacks, Jews, and Hispanics are not authentically American. They stand apart from their fellow countrymen and are not part and parcel of the American experience. But Muslims, apparently, are fair game. They can be written off as the alien “other,” and no one seems to care.


Or consider Newt Gingrich’s depiction of ordinary Muslims as Nazis. “Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust museum in Washington,” Gingrich said.


In other words, according to Gingrich, the proposed mosque near Ground Zero in New York City is the same as, or analogous to, a Nazi center near the Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C.


Well, if ordinary Muslims are Nazis, then the U.S. government is facilitating Nazi political conquests. Our strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan, after all, depends upon working with moderate-minded Muslims to whom we expect to cede control of their country.


But if moderate-minded Muslims don’t really exist, and if moderate Islam is a fiction or a fantasy, then all of our efforts in those two countries are for naught: our soldiers and Marines are dying for a mistake, a rather big and dramatic mistake.


I don’t believe this, of course, but some on the Right apparently do — or at least they talk as if they do.


The second reasonable conservative voice is that of Ron Paul. I’m going to remember this, because who knows when I’ll next be able to apply that particular adjective to Congressman Paul.
a statement released through his website on Friday, Paul writes 

The debate should have provided the conservative defenders of property rights with a perfect example of how the right to own property also protects the 1st Amendment rights of assembly and religion by supporting the building of the mosque.


Instead, we hear lip service given to the property rights position while demanding that the need to be “sensitive” requires an all-out assault on the building of a mosque, several blocks from “ground zero.”


Here he goes off on a bit of a Ron-Paulian tangent against neo-conservatives and the war in Iraq, but he gets the train back on the tracks a few paragraphs later: 

This sentiment seems to confirm that Islam itself is to be made the issue, and radical religious Islamic views were the only reasons for 9/11. If it became known that 9/11 resulted in part from a desire to retaliate against what many Muslims saw as American aggression and occupation, the need to demonize Islam would be difficult if not impossible.


There is no doubt that a small portion of radical, angry Islamists do want to kill us but the question remains, what exactly motivates this hatred?


[. . .]


The justification to ban the mosque is no more rational than banning a soccer field in the same place because all the suicide bombers loved to play soccer.


Conservatives are once again, unfortunately, failing to defend private property rights, a policy we claim to cherish. In addition conservatives missed a chance to challenge the hypocrisy of the left which now claims they defend property rights of Muslims, yet rarely if ever, the property rights of American private businesses.


Defending the controversial use of property should be no more difficult than defending the 1st Amendment principle of defending controversial speech. . . .


It is repeatedly said that 64% of the people, after listening to the political demagogues, don’t want the mosque to be built. What would we do if 75% of the people insist that no more Catholic churches be built in New York City? The point being is that majorities can become oppressors of minority rights as well as individual dictators. Statistics of support is irrelevant when it comes to the purpose of government in a free society—protecting liberty.


The outcry over the building of the mosque, near ground zero, implies that Islam alone was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. According to those who are condemning the building of the mosque, the nineteen suicide terrorists on 9/11 spoke for all Muslims. This is like blaming all Christians for the wars of aggression and occupation because some Christians supported the neo-conservatives’ aggressive wars.


The House Speaker is now treading on a slippery slope by demanding a Congressional investigation to find out just who is funding the mosque — a bold rejection of property rights, 1st Amendment rights, and the Rule of Law — in order to look tough against Islam.


This is all about hate and Islamaphobia.


We now have an epidemic of “sunshine patriots” on both the right and the left who are all for freedom, as long as there’s no controversy and nobody is offended.


Political demagoguery rules when truth and liberty are ignored.


Gather in real close, because you might never read these words from me again:
Ron Paul is right.
Strange bedfellows.
Wednesday, August 25th, 2010 | 05:09 am (UTC)
Clearly, I am as obsessed with this topic as you are.

I keep telling myself to resist commenting...but here I go again. I really don't see why you don't just tell me to buzz off and go get my own damn blog.

So, according to Rauf, America has more blood on its hands than Al Qaida. He backs up this claim by saying that UN sanctions lead to the death of half a million Iraqi children. So, the blood of those children is *entirely* upon American hands. Hmmm. What about Saddam Hussein? He's not the tiniest bit responsible for Iraq's dead children? Rauf makes no mention of why or what lead the UN to impose sanctions on Iraq in the first place.

When Madam Albright was confronted on 60 minutes about whether she had heard that so many children had died, and asked if it was worth it, she said, yes. But, in her autobiography she had this to say about the loaded question.

"I should have answered the question by reframing it and pointing out the inherent flaws in the premise behind it. Saddam Hussein could have prevented any child from suffering simply by meeting his obligations. … I had fallen into a trap and said something that I simply did not mean. That is no one’s fault but my own."

You can say that Rauf was speaking to a western audience and he was trying to help the westerners understand the "complex" beef that the Muslim world has with the west. And to be able to do that, he has to point out all the mistakes or precieved mistakes that America has made. Ok, fine. But, what I want to know is, when he's talking to Muslims does he frame the conversation the same way? Does he say to Muslims, "Alright guys, this is the way Americans see you." "You have to put yourselves in their shoes." "They're angry at you because your various dictatorships and/or your lunatic extremists keep killing people." "Remember 9/11? Yeah, they're still pretty pissed about that one. And, can you really blame them? Islamic extremism lead to the deaths of 3,000 people. So that is why they teach their children at a very your age to hate all Muslims...oh wait, they don't actually do that. Nevermind."

Rauf's whole response to the question, essentially of why do some Muslims teach their children to hate people of other religions and teach them to commit atrocities in the name of Islam, doesn't even come close to a good answer. He doesn't really even answer the question, other than to say some important Muslims have come out and condemned terrorism. The questioner didn't ask him, "hey, what did America do to make Muslims hate them so bad?" He asked a very specific question about religious intolerance by Muslims and if I'm not mistaken, the questioner might have been referring to Hindu/Muslim relations and just other religions in general. It had nothing to do with Americans specifically, that wasn't even part of the question. What does UN sanctions on Iraq, or even how Muslims perceive the sanctions, have to do with the reasons why some Muslims teach their children to hate Hindus or Christians or Jews (local ones, not far away American ones)and why the rest of the Muslim population doesn't do more to stop it? Rauf's answer is that the Muslim population doesn't clamp down on religious intolerance and the instruction of children on how to commit atrocities because the whole of western society is mean to Muslims? How do the Hindus fit into that, I wonder?

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010 | 02:45 pm (UTC)
As I mentioned in response to Rick's comment below, even the most conservative estimates of civilian deaths from the Iraq war put it in the neighborhood of 100,000, with higher estimates closer to 1,000,000. Both numbers, it seems to me, are much higher than the number of people murdered by al-Qaeda. Again, they aren't the same thing. There must be a moral distinction between unintentional civilian casualties as a result of war, and victims of a purposeful act of murder. American soldiers who were performing their duties to the best of their abilities are not murderers.

But, from the perspective of an Iraqi whose family was killed when a bomb from an American plane fell on his street, what's the difference?

Your question about whether or not Rauf and other moderate Muslims give the same message stressing empathy and seeing things from the other side to Muslim audiences is an interesting one, and I'd like to know the answer.

(By the way, I haven't forgotten about the excerpts from Rauf's book you directed me to on Google. I haven't had time to go over it yet, but once I have I'll have something to say. I appreciate you bringing that to me. . . . We'll both be much happier when this story blows over, I think.)
Wednesday, August 25th, 2010 | 01:50 pm (UTC)
Steve, Rauf first praises Sheikh Al-Qaradawi, the Islamic "jurist", and then condemns suicide attacks as being against Islam.

Feisal Abdul Rauf is talking out of both sides of his mouth.

Sheikh Al-Qaradawi defends Palestinian suicide bombers in Israel. In fact, he says it's not suicide or even terrorism when a Palestinian straps explosives to his body, but martyrdom. He defends even killing Israeli women and children.

Sheikh Al-Qaradawi is an asshole. This highly regarded Islamic jurist isn't even allowed to enter the United States.

Are you sure that the United States has killed more Muslim civilians than even Saddam Hussein? That seems hard to believe considering the Iraq-Iran war resulted in nearly a million dead. And for the deaths resulting from the United Nations sanctions, I'd put those at the feet of Saddam Hussein too. If he hadn't invaded Kuwait and threatened to invade Saudi, the sanctions never would have been necessary.
Wednesday, August 25th, 2010 | 02:38 pm (UTC)
Am I sure the U.S. has killed more Muslim civilians than Saddam Hussein? No. It depends on the estimate, since estimates are all we have and they can vary widely. The most conservative figure for civilian deaths as a result of the Iraq war I've found is at Iraq Body Count, which puts the current number between 97,453 and 106,339. On the other end, The Lancet and Opinion Research Business have each put out reports that estimate the civilian war dead in Iraq as much closer to 1,000,000. Every estimate I've found has been controversial, accused of either grossly over- or under-counting, so who really knows?

Rauf didn't claim the U.S. killed more Muslims than Saddam Hussein; I did. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. And even if Rauf were wrong about the number vs. victims of al-Qaeda, his main point would remain: many Muslims feel perfectly justified in viewing the western world as an alien enemy, and if we ever want to make peace with those people, step one is acknowledging and understanding those grievances.

As for Al-Qaradawi, I agree with you. He is an asshole, a very troubling figure. I don't equate Rauf with him, I don't think they want the same things. Rauf has denounced terrorism and stated that one of his goals is to eliminate terrorism and extremism from the Muslim community. He also describes Al-Qaradawi as a renowned cleric in the Muslim world, which, unfortunately from our perspective, he is.
Wednesday, August 25th, 2010 | 03:16 pm (UTC)
Steve, you wrote:
American military action in the Middle East has killed far more civilian Muslims (and non-Muslims living in Muslim lands) than al-Qaeda, or even Saddam Hussein.

Now you're not sure? Granted, al-Qaeda hasn't killed a whole lot of Muslim civilians because those aren't the people they target. They target non-Muslims. Saddam Hussein on the other hand purposely killed millions and millions of Muslims. I know of no estimate that says the United States has killed more Muslims than Hussein.

So what does it say about the Muslim religion when one of their most renowned clerics condones and encourages suicide bombings? What does it say about someone that chooses to practice this religion? Rauf cannot denounce terrorism and then praise a cleric that condones and encourages suicide bombings.
Wednesday, August 25th, 2010 | 04:12 pm (UTC)
So what does it say about the Muslim religion when one of their most renowned clerics condones and encourages suicide bombings?

It says that Islam is no different than Judaism, Christianity, or any other major world religion with a history of violence, conquest, bigotry, abuse of clerical power, and intolerance. If you want to make a case against Islam, I'm right with you. I'm not defending the sponsors of Park51 because I suddenly have a great love and respect for a faith based on the invented revelations of a greedy misogynist who spontaneously produced new divine prophecies whenever it was convenient. I regard Islam the same way I regard all religions, as based on false or unprovable claims, and an impediment to reason.

What does it say about someone that chooses to practice this religion?

Here we have to be careful. Not out of special sensitivity to Muslims, but because a Muslim is entitled to the same respect as a member of any other group. If I were to cite the worst elements of Islam and judge a Muslim accordingly, I'd be treating that person just as unfairly as if I were to assume the worst about a Christian because of terrorists like Eric Rudolph, or millionaire exploiters of the faithful like Benny Hinn.

I think it's fair to examine, criticize, mock, etc. specific Muslim beliefs and practices, and I think it's fair to make tentative generalizations based on available facts. I don't think it's ever fair to stereotype, to ask "What does it say about someone who is of the same religion as a cleric who applauds the actions of al-Qaeda?" I know many Christians who are fine, morally upstanding people who are nothing like the worst examples of their faith. I even know Christians who have occasionally praised, or at least seemed reluctant to condemn, the words and deeds of some of their religion's worst actors. I don't like that. I don't see what's so hard about calling bullshit on crooks and criminals in your faith. But I don't think that reluctance, or that stated support of controversial figures, automatically makes someone a bad person, or someone not to be trusted.
Wednesday, August 25th, 2010 | 04:54 pm (UTC)
"It says that Islam is no different than Judaism, Christianity, or any other major world religion with a history of violence, conquest, bigotry, abuse of clerical power, and intolerance."

Absolutely. But, Christianity/Western culture has been lucky enough to go through the self-examination of the reformations and the Enlightenment. Secularism/humanism forced Christianity (collectively) to evaluate and even critically examine its own practices. There was an awakening within Christianity/Western culture that helped curb some of the most barbaric practices, like burning people at the stake for sorcery. It, of course didn't happen over night, but we can still say we are far better off as a society now, despite the occassional Christian nutjob, because Christians a couple centuries ago started questioning their own belief system.

The Muslim world could use a little bit of that secular push toward modernity, too. The idea of mixing politics and religion (which Rauf, by the way, advocates)like Sharia law in most Muslim countries prevents the kind of self-examination that Western culture has been so fortunate enough to experience.
Thursday, August 26th, 2010 | 02:41 am (UTC)
I don't think it's ever fair to stereotype, to ask "What does it say about someone who is of the same religion as a cleric who applauds the actions of al-Qaeda?"

I didn't actually say that. It's not that Sheikh Al-Qaradawi is of the same religion as Feisal Abdul Rauf. The problem I have is that Feisal Abdul Rauf would describe someone who condones and encourages suicide attacks as "highly regarded all over the Muslim world."

Show me a world where someone like that is highly regarded, and I'll show you a world comprised of assholes.
Thursday, August 26th, 2010 | 12:06 pm (UTC)
Fair enough, but comprised totally of assholes? You're still making assumptions about individuals based on a perception of the whole.

It's not a great comparison, but -- I have no great regard for Billy Graham. And yet most Christians I know think of him as one of the finest living exemplars of their faith. Does the fact that an anti-Semitic, homophobic fame whore like Billy Graham is a revered figure in American Christendom mean that every Christian is an asshole?
Thursday, August 26th, 2010 | 02:08 pm (UTC)
I'm not making assumptions. I'm merely listening to what is being said. Rauf is the one that said Sheikh Al-Qaradawi is highly regarded all over the Muslim world. I didn't say someone that encourages suicide attacks in Israel is highly regarded by Muslims, Rauf did.

If Billy Graham said that it was OK to blow up abortion clinics and kill doctors that performed abortions, then I would say anyone who praised Billy Graham was an asshole too.

I think you're forgetting that even so-called moderate Muslims are just as anti-Semitic and homophobic as Billy Graham is.
Friday, August 27th, 2010 | 04:29 am (UTC)
Selective hearing.

"If Billy Graham said that it was OK to blow up abortion clinics and kill doctors that performed abortions, then I would say anyone who praised Billy Graham was an asshole too."

I'm somewhat new to your life. Steve, I have seen your rants about Muslims that speak their mind, want to build YMCA's, etc. Can you show me some of your rants against Christians who promote terrorism, assassinations, and upheaval? I have seen it, can you (without hypocracy) demonstrate that you are against such Christians, and denounce them in the same fervor that you are denouncing this Rauf guy?
Friday, August 27th, 2010 | 05:05 am (UTC)
Edit, Rick, not Steve in above message.
Friday, August 27th, 2010 | 01:52 pm (UTC)
Rants? I'm just voicing my opinion. As far as evidence that I dislike all religious assholes and not just the Muslim ones, here's a post on my blog where I denounce Jerry Falwell:


As the above post demonstrates, I not only denounced Falwell on my dumb blog, but also in a letter to the editor in our local paper.
Saturday, August 28th, 2010 | 07:59 am (UTC)
Thank you, Rick. I honestly appreciate you sharing that. I just learned something more about you.

"Ranting" is not meant as a negative thing.

As for me, I was raised Catholic, but attended public schools. My folks spent a considerable amount of energy on Sunday's, and some days after school to "indoctrinate" me. As I grew to an adult, I realized what many do - that religions are filled with all types of people. You have your violent fanatics, those who attempt to stir up the violent fanatics (but not violent themselves), the heroes who help the poor, the clergy, your passive and docile lambs (like my grandmother, and most of my mother's side of the family). In all religions, the "lambs" make up the overwhelming majority. The "lambs" take from religion the most positive and uplifting aspects of it. Most people worldwide are more concerned with how they are going to feed their families, make a living, than being anything more spicy than a lamb to their religion.

Here on the west coast of the US, we do not have people killing in the name of religion. Here in California, the religious tolerance is much greater, in my experience, than the side of the country that you guys live in. Don't pigeon-hole me just yet - I have lived in both sides of this country, and know what NYC is like. I have lived in 8 different states in my 36 years. I can't say that I have the pulse of everything going on, but I feel like I have enough breadth of experience to have seen and felt a lot. This is what we all do. We form our opinions on this vast collection of experience and knowledge (and in many cases, "upbringing" as a default mechanism).

From my collection of experience, knowledge, and upbringing, I declare that Islam is just as safe as any other religion in our United States. We are all subject to FBI monitoring, law enforcement, and bigotry. Until there is a crime plotted or committed, I give all the benefit of the doubt.
Friday, August 27th, 2010 | 05:11 am (UTC)
As long as Pat Robertson still exists as a power of the Christian right, there is little that Rauf can say that would convince me to stop him from building his YMCA in NYC ( and thankfully, he's not building it at ground zero). When you compare the two men, Robertson is clearly a fanatic that supports terrorism. Rauf is "nothing to worry about". It's time for this country to wake up and realize who is stirring shit up. It's not the Muslims that live here among us, it's the Christians on television that infect small minds across all 50 states.
Friday, August 27th, 2010 | 02:34 pm (UTC)
Rauf's "YMCA" is being advertised in the Muslim world as being able to "accommodate up to 1,000 people to pray in jamat at one time." I don't know about you, but I call that a nice sized mosque. It will be located "only" two blocks from the world trade center and it is being advertised in the muslim world as such, by El Gamal, the projects developer. http://islamicfinder.org/getitWorld.php?id=102115&lang=english

It will not be built exactly where the World Trade Center once stood, but only because that space was not an option for them. They picked a site as close to the hole in the ground where the World Trade Center once stood as they could get. The roof of the Burlington Coat Factory building was damaged by debris from 9/11. Do you know that, in some locations, they have recovered human remains on rooftops within the debris field? Rauf's deliberate picking of that building does not sit well with me and thousands more like me. We don't give a shit that its not sitting on top of exactly where the twin towers stood. Regardless, the location very possibly has our blood on it.

If the building was going to be turned into a strip club, I, personally, wouldn't have a problem with that, because it wouldn't be a symbol of religious dominance. But, I think I could, at least, understand why others might have a problem with it. If Pat Robertson wanted to build a mega-church there, picking the site specifically to get as close to ground zero as possible, I *would* have a problem with that. But, he's not, Rauf is. I have a problem with anybody who wants to use the memory of 9/11 for personal gain. And let's not kid ourselves. Rauf knows that the location will give him considerable influence in the Muslim community all over the world.

If you want to concern yourself with the evils of Pat Robertson and place Rauf and Islam above all common sense scrutiny, go ahead. In the mean time, I, Rick, and thousands more like us, less enamored with Islam than yourself, will continue to point out the atrocities associated with its ideology and the dangers thereof.

Saturday, August 28th, 2010 | 08:48 am (UTC)
"If you want to concern yourself with the evils of Pat Robertson and place Rauf and Islam above all common sense scrutiny, go ahead. In the mean time, I, Rick, and thousands more like us, less enamored with Islam than yourself, will continue to point out the atrocities associated with its ideology and the dangers thereof. "

Ok, you do what you need to do. I'm satisfied with my position on this.
Wednesday, August 25th, 2010 | 05:17 pm (UTC) - Let's unpack this a bit ...
"someone that chooses to practice this religion"

How much "choice" does a person have if they're born in a country like Iran? Even in America, how much choice does a person have---even a Christian person---before, say, the age of 14 or so? But in a country like Iran (or Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, etc), even adults may not perceive that they have any "choice" in the matter (other than choosing death for themselves and maybe their families).

In general, and in most circumstances, I would agree that religion is a choice. That's a perception engendered by the privilege of being born in the USA. For other people in other parts of the world, not so much, and not in such large numbers ...
Wednesday, August 25th, 2010 | 03:46 pm (UTC)
"I’m not saying this to condone. Acts like the London bombing are completely against Islamic law...But the facts of the matter is that people, I have discovered, are more motivated by emotion than by logic. If their emotions are in one place and their logic is behind, their emotions will drive their decisions more often than not, and therefore we need to address the emotional state of people and the extent to which those emotions are shaped by things that we can control and we can shape, this is how we will shape a better future."

Am I the only person who thinks this statement is insanely hypocritical considering he's the one causing an emotional response, a crying out for respect for the dead, at Ground Zero? Americans/the West should heed and reflect upon the emotional responses its actions might create in the Muslim world, but Rauf is under no obligation himself to reflect upon the sensitivities of 9/11 families and others opposed to his Muslim YMCA?

The message I get from that is that Westerners need to be sensitive to Muslims, but Muslims, even ones preaching understanding and dialogue, don't have to consider the sensitivities of the "other side."
Friday, August 27th, 2010 | 05:19 am (UTC)
TO the Chicken Littles: The sky is definitely not falling when this muslim center goes up.

"This is all about hate and Islamaphobia."

Absolutely true.

Steve, do you even need to explain 1st Amendment rights or freedom of religion to this audience? They are smart enough to already know. The painful part is that they choose to ignore.

To all who oppose the mosque in NYC, Tennessee, and California from being built:
1) go to Home Depot
2) buy some wood
3) build a bridge
4) get over it.
Friday, August 27th, 2010 | 03:08 pm (UTC)
Well that settles it, then. Harry says the sky isn't falling, so the sky must not be falling.

Nothing to see here, folks, move along.

You know what happens when you convince rational people that their warranted fears are phobic? When you make them afraid of pointing out warning signs of a potential threat for fear of going against the politically correct grain? You get people killed.

Just like what happened at Fort Hood.
Friday, August 27th, 2010 | 03:53 pm (UTC)
When I read the First Amendment, I take away the belief that I have freedom *from* religion and that I have the right to voice my opinion, even if it is about the most repressive, bigoted, misogynistic, brutal, and backwards religion ever invented.
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