Thursday, August 19, 2010

I'm almost ready to build one myself


Yes, that’s how I feel. For the first time in a while a political issue has made me so mad I could dress up as Dolly Parton carrying an AK-47 and walk into a conservative caucus and say, “Don’t panic, I’m not a Muslim.”

I’ll tell you what’s got me so enraged. It’s the drumbeat against the so called mosque in NYC two blocks from ground zero. Apparently, much of our country is against it.

Unlike the left, I don’t see the right wingers as racist – in the color sense. I don’t see the tea parties as racist. I don’t see Arizona as racist. Put Judge Clarence Thomas up as candidate for President and most conservatives will vote for him. I’m not saying there aren’t racists around, but I am saying, it is no longer part of the mainstream political movement in American politics, with the exception of some on the left who use the race card at the drop of a hat, and are part of the political elite on their side. Nor am I saying that there are more on the left than the right, but those on the right have been fairly marginalized, and there really aren't that many of either. 

And, I had thought we were really done with a lot of this religious nonsense too. It seemed to me so much of that had gone the way of the dodo in America, but, apparently I breathed my sigh of relief too fast, and I am terribly disappointed as if I've been jilted on some first amendment altar. I don’t how else to describe what people like Newt Gingrich, Sean Hannity, Joe Lieberman or Harry Reid (all of whom I’ve heard speak on this issue) are doing anything but encouraging bigotry against Muslims. But, make no mistake, this is mostly a right wing phenomena with the left wing acting in many cowardly fashion all partisan policians take. I recognize it is also the position of the majority of Americans, almost two thirds, but I can’t single them all out; just the leaders. But, it is the prevalence of this bigotry among our populace that gives the leaders the courage to take this approach.

I’ve spent a bit of time arguing on blogs (not like this blog, but blogs a lot of people actually read) this week, and I am just appalled at the hatred and anger directed towards American Muslims. And, I seem to be getting a few people riled up (though most of them seem in permanent state of anger to begin with)  in my comments because I’ve compared this movement to 1930s Germany. I didn't call them Nazi's, but, that’s what it reminds me of - an emotional demonization of a people and a surrender of rationality.

So far I've resisted the desire to taunt them by writing - since lots of critics of the center are religious people, by asking them "Don’t you want people praying, you . . . ? I thought you even wanted it in school?"

So disgusted, I don’t know where to start. So irritated, I might even break my usual rule and call a few names. We’ll see.

First, this may not be an argument about building a 13 story mosque that’s being built at Ground Zero at all, but a 13 story building which already exists and which is going to be redesigned as a Muslim cultural or community center, but which will include a prayer room (which, I presume will be pretty big). You can call it a mosque if it makes you happy. Doesn't matter to me. Doesn't matter if it's there are they are building it from scratch. It's not relevant, because they could build a big mosque there if they wanted.

Some really, really important arguments (I have to work on my sarcasm skills) are being made that because a piece of the plane went into the building, it is part of Ground Zero. As if there is some rule for what gets called Ground Zero that could be anything but arbitrary. Does that mean every building for miles that was covered in soot when the building fell is also Ground Zero? Does it means the building my friend works in, across the street from the towers, and which was physically shaken by the explosions, is also Ground Zero. Although it is right across the street, really in the same big financial district park, no one has suggested that it is. I guess it must only applies to the buildings that fell down and those belonging to Muslims.

That’s because GZ is really where there is now a big hole in the ground and we all know it.

But, again, even if we were going to make believe for the sake of those who hate and despise Muslims just so they can score a point - that it is Ground Zero, I could care less. It is immaterial. If a Muslim group owned GZ, they could build a mosque there too.

GZ is not holy ground. We shouldn't do holy ground in America. Yes, we have parks, places of historical significance and landmarked buildings, and I’m all for them, and I have no problem with a reasonable memorial at GZ either, subject to the owner’s approval, but we should not dream of taking take someone’s property just because we don’t like them or they offend us and act like we are in 1930s Germany. It is not holy or sacred and there is probably going to be fast food places and Kinkos all over it.

If you are at all familiar with NY and have been to Ground Zero, you know that it is an area that has not only been surrounded by tall buildings (since I believe the 70s), but which are going still going at a fast rate (except, ironically, at the actual Ground Zero, thanks to politics and busy bodies). The people in the new proposed Liberty Tower, which may or may not be built in my lifetime, are not going to be looking out their windows at a giant version of the Blue Mosque anyway. They might be able to see the roof top of the center, but I bet, unless they put a map up on the window with a little arrow, they aren’t going to be able to tell which one. Then again, it wouldn’t matter if it did look like a turreted mosque. That would actually be a lot prettier and I'm all for nice looking churches, synagogues and mosques.


And, sorry to offend you all, but I stopped caring what the "victims' families" thought back in 2001. Sure, I’m sorry for them. I’m sorry for everybody who has died in a terrorist attack including those in the first tower attack in 1993 (six were killed and over 1000 injured according to the wiki-God). But, those families from the second attack have no more right to decide what happens with the area than anyone else. Not even a little, unless some property owner gives them the right. Do the people who had family members die or lost their property in Louisiana or Mississippi in Katrina get to decide how the area is rebuilt outside of their own homes and property. Do our soldiers who get killed fighting our wars get to decide how Arlington Cemetery should be re-designed? Do the families of the dead from flight 800 get to tell the homeowners in Shirley, NY they have to fly their flags at half mast (there actually is a small memorial park out there, but the families don’t control it). When Ford Pinto’s started blowing up, did the victims get to name a new car?

No. No. No.

I know, we keep hearing these critics say – it’s not about the first amendment. They could not be more wrong – it is all about the first amendment. There is nothing else it should be about. Many of these people want the state or city to landmark the building so it can’t be changed. Or they want to use government investigations or red tape so it can’t be done. They want to use eminent domain to take it away because they are offended (at what, I still don't understand). Those are FIRST AMENDMENT VIOLATIONS.

Speak up now if you understand that being offended or not liking someone’s taste is not grounds to harass them and I will send you a free copy of the constitution (provided I can get one for free still and you pay postage).

No. No. No.

I love this incredible response I received on a blog to one of my comments – "Why don’t you go live in Iraq or Iran, David, if you love Muslims so much?" Something like that.

Because (you . . . you . . . ararrrrragghh) I love the first amendment and those countries are totalitarian dictatorships like you apparently would have this country be, if only your tribe could be in power.

When I drive to the gym a few days of the week I listen to Sean Hannity on the radio. Usually, he makes me crazy after a few minutes when he goes so far overboard that it gets frightening (because some people do really get worked up by these radio or tv pundits, and don't hide their fury from the rest of us). Lately, he has been on a non-stop rampage against the “controversial Imam,” and the “Ground Zero mosque” as he likes to say. As part of his show, he lets friends or proponents of the Imam on, but tries his best not to let them speak. When one nice woman came on to support her friend, she agreed with the host that Hamas was a terrorist group and that stoning women is awful, and was still sent off with a rousing attack from him that she sounded like a radical too.

Now, I don’t know very much about the Imam (for example, I heard that he was a friend of Dick Cheney's too, but I have no idea), but I know no one has offered any evidence that he is a terrorist or helping terrorists. I have heard that he said that the U.S. was partially complicit in 9/11, but that doesn’t bother me, because one, SOMETHING LIKE 40-50% OF AMERICANS BELIEVE THE U.S WAS DIRECTLY INVOLVED (Zogby poll) AND MOST OF THOSE PEOPLE AREN’T MUSLIMS EITHER!!!

I also heard it mentioned that he just won’t say whether Hamas is a terrorist organization. So what? One, that isn’t grounds for anything either. Two, that feeling is shared by some Israelis, 64% of who stated in a 2008 poll that they FAVORED DIRECT NEGOTIATIONS WITH HAMAS. And, get this – a recent poll of British Jews found that although they are overwhelmingly dedicated to the survival of Israel as a Jewish homeland, 52% of them do not believe that Hamas is a terrorist organization and want direct negotiations with them. We know that feeling is widely shared by our European allies. And the majority of them aren’t Muslims either. Why should the Imam be treated differently. I think Hamas is a terrorist organization, but I don't care whether he does or not when it comes to the "Ground Zero mosque" because it make no difference.

I really could care if the “controversial Imam” insists that lima beans taste good, which is about as offensive as you can get and still call yourself an American.

I also love this one – the Imam says he wants America to be “Shariah compliant (that’s how I’m spelling it – lighten up). Over and over again I’ve read and heard about the horrors of Shariah, and who could disagree – stoning adulterers or punishing rape victims is horrifying stuff. But, that doesn’t describe American Muslim desires nor does it appear to describe this Imam’s feelings, as his friends say they and he are for a version of Shariah which is in accordance with freedom and our constitution. Even different Muslim countries have different versions of Shariah. Are you aware that parties in this country can decide to arbitrate – with the force of law – in this country based on Christian and Jewish law? So what? They can’t stone anyone either, no matter what the arbitrator decides.  But, I wouldn't care if he does, because it has nothing to do with this issue. As much as I can't stand what Newt Gingrich is doing here, I don't want him to have his property take either. We get to have opinions and not suffer for it.

Before someone mentions it, we have also bombarded with the story of the NJ judge who didn’t punish a Muslim husband who raped his wife while she cried, because, according to the judge, he was only following Shariah law. Well, if no one has told you, a) his ruling was overturned by an appellate court because IT IS NOT OUR LAW, and b) THAT JUDGE IS FREAKING CRAZY AND SHOULD BE IMPEACHED!!!!! (I read he was subsequently given a lifetime appointment – I don’t know). But, if that story is supposed to mean that we are slowly going Shariah, I can't see it.

Okay, let me move on a little. Yesterday I read an article by Russ Douthat of the The NY Times which talked about two Americas – one which was dedicated to the Constitution and the other that was dedicated to keeping American for “real Americans”. He saw value in both. It was interesting sociologically, and few commenters disagreed with his analysis. But, the comments to him were really interesting. Here are some excerpts (you can probably still find it on the website – I fix the occasional errors to make them more readable – I’m not to careful with my comments either):

This one by a Muslim:

“As an American of Muslim faith, tragically you (he means Douthat, folks) tend to ignore profound empirical data regarding Muslims in America that would have led you to different conclusion: First, 45 percent of Muslims in the United States are African Americans. Another 20 percent are converts, most of this second group are US-born white middle class and upper middle class females who converted from Christianity to Islam, an interesting cultural phenomena in its own right. Unless Mr. Douthat believes that African Americans in the United States do not share the America culture or experience and/or native born white middle and upper middle class American women are somehow different from mainstream ‘Anglo-Saxon’ culture and American experience, two nihilistic, racist and historically untenable proposition at best, one simply can not arrive at the conclusion that the majority of Muslims in the United States are of a different culture or they are the ‘other’, somehow different for the Anglo-Saxon or Judio-Christian tradition. Incidentally, for the benefit of your readers, emerging scholarly consensus finds that nearly 40 percent of blacks plucked from Africa and brought to the United States on slave ships were Muslims, among them significant number of Ulema (Muslim clerics).

. . .

I do believe that if most Americans, yourself included, did not look at 1.3 billion world of Islam through the prism of Arab Middle East which accounts for only 240 million Muslims, less than the largest Muslim country, Indonesia, Islamophobia would be less severe. For example, when one looks at the third Muslim group in the United States, the immigrant Muslims community in the United States, we find that a significant number of immigrant Muslims in the United States are from India, a country with democratic traditions. On per capita basis this segment of the Muslim community fields five times more Ph.D. than mainstream American so-called ‘Anglos-Saxon’ population; many successful entrepreneurs, medical doctors, university professors, scientists and public intellectual of the highest order, Muslim Fareed Zakaria among them. In my own small immigrant extended Muslim family here in the United States, we have four PhDs, including two from the University of California and two from Sorbonne.”

Here’s one from another Muslim:

“I mentioned in a previous post that my family has been in this country for over 300 years. My ancestors fought in the American Revolution, the Civil War, WWI, my grandfather fought in Normandy, my father was in Vietnam. Yet you are telling me to be moderate and assimilate. Into this country which my family has helped to build!

It is insulting, and I cannot fully express in words the frustration I feel.”

Here’s one I believe was from a Jewish man (he started out by talking about Jews here from the 1600s):

“I was adviser to a Jordanian major for year and saw first hand real Islam as part of daily life. This terrorist-Islam the media plays endlessly is an absurdity.

Terrorist-Islam is not Islam any more than a man murdering a doctor at a church, or claiming the divine right to raise welts on misbehaving children or claiming women should have no life outside the home, is the exemplification of Christianity.”

This one from a Rabbi:

“As for both Douthat & some commentators on this story, they ignore the public evidence of what Park51 floor plans show: that there is prayer space within a cultural center , not a super-mosque with sirens blaring the call to prayer; that the real-estate developer who bought the property had earlier tried to buy the land for the cultural center on 23d Street but the financing fell through (as reported in front-page article by the NY Times; or is 23d St also too close to the hallowed ground of the Twin Towers?) ) or that in many places in America, some people are resisting placing mosques anywhere (also reported in another front-page article in the NY Times).

I think it boils down to this: as one commentator said, SOME people think every mosque is a secret staging ground for training & equipping terrorists. And the commentator then blithely goes on, this is reason to stop the mosques.

This is straight ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ stuff. The ‘merely constitutional’ approach of the First America was not built of airy theory, but of the real-life experience of persecuted religious minorities and the decision, sometimes undermined by fear and hatred, that a cauldron of persecution was not what America was to be.

As George Washington said, addressing a synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, ‘To bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.’ As my grandmother said, interrupting other Jewish women in line at the kosher butcher who were talking contemptuously in 1940 about ‘the shvartzes,’ ‘That's the way they talked about us in Europe. This is America, and we must not talk like that!’”.

Over two years ago the Pew Group did a poll on Muslim Americans. I started writing the following (don't jump on me - it's a very rough draft) and just never finished it up:

“I was somewhat surprised by the media reaction to the Pew poll from May earlier this year, but have always been distracted from commenting upon it. It’s only 6 months old and the views probably are relatively similar. You can read the poll report itself in its entirety at http://pewresearch/.

Many mentions I saw plucked a fact or two out of the report and left out many other considerations (find the worst stats and go with it as your lead). Pew found that 65% of the Muslim population in this country is foreign born, with the Arab population a little bit over a third of that group (24% of total), as opposed to 35% being native born with two thirds of that group being African American (20% of total). Three fifths of the native born Muslims are converts. As a group, they make up as much as a half percent of the population, and possibly much less. Still, Pew estimates 1.6 million Muslim adults and a total population of 2.3. The word estimate must be emphasized as the U.S. census does not ask questions about religion. There have been higher and lower suggestions.

While European and Asian Americans may fear Islam (I know a number of people who believe all Muslims have violent tendencies or support terrorism) these numbers often show pro-American views greater than the general population.

For example, 71% of Muslims believed you can get ahead with hard work in America as opposed to only 64% of the general population. The native born Muslims were slightly more skeptical than the foreign born. In the same manner, fewer Muslims believed you could not get ahead no matter how hard you worked than the general population. These numbers should be no great surprise as only 2% of Muslims are low income compared to the general population in the United States. Compare this positive figure with that of Britain (22%) France and Germany (both 18%) and (23%). That’s a factor of about 10 to 1.

A media outlet might get a headline shouting that only 38% of U.S. Muslims find the state of America satisfactory (45% of the foreign born). 38% is only a little more than a third. But the general public satisfaction is less than a third, on 32%. In a number of questions, Muslims seemed more satisfied or happier than the general public. When they were not, the numbers were usually not very different, and less so with the foreign born.

For example, 72% of Muslims found their community excellent or good compared to 82% of the general population. Overall Muslims seem a little less happy than their general population though. Only 24% of Muslims say they are very happy, compared to 36% of the general population. Interestingly, foreign born Muslims are slightly more likely to say they are very happy than native born ones (26% to 22%), but native born ones are far more likely to say that they are “pretty” happy (62% to 48%).

Muslims were much more skeptical than the general public about the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and the general one on terror by large margins over the general public. However, their opinions on terrorism were not that different at all. Only 8% of Muslims in America thought suicide bombings were ever justified, although only (thank god) 1% believed the same against civilian targets. 58% had a highly unfavorable opinion of Al Qaeda (which was brought down considerable by the African-American block (only 38% ???). 40% believe and 28% believe that Arabs were involved in the 9/11 attacks.

This is far less than comparative numbers for Western Europe, not to mention Muslim countries. The bad news for us is that the numbers are much greater for younger Muslims than older ones. I suspect, but don’t know, that this is true throughout the middle east and Europe as well. For example, more than twice as many Muslim in America under 30 believe that suicide bombings may be justified (15% to 6%).

Although they have conservative social values, they prefer the Democratic Party to the Republican Party by nearly 2 to 1, and are for bigger government by a large margin. 71% voted for Kerry in 2004. Some of that may be related to their great disapproval of Bush (about a 3 times as many disfavor him as the general public).

49% believed that mosques should not involve themselves with politics. 43% said they should. This, however, is quite similar to the 2006 poll of Christians, also by Pew which found 54% against it, and 43 % for it.

Muslim incomes are almost identically spread as the general population. For example 16% of Muslims earn over $100,000 compared to 17% for the general population, with similarly near identical numbers all the way down. Far greater differential exists, particularly at the higher end, in Western Europe. Numbers for educational achievements for Muslims as opposed to the general population are similarly close. However, a far greater percentage of the general population are homeowners compared to Muslims (68% to 41%). 50% of American Muslims accept the Koran as the Word of God compared to 40% of American Christians who feel similarly about the Bible. Most American Muslims believe in one god, Allah, and in judgment day and angels. 72% of Muslims say religion is “very important” part of their lives compared to 60% of Christians (how many Christians think that’s a bad thing). But 71% of Christians claim they pray every day compared to 60% of Muslims. Christians are also slightly more likely to say that they attend church once a week (45% to 40%).

Black Muslims were less likely to completely condemn Al Qaeda than other Muslims.”

I think you get the idea.

Here’s my pledge. I have no idea who I would vote for in November, because I do not want to vote for any Democrats or Republicans. I’ve decided neither party is dedicated to the country, but the very nature of the two party system we have makes them beholden only to their parties and whatever special interests their party favors. On one hand, I definitely don’t want the Democrats to continue in their powerful grip on congress and the presidency (or the Republicans to regain that fully either). So, I may end up voting for a Republican over a Democrat. But, I definitely will not vote for a Republican who uses this phony bologna issue or seeks to demonize American Muslims.

Think of any other arguments you can. I’m fired up on this one.


  1. Tits,I say.
    If more uptight,white men started paying attention to tits and less attention to bigotry and blind racial or ethnic hatred, we'd have more kids running around and less guns,wars, and hate crimes. The comparisons to 1930's Germany are apt and accurate. Unfortunately one needs to be educated to know that, and the people foaming at the mouth about this are MORONS!
    Tits, tits, tits, tits, tits, tits. See? Don't you feel better already? Bet you can't even remember what the hell we're talking about anymore. Tits, tits, tits, tits, tits, tits.......

  2. Oh, great comment, Bear. Now I'm longing for the days when I got spam for comments. Can't wait until my daughters friends read this and . . . I don't even want to think about it.

    I decided, if it's in the dictionary, fine, I'll leave it and, in fact, it was, so I'm stuck with it. So, all I can say is, dear massive readership rivaling that of The Daily Kos and Instapundit, please ignore my idiot friend. He's from NY and you know they can't help themselves.

  3. Your response to my comment just reinforces it's validity. I say TITS, and I'm an idiot. You just wrote an entire blog about REAL idiots who want to trample the very freedoms our country is founded on. I'm comfortable. Oh, and one other thing: if your daughter's friends actually read this stuff they need to get lives immediately.

  4. No, I got your point, old man. For pychological reasons I don't understand I am the only sibling in my family who took to heart my parents' aversion to expressions of bodily parts or functions as being somata non grata (an expression I think I just made up but am already preening about). But, I like it that way. Doesn't mean you are not an idiot. Now, as the Muslims say - As salamu alayka, brother Bear.

    p.s. No, they are reading because they are in their youth and the irrepressible joy of the blog known as is infectious and incalcuable. Or, maybe it just beats working, but I'll take it.


Your comments are welcome.

About Me

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .