Respected Pastor Terry Jones,
I have read your worldwide call for the burning of the Quran on this coming 11th of September. Your message stated that you are a pastor of one of the churches in Florida in the United States of America.
As an Arab Catholic priest from Damascus (Syria), I wondered what would be your objective, as an American pastor, for such a call?
I wondered, and I ask you: What are your responsibilities as a pastor?
Are you really a Christian pastor serving God in a church in America?
Or are you merely a layperson from America who is pretending to be in the service of Christ?
Did you give in to your nationalism (Americanism) rather than giving in to your Christianity?
What is your aim with that call?
(Do you wish) to further fuel hatred among people? Is that consistent with (the teachings of) Jesus, whom you represent in your eyes and the eyes of many others?
Tell me, is there in the character of Jesus, in his words or in his actions anything that would remotely justify even a hint of promoting disdain and hatred among people?
Have you forgotten that Jesus was completely for love, forgiveness and peace? Have you forgotten what he taught us when he told his disciples and the people after them to tell God the heavenly Father of all to “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who wrong us”? You overlooked or forgot that when Jesus was hanging on the cross and being subjected to insults and vile words, he raised his voice, saying, “O Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Who, then, do you represent or who are you trying to guide with this call of yours?
Isn’t it enough what has been happening since September 11, 2001: the killing, destruction, displacement and starvation of hundreds of millions of people throughout the world, from Palestine – the land of Jesus – by your leaders in particular, headed by George Bush, who was claiming direct communication with God?
Wouldn’t you agree with me that with your call (to burn the Quran), you have demonstrated that you are really unfamiliar with Jesus and that you desperately need to re-discover him again to be a true Christian pastor who calls, like Jesus, for the comprehensive love and full respect for every human being and a commitment to the full and wonderful teachings that call upon all believers, without exception, to always stand beside the poor, the oppressed and the disadvantaged?
My brother Pastor Terry Jones. Can you tell me, honestly, if Jesus came today, whose side would he take?
Is it the side of the powerful and arrogant oppressors who dominate the world and endlessly plunder its resources, violate its laws and international treaties, and kill people in their countries and destroy houses on top of their owners and turn them into refugees across the earth? Or is it the side of those who are oppressed, the disadvantaged, hungry, and homeless?
Did you forget what Jesus himself would say on the Day of Judgment to each person in front of him: “All that you did to one of my brothers, you actually did to me”?
I wonder if you have overlooked or forgotten that Jesus did not point in that speech on the Day of Judgment to the religion of any of those mistreated persons. He only referred to everyone as belonging to the human race and to his standing with the deprived, the weak, and the oppressed in this world.
So how could you as an American Christian pastor stand with the oppressors from your country whose injustice has spread around the world?
Aren’t you afraid of when you appear before Jesus on Judgment Day and you are burdened with a heavy conscience, like your leaders who are blinded by the gods of power, money, control and greed?
My brother Pastor Terry. Do you think I am being unfair if I conclude that your hatred toward Islam is what drove you to such a reprehensible call for the burning of Islam’s holy book, the Quran?
But let me ask you, as a Syrian Roman Catholic priest: What do you know about Islam? It appears to me from your call to burn the Quran that you are ignorant of Christ and Christianity, and that makes me believe that you are also ignorant of Islam and Muslims.
Believe me, it is not my intention to indict you and it is not my intention to engage with you in a religious debate about Christianity or Islam. However, after I prayed for a long time, let me suggest for both of us to make a joint effort on this coming September 11.
You might ask me what effort can we do jointly when you are in Florida and I’m in Damascus?
He is my suggestion.
I invite you to visit Syria, where you will be my guest and the guest of many of my Muslim and Christian friends. Syria is a country populated mostly by Muslims and in which Christians are indigenous to the land and have lived side-by-side with Muslims for centuries and centuries.
Come and don’t worry about anything.
Come and you will find out about Islam and Muslims what will comfort you, please you, surprise you, and even lead you, from where you are today in Florida, to invite all people to live in respect, love and cooperation among all people.
This is what people need rather than the un-Christian call to fuel the sentiment of hatred and division.
Come to Syria and you will be amazed by the good nature of people and their faith, their relations, friendly cooperation and openness toward all strangers.
Come to Damascus to witness and live an experience that is not in your mind nor the mind or expectation of all the churches of the West or their bishops, pastors, and clergymen.
Come to see and hear two choruses, Christian and Muslim, singing together during Christian and Islamic holidays to praise Allah, the One God, who created us all, and to whom we all return.
My brother Pastor Terry.
I call you my brother and I am serious about calling you brother and about my invitation to you. I await a word (of reply) from you. Trust me that you will find a brother in Damascus, actually many brothers.
Please contact me and don’t delay. I am waiting for you in Damascus.
I ask God to make our anticipated meeting the beginning of a long and interesting path that we undertake together with other brothers in Damascus and around the world.
How desperate is the need of our world for bright roads.
Come, the road to Damascus is waiting for you.
Father Elias Zahlawi
When we approach a non-Jew who has violated the seven Noahide laws (The seven Noahide laws prohibit idolatry, murder, theft, illicit sexual relations, blasphemy and eating the flesh of a live animal, and require societies to institute just laws and law courts)and kill him out of concern for upholding these seven laws, no prohibition has been violated.
Hindrances—babies are found many times in this situation. They block the way to rescue by their presence and do so completely by force. Nevertheless, they may be killed because their presence aids murder. There is justification for killing babies if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us, and in such a situation they may be harmed deliberately, and not only during combat with adults.
After looking at these pictures from Gaza I can’t help but think that while there are those who may want to distance themselves from the above quotes, such sentiment expressed therein is actually the policy of the IDF, for the moment, in its interactions with Palestinians.
The author of the piece excerpted below asks this and three other pertinent questions related to the debate taking place in America regarding freedom of religion especially as it applies to Muslim Americans. The answer to this first question is conditional, based on what is described below
I got home from vacation late on Friday night and was soon asked to join in the fracas around the planned Cordoba House two blocks from Ground Zero. In less than 36 hours after getting back to Washington, I was walking into the Fox News studio on Sunday morning. Welcome home.They asked about a letter that I had just signed supporting religious freedom for Muslims. I said we should ask three simple questions:
- Should we as Americans be able to worship and pray when and where we choose? Haven’t we fought for that?
- Are American Muslims … Americans?
- And, for those of us who are Christians (and I am an Evangelical Christian), are we obeying the commands of Jesus to love our neighbors? Aren’t Muslims our neighbors? So what might Jesus say to this controversy?
There was a brief silence from the Fox and Friends anchors. OK, they said, but what about “sensitivity” to the families that lost loved ones in 9/11? Well, I said, 59 Muslims also died on 9/11 because of a vile, cowardly, and criminal attack by al Qaeda. Does it honor them, or their families, by somehow connecting all American Muslims to that horrible attack?
Well, thank you for joining us today Reverend, they said. Thank you, I said, but how we handle this is very important–to what it means to be Americans or what it means to be Christians.
I was ready to talk about my friends Imam Feisal Rauf and his wife, Daisy Khan, who are among the leaders of the vision to build a new community center committed to peace, interfaith dialogue, reconciliation, and bridge-building. I know them both and can testify to their long record on denouncing terrorism in the name of their religion and their consistent work for peace. Until very recently, Daisy says her main concern about the new interfaith center was whether there would be enough stroller space. Daisy called me Sunday to describe how their lives have been turned upside down. If Ground Zero is the “gaping wound” my Fox and Friends anchors described, what could be more helpful than a religious center dedicated to healing?
That morning, as I watched continued coverage, I was disappointed to hear the low level that discourse has dropped to. The politicians who spoke to it sounded more like the people leaving nasty and false comments on YouTube videos than anyone deserving of public office. Well, it is the election season again.
This guilt-by-association “sensitivity” argument is very dangerous stuff. Millions of American Muslims are not responsible for the heinous crime of 9/11. And an imam’s desire to heal and build bridges should be a welcome thing. Exactly how far away from what places should Muslims be able to pray in America? Is there a measurement requirement that is emerging from all the other places in the country now where mosques are also being opposed?
Fundamentalism doesn’t only exist in Islam. The things someone like Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell have said certainly are an embarrassment to other Christians — remember Robertson’s assertion that 9/11 was the judgment of God on America because of liberalism and feminism. So how about preventing fundamentalist churches that like Robertson from worshiping within 3 blocks of Ground Zero because of “sensitivity”?
How we handle this one will affect our future as a nation. Do we believe in our principles or not? Do we believe Muslims are also Americans or not? Are we an inclusive and pluralistic nation, or not?
Perhaps FoxNews that Rev. Wallis dealt with was the network Obama was referring that is pervasive with its innuendo driven coverage of his faith? In many people’s minds, the answer to the last two questions is a resounding no!
- Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Shariah, and Democracy (blogher.com)
Michael Enright, a 21-year-old college student, slashed a NYC cab driver in the face and neck because this man was Muslim. Enright is being held in a psychiatric ward. If he is mad, then the United States is also insane. Enright’s assault merely mirrors what we, as a nation, have done for nearly a decade.
The United States has responded criminally and incoherently to what happened on September 11, 2001. Lopped of our twin members, downtown, we also lost our authoritative voice. Two days after that disaster, George Bush grimly declared, “The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him.” Six months later, Bush shrugged, “I don’t know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don’t care. It’s not that important. It’s not our priority.” Our current president never mentions bin Laden, yet Obama has sent many more troops into Afghanistan. We’re not leaving any time soon, that’s for sure. Congress has just approved 1.3 billion dollars to expand our military bases there. Our new mission, if Time Magazine is to be believed, is to defend Afghan women against the Taliban, whom we created in the first place, to fight the Soviets. America gets a kick out of these flip flops. We propped up Saddam Hussein, then we had him hanged. We fought Communist Vietnam, then we staged a naval exercise with that same regime, as happened just recently, riling up China. Tension feeds the military industrial complex. Wars are even better.
Responding to 9/11, America also invaded Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with that catastrophe. Since the real reasons for our two current conflicts, access to oil and natural gas, defense of the petrodollar, war profiteering, are never admitted to, many Americans have concluded that we’re simply waging war against Islam, which is, frankly, not that far off the mark considering our unequivocal support for Israel whenever it attacks Gaza, Lebanon, Syria or any other Muslim population. The U.S. has also been killing Pakistani civilians and threatening Iran. It’s a miracle many Muslims don’t hate us more.
Without Israel and oil, it’s a safe bet we wouldn’t be demonizing Muslims so relentlessly. As is, this stoked hatred is bringing out the worst in our character. On Yahoo! News, many comments on the Enright story don’t condemn but applaud his obvious crime, and also bash Islam.
Bruce, “Slay the infidel…..stone the rape victim……beat your wife……..mate with your goat…..wipe your bu tt with your bare hand…..AHHH the joys of islam!”
David, “this guy should get a medal and be aloud [sic] to blow up the mosque at the ground zero sight, its [sic] about time someone in ny stepped up and showed some american balls!!!”
Spreading like cancer across the internet, openly hateful and racist comments are especially common after stories about Muslims, blacks or Mexicans, the top three scapegoats at the moment. Obama is a lightning rod for anti-black racism, which is ironic because he does not favor blacks in any way. Like Bush, Clinton and the rest of our bank-bailing-out, paid-for politicians, Obama couldn’t care less about the little guys. Eyeing his own wallet and his future after the White House, Obama’s here to defend the moneyed interest. His blackness is merely symbolic, but that’s enough to enrage the racists.
After Michelle Obama went to Spain, Alternative Right, a webzine with contributions from several established authors, had an article titled, “Michelle’s Vacation in Whitey World.” Among the comments, one man suggested that she should have gone to a blacker destination, like “Ghana or the Maldives.”
One Sheila wrote, “I cringe every time I see a photo of the Sasquatch/Wookie as purportedly “First Lady” of American women. My spouse always comments that she reminds him of a chimp with her underbite, and I am always struck by her enormous feet and trapezius muscles. Either way I feel a sort of cognitive dissonance, such as when I view old photos and see 19th century blacks dressed in Victorian clothing. As far as her amazing European adventure, she is putting herself in white people’s faces. Her very presence is a way of announcing the new order.”
There’s no new order, lady. Obama himself is a head fake! Scratch that skin lightly, and you’ll see your beloved Dubya again. Everything is still in place, including the torture chambers. After another article in Alternative Right, a reader lamented, “After 9/11, we saw the lack of a white nation identity. There was abject surrender to Islam.” Only the most deluded can call the killing of hundreds of thousands of Muslims, and the occupation of two Islamic countries, an “abject surrender to Islam.” Although not all Americans think this way, of course, this man is hardly alone. As the world’s biggest source of terror, we’re posing as its most helpless victims.
The scapegoating of Muslims, blacks and Mexicans gives the appearance that we’re being threatened from without and below, when we’re actually being mugged from above, from the inside. It’s the entrenched who are killing us, not outsiders. Even with 9/11, too many questions remain. One must remember that Bin Laden began as a CIA asset, and two months before the attack, he was at the American hospital in Dubai, where a CIA agent visited him. On September 10, 2001, bin Laden was at the Army Hospital in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, to receive dialysis treatment. Again, no attempt was made to arrest him. Today, we’re also not trying to arrest this man, and that’s no conspiracy theory.
I wonder what was going through the mind of this young Afghani boy as he was asked, no doubt, to pose with Michael Enright for this photo. As it turns out he has every reason to be apprehensive after what happened to a New York cab driver at the hands of Enright’s rage. In reality, the photo above is just another trophy picture, like the others we’ve covered here on the pages of Miscellany101 of “conquerors” posing with their conquered, the dispossessed.
It’s also noteworthy that Enright had to go to a land thousands of miles from his own to nurture his racism, accompanied by an invading army from his country, which has been known for inflicting massive casualties on the civilian population of Afghanistan. Along with his assault on an unsuspecting cab driver, Enright no doubt struck terror in the minds of the little boy pictured above. Yet we are led to believe the threat of Islam on God fearing western populations is at hand? Go figure.
I believe(d) in the greatness of America and its people, but that belief has been shaken somewhat with the surge of racism and Islamophobia sweeping the country. Frankly, it has caused more than a little doubt in me, especially when viewed in the context of it’s been going on for sometime and we still don’t seem to get it, or get it right.
Browsing through my list of blogs, I ran across this post which has me thinking about this idea of American exceptionalism and I agree with what the writer wrote. Here are some excerpts (please support citizenship media; it’s a far cry better than corporate media)
the greatness of the American people is not only a myth but an extremely destructive one.
The myth is most notably promoted by your so-called leaders, who by its use demonstrate quite clearly that they know more about you than you know about them. In particular, they know that flattery will get them everywhere, because you are far too ignorant, far too arrogant, too inward-looking, too self-absorbed, too addicted to your daily fiction, to ever vote for anyone so bold as to tell you the truth about yourself, your country and its role in the world, or the body politic itself — of which you are a vanishingly insignificant member.
Instead they talk about how proud they are to be American, and how proud you are to be American, and how they know the great people of this great nation will support them in their great campaign to become the next great president, senator, congressman, governor, attorney general, dog-catcher, or whatever. God Bless America, this great and wonderful country. Or something.
The myth of the greatness of the American people is — to use Lincoln’s famous words — altogether fitting and proper under the circumstances, which is to say it is necessary to the American political landscape for several interconnected reasons. In addition to the most transparent of flattery, the myth provides invaluable support for American exceptionalism, the mass-murderous fiction according to which the United States is never obliged to acknowledge — or apologize for — or rectify — the damage it does to the rest of the world, where it slaughters innocent people by the millions and poisons square miles of landscape by the hundreds of thousands, all in the name of spreading democracy, or stability, or prosperity, or security, or whatever they think you’ll believe next year.
the myth also obscures the reality of American prosperity: that it is not solely or even primarily the product of American ingenuity and the inherent greatness of the American people, but of brute force, brutally applied. The story of American wealth begins with a continent rich in natural resources, devoid of natural enemies and protected from the rest of the world by two oceans, conquered through genocide and developed by slavery, fed by the most rapid destruction of resources mankind has ever seen, and growing by hammering the rest of the world, murdering innocent people and stealing the resources to which the victims and their progeny should have been entitled. For this you congratulate yourselves, and your politicians congratulate you, as righteous Christians whose worldly wealth signifies your holiness. Or something.
But no, your so-called leaders will never tell you any of this, and neither will your so-called news media. And even though the plain and horrible truth is available — and always has been — in your local library, and — relatively recently — on the best (read: least-popular) internet sites, you mostly choose to avoid it. And this avoidance is altogether fitting and proper as well, since your continuing denial allows you to go on about your life in “peace” and “quiet”, secure in the “knowledge” that regardless of whatever trouble awaits you and your country, your inherent greatness — and that of your friends and neighbors — will certainly come to the rescue, if only it can be awakened. Or something.
The one saving grace for my sanity, the item that keeps me from jumping off the nearest bridge is the “system” does work, that people can and do overcome by way of using the tools this system provides,yet at great cost to themselves to their lives and the lives of their loved ones and an even greater cost to the American body politic. That people do prevail, I assert, is due as much to the human spirit as to the political system.
There are groups of Americans today who are far better off than they were 200 years ago; granted those who were at the top of the social hierarchy then still are predominant today and they still seek to maintain that standing over everyone else, but there’s hope that with struggle a balance can be achieved. Or maybe not….
An explanation of “jihad” that you might not see or hear from corporate media.
I recently saw Chris Rock’s excellent documentary, ‘Good Hair’, and didn’t know how much women (he specifically focused on women in his piece) spent on getting their hair done! Nor was I aware at the depths people go to get good hair, those who want it on their own heads and those who purchase it to sell to others. The exploitative side of a good ‘do can reach the point where it rates up there with an international crime on the magnitude of human trafficking. I strongly recommend getting a copy of the movie and watching it.
I came away with a greater appreciation for the ‘hijab’ for Muslim women after watching this movie because of two very striking comments made in it. One was my Maya Angelou who said, ‘hair is a woman’s glory’ and Rock’s statement at the end of the film, ‘it’s not what you put on your head it’s what you put in your head that counts’ that seem to make the point that is made by women who wear, out of a sense of conviction, the head scarf.
Modesty is not just in appearance but in how you shape that appearance is an essential element of the “good hair” debate as well. Take the photo above. I found it on a forum where someone was asking for a barber who could cut his hair like the picture and he went on to say, ‘Price does not matter just want a good haircut’ which could almost mean anything! Rock et. co explored the debate how can people “afford” to do so much to/with their hair in this time of economic uncertainty and the implied answers are as stark as the given ones. It’s scary what we are willing to do to get ‘good hair’.
Eight American Muslim imams went to Poland and Germany to witness first hand the historical places of the Holocaust in a trip co-sponsored by a German think tank and the Center for Interreligious Understanding, a New Jersey-based interfaith dialogue group. The imams issued a statement afterward that stated in part
We bear witness to the absolute horror and tragedy of the Holocaust where over twelve million human souls perished, including six million Jews.
We condemn any attempts to deny this historical reality and declare such denials or any justification of this tragedy as against the Islamic code of ethics.
We condemn anti-Semitism in any form. No creation of Almighty God should face discrimination based on his or her faith or religious conviction.
We stand united as Muslim American faith and community leaders and recognize that we have a shared responsibility to continue to work together with leaders of all faiths and their communities to fight the dehumanization of all peoples based on their religion, race or ethnicity. With the disturbing rise of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of hatred, rhetoric and bigotry, now more than ever, people of faith must stand together for truth.
Together, we pledge to make real the commitment of “never again” and to stand united against injustice wherever it may be found in the world today.
Under the circumstances one would think the trip was successful in bridging gaps that have existed between the two faith communities as well as contribute towards decelerating the tensions between American Muslims and the rest of America surrounding the Park51 mosque. It’s noteworthy the trip was covered by the Jewish outlet The Forward, but it has gone pretty much unnoticed by main stream media so America does not have the benefit of knowing of the outreach going on between the two parties and the rather optimistic outcome. Too bad for America, which is in the throes of a new brand of anti-semitism.
What’s even worse is much of that Islamophobia is led by Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, who has come out and said the Park51 mosque should relocate
To many Americans, the decision of Abe Foxman, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, to oppose the so-called “ground zero mosque” seemed out of character. After all, Foxman is often treated by the media as an arbiter of tolerance; that he would come out in favor of Islamophobia was jarring.
The ADL’s private domestic spying operation had been going on since its inception, but after Foxman took over it engaged in operations like spying on anti-apartheid activists and other non-extremist groups. Foxman and the ADL became worried as much about direct domestic persecution of Jews as they were about opposition to Israel, and began to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Certainly, anti-Zionism can bleed into anti-Semitism, but Foxman has taken this to a cartoonish degree, demanding apologies from Americans for expressing views on Palestine that would be well within the mainstream in the context of Israeli domestic politics.
Foxman’s conservatism is clear in his selective outrage. He refused to condemn anti-Semitic statements by Sun Myung Moon’s Bush administration-allied Unification church, declined to protest Fox News’ frequent use of Nazi imagery for the purposes of political vilification — and, of course, in contrast to his opposition to an anti-Mormon film, he’s happily gotten on board with the anti-Islamic sentiment that even he acknowledges is key to opponents of the Park51 project near ground zero.
and who was against the aforementioned trip to Europe, so much so that he lobbied the US’ representative not to go on the trip.
Organizers of the trip say they were dismayed that the Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman lobbied U.S. officials against participating. They also say the Investigative Project’s Steve Emerson, author of “American Jihad,” lobbied against the trip, arguing that one of the imams planning to participate had made Holocaust denial statements a decade ago.
The reason given by the ADL/Foxman was they didn’t want an American official to be a part of the trip…read that he didn’t want the government or any official thereof to recognize the efforts of Muslims at bridging gaps with other faith based communities. If it were out of a real concern for the inappropriateness of US government representation, it would have stopped with the US government, but Foxman made a play to a Polish rabbi to ask him not to meet with the 8 imams
…Foxman called both Rosenthal and the White House to object. When it went forward anyway, he went beyond objecting to the participation of the U.S. officials and called a Polish rabbi who had a scheduled meeting with the imams and asked the rabbi not to see the group
So it is a lie that Foxman acted out of a concern for the US government’s representative appearing with the group; his objection was for anyone to meet with them, in other words for there to not be any dialogue at all between anyone and the 8 American Muslim imams. By isolating them no one would know, as is the case with most of the American public, the principled stand they would take in the matter of the Holocaust, and by extension any other contemporary issue. The reason is clear, by isolating them Foxman is able to distort or misrepresent their views and continue the atmosphere of hostility between them and the western world. This helps political zionism in its fight with the Palestinians who Israel has managed to lump with a Muslim world view which is portrayed as hostile to the state. If a wide cross section of American Muslim religious leaders can come to a consensus on such a hot button issue intrinsically connected to the existence of Israel as the Holocaust, what else might they be able to agree on that’s important to the existence of Israel and thus influence Muslim opinion in other places of the world? For a country that thrives on threats and lives to fight wars with its neighbors, fulfilling its purpose with wars and acts of aggression, peace/dialogue is a threat to its existence more than the strongest opponent. That is the reason why Foxman opposed the trip in general because he knew the outcome would be what it was, that men of faith and principle would come to the conclusions that the 8 American Muslim imams did. The one advantage Foxman has in his favor is the statement of the 8 imams will go largely unnoticed by media and the general public and his goal of isolating legitimate Muslim voices from the American discourse will have been accomplished. For that Foxman no doubt will get more than his share of attaboys.
While America burns with its religious animosity/racism against Muslims, Germany gives another, more tolerant view of how religious minorities should be treated. Funny that…..after its past, but Germany,it’s politicians and social institutions are showing far more tolerance and leading by example far better than America is right now. How?
A German television station is broadcasting the start and end times of the daily fast during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. The broadcaster says it wants to promote integration and sensitize non-Muslim viewers to the issue. It does the same kind of thing for its other religious communities as well, however, so for the Islamophobes who might claim German television has gone over to the Sharia side, German TV could respond it’s religiously inclusive.
Germany’s political parties, read that plural folks, are breaking the fast with Germany’s Muslims as a sign of our respect for all Muslims who live in the country. They consider such action as embracing the multi-ethnic nature of the country’s population, and as normal as celebrating Christmas or any other religious holiday and not as a “concession” to Muslims. What’s different about the German approach is this cultural acknowledgment cuts across political parties, and is not just something the party in power does. Each American president has done the same thing, but his political rivals at the time did not and that is the difference.
Finally, Republican Ron Paul of Texas put the political nail on the coffin of the 51 Park Street mosque with this clear, definitive statement (red emphasis mine)
“Is the controversy over building a mosque near ground zero a grand distraction or a grand opportunity? Or is it, once again, grandiose demagoguery?
“It has been said, “Nero fiddled while Rome burned.” Are we not overly preoccupied with this controversy, now being used in various ways by grandstanding politicians? It looks to me like the politicians are “fiddling while the economy burns.”
“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.”
“Just think of what might (not) have happened if the whole issue had been ignored and the national debate stuck with war, peace, and prosperity. There certainly would have been a lot less emotionalism on both sides. The fact that so much attention has been given the mosque debate, raises the question of just why and driven by whom?
“In my opinion it has come from the neo-conservatives who demand continual war in the Middle East and Central Asia and are compelled to constantly justify it.
“They never miss a chance to use hatred toward Muslims to rally support for the ill conceived preventative wars. A select quote from soldiers from in Afghanistan and Iraq expressing concern over the mosque is pure propaganda and an affront to their bravery and sacrifice.
“The claim is that we are in the Middle East to protect our liberties is misleading. To continue this charade, millions of Muslims are indicted and we are obligated to rescue them from their religious and political leaders. And, we’re supposed to believe that abusing our liberties here at home and pursuing unconstitutional wars overseas will solve our problems.
“The nineteen suicide bombers didn’t come from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan or Iran. Fifteen came from our ally Saudi Arabia, a country that harbors strong American resentment, yet we invade and occupy Iraq where no al Qaeda existed prior to 9/11.
“Many fellow conservatives say they understand the property rights and 1st Amendment issues and don’t want a legal ban on building the mosque. They just want everybody to be “sensitive” and force, through public pressure, cancellation of the mosque construction.
“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?
“If Islam is further discredited by making the building of the mosque the issue, then the false justification for our wars in the Middle East will continue to be acceptable.
“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. But many conservatives and liberals do not want to diminish the hatred for Islam–the driving emotion that keeps us in the wars in the Middle East and Central Asia.
“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-conservative’s 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.”
I’d say Paul has pretty much nailed it!
The myth of the Judea-Christian founding of America might be one of the reasons behind the demonstrations against masajid in certain areas of the country. The inherent racism of those behind these demonstrations is another; however this video done by a group of Muslims dismantles the supposition of the “Christianess” of America’s beginnings and in doing so shows America is really about ALL religions and that none of them holds any special place over any other.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Islamophobic racists are all singing the dangers of Shari’ah law as something that will overtake the Nation and either make everyone Muslim or kill those who don’t convert. From the looks of this article, their fears are misplaced; rather it is their own Christian-Judeo tradition which has enveloped the US military they should be worried about. Imagine, an American military force made up of Christians determining whether you meet the criteria for safety or punishment. Think it won’t happen here? Maybe it already is.
The Army said Friday it was investigating a claim that dozens of soldiers who refused to attend a Christian band’s concert at a Virginia military base were banished to their barracks and told to clean them up.Fort Eustis spokesman Rick Haverinen told The Associated Press he couldn’t comment on the specifics of the investigation. At the Pentagon, Army spokesman Col. Thomas Collins said the military shouldn’t impose religious views on soldiers.
“If something like that were to have happened, it would be contrary to Army policy,” Collins said.
Pvt. Anthony Smith said he and other soldiers felt pressured to attend the May concert while stationed at the Newport News base, home of the Army’s Transportation Corps.
“My whole issue was I don’t need to be preached at,” Smith said in a phone interview from Phoenix, where he is stationed with the National Guard. “That’s not what I signed up for.”
Smith, 21, was stationed in Virginia for nearly seven months for helicopter electrician training when the Christian rock group BarlowGirl played as part of the “Commanding General’s Spiritual Fitness Concerts.”
Smith said a staff sergeant told 200 men in their barracks they could either attend or remain in their barracks. Eighty to 100 decided not to attend, he said.
“Instead of being released to our personal time, we were locked down,” Smith said. “It seemed very much like a punishment.”
You can read more about the efforts of many in the military to make it Christian, thereby usurping the Constitution, here.
Please take 18 minutes of your time to look at this unedited interview with Sharif El-Gamal, the developer of the proposed Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero, who ripped his critics and said he has no plans to move the proposed location of the project.
If ever there was a time for citizenship media, today’s 21st century America is definitely that time. This article clearly demonstrates how dangerous corporate media easily manipulated or agenda driven can become, and that’s not to say citizenship media won’t suffer the same problems, but the increase in the number of sources to choose from opposed to the monopoly that’s slowly enveloping mainstream media offsets that risk. There are a lot of examples of good citizenship media and one of my favorites is Consortiumnews.com an excellent blog run by Robert Parry, but there are certainly others. We are not defenseless in the face of corportate media’s onslaught; while it has its place, main stream media has become increasingly irrelevant in covering or even defining today’s issues. The article below is just one of the reasons why (emphasis in red mine)
Declassified files from a Senate investigation into Israeli-funded covert public relations and lobbying activity in the United States were released by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) on July 23rd, 2010. The subpoenaed documents reveal Israel’s clandestine programs for “cultivation of editors,” the “stimulation and placement of suitable articles in the major consumer magazines” as well as U.S. reporting about sensitive subjects such as the Dimona nuclear weapons facility. Documents are now available for download from http://IRmep.org/ila/azc include:
Dimona (excerpt): “The nuclear reactor story inspired comment from many sources; editorial writers, columnists, science writers and cartoonists. Most of the press seemed finally to accept the thesis that the reactor was being built for peaceful purposes and not for bombs.” http://www.irmep.org/11-121960AZC.pdf
Content placement and promotion (excerpt): “The Atlantic Monthly in its October issue carried the outstanding Martha Gellhorn piece on the Arab refugees, which made quite an impact around the country. We arranged for the distribution of 10,000 reprints to public opinion molders in all categories… Interested friends are making arrangements with the Atlantic for another reprint of the Gellhorn article to be sent to all 53,000 persons whose names appear in Who’s Who in America…Our Committee is now planning articles for the women’s magazines for the trade and business publications.” http://www.irmep.org/09101961AZC.pdf
Pressure campaigns (excerpt): “It can be said that the press of the nation…has by and large shown sympathy and understanding of Israel’s position. There are, of course, exceptions, notably the Scripps-Howard chain where we still need to achieve a ‘break-through,’ the Pulliam chain (where some progress has been made) and some locally-owned papers.” http://www.irmep.org/11-121960AZC.pdf
Magazine Committee achievements (excerpt): “We cannot pinpoint all that has already been accomplished by this Committee except to say that it has been responsible for the writing and placement of articles on Israel in some of America’s leading magazines….” http://www.IRmep.org/10301962_AZC.pdf
According to Grant F. Smith, director of IRmep, “It is frightening how easily some in the American news media surrendered to a foreign public relations campaign that spent the 2010 equivalent of $36 million over two years. Time has proven most of the planted content to be misleading, if not dangerous. These historical documents hold many important lessons for Americans who have long needed—but rarely received—straight reporting on key Middle East issues.”
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the nation’s record keeper. It retains 1%-3% of the most important documents of business conducted by the United States Federal government. The Israel Lobby Archive, http://IRmep.org/ila is a unit of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy in Washington.
This is a very compelling read that I hope you will take time to absorb. I wanted to excerpt points I find particularly relevant to today’s debates
Declining civil rights: Everyday freedoms are often a casualty of a society in collapse. As the anger of the populace mounts in response to declining economic conditions and political corruption, the government counters by increasing draconian measures that restrict the political rights and civil liberties of its citizens.
America is becoming a country like China, which has one of the lowest scores according to Freedom House. In America, private discussions and movements are monitored, free speech is corralled, the freedom to assemble for protest is by government decree, and independent thought that questions the political system is increasingly looked upon with suspicion. A final indicator is when the government insists upon secrecy for its own actions, while new laws and systems are created to put the individual under nearly constant surveillance.
Failing infrastructure: As 46 of 50 states are on the verge of bankruptcy, cities are going dark, asphalt roads are returning to the stone age, and nationwide budget cuts are leaving students without teachers, supplies, or a full-time education. These are common features one will see as they travel through the poorest of Third World countries.
Controlling the media: A government-influenced media that censors information is a key component of Third World countries. In some countries it is openly owned by the State. In America, privately-owned major media is not as balanced or as diverse as it seems; the concentration of ownership has led to censorship when national and corporate interests have sometimes overlapped. The persecution of high-profile investigative journalists such as WikiLeaks is set amid a backdrop of the proposed Internet censorship of bloggers who wish to remain anonymous. The end of net neutrality creates a pay-to-play system that can lead to further corporate and government control of information and opinion. Cybersecurity initiatives are the final nail in the coffin, as the entire free flow of information can be vetted in a China-style system of “identity management.” On the street, the police state and media control have converged in the recent rise of arrests for those who videotape the police. This is a huge blow to First Amendment rights and the role of photojournalists who wish to document public police behavior.
Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic Party is the latest person in Obama’s party to undercut the commander-in-chief by saying the supporters of Cordoba House, while they have the RIGHT to build their community center where they want, should build it elsewhere. Harry Reid, running for reelection in Nevada as well as Dean are more concerned about their party’s health than the health of the Nation and are the worse examples of political hacks, people who live to advance the cause of a special,narrowly defined interest not taking into account the greater good of the citizenry of the entire country.
In the face of such flight from principle it is apparent that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may acknowledge the legitimacy of the Constitution’s right to religious expression but when these very same individuals begin identifying with a group other than the entire citizenry of America they tend to dilute their position with the caveat ‘but they should build elsewhere’ thereby negating completely their concession and in the process become immoral.
Such was the conclusion arrived at by Martin Luther King as he sat in a Birmingham city jail in 1963, confronted by fellow white Christians who wanted to encourage him to go slower in his quest for overthrowing segregation in racist America. The people he addressed in his letter who agreed with the principle of desegregation were not throwing their weight behind King’s action of non-violent protest and social agitation because they didn’t want to upset the status quo, although that is exactly what they were doing by agreeing segregation shouldn’t exist.
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”
In the parallel universe between 1960s Birmingham, Alabama and 21st century America, “freedom” becomes freedom of religion and religious expression and “segregation” becomes denial of a place to worship at the place of one’s choice. The comparison is real, palatable, and in all the fervor caused by the controversy very few people have spoken out against the Islamophobia that has embraced the opposition movement to build the Cordoba House at another location. Some people have even taken to a wholly unconstitutional position of building the cultural center on land provided to the developers by the state of New York in what would clearly be a breech of separation of religion and state. No one has thought for a moment about the ramifications this has for other faith communities that may be considered more main stream? What would you say to a evangelical church that has permission to build on a property while government officials insist they build elsewhere or prominent members of society insisted such abrogation of that church’s decision. Would that be considered coercion?
For those who say it is insensitive to build such an establishment close Ground Zero, that it’s presence exacerbates emotions towards Muslims and this should be avoided King answered that concern while sitting in a Birmingham jail so many years ago
I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.
If you remove the adjective “white” every time it modifies moderate and replace “Negro” with Muslim, and where you find names of obstructionists who opposed King in his day you replaced with the Republican or Democratic party you would have the essence of the argument against those who say Muslims have the right, but……
I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fan in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality.
Dean, Reid, Clinton and Bush (the latter two having not made any statement on this issue) have done a disservice to citizenship and betrayed the trust they have to America to represent all of its citizens. The rights given to all of us were unconditional and that as long as the citizen was in good standing with the law they are expected, nay encouraged, to practice those rights to the utmost of their ability. Those who say, ‘yes, but……” are the same obstructionists faced by King during the dark days of American segregation. It is up to Muslims and other freedom loving Americans, freedom riders/fighters to agitate for total and complete freedom of expression for which they are entitled. Nothing less is acceptable now as it wasn’t acceptable then.