Posts Tagged ‘mosque’

Worth watching: the CNN documentary, Unwelcome: Muslims Next Door– Soledad O’Brien

April 1, 2011

 

CNN last week ran an excellent documentary about the controversy over a planned new mosque/community center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. It’s called Unwelcome: Muslims Next Door– Soledad O’Brien. The video runs 42 minutes. An excellent summary of it is here.

It’s upsetting to contrast how ordinary American are the Muslims of Murfreesboro with how fearful and suspicious are the mosque’s opponents. The idea that the American Muslims are “other” is reminiscent of similar arguments made about African-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Jewish Americans, and, much earlier, Irish-Americans.

We Americans take pride in our diversity, and in America as a melting pot, but we still have the capacity to summon up a layer of hate and suspicion from just under the surface.

 

President Obama, time to do the right thing about the mosque near Ground Zero

August 18, 2010

Some days ethics backs you into a corner. You have to choose between doing what your inner voice is saying is right—or not. That day is here for President Obama.


He made a stirring statement about religious freedom last Friday at a Ramadan dinner. The next day he equivocated: “I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding. That’s what our country is about.”


Score a miss for Presidential leadership. His conflicting statements poured fuel on the burning controversy.

· Americans generally believe Muslims have a right to worship, just not there.

· One and one-half billion Muslims thought America was a land of religious freedom, not at war with Islam, but aren’t certain.

· Manhattanites mostly think people ought to be able to do whatever they want.

· Families of 9/11 victims are divided


You can’t please everybody, Mr. President. Time to do the right thing. But what is the right thing? Should a Muslim community center-cum-prayer area be built on the site of a decrepit ex-Burlington Coat Factory, hard by an Off-Track Betting parlor, a bar, a porn shop, and some run-down office buildings 2-1/2 blocks from Ground Zero?


The opponents say it’s a matter of respecting sensitivities of people who lost loved ones on 9/11. (more…)

Newt Gingrich spews his deep un-American hatred

August 16, 2010

It’s hard to find words to describe Newt Gingrich’s statements opposing the mosque project planned for 2-1/2 blocks from Ground Zero:

“The folks who want to build this mosque, who are really radical Islamists, who want to triumphfully (sic) prove they can build a mosque next to a place where 3,000 Americans were killed by radical Islamists. Those folks don’t have any interest in reaching out to the community. They’re trying to make a case about supremacy… This happens all the time in America. Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington..”

The first sentence equates the folks who want to build this mosque (radical Islamists) with the people who killed 3000 Americans (radical Islamists.) So Newt is saying, in plain English, that Imam Rauf and his associates are morally equivalent to the 9/11 attackers—notwithstanding that Imam Rauf was as outraged as anyone at the attack, and justifies the project as strengthening the American alternative to radical Islam.

The last sentence equates Rauf and his colleagues to Nazis. This is where Gingrich forfeits any claim to leadership in America.

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Obama stands up for freedom of religion, including freedom to build a mosque near Ground Zero

August 13, 2010

President Obama defended the right of New York Muslims to build a house of worship in lower Manhattan, 2-1/2 blocks from Ground Zero. Hosting a White House Iftar–a sunset ceremonial dinner marking the breaking of a Ramadan fast. he gave an inspiring 9-minute speech about freedom of religion, and about the historic place of Islam in America.

Made me proud.

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The mosque, the imam, 9/11, and six degrees of separation

July 22, 2010

I feel for Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam who has devoted his life to building bridges between Islam and the West, and is now leading the effort to build a mosque in New York 2-1/2 blocks from Ground Zero. When I was nine years old I learned to defend myself against bullies who beat me up because I had killed Christ. I didn’t know what the accusation meant, but I knew I was being picked on because I was Jewish, and I’d better learn to fight off these guys.

Most of the opposition to the mosque is because Imam Rauf killed 3000 Americans on 9/11. Or if he didn’t personally do it, his people (“they”) did it. Just as everybody is connected within six degrees of separation to Kevin Bacon, all Muslims are connected within six degrees to some terrorist. Or to someone who gave money to a charity that gave money to terrorists. Or who has a cousin who once said that Hamas had a point.

In the 1950s Senator Joe McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee tarred innocents with guilt by association. Today’s haters don’t even need association to make their accusations, they just need something within six degrees of separation.

Thursday’s New York Times has a good analysis by Robert Wright of the accusations against Imam Rauf, (more…)

Tea Party rejects racism, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has “better things to do”

July 19, 2010

The Tea Party is a loosely organized group of people who favor generally conservative causes—lower taxes, smaller government, gun rights, and more immigration enforcement. But the party has attracted people to its rallies carrying signs comparing Obama to Hitler and telling him to “Go back to Kenya.” And members have spat epithets of faggot and nigger at congressmen Barney Frank (D-MA) and Jim Clyburn (D-SC).

As a result the NAACP passed a resolution last week calling on Tea Party leaders “to repudiate those in their ranks who use racist language in their signs and speeches.” (Several of those signs are shown here.) Tea Party Express spokesman Mark Williams, asked to tell racists “you’re not welcome” in the tea party, replied, “Racists have their own movement. It’s called the NAACP.”

Not satisfied to let things stand, Williams posted on his web site a letter supposedly written to Lincoln by “colored people” protesting emancipation and praising slavery.

While Williams defended his letter as satire, he has used ugly racial language regularly, especially in opposition to the proposed mosque near Ground Zero. He derided Mohammed as “the terrorist monkey god,” and called Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who backs building the mosque, a “Jewish Uncle Tom who would have turned rat on Anne Frank.” President Obama was an “Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug.” (more…)

More about the mosque: Hatred spewing from the National Republican Trust PAC

July 17, 2010

The hate message is undisguised: “Where we Americans weep, they rejoice and intend to erect a shrine to the 9/11 terrorists they hail as martyrs. “

The “they” in the message can only refer to the moderate and patriotic American Muslims who support building a mosque and community center 2-1/2 blocks from Ground Zero. It’s not too big a stretch to think it also refers to Mayor Bloomberg, the Jewish Community Center of Manhattan, and everyone else who supports it.

The message is courtesy of Scott Wheeler, whose web site, www.goptrust.com, explains, “The National Republican Trust Political Action Committee (NRT PAC) was formed as an independent organization to help promote American values and support federal candidates for Congress, Senate and the Presidency who share those values. The NRT is committed to continuing the legacy of Ronald Reagan.”

Watch the vile ad to see what hate is being spread under the mantle of conservatism and Ronald Reagan. NBC and CBS have refused to air it, but it’s viral on the internet. Shades of the anti-Semitism of the 1930s.

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Tolerance and hate in New York: update on the mosque “at” Ground Zero

July 15, 2010

The long-running saga of a Muslim-American group’s effort to build a community center and mosque two and a half blocks from Ground Zero ended another chapter Wednesday night. New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission held a public hearing on whether to declare the group’s 150-year old building to be a historic landmark, and thus require its preservation as is.

The hearing drew a robust crowd, hardly any of whom cared a bit about the building. The real issue was whether to allow a Muslim center near Ground Zero. Most of the arguments made in favor of landmark designation were anti-Muslim rants, like that of an unidentified woman who said “It would be a terrible mistake to destroy a 150-year old building in order to build a monument to terrorism.”

Dania Darwish, a new graduate of New York’s Fort Hamilton High School, argued for the mosque:

“My family died that day…You’re yelling at me and you don’t know. If a mosque was built maybe you would know what Islam is about.”

The community isn’t particularly bigoted—New Yorkers pride themselves on their diversity, and a Manhattan community board recently voted 29-1 with ten abstentions to approve the mosque.. If you expected New York Jews to be opposed, guess again: New York’s Jewish Week reported that Jewish leaders haven’t made a big deal about the center, and the Jewish Community Center of Manhattan even offered some advice. Jewish elected officials (more…)

Furor erupts over American Jews’ plan to build a synagogue near Ground Zero

May 12, 2010

Some Americans are up in arms over the prospect of a big new synagogue in the old Burlington Coat Factory site near Ground Zero, the site of the World Trade Center towers destroyed on 9/11. There’s even a Facebook page called “1,000,000+ people who disapprove of building a synagogue at Ground Zero!” It has 20,389 members, up from about 7,000 two days ago. The word is spreading virally on the internet, and people are thronging to the site to sign up.

The site’s self-description reads,

Jews want to put a SYNAGOGUE WITHIN 600 FEET “GROUND ZERO”! This page’s opinion is this synagogue is a symbol of conquering America; they could have put it somewhere else away from Ground Zero – hallowed ground – but they chose this spot for a reason.


Join us, and show America – and the Jewish world – that is an insult, and cannot stand!


This groups is NOT about attacking Judaism or Jews; it’s about the appropriateness of putting such a building in that location. Also, Obama has nothing to do with it; if you want to blame someone, blame Mayor Bloomberg – he approved of it.

The man leading the effort to build the synagogue is Rabbi Frank Rubenstein, who explained to The New York Times, “We want the world to know we condemn 9/11. In my congregation are many people who died on 9/11.” The Times described the rabbi as following a path of Judaism focused more on spiritual wisdom (more…)


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