Posts Tagged ‘diversity’

George W. Bush’s finest hours: his embrace of Islam and of American Muslims. We need that now from Republicans

August 28, 2011

Six days after the 9/11 attack on the United States, President George W. Bush went to the Islamic Center of Washington to publicly embrace Islam and, especially, American Muslims. He led Americans away from any idea of blaming Islam for the horror of 9/11.  He repeated that theme over and over, making it a part of his second inaugural address, and returning to the Islamic Center for its rededication in 2007.

Bush’s healing message stands sadly in contrast to the ugly anti-Muslim rhetoric we hear lately from so many prominent Republicans, notably Newt Gingrich, Eric Cantor, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Peter King, and Frank Gaffney. To their credit Mitt Romney and Rick Perry have not joined in, but neither have they been very vocal in rejection of Islamophobia.

Ethics Bob never thought he’d be missing George Bush’s leadership, but on this issue he surely does. Bush’s statements are worth reading:

September 17, 2001, at the Islamic Center of Washington (complete remarks):

“Thank you all very much for your hospitality. We’ve just had a—wide-ranging discussions on the matter at hand. Like the good folks standing with me, the American people were appalled and outraged at last Tuesday’s attacks. And so were Muslims all across the world. Both Americans, our Muslim friends and citizens, taxpaying citizens, and Muslims in nations were just appalled and could not believe what we saw on our TV screens.

“These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith. And it’s important for my fellow Americans to understand that. (more…)

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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.

 

The mosque “at” Ground Zero: the Anti-Defamation League sides with the bigots

August 1, 2010

The Anti-Defamation League has in the past stood against, not only anti-Semitism, but against all kinds of racial and religious bigotry. Those days sadly are gone. In a shameful statement the ADL summed up its position this way:

“Proponents of the Islamic Center may have every right to build at this site, and may even have chosen the site to send a positive message about Islam. The bigotry some have expressed in attacking them is unfair, and wrong. But ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain – unnecessarily – and that is not right.”

So if you are a victim and you blame Islam—not al Qaeda—for 9/11, we should honor your bigotry by preventing American Muslims from building a community center/mosque 2-1/2 blocks from Ground Zero. For a Jewish group to make such a statement is remarkable, and especially reprehensible. It wasn’t long ago that Jews too were told to be unobtrusive because their presence where they were unwanted would cause pain (more…)

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…)