Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mosque Smasque

45 Park Place

I really dislike writing on this topic, or giving it any type of credence as the corporate media has done such a great job of promoting this non-issue. And if the corporate media keeps promoting it, than commentators of every ilk feel the need to put in their two cents.
I suppose to a degree the phenomenon of intolerance must be addressed whenever it sprouts its ugly head, and that's why I'm putting my two cents in as well.
But I loath to do it as it is just another contrived wedge issue that has no bearing on the real problems Americans are currently facing.
Let me make my position perfectly clear: There is no mosque at ground zero, planned or otherwise. There may be a community center with space set aside for prayer (just as there is a non-denominational chapel (which means Muslims can pray there too) in the Pentagon, and I don't see any protesters there). Even if you wish to designate it as a mosque it is not at ground zero. It is between two to five blocks from the planned location of the September 11 memorial. Even if it were a mosque and it was smack dab on top of the planned 9/11 memorial the religion of Islam, nor the Muslim people, were not responsible for the 9/11 disaster, just as the Christian religion and Christian people were not responsible for the bombing of Dresden and Hiroshima during World War II. It is perfectly legal for the community center it to be built there. There is already a "mosque" within four blocks from the World Trade Center site, as well as a strip club, why no demonstrations decrying sympathies toward 9/11 victims at these locations?. Not all of the families of the victims of 9/11 oppose the building of the community center, perhaps not even the majority, who knows, the media will not investigate because it is not in their interest to do so. Muslims died during 9/11 as well. This "controversy" is one that has been manufactured by Right wing extremists who wish to divert attention to their dearth of ideas to help real people deal with real problems, and who wish to confuse, alienate, and divide the American public on issues that do not affect their daily lives, and the lives of their families in any significant way, helped by a willing corporate media striving for sensationalist stories to drive ratings, and perhaps influence upcoming elections.
To put this more succinctly than it already is, as I'm afraid it will need to be often repeated:
There is no mosque at ground zero. There is already a mosque near ground zero, and a strip club, why no condemnation of those? Not all of the families of the 9/11 victims oppose the building of the community center. The community center has every legal right to be built at the proposed site. This issue is a manufactured "controversy" developed by the Right to divide public opinion and influence the 2010 election, as they have no real answers to the real problems real Americans are now facing.
Lately the issue of the proposed building of this community center in Manhattan is being covered everywhere by everyone. As I wrote this yesterday morning I was listening to the Thom Hartmann radio program, and he pretty much devoted his entire three hour show to the issue. But to his credit he framed the issue as it truly is, a device developed by the Right to fear monger the public to develop an unreasoning mob mentality for those who are easily influenced, and a sad portrayal of religious intolerance and bigotry in this country which was founded on the principles of freedom of worship.
Practically everyone else is unevenly reporting on this issue simply because everyone else is reporting on it, and no one is attempting to investigate the cause, or if there is any real substance toward the arguments of those who oppose the building of the center. Why would they? That might end the story.
And the reporting is quite often skewed to keep alive the idea that those who oppose the center have a valid argument. And those opposing the center are getting more press. Two print articles I read Sunday concerning the issue made this clear. That day demonstrations were held in New York by opposing sides, those who were for the building of the center, and those against (Pamela Geller, the insane Right wing blogger (she advocated legislation that would effectively outlaw Islam in the United States by imposing 20 year jail sentences on practicing Muslims.) who started this whole mess, said the NYPD estimated her proponents numbered 5,000 or more. The NYPD said they don't provide estimates, making her what we already knew she is... a liar. Those who were there estimated the size of the crowd of center opponents at close to 2 or 3 hundred, similar to those who championed the center's right to be built). One article headline stated "Families of 9/11 victims oppose mosque," when that was in no way clear, and reported no where else. Some family members were there, but from the sound of that headline you might think the demonstrators were entirely made up of grieving husbands and wives, aunts and uncles, sons and daughters of those lost on Sept. 11th.
Another I read at least mentioned that there was a significant number of demonstrators demonstrating against the policies of fear, hatred, and intolerance. However, I counted the amount of words devoted to the opponents of the center: 357, to those of the proponents: 88. What's up with that?
What's up is that hatred sells better than reason, common sense, and regard for the law.
This is the United States of America. Our forefathers came to this country to escape religious persecution. The Constitution that eventually formed and for which is the basis, the foundation, on which this great nation is based, sets us apart from any other nation, and is the greatest democratic/liberal experiment this planet has yet witnessed. It guarantees freedom of religion. It does not choose one religion over another. This is not a Christian nation, this is a nation for everyone, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and every other, and even for those who do not practice a religion, like me. There are those who would subvert the Constitution to pursue their own selfish and short sighted ideals, or for personal or political gain. They like certain parts of the Constitution, lets say the Second Amendment, that guarantees the right to bear arms, and they want to get rid of the parts they don't like, such as the Fourteenth Amendment, that allows citizenship for babies born within our boarders. I'm sorry. This is grown up time. You don't get to pick and choose (a very similar analogy can be made with the Bible, and Right wing evangelicals) the parts you like or don't like. We take the document as a whole, accept it, live with it, protect it. If it needs to be changed there are proper ways to do so. As far as this community center goes it does not need to be changed.
I could go on and on, I could take on each of these talking head pundits on Fox News (whose 2nd largest stockholder, by the way, is helping to fund the center, so according to Fox News, Fox News is part of an Islamic terrorist movement!) one by one, take on Pat Buchanan on MSNBC, take on any of them, and just repeat the sixth paragraph of this post which they have no argument to rebut, and have never tried to.
In conclusion I'll end with some excerpts from Keith Olbermann's Special Comment on this issue. He is a much better writer than I, and certainly more eloquent. And he enjoys the added distinction of being right:
"There is, in fact, no "Ground Zero mosque." It isn't a mosque. A mosque, technically, is a Muslim holy place in which only worship can be conducted. What is planned for 45 Park Place, New York City, is a Community Center. It's supposed to include a basketball court and a culinary school. It's to be thirteen stories tall and the top two stories will be a Muslim prayer space... since Sept. 11, Muslims have been at far greater risk of being victims of terrorism in the United States than have non- Muslims... this place, Park 51, is not even at Ground Zero, not even 'right across the street.' Even the description of it being "two blocks away" is generous. It is two blocks away from the northeast corner of the World Trade Center site. From the planned location of the 9/11 memorial, it is more like four or even five blocks... Oh, and what was that about Iraq? Why did we go into Iraq, again? I don't mean the real reasons or the naked, vengeful blindness that enabled the forging of a nonexistent connection between Iraq and 9/11. I mean, the official explanation: to free the world, and especially Iraq 's citizens, of the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. That's its supporters' defense of the invasion, to this hour. Well, who lives in Iraq? Muslims. I hate to reveal this to anybody on the Right who didn't know this, but when they say Iraq is 65 percent Shia and 32 percent Sunni, you do know that Shia and Sunni are both forms of the Muslim religion, right? We sacrificed 4,415 of our military personnel in Iraq to save Muslims, and there are thousands still there tonight to protect Muslims, but we don't want Muslims to open a combination culinary school and prayer space in Manhattan? ...And do you think 45 Park Place is where it ends? The moment this monstrous betrayal of our America gained the slightest traction, the next goal was unveiled. 'No more building permits for any mosques in this country,' brayed a man from the euphemistically-named "American Families Association." Of course, he said, maybe the permits could be granted if the congregation, quote, "was willing to publicly renounce the Koran." ...But "Masjid-Manhattan" opened in early 1970. Four blocks away, the World Trade Center opened, in December 1970. The actual place that is the real-life equivalent of the paranoid dream contained in the phrase "Ground Zero Mosque," has been up and running, since before there was a World Trade Center, and for nine years since there has been a World Trade Center. Running, without controversy, without incident, without terrorism, without protest. Because this is America, damn it. And in America, when somebody comes for your neighbor, or his Bible, or his Torah, or his Atheists ' Manifesto, or his Koran, you and I do what our fathers did, and our grandmothers did, and our founders did; you speak up." - Keith Olbermann, Special Comment 8-16-2010.

No comments:

Post a Comment