8.18.2010

Really? $100,000,000 on a Community Center?

Since I last posted about the Cordoba house aka the Ground Zero mosque (GZM) I have been involved in a multitude of debates and conversations.  The overwhelming majority opined in favor of the construction claiming that anyone who thought otherwise were uneducated bigots who think of Al Qaeda and the Taliban as a synecdoche for all Muslims.  Those who were against the construction seemed mostly to be disturbed by the fact that they couldn't understand why any religious group would want to pray so close to the site of a mass murder.  While both of these views are simply opinions, that is all that they are opinions.  I did my best to extract steadfast reasons from my friends and family to support their initial reactions and the result was a slew of jingoist polemics emphasized by a lack of education regarding Islamic beliefs.

The United States is supposed to be a nation that is run by a government that separates church and state.  By strong, influential, revered politicians ostentatiously proclaiming their views through various mediums they are, ironically, blending church and state while trying not to.  The GZM should remain a local religious issue and not one that reaches politicians in Alaska or President Obama. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Obama has been criticized for his support of the GZM, his opinions are less aligned with average Americans than they are with an Eastern, liberal elite.  This is not only a reflection of Republican views, in fact Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada joined other Democratic candidates in repudiating the president's position.  Obviously the widespread knowledge that some leading Democrats disagree with Obama's statement at the Ramadan dinner at the White House last Friday will have a tremendous affect on the Senate elections this November. 

Obama said Friday,

"As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are. The writ of the founders must endure."'
I'm sorry, while I have a deep respect for our president I can not help but think of this famous quote after that: (I did some censoring for my own amusement).

"So like, right now for example. The Haitians Muslims need to come to America pray in Manhattan. But some people are all, "What about the strain on our resources? 9/11 attacks?" Well it's like when I had this garden party for my father's birthday, right? I put R.S.V.P. 'cause it was a sit-down dinner. But some people came that like did not R.S.V.P. I was like totally buggin'. I had to haul ass to the kitchen, redistribute the food, and squish in extra place settings. But by the end of the day it was, like, the more the merrier. And so if the government could just get to the kitchen, rearrange some things, we could certainly party pray with the Haitians Muslims. And in conclusion may I please remind you it does not say R.S.V.P. on the Statue of Liberty. Thank you very much." - Cher, Clueless

Regarding the upcoming election, in that same article from NPR, Republican consultant Steve Lombardo said that "Voters in Ohio do not sit there with a map of Manhattan in their heads - all they understand is 'ground zero mosque.'...it's now a noun."  This reminds me of an essay I read just last week by David Foster Wallace The View From Mrs. Thompson's.  In this essay DFW discusses where he was when the twin towers were struck by the Islamic fundementalists on September 11th, 2001. 
It turns out the cause of poor old tendony Mrs. R—'s meltdown in the kitchen is that she has a grandniece or something who's doing some kind of internship at Time, Inc. in the Time Life Bldg or whatever it's called, about which Mrs. R— and whoever she's managed to call know only that it's a vertiginously tall skyscraper someplace in New York, and she's out of her mind with worry, and two other ladies have been out here the whole time holding both her hands and trying to decide whether they should call a doctor (Mrs. R— has kind of a history), and I end up doing pretty much the only good I do all day by explaining to Mrs. R— where midtown is. It thereupon emerges that none of the people here I'm watching the Horror with — not even the few ladies who'd gone to see Cats as part of some group tour thing through the church in 1991 — have even the vaguest notion of Manhattan's layout and don't know, for example, how far south the financial district and Statue of Liberty are; they have to be shown via pointing out the water in the foreground of the skyline they all know so well (from TV).

This is the beginning of the vague but progressive feeling of alienation from these good people that builds throughout the part of the Horror where people flee rubble and dust.
These ladies are not stupid, or ignorant. Mrs. Thompson can read both Latin and Spanish, and Ms. Voigtlander is a certified speech therapist who once explained to me that the strange gulping sound that makes Tom Brokaw so distracting to listen to is an actual speech impediment called a "glottal 1." It was one of the ladies out in the kitchen with Mrs. R— who'd pointed out that that week was the anniversary of the Camp David Accords, which was news to me. What the Bloomington ladies are, or start to seem, is innocent. There is what would strike many Americans as a bizarre absence of cynicism in the room...Nobody's edgy or sophisticated enough to lodge the sick and obvious po-mo complaint: We've Seen This Before. Instead what they do is all sit together and feel really bad, and pray. Nobody does anything as nauseous as try to make everybody all pray together or pray aloud or anything, but you can tell what they're doing.
I quoted this essay at such length because not only is it appropriate since the 9/11 attacks are the reason for any debate at all, but because it provides brilliant insight to the feelings and point of views of American citizens living outside of Manhattan. 

It is important to keep in mind that we don't see the news that is shown in Afghanistan and other mid-east countries.  I don't mean to make light of 9/11, my feelings of what happened that day can be read in my last post, but what we fail to realize is that by sending troops into Afghanistan and dropping bombs on where we think those who are responsible are located, we are essentially evoking war on civilians as well.  We don't view it this way because we are not terrorists, but we are killing innocent people, its just not on purpose so those innocent deaths are considered to be collateral damage.  If we were able to see the mangled women and children that are being hurt or killed by our doings, then maybe, as a nation, we could rethink war as the answer to 9/11.

This reemphasizes my conclusion in my last post regarding the proposed mosque.  Since the problem is so deeply ingrained in religion, the only solution is to further education.  Individuals need to rethink their preexisting religious thoughts. "Thought, actuated by edifices of discourse would help educate those who are unaware by showing that there is no absolute truth regarding religion. We need to put aside much of what we have learned and instead, focus on the greater good." It requires a complete change in our nation's foreign policy.  Obama needs to stop sending more troops into Afghanistan and start focusing on the change he promised us.  Afghanistan doesn't need any more bombs they need food and shelter and peace. Too, Sudan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq et cetera could use help.  Helping these countries in positive ways will be much more successful in ending terrorism, as opposed to fighting fire with fire.


Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is facing a lot of criticism regarding his (U.S. funded) trip to the mid east and the sources he is using to raise the $100,000,000 (one hundred million dollars) required to fund the project. (read this from Forbes if you want to know more). However, he is a Sufi Muslim.  From what I have read, this branch of Islam could not be further from the radical Islamic sects.  Sufi's are a peace loving religious group of Muslims who want to build a place of worship for the 1 million plus Muslims who are currently living and working in lower Manhattan.  Aside from the need to educate not only New Yorkers, but all Americans, on the difference between terrorist groups and all other Muslims Abdul Rauf, as a Sufi, should use some of that exorbitant amount of money to help other Muslim countries escape the totalitarian fundemental abusive control they are currently facing.  Of all the reasons against the planned GZM the amount of money that is going to be spent is the one that resonates within me the most.  I don't want to flat out say whether I am for or against the Cordoba house, as I'd like for my readers to continue to form their own opinions, but I will stick to my opinion that a large chunk of that money could be put to much better use.  Yes, I know Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich also share that same view.  But what can I say?? I'm Lucky I'm Pretty! :)

1 comment:

  1. The Victory Mosque is just the visible tip of a very large iceberg. Beneath the surface of Western societies, Muslims are waging a campaign of infiltration, subversion, sedition and social sabotage, with the objective of destroying our countries and way of life from within.

    ReplyDelete