Wednesday, August 18, 2010

National Take A Muslim To Lunch Week


Take a Muslim to lunch this week
Show them we're a decent bunch this week
Let's give in and all do the "brotherhood" bit
Just make sure we don't make a habit of it

Give Mohammad's kids the crown this week
Overlook the fact they're brown this week
We know everyone can't be
as American as we....
Take a Muslim to lunch!

TWO! FOUR! SIX! EIGHT!
WHO DO WE TOLERATE?
MUSLIMS! MUSLIMS!
RAH! RAH! RAH!

-Stan Freberg, 1961
(Slightly updated for obvious reasons)

I never met a Muslim I didn't like. Seriously! As a rule they tend to be lovely people, great neighbors, very well mannered - and don't get me started on their food! Having lived a good portion of my life in New York City I have come to know oodles of people who follow that faith. All of them are fine people and an asset to this country. God bless America.

It never even occurred to me to blame any Muslim I know for what happened to this country nine years ago next month - with good reason. Adolf Hitler was baptized (as I was) a Catholic, and yet I refuse to share the blame for his crimes against the human race. But that's okay. No one was ever silly enough to connect me with him or the Nazi cause.
That being the case, I was somewhat bewildered (although hardly surprised) when the people who make their livings fertilizing America's ideological garden with right wing bullshit decided to make an issue out of a proposed Islamic cultural center which is set to open next year around the corner and down the street from the what is now known as "ground zero".

Here is what's happening, boys and girls: In case it slipped your mind, there is an election coming up in November. In the last few months the Republican party has been in the process of imploding (and it's been so much fun to watch, too!) As was predicted on this site over a year ago, the so-called "Tea Party" would end up being an albatross around their collective neck. Sure enough, the mindless extremism of these nitwits is starting to scare the hell out of that mysterious segment of the electorate who describe themselves as "moderate". What to do? Find an issue - any issue - that will distract the people. After a desperate search that must have taken them weeks, they finally found that issue last week in - of all places - lower Manhattan.

THE MUSLIMS ARE COMING! THE MUSLIMS ARE COMING!

They grabbed this non-issue and ran with it. Then the corporate media (you shouldn't be surprised) decided to play this story to death like Hotel California and Stairway To Heaven. And it worked like a charm. Very few of us are at present thinking about the utter mess that six years of Republican control of the executive and legislative branches of our government made of this country. Instead we're wasting precious time thinking about a non-issue. Just for a moment let's put our minds on the things that really matter:

The economy
Two wars
Massive unemployment
A multi-trillion dollar debt
The plunder of our national treasure by Wall Street
An environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico....

....and what the hell are we talking about? A non-existent "mosque". Don't forget that it's a cultural center. The "mosque" (if that's what you want to call it) consists of a single prayer room within the building's interior. If your prime source of information is FOX Noise, you'll be forgiven for believing that the proposed center is smack dab on the site of the late World Trade Center - or across the street. It isn't. It's location is not even visible from ground zero. In fact it's about a five minute walk. And you wonder why America is the laughingstock of the planet?

The reaction to this "nontroversy" has been shrill to say the least. On FOX and Friends the other day, Newt Gingrich called the new center's imam a "radical extremist" and compared him (with a straight face, I swear) to the Nazis. Not surprisingly, not one of the three FOX morons who were interviewing him had the wit to call him out on the absurdity of that charge. In truth, the imam of the "Ground Zero Mosque", a man by the name of Feisal Abdul Rauf, is well known for the fact that he has made a concerted effort in the past to bring together eastern and western religions. The guy even went on a mission to the middle east a few years ago for none other than President George W. Bush! Accompanied by Bush attack dog Karen Hughes, his job was to spread the good news of religious moderation. He has also worked closely with the FBI in the past. Radical extremist indeed.

Between you and me and the fire hydrant, I'm getting sick and tired of all the anti-Muslim hysteria that has been running rampant in this country for the last nine years, and I've decided to take matters into my own hands. From this day forward I decree that the first week of September be deemed, "National Take A Muslim To Lunch Week". You don't know any Muslims? No problemo, amigo! Just get in touch with me. As I said before I have more Muslim friends and acquaintances than I know what to do with! I can set you up with a Class A, regulation Muslim in no time at all! September 1 is two weeks from now. You have plenty of time to set up a date. And if your schedule makes lunch time difficult, then take a Muslim to breakfast - or dinner. And if there is a fasting issue which prevents them from sitting down to a meal, then what the hell - take a Muslim to the movies. Take a Muslim to a ball game - or the golf course! Whatever the venue, be sure to spend some quality time with a child of Islam. They're quality people!

MUSLIMS DON'T BITE

How are we going to appear when historians look back on this era? Honestly, our chronic Islamophobia is gonna make us look awfully silly, don'cha think? Do you remember Bull Connor? He was the police commissioner of Birmingham, Alabama during the civil rights conflict of the 1960s. During his lifetime a lot of Alabamans viewed him as a hero. Looking at film footage of him today, however, hosing down defenseless civil rights demonstrators with high-pressure fire hoses, old Bull looks like a nasty little buffoon. Death has not been kind to Bull Connor. I suspect it won't be kind to us as well. Historical hindsight is 20/20 vision.

There is a great opportunity here to send a message to Osama bin Laden; that his attempt to divide us has been a total failure; that we in America believe in religious freedom and brother and sisterhood. Unfortunately that opportunity is slowly slipping away. As a matter of fact it might already be too late. The damage has been done and it may very well be irreparable. Maybe a tip of the hat toward Osama is in order. Maybe he won. Did he?

A lot of the people who died on September 11, 2001 were Muslims. Let's tear down Trinity Church. But seriously, folks!

Tom Degan
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

AFTERTHOUGHT:

I have just been informed that the week of September 1-7 falls on Ramadan this year - which is a period of fasting. Lunch might indeed be problematic. Don't wait for September. Take a Muslim to lunch today!

SUGGESTED LISTENING:

Stan Freberg Modestly Presents the United States of America
Capitol Records, 1961

For more recent postings on this hideous, commie-loving site please go to the following link:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan

What kind of American are you to be reading this stuff?

Cheers!

72 Comments:

At 10:29 AM, Blogger Den said...

Thanks, Tom, for saying so forcefully what I've been feeling since this whole thing bubbled from the ooze in the Tea Party swamp. The President hasn't exactly been forthright and unambiguous in this matter, nor has his administration. After the whole Shirley Sherrod affair, I'd have thought they'd begin to get their act together, but I guess I hoped in vain. Oh, well, at least we the people can do it for them.

Thanks again for your pointed commentary on an absolute non-issue that has got us by the ... uh, what body part seems appropriate?

 
At 11:05 AM, Blogger rhodadraws said...

Um, I could be wrong, but doesn't your "Take a Muslim To Lunch Week" fall during Ramadan, when devout Muslims are fasting during the day? How 'bout "Take a Muslim for a midnight snack?"

 
At 11:08 AM, Blogger sharon said...

rhodadraws draws beat me to it, but yeah, Eid al-Fitr falls on or about September 9th this year. Since Ramadan moves each year with the lunar calendar, how about designating the week before of the week after?

 
At 11:20 AM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Hmm....good point. Maybe we should move it back.

Cheers!

 
At 12:10 PM, Blogger HollyGO79 said...

Thanks so much!!! As a Muslim and a person who was not Muslim previously, I know full well there are some normal, common sense non Muslims out here. Thanks for being a voice! Thanks for thinking with your brain and noticing whats wrong.

 
At 12:16 PM, Blogger HollyGO79 said...

ps you can take a Muslim to dinner though!!! ;)

Get you one of them male Muslims and one of them fine halal food carts in New York I heard all about and there you go

No need to wait for midnight, fasting ends at sundown

 
At 12:45 PM, Anonymous boltok said...

I think they should build the mosque in the footprint of 1WTC or 2WTC. Why beat around the bush? Why settle for the location of the landing gear? Build it where Americans were crushed, burned and impailed. That would be better. That way everyone will remember who committed mass murder on US soil.

If you read about Pizarro and the conquest of the Inca empire, you will learn much about religous imperialistic strategy. Specifically, Christian Spaniards destroyed Inca temples, killed off leaders, and built churches in the exact footprints of the Inca's places of worship. That is how they converted the population to their culture. This seems no different. The WTC site is not religious ground but it has been an American icon targeted by muslim groups. Muslim terrorist factions have torn down an American icon and now will build a place of worship in its place. This is exactly what the Spaniards had done in Peru. This is a common strategy for religious imperialists today.

These people will not meet with Gov Paterson to discuss a less sensitive location. Why is that?

Recent polls show that 63% of New Yorkers are against the LOCATION of the mosque. They are not against it is being built. Sorry to break it to you, but if you add up all the republicans and tea partiers in New York, you don't get to 63%.

You are absolutely correct not to stereotype an entire or any religous group. But that is not the point here, it is one of sensitivity to those who suffered in the tragedy. It is a question of judgement, sensitivity and consideration.

Many of those who venture to this site would probably protest if the Republican National Comittee decided to build their national HQ there.

 
At 12:52 PM, Blogger Sue said...

A nice way to say Muslim Americans are peace loving gentle people, I know a few too Tom and they are the kindest damn people I ever met! Who would you choose as a neighbor, a rightwing NUT or a Muslim??? I know who I would choose!

 
At 2:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow Tom, you claim to have so many Muslim friends but you don't even know when Ramadan is.... you fruitcake.

I hope those girls in the picture can drive a car one day or even be allowed to speak to other men besides their relatives.

You are such a joke Tommy Boy.

Harry from Mass

 
At 3:11 PM, Anonymous SJ. said...

I think you got it there Tom...
Trillions of dollars in debt....troops surrounded and outmanouvered....Wall st about to crash...printing money with no reserves...unemployment at record highs and rising...millions homeless or on foodstamps...

Naturally, the nation needs to discuss Islam and Mosques...

 
At 3:25 PM, Blogger Monique said...

The opponents are seeing the building of the center as an "insensitivity" issue because they are assuming that having anything Muslim anywhere near ground zero will hurt people's feelings. Near, as in, close by. Within a mile I guess. In other words, Muslim + ground zero = wrong.

But I think this determination is misled. That's assuming that ALL Muslims must somehow be held responsible for the WTC attacks. So let's not paint all Muslims with the same brush (opponents say) but let's still tell them we think them being represented near the site is wrong. That's like saying that because Hitler was a Christian, no Christian church should be able to be built anywhere near a concentration camp or mass grave where Jews were murdered.

Associating a whole entire group with an event, just because a handful from that group (or handful of an offshoot of that group) did something heinous, is painting ALL members of that group with one brush. That is what stereotyping does. So to say you're not stereotyping, you're lying. You ARE stereotyping.

As for the insensitivity thing, I see it only as insensitive if that Muslim group building the center had spoken out supporting the WTC attacks. Or if they had ties with that extremist group in some way. Or if they were supportive of the same types of ideas regarding jihad. But this center is not about that and the members don't lean that way. It wants to teach the opposite: about co-existence between the different religions and improving Muslim-West relations.

 
At 3:43 PM, Blogger Nate Whilk said...

Honestly, you presume to lecture us on Islam when you are too lazy to even GOOGLE the dates of Ramadan?

So you're a HS dropout but got a Good Enough Diploma? You know what? It shows. And you're a TEACHER???? Of CIVICS???????

On the comments page, you wrote, If you feel like saying "Tom Degan is the biggest jackass on the planet earth", go for it.

I don't have to. Res ipsa loquitur.

 
At 4:46 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

Once again, Rightwing 'truthiness' is defining the debate. The 'Ground Zero Mosque' is NOT at Ground Zero, it is NOT a Mosque, and Islam as a religion had nothing to do with what occurred on 9/11.

What happened on that day was that extremist members of an obscure sect within Islam who use their faith (and a perverted interpretation of the Quran)as a rationalization for the craziness they commit made an attack on innocent civilians to establish their sect as a stateless world power. And stupidly reacting with unreasoning hatred against all of the Muslim faith only helps them do that.

Read a newspaper. Watch the news on TV. Even Faux News can't spin the fact that the extremists kill more moderate Muslims than they kill American soldiers. Why is that? because the moderates just want to live their lives and raise their children, like everybody else. That makes them the extremist's biggest enemy. And the best way to fight the extremists is by accepting the vast majority of Muslims who oppose them as our allies.

Christians, Jews, and yes, Muslims died at both sites in Manhattan and the Pentagon.

The men who flew those planes didn't care who they killed, and neither did the men who sent them.

To demonize a whole religion for the acts of a few of its members is not only small minded and childish, it's unAmerican.

Let me explain this on Forrest Gump terms that even Mr Truthiness might understand: the 1st Amendment is a RIGHT. Rights are not subject to the approval of the majority. If the were, they wouldn't be rights, they would be conditional privileges.

 
At 5:31 PM, Anonymous boltok said...

The Port Authority is blocking the rebuild of the Greek Orthodox Church accross the street from the WTC site. I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for liberal outrage.

 
At 5:46 PM, Blogger Harley A. said...

Let’s cool it with the Hitler was a Christian bit. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Christian. Hitler used Christianity when and where it could serve him. The German church had already been so ravaged by 19th and early 20th century theological liberalism (aka heresy), it was virtually apostate and open to the racial nationalism of Hitler (his true religion). In fact, if you dig into Hitler’s foreign policy, he was very friendly to Muslim nations and many of them were impressed with him. They had a common interest. I think it would not serve your point well to bring Hitler into the discussion – you’d start flirting with the truth…

Bill in DE - the 1st Ammendment was, well, an ammendment which was approved by the majority. It could be ammended if the majority wanted. A right, I might add, not extended under Sharia law.

 
At 6:14 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

Harley, 'could be' is not exactly the same as 'should be'

This country in large part was settled by people escaping religious persecution, and when their descendants established the legal framework our country relies on, religious tolerance was always in the forefront of the rights they most wanted their new country to have. Not because as some say, this is a "christian nation", but because they saw intolerance of any minority religion by the majority as a path to tyranny, and they knew that favoring one religion over another was anathema to what they wanted this country to be.

The current anti-Muslim hysteria is nothing more than cynical ginned up outrage for political gain. Even President Bush in the aftermath of 9/11 regularly reminded people that Islam was not to blame for 9/11, fanatical extremists using Islam to justify themselves were.

Why is it whenever a Christian commits a heinous crime and uses the Bible as a justification, no one starts blaming the whole of Christianity?

 
At 6:28 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

By the way boltok, the 'liberal outrage' over the "Ground Zero Mosque' is because the opposition to it is based on religious intolerance, not bureaucracy, as is the case in the Greek Orthodox Church vs Port Authority situation.

If the Muslim Community Center had been blocked, or even just objected to, on legitimate legal grounds, I doubt there would be 'liberal outrage' over it. It's the motivation that's objectionable to most reasonable people.

But thanks for pointing out that it's mostly liberals that object to denying 1st Amendment Rights to people. Way to go. Truthiness strikes again.

 
At 7:19 PM, Anonymous boltok said...

Bill_in_DElirium
I crack up when liberals tout themselves as constitutional purists. I really do. Thanks for the laughs.

 
At 7:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom, you are such a raging putz. please, please just stfu. embarrassing yourself...and me! And i don't even like you and you're embarrassing me. god. just stfu. get a job collecting tolls or something cause you're an idiot. And making every progressive look like a moron. just stfu.

 
At 7:43 PM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

"Raging putz"?

"Moron"?

Moi???

Cheers!

Tom

 
At 10:02 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

Sorry boltok, but you're the one who's laughable if you truly believe the ridiculous fiction that somehow the Constitution belongs to the right, and only they have the right to have an opinion about it, or that their opinion is somehow more valid. Truthiness yet again.

I suppose this ridiculous belief started somewhere around the time someone on the right said it, and everyone hearing it thought it was so ludicrous, it wasn't worth commenting on. Sort of like what happened with the mistaken belief that is popular on the right that the USA is a 'christian nation'.

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” –Ben Franklin

The right's stance in this matter is even more ridiculous than usual, since the 'safety' derived from blocking the 1st Amendment rights of Muslims is illusory at best, and an outright lie at worst. We are not in a war with Islam, we are at war with irrational radical extremists on the fringe of sanity. But enough about the Tea Party.

The Muslim extremists who attacked on 9/11 are not so much religious people as people who use their religion to justify their right to violently attack anyone who doesn't agree with their views, including other Muslims.

You'll have to explain to me what benefit there is in radicalizing Muslims who haven't yet joined them.

 
At 4:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done Tom, we even heard about the "Mosque on Ground Zero" baloney in the UK. But then, some of us are unfortunate enough to get Fox Nose here as well. I was married to a Morocan Moslem, and although my husband was an ass (all races and religions have them, you know, the US doesn't have the monopoly), I have nothing but respect for his - and our daughter's - family. My idea of a "normal" Moslem is my brother-in-law Hussein, a fully-qualified engineer, working 12-hour shifts as a waiter in an Amsterdam hotel to feed his family. And why isn't he working as an engineer? Um - because he's, er, brown.

And the same kind of prejudice is radicalising the young Moslems in Britain and France, too; the recent decision by the French paliament to ban the veil is an insult that will reverbate for a long time. Personally, if such a ban were introduced in the UK I'd wear a veil although I'm not Moslem myself. I'd defend anyone's freedom to wear what they like and believe what they like, whatever our transient governments decide.

Love and Peace to you too, man!

Kate Vasey

 
At 10:32 AM, Blogger Fabianna said...

Well, I don´t know very many muslims, just a few from back when I lived D.C. Some were Sheite and the others were some other type of Muslim. The non-sheites DID say some kind of scary things at times though.

 
At 10:43 AM, Blogger Fabianna said...

One Muslim I knew asked me out on a date. I didn´t find out what kind of Muslim he was but his big brother followed us around the entire evening. I asked Mohammed if his big brother realized that we were on a date and he answered something about me leading him to unclean acts. I felt like I was back at Catholic school.

 
At 10:58 AM, Blogger Fabianna said...

But even if one says "I have friends that are Muslims and they are nice people." Why is it necessary to build a Muslim Community Center right THERE out of all places? It is a question of sensitivity. The reason for the attacks on September 11 were specifically BECAUSE of blindly orthodox Muslim beliefs. In the same way blindly religious Catholics have gone on shooting sprees at abortion clinics. Any kind of religious center should be kept away from the area. Perhaps a multicultural center would be more appropriate.

 
At 4:25 PM, Blogger Monique said...

Fabianna, you're assuming that all Muslims feel the same way about the West/US as the WTC attackers felt.

Also, I repeat: As for the insensitivity thing, I see it only as insensitive if that Muslim group building the center had spoken out supporting the WTC attacks. Since they didn't and don't, what is wrong with this group doing anything near the site? Especially as its purpose is for promoting a better understanding and relationship between the Muslim world and the West? When do we start the healing process? Or are we always supposed to be angry and tiptoe around the issue forever?

 
At 4:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there any truth in the rumour that boltok is also know as Two Dicks - cause no one is that silly playing with one?

Den From Oz

 
At 5:43 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

Sadly, he's emblematic of the current rightwing fringe we're cursed with.

 
At 6:27 PM, Blogger Tim said...

I'm no right winger but think it is a bad idea. I hate to agree with Boltok, but he is correct that 63% of New Yorkers do not want it there. The fact that they refuse to even discuss moving it to another location in the city reveals their insensitivity to the wishes of their neighbors.
Muslim terrorists are still trying to attack New York city. Twice at the twin towers and recently the Times Square bomber.
Sure, not all Muslims are bad people, but I find the second class citizen treatment of women to be offensive, and against everything that America stands for. Please point out any other main stream religion the does not allow women into the place of worship through the front door. How would blacks feel if they were told that they must enter through the back door and also, please do not let the other members of the congregation see you in the building. Are you saying racism is wrong but sexism is okay? Gloss over it however you like but the treatment of women as chattel is institutionalized in Islam. There are other issues that make Islam in conflict with our way of life but let's focus on that for now.

 
At 8:49 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

The debate is about whether citizens of the United States who happen to be Muslim are protected by the 1st Amendment, or did they forfeit that protection when a few members of their religion committed a crime in 2001.

It's not about whether their religion measures up to our standards of what is fair and equitable treatment of women.

It's also not about public opinion polls. I just don't have a problem with this community center being there. What better place to have it to prove we're smart enough to not demonize an entire religion for the acts of a few of its members?

We weren't attacked by Muslims on 9/11. Christian, Jewish, and Muslim AMERICANS were murdered by Al Quaeda members who used their perverted interpretation of the Quran as a justification to violently attack people who didn't agree with their views.

The real way to hit back at the extremists is to embrace the vast majority of Muslims who are moderate, and accepting them as our greatest allies, instead of radicalizing them through blind, unreasoning hatred.

 
At 9:31 PM, Blogger Tim said...

Bill, you are doing a lot of mental gymnastics, in my humble opinion, to make your point that this is all about their 1st ammendement rights.
And I beg to differ, but we were attacked by Muslims (extremist fanatics, to be sure, but Muslims).
And yes, it is about whether Islam's treatment of women measures up to the standard of equal rights for all.
Clearly, women are considered second class citizens. Using your 1st ammendment argument, women are not allowed freedom to worship in the same way as men in the mosque. They must kneel at the back of the sanctuary, or even in another room. Sometimes, no matter how hard it is, one must point out that something is wrong. Just like saying that homosexuals can not be married is wrong. To apoligize and make excuses in the name of "going along to get along" is truly appeasment. If Islam is to florish in America it has to let go of this anti-feminist, anti-Jewish, jihadist baggage. Until it renounces these things publicly and vigorously, we have every right to question and oppose it's forcing it's viewpoint on our society. The fact that this Imam refuses to even consider relocating this Islamic center to a less sensitive site (at no extra cost to them, mind you) shows that they are totally interested in rubbing the noses of the bereaved families in it, and are truly seeking to confront, offend, and force the majority to bend to their will. How more "in your face!" can you get?

 
At 11:16 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

Believe me, if Muslim women were pushing for the equality you seem to want for them, I would be on their side, but to say the religion must change just because it is an affront to your western sensibilities is not a reason for them to change. While they practice their faith in their own way, separating the sexes, they do not, on the whole, in this country prevent their women from driving or being educated.

What would you think if Muslims were to say Christians and Jews should separate along gender lines when they worship? They don't, because it isn't their business, and they don't care.

The 1st Amendment protects citizens from any attempt by the government to restrict their freedom of religion, and that was my point, that public opinion should not sway the government on this issue. Do I think it's the best place to locate any kind of Islamic center? Of course not, mostly because it would be a target for every wingnut in this country. But too many people think the government should intercede in this case and block it, and that's wrong.

Using your reasoning, if we were attacked by Muslims on 9/11, then we were attacked by Christians when the Murrah building was destroyed.

Blaming an entire religion for the acts of a few of its members is what requires 'mental gymnastics'.

Islam is NOT 'forcing its views on us" from the outside, these are American citizens who happen to be Muslim. Of course there are people in this group who are not yet citizens or who are here on visas, but that could be said of just about any group of people who were trying to build a church or a synagogue, also. That's the fallacy of your argument, that Islam is somehow completely alien to our country. There have always been Muslims in this country, and acting like they're all just some newly arrived group that we need to make exceptions to our Constitution to deal with is ridiculous.

 
At 2:51 AM, Anonymous Mack Lyons said...

"Do you remember Bull Connor? He was the police commissioner of Selma, Alabama during the civil rights conflict of the 1960s."

No. He was the police commissioner of BIRMINGHAM, Alabama during the 1960s.

FYI

 
At 4:26 AM, Blogger Mystica said...

Thanks for a wonderful post.

 
At 5:28 AM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Thank you for the kind words, Mystica.

And you, too, Mack. Thanks for pointing my error out to me. The correction has been made.

All the best,

Tom

 
At 7:15 AM, Anonymous boltok said...

+1 to Captain America

 
At 12:16 PM, Blogger Harley A. said...

Bill, you lack discernment on this issue and you’re not making sense. There are many “Muslims” in this country who are not true Muslims. Just because a young, bored American girl wants to don a cute head scarf to garner attention and appear enlightened makes her no more Muslim than my big left toe. Also, there are many Muslims here that are cultural Muslims and simply want the prosperity that is available in our country – Islam to them is what “Christianity” is to most “Christians” – a cultural label that has no abiding meaning to them. And there are others here for a whole host of reasons. But none of this has any bearing on the fact that true Islam is not (I repeat NOT) simply a religion – it is a theocracy – and the political system is integral. Sharia law is NOT compatible with our constitution – or any other western form of government for that matter. It is logically inconsistent to claim that it can be. Having said all that, they can build the world’s largest minaret at ground zero for all I care, if that’s what NYC wants.

 
At 2:13 PM, Blogger charles moore said...

Hi Tom,

Thanks for a SANE take on an INSANE debate.

 
At 2:38 PM, Blogger Monique said...

Have you seen Jon Stewart's take on the topic? He even went so far as to admit that he was wrong and that liberals were wrong when they wanted to prevent the NRA from holding a march (or whatever it was) near the site of Columbine after the shootings occurred there. They were responding with emotion to things that a few people were responsible for by vilifying all people "associated" with those few people. This needs to stop. It is what the Nazi's did to the Jews to get them prosecuted. The Nazis painted all Jews as parasites, consumed by sex and money. We have to be very, very careful when taking a stereotype or even an exception and applying it to all people we can possibly associate with them. And this is what the Right and Fox News are doing. They are going so far as to call the center a terrorist command center and calling the imam a radical with no basis in fact, and people who are too stupid to know better eat it up. They're spreading fear and false information based on an emotional response. The Nazis were very very good at this. Look it up in the history books. Asking for tolerance is not enabling evil to happen. It is looking at problems in a different light, a light that can allow for healing and understanding to happen, rather than perpetrating the same old hatreds and fears and discrimination, dividing people rather than bringing them together. That makes this country weaker, not stronger. United we stand, divided we fall.

 
At 4:30 PM, Blogger Harley A. said...

I find it fascinating that folks want to keep bringing up Hitler the Nazis.

Do any of you know that one of the most important figures in the Muslim world in the 20th century was buds with Hitler? Have any of you heard of Amin al-Husseini ? He was grand Mufti of Jerusalem at the time. He spent much time in Germany during WWII. He recruited and inspected Muslim Nazi troops during the war. He was very excited about Hitler’s final solution and was ready to help him in the Arab regions had they gotten that far. He went on to be a very influential man in uniting and setting Muslim policy and direction in the world.

You folks are suffering Stockholm syndrome and you haven’t even been captured yet.

 
At 5:20 PM, Anonymous Billbeau said...

Tom, I won't say you're any sort of jackass - but a few of your commenters certainly are.

So you don't know the dates of Ramadan. And that proves....what?? I don't have a clue when most of the Jewish religious dates are, but I'm married to one. And so WHAT??

This in no way voids the common sense of what you say in the post. But then, that's likely why these bozos are focusing on your knowledge of Islamic holidays, rather than the real issues you're dealing with.

And as for the shidiot who talked about Pizzaro and imperialist strategy, he has a point - but hopefully he combs his hair to cover it. Yes, the WTC destruction was the worst terrorist attack in US history, so following this logic of preventing an Islamic Study Center (NOT a mosque, bozo) near Ground Zero means we should also tear down any Christian churches near the Oklahoma City terrorist bombing by McVeigh, a Christian. Right?

Sheesh. Shidiocy reigns.

 
At 6:06 PM, Anonymous boltok said...

It wasn't too long ago, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was permitted to speak at Columbia while the Patriot Guard was not. All the left wing brats were protesting. These same folks will lecture on the 1st amendment.

Terrorists in New York, OK. Old men in lawn chairs on the boarder with binoculars, not so much.

I don't think the mosque/cultural training center/whatever it is is illegal, just inappropriate. As I said before, I actually want it built at 2 World Trade Center. Too late for 1WTC, finally a building is going up.

Are Billbeau and Bill_in_DElirium related???

 
At 6:42 PM, Anonymous Billbeau said...

Sorry to disappoint, but no, there more of us non-shidiots with common sense (and have actually READ the US Constitution) out there than you realize. No relation, just fellow Americans who believe in equal rights and non-discrimination.

A couple facts - something radically missing from this silly argument:

Ironically, Islam's roots in New York City are in the area around the site of the World Trade Center, and they predate the Twin Towers: in the late 19th century, a portion of lower Manhattan was known as Little Syria and was inhabited by Arab immigrants

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his wife Daisy Khan (from India), are actually the kind of Muslim leaders right-wing commentators fantasize about: modernists and moderates who openly condemn the death cult of al-Qaeda and its adherents. Rauf is a Sufi, which is Islam's most mystical and accommodating denomination. (from Time Magazine)

Oh, and guess who was Resident George Dubyah Bush's choice to represent the US on a peace trip to the Middle East not once but TWICE during the Bush Regime?

Not much of an extremist, no matter what your Faux News sources infer.

 
At 7:41 PM, Anonymous boltok said...

Don't apologize. No need given that I had no expectations of you. And if I had, they would not have been lofty.

DElirum apologizes a lot as well. I think you are the same person.

BTW: What exactly is a shidiot?

 
At 1:30 AM, Blogger Sam said...

I know it's probably been said... but I simply don't care to read all the comments -- but I caught someone sounding off the hatred soundbite about the location of the mosque.

IF the mosque was going up on the site of the World Trade Center, I could see a slight reason for concern.

HOWEVER, the mosque is not on that site, in fact it's around the corner. There is absolutely no reason for anyone to bitch about it.

The mosque should stand as a great symbol of this nation (under God, if you will) where all men are created equal.

I get it... there are people who still think it was a Muslim conspiracy. Shit, there are still people who think blacks are second-class citizens. We have a term for these people: morons.

I encourage all people, no matter the religion, no matter the color of their skin -- if you are a human, be a part of this -- to use this mosque in NYC as a rallying point. Let us all come together in a celebration of life and the world.

Yes, it is a test of emotion. We, as Americans were hurt by what happened on that day. But we should never forget that Muslims were also hurt by their own people. The suffering Muslims must endure by the actions of a few -- who certainly do not represent the whole -- may in fact be more than the pain we suffered as a nation.

 
At 12:17 PM, Blogger Monique said...

Well said, Sam.

Harley A, you seem to be entirely (deliberately?) missing the point I made earlier when I mentioned Nazis. I could've brought up any other historical examples of discrimination besides the Nazis. But theirs is a very clear one to me: they took one group of people and made them the scapegoat for everything that is wrong in the world and they did it with very good (unfortunately) success. The KKK did that with blacks and Catholics did that with Jews and fringe Christians during the Inquisition. Yes, there are Muslims who don't like Jews or even Christians for that matter, and vice versa, just like in Ireland there are Catholics who don't like Protestants and vice versa.

But your comment about Amin al-Husseini shows once again this exact point I was making. Because this person incited hatred against Jews, somehow it follows that Muslims are like Nazis? Mussolini also was on the same side with Hitler, does this make all Italians like Mussolini or like Hitler? Your point?

Incidentally, I don't think anyone should apologize to Boltok. Please.

 
At 3:44 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

Gee Harley, I stand corrected. I wasn't aware there was an established required minimum level of devotion to a religion before an individual's rights had to be respected.

Please, enlighten all of us, exactly how is it measured? By a yardstick? With a blood test? Written or oral exam? What is the SI unit of measure?

Boy, you learn something new everyday....

 
At 3:49 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

No, Corky, just because two different people happen to share the same low opinion of your intelligence, it doesn't mean they must be the same person, or even in collusion.

One last apology: I'm sorry I overestimated your ability to recognize sarcasm when you see it. It won't happen again.

 
At 5:00 PM, Blogger Harley A. said...

My point is that this man who hated Jews, hated America, and hated the English is still revered as a world Muslim hero by the Muslim world. I will say it once again - listen closely - much of what passes for Islam in American is not. Islam is NOT simply a religion - it is a theocratic construct of which civil law (e.g.-Sharia Law) is an integral part. If you cannot understand that or simply don't believe it - fine. But, it is a fact - not a debate. Oh, but I've had a Muslim tell me that's not true - okay - believe what you wish. You choose to believe the relatively few moderates in the west - I prefer to believe the testimony of the core.

As a followup point -the exact generalization you preach against is the modus operandi of this entire blog against "tea partiers", right-wingers, conservatives, etc. If you're going to dish it - then deal with it when others do.

 
At 5:48 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

Really Harley? by your 'reasoning', the Pope is a 'hero' to all Christians. Way to generalize.

And aren't Christianity and Judaism both 'theocratic constructs' with their own internal codes of law?

Your simplistic allegory just doesn't hold up. You're attempting to demonize the whole religion for the acts of a relatively small sample. I understand how you've come to this conclusion, it's because people too often only listen to the evidence that supports the conclusions they've already invested themselves in. Believe me, when 9/11 first happened, I was alarmed to think the whole Muslim world was tuned against us, but when I actually took the time to look at the facts, it was easy to see that was just the false narrative that was being foisted on us.

Most people don't know that on 9/12/2001, there was a march in Tehran, Iran comprised of 100,000 people in SUPPORT of the USA and CONDEMNING the attack, and the people who perpetrated it. But that wasn't covered in the media (and this is one of the few times Fox news wasn't the only guilty party), because the celebrations in remote villages made for better video. We squandered that goodwill, in our rush to simplify who we thought our enemies were.

Take a look at what most Muslims actually thought about 9/11: http://groups.colgate.edu/aarislam/response.htm

 
At 6:43 PM, Blogger Harley A. said...

"Gee Harley, I stand corrected. I wasn't aware there was an established required minimum level of devotion to a religion before an individual's rights had to be respected."

Huh? I respect individual rights. I do not want to take rights away from Muslims in America. Islam is where you want to look for a religion/culture that is light on human rights.

Also, my example wasn't an allegory. It was a narrative of the facts. Folks are equivocating Muslim America with Islam - bad mistake in my opinion.

Ancient Judaism was a theocratic construct, you are correct there. Modern Judaism is all over the map. Christianity is not, though some misguided groups have tried to make it that way from time to time. Christians do not honor the Pope - popery is not a Christian belief. You're thinking of Roman Catholicism.

 
At 8:06 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

Honestly, the fact that you can split hairs on the subject of Christianity while at the same time assume the Muslim faith is one monolithic religion is kind of funny.

As far as I'm concerned, any religion that incorporates the Jesus myth as one of its major beliefs, if not its central belief, falls under the umbrella label of "Christian'.

But that illustrates my point. The same way Christians are divided into a multiplicity of varying approaches to the worship of their chosen deity, so to, is the Muslim faith in their approach to Allah.

Or are you like George W. Bush, who although he has known Muslims most of his life, when he was told about Shi'aa vs Sunnis he asked, 'Aren't they all Muslims?'

 
At 4:51 PM, Blogger Harley A. said...

So, where, then, does your moral imperative for fighting for the rights of people come from? If it is just a man-made preference instilled by a few 18th century rationalists, based on social contract theory, then you've no basis to care really - why all the fuss? I'm trying to understand - are you arguing from a moral basis or a pragmatic utilitarian basis?

 
At 4:52 PM, Blogger Harley A. said...

I meant to add "...or some other basis I've not considered?"

 
At 5:53 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

Do you honestly believe that only a person who practices a religion can have respect for another's religious belief, even if he doesn't share the same belief?

People don't have to believe in the supernatural to have beliefs. Freedom OF religion also means freedom FROM religion. I don't have to be a religious person to see the value in respecting other people's faith, and see the stupidity inherent in favoring one religion over another. In fact, it probably makes it easier to see they're equally inconsequential in their differences, and equally deserving of protection.

"Religion cannot be without morality, but morality may arrive without religion."

 
At 6:49 PM, Blogger Harley A. said...

That's cool - and that's not what I was saying. All I'm asking is from where does your morality "arrive"? Fair question.

 
At 7:45 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

Does that mean you believe that, without religion, people cannot discern right from wrong?

 
At 10:26 AM, Blogger Harley A. said...

No, not what I’m saying at all. Genuinely interested in what your answer is. This blog illustrates why folks cannot get along. They don’t bother to address fundamental philosophical underpinnings – where the meat is. Whether to build a Muslim center near the WTC location is noise. Where morality comes from – now that’s an issue to discuss. If we can’t agree on that, we’re going to disagree on a lot, but at least we understand each other better and don’t just think the other a jerk (which I do not think of you).

 
At 11:22 AM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

'Morality', if it is defined as kindness to others, charity, and honesty with one's self, then I believe it originates within each of us, dependent on the influence our life experiences.

I don't believe it's a code of behavior impressed upon us from a source outside of human influence.

We are born with an innate sense of right and wrong, recent research has shown that even animals to some degree understand what is 'fair', and what isn't.

We have just codified it and incorporated it into our religious texts, and in doing so, in part, obscured its origin, crediting a supernatural power.

 
At 2:34 PM, Blogger Darlene said...

Tom, I mentioned this post on my blog yesterday because I wrote on the same subject. I had a link to Jon Stewart's funny show about this Faux nonsense that passes for news.

 
At 3:04 PM, Blogger Harley A. said...

“I don't believe it's a code of behavior impressed upon us from a source outside of human influence.”

Ok. I assumed it would be something along those lines – it is probably the most common understanding in our post-modern world. Where I take issue, then, is how you hold to any objective standard when your standard is ultimately subjective – with billions of sources. The WTC bombers – was their innate sense of morality not as valid as yours? Are you forcing your moral preferences on them?

 
At 3:59 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

That's the fallacy of thinking that there is some higher source of morality. Religion makes right and wrong a relative judgment, left up to the individual's interpretation of their religion, so how is that any more or less subjective than deciding right and wrong for yourself?

Some Christians in this country, based on their religious beliefs, think it not only appropriate, but their duty to murder people who provide abortions, and Mormons thought it was their religious duty to murder a wagon train of settlers in the 19th century. If religion is supposed to provide an 'objective standard' of morality, those things wouldn't happen, would they?

"Without religion, we'd have good people doing good things, and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."

"Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile." -Kurt Vonnegut

 
At 7:28 PM, Blogger Harley A. said...

No, Bill, no fallacy involved in a moral lawgiver and an absolute law. It could be wrong, but there's no logical fallacy involved at all. Where there IS a logical fallacy is in saying morality comes from within each individual and then wishing to proclaim something right or wrong (without following with "for me"). Either a moral code exists with a Law-Giver or, as you say, morality is a subjectively determined process - in which case it is, indeed, every man for himself. You cannot continue to burn down the bank and ask to borrow moral capital.

On your argument to interpretation, there is no rational category that doesn't involve interpretation. And, interpretative issues have nothing to do with whether the absolute morality indeed exists.

 
At 7:45 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

I guess it all comes down to whether you believe in a supernatural explanation for the world or not.

I don't feel the need to endorse magical thinking to explain the existence of the universe or the need for any intelligent beings living in a group to have a code of laws to govern their actions. And if it helps keep the gullible in line to tell them the laws come from a supernatural source, that's ok with me, too.

Just don't expect me believe it.

In the end, regardless of what explanation works for you, people will always decide for themselves what is 'moral' in their eyes, even if it means they have to be flexible in their interpretation of their chosen religion.

The idea that there is some moral absolute governing human action is ridiculous.

 
At 11:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish I may, I wish I might, I wish all of you morons on the fringy far left would hop on that moslem rocket ship to Mars-then the rest of us could live in peace and you could precede to turn the Red Planet into the shithole you're so determined to do to earth.

if only
never never land

 
At 11:43 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

If only unreasoning hatred of the unfamiliar was a rational response, you wouldn't sound like such an ass.

 
At 12:41 PM, Blogger Harley A. said...

Are there any absolutes ?

 
At 2:23 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

To me, people who believe in absolutes are the ones who can talk themselves into believing that flying an airplane loaded with innocent victims into a building is a rational act.

 
At 6:10 PM, Anonymous gmom23 said...

Ditto Sam. Can't plow through the comments. Nothing growing.

Here's one of the most heartening, sorrowful, and essentially American poems I have ever read. It's by a Palenstinian American woman, who wrote it soon after 9-11.

http://www.inmotionmagazine.com/ac/shammad.html.

Thanks Tom, for the opportunity.

 
At 1:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Port Authority is blocking the rebuild of the Greek Orthodox Church accross the street from the WTC site. I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for liberal outrage.

Complete and utter right-wing bullshit. No one is blocking anyone. The Greek Church was offered a new building site and about 60 million dollars of our tax money to rebuild. Evidently it wasn't enough for the church.

The story is easy enough to find.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/19/nyregion/19church.html

 
At 5:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any religion with a belief that Jesus is not God and is not who he claimed to be (the son of God) is in error and therefore false and a waste of time. I don't say this to be hateful, but Muhammad is still dead in his grave, Christ is not.

 
At 10:11 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

"Without religion, we'd have good people doing good things, and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."

"Religions are all alike - founded upon fables and mythologies."
--Thomas Jefferson

"When one person suffers from delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion, it is called Religion." –Robert M. Pirsig

Christianity is nothing more than zombie worship.

 

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