Posts Tagged “cordoba center”

Daisy Khan (AP photo, August 2010)I can’t really say I’m surprised by this, but New York City police recently admitted they’ve been investigating death threats against the couple who’ve proposed Park51/the Cordoba Center (aka the “Ground Zero Mosque”). You see, Islam is such a violent religion, that some Americans find it necessary to threaten its vocal supporters. Yeah. Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? CNN’s Belief blog reports the story (WebCite cached article):

The husband-and-wife team behind the planned Islamic center and mosque near New York’s ground zero have received threats, a New York police spokesman said Sunday, hours after the wife said her life is under threat.

The threats “began several weeks ago,” police spokesman Paul Browne told CNN “We were investigating them.”

Browne would disclose no details of the threats made against Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf or his wife, Daisy Khan, or whether they were receiving any police protection.

Khan mentioned the threats during her appearance on ABC’s This Week with Christiane Amanpour. Appearing with her was prominent Religious Rightist — and erstwhile presidential candidate — Gary Bauer, who didn’t exactly go out of his way to condemn the threats:

Gary Bauer, a conservative Christian leader who opposes the Park51 project, responded that “Anybody in public life, in a free society, has nuts that threaten their lives.”

If you want to see the transcript — which shows Bauer’s cavalier attitude toward these threats — it can be found right here (cached). He never says it in precisely these words, but Bauer’s implication is, “Well, of course, you’ve been threatened, lady! What else did you expect?”

It’s great to see a supposedly “loving” Christian express such concern for the lives of others. Yep, it’s that “Religion of Love” at work, once again!

Photo credit: AP via (UK) Telegraph.

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1933 May 10 Berlin book burning, taken from the U.S. National ArchivesThe fires just keep getting hotter … although they have yet even to be lit! While Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville continues to waffle over whether or not he plans to burn copies of the Qur’an to celebrate the 9th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, other folks have come out of the woodwork, around the country, stating that they plan to do the same.

First, a congregation that rivals Jones’s for its psychotic nature, the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, KS, says it will do so; the Christian Science Monitor reports on the latest from these asylum escapees (WebCite cached article):

Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., may have “suspended” plans to burn copies of the Quran on the anniversary of 9/11. But the controversial Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., says it will burn the Quran. In fact, it already has. …

Although the church burned a Quran in Washington in 2008, it did not get much media attention. On its web site Friday, the church called Pastor Jones in Gainesville a “false prophet … bullied by sissy, intolerant rebels worldwide into cancelling plans to burn that blasphemous idol called the Koran.”

Westboro also declared that it “will burn the Koran and the doomed American flag at 12:00 p.m. on September 11, 2010 at Westboro Baptist Church.”

I blogged about this insane crew a year and a half ago when they came here to Connecticut to spread their vicious hatred. Back then I called them “the Lunatic Church of Hate.” I now believe the same moniker applies to Pastor Jones and his pathetic rabble.

Also, not to be outdone, some crank out in Wyoming plans to match the Westboro Baptist Church stunt, as the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports (cached article):

The founder of the Wyoming Tyranny Response Team plans to burn a copy of the Quran on the steps of the State Capitol on Saturday.

Duncan Philp said he will protest the location of a proposed Islamic Center near Ground Zero in New York City. He also will protest President Barack Obama’s support for the location.

Philp is quite the crank, actually. His group’s Web site is a mixture of zany pseudo-militia fascism and conspiratorialism, and it includes this revealing little screed (cached):

We are compelled to post a list of what we are NOT due to the outrageous claims made by left wing organizations like the Anti-Defamation League aka Amerikan Defecation League, in which the ADL has in the past publicly implied that the TRT holds anti-semitic beliefs and is a front organization for covert militias and right wing fringe organizations. The ADL only gets one chance to get away with a lie and the next time it will cost you Foxman (The ADL Dictator of political correctness). We will drop a dime on the ADL to Aaron Zelman (JPFO Founder) who will in turn will place us in contact with an attorney to discuss civil litigation.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, like the ADL is another left wing front group for the Amerikan Communist Party and its founder Morris “Sleaze” Dees has tried his to discredit our proud organization with his own set of lies. Dees even went so far as to accuse one our TRT founders of being anti-semitic, a man by the name of Bob Glass, who is in fact Jewish.

I don’t know about you, but I smell a whiff of “But some of our best friends are Jewish, so we CAN’T be anti-Semitic!” in here. Sorry, but I’m not stupid enough to buy it.

And there’s a third entry in the insanity sweepstakes … a pastor in Springfield TN plans to burn a Qur’an too. WTVF-TV in Nashville TN reports on this nutjob (cached article):

Springfield Pastor Bob Old said his decision to burn the Islamic holy book on September 11 has nothing to do with the agenda of the pastor in Florida or the controversy surrounding the mosque in New York.

He has his own reasons behind the demonstrations and no intentions of backing down.

“My plans for Saturday are to take a copy of the Quran and burn it,” said Old.

He’s planning to go forward with the demonstration on 9/11 to be able to make his point and have it heard.

I do not for one moment believe that Old’s plan has nothing to do with the current controversy. He claims he has other reasons for it:

“To the Muslim church I would say the reason I am doing on Saturday because I believe they worship a false god. They have a false text, a false prophet and a false scripture,” said Old.

He said the other two reasons are to teach Americans about their constitutional rights and to make them better Christians.

First, Pastor Old … let me clue you in: Muslims don’t have any “church.” Only Christians have a “church.” Muslims pray in “mosques” and comprise an ummah. Second, I’m trying to figure how watching a Qur’an burn can educate anyone about the Constitution or magically make them “better Christians,” but … for some strange reason … it’s just not coming to me. Perhaps you could demonstrate the connection, Pastor?

Anyway … it looks like the Neocrusade against Islam in the United States is continuing without letup. A lot of this seems to be predicated on a desire for attention, and a (false) assumption that no one knows that there are folks in the US who dislike Islam. There is no way, however, that anyone could possibly fail to be aware that the Religious Right opposes Islam and wants Muslims gone. This is not a secret which needs to be revealed to a world that has no idea it’s true. The Neocrusade has been underway for several weeks now, and really is no longer news to anyone. At least not to me.

What these people really are, of course, are Christofascists, acting like fascists because they believe they possess a special entitlement to be able to do fascist things. The childishness just rolls on …

Photo credit: US National Archives / Wikimedia Commons.

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Non nobis Domine. Sed nomini tuo da gloriam.I’d been skeptical about Neocrusading pastor Terry Jones’s announcement that he’d called off his plan to burn Qur’ans this September 11. And it turns out I was right to be. Jones is wavering, angry about having been misled. The AP reports via the Torrington Register-Citizen (WebCite cached version):

An anti-Islamic preacher backed off and then threatened to reconsider burning the Quran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, angrily accusing a Muslim leader of lying to him Thursday with a promise to move an Islamic center and mosque away from New York’s ground zero. The imam planning the center denied there was ever such a deal. …

Standing outside his 50-member Pentecostal church, the Dove Outreach Center, alongside Imam Muhammad Musri, the president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, Jones said he relented when Musri assured him that the New York mosque will be moved.

Musri, however, said after the news conference that the agreement was only for him and Jones to travel to New York and meet Saturday with the imam overseeing plans to build a mosque near ground zero.

Hours later, Jones said Musri “clearly, clearly lied to us.”

Previously, Jones had claimed that the (supposed) move of the Cordoba Center was exactly the “sign from God” he’d been waiting for to get him to call off his Qur’an-burning. I had also blogged earlier tonight:

What’s going to happen, I wonder, once the insane Pastor Jones discovers that that so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” (which isn’t actually at “ground zero” in the first place) isn’t being moved? Will he claim his “sign from God” has been taken away from him by the vile forces of Islam, and burn some Qur’ans after all?

I guess this petulance is the result of just that eventuality.

Photo credit: One lucky guy.

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Book burning Mural by Jose Chavez Morado, Museo Alhondiga de Granaditas, Guanajuato, MexicoNo sooner did I finish blogging about the sorry history of the Florida Neocrusading pastor who wanted to burn Qur’ans to celebrate the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, than he held a press conference to announce he was cancelling. Or is he? This report from ABC News shows that the situation is still very uncertain (WebCite cached article):

A fiery Florida pastor called off his bonfire of Korans today after claiming he has a deal that will move a controversial mosque away from the site of the 9/11 terror attacks, but the Muslim cleric planning the so-called Ground Zero Mosque quickly denied to ABC News that he has agreed to move his project.

Pastor Terry Jones of Gainesville, Fla., emerged from his church in Gainesville, Fla., along with Florida Imam Muhammad al-Masri to announce his decision to cancel his Koran burning, saying he viewed the supposed deal as “a sign from God.”

What’s going to happen, I wonder, once the insane Pastor Jones discovers that that so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” (which isn’t actually at “ground zero” in the first place) isn’t being moved? Will he claim his “sign from God” has been taken away from him by the vile forces of Islam, and burn some Qur’ans after all?

Besides, to date, Jones’s complaint about Islam … and his supposed motivation for burning Qur’ans … has not, to my knowledge, been the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque.” It has, instead, been Jones’s insistence that the United States is about to come under Shari’a law. (See for example this ABC News interview, with cached version.) So it’s not clear to me how this issue became the linchpin that made Jones change his mind.

The bottom line is that we are certainly not out of the woods yet … not with a creature like Pastor Jones at the heart of the controversy.

Photo credit: larry&flo.

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Two Wrongs Are Inequal To A RightIn my experience, one of the most common fallacies that people fall into, themselves, or hear and accept from others without noticing it, is two wrongs make a right. This is in spite of the fact that most of us were taught by our mothers that two wrongs do not, in fact, make a right; however, this simple teaching that most or all of us received in childhood, can’t seem to contravene the overpowering emotional effect of seeing someone else do something wrong, thus triggering a sense of an entitlement for oneself to do the same. The frequency with which grown adults — who by definition should all know better — plumb the depths of this fallacy hit home over just the past couple of days, in two ways.

First, CBS News reports on how extreme Religious Rightist and radio host “Dr Laura” Schlessinger used the “N word” on the air, in a barrage aimed at an African-American caller (WebCite cached article):

Talk radio host Dr. Laura Schlessinger has issued an apology for saying the N-word several times in an on-air conversation with a caller that she said was “hypersensitive” to racism. …

During the exchange on Tuesday’s show, Schlessinger said the woman who called herself Jade was too sensitive for complaining that her husband’s friends made racist comments about her in their home.

Dr Laura’s reasoning for why this woman was being “too sensitive”? It was the old “two wrongs make a right”:

When the woman asked if the N-word was offensive, Dr. Laura said “black guys say it all the time,” then went on to repeat it several times.

Schlessinger did not direct the epithet at the woman, but said she used it to suggest how often she hears it, and that it should not automatically be cause for offense.

When the caller objected, Schlessinger replied: “Oh, then I guess you don’t watch HBO or listen to any black comedians.”

For Dr Laura, then, the “N word” becomes acceptable to use, because some African-American comedians use it, and because it can be heard on HBO … therefore there’s nothing wrong with the word, and her caller should not be insulted by it.

A second use of this fallacy was one I encountered while reading about the childish Religious Right caterwauling about the Cordoba Center proposal in lower Manhattan (about which I’ve blogged already). Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — who apparently is trying to reintegrate himself into Rightist politics after having shamed himself out of office years ago — has come up with this rationale for opposing it, which you can see him spew in this Youtube video:

Here’s a transcription of his key remarks, courtesy of Reason.Com:

I find it very offensive to get lectured about religious liberty at a time when there are no churches and no synagogues in Saudi Arabia and when no Christian and no Jew can walk into Mecca…. I’d love to have these folks say, “Let’s build a church and a synagogue in Mecca, or rather Saudi Arabia, and that would balance off our having an interfaith mosque [in lower Manhattan].” They’re not saying that. It is entirely one-sided. It is entirely, I think, a kind of triumphalism that we should not tolerate.

For Newt, Saudi Arabia’s religious intolerance means it’s OK for us to prevent American Muslims from building cultural centers where they want. In other words, he thinks it’s a good idea to get into a pissing contest with Saudi Arabia to find out which country can be more religiously intolerant. What he fails to understand is that Americans should do what Americans should do, and not emulate others, just because they feel entitled to do so.

These are but two examples of how “two wrongs make a right” thinking sneaks into common rhetoric. It happens much more often than this. Be on guard against it, and don’t be swindled into thinking or doing the wrong thing just because someone can point to someone else who thinks or does it.

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Hagia Sofia with Cloudy SkyDuring the last 9 years, folks have proposed building lots of things at or near the site of the World Trade Center, felled during the September 11, 2001 attacks. Few, if any, of them have ever been built … for reasons that are puzzling to just about everyone on the planet. Among the proposals, however, is construction of a mosque. That sparked a bit of outrage during a Community Board 1 meeting in New York City, as reported by the New York Post (WebCite cached article):

Angry relatives of 9/11 victims last night clashed with supporters of a planned mosque near Ground Zero at a raucous community-board hearing in Manhattan.

After four hours of public debate, members of Community Board 1 finally voted 29-1 in support of the project. Nine members abstained, arguing that they wanted to table the issue and vote at a later date.

All the raging and fuming, however, was in vain, because this board cannot really stop the project even if it wished to:

The board has no official say over whether the estimated $100 million mosque and community center gets built.

I suppose the sanctimonious anger is understandable, however, ultimately it should play no role in the matter. You see, all over the world, there are religious buildings constructed at places where those religions committed atrocities; for instance, there are Christian churches in and near Jerusalem, the site of a massacre perpetrated by (Christian) Crusaders in 1099, and at Verden an der Aller, the site of a massacre of pagan Saxons by Charlemagne’s forces in 782. By this same reasoning, neither of these places … or good many others … should ever have any Christian churches, either! I wonder if these same folks would go along with that … ?

Photo credit: Luke Robinson.

Update 8/15/2010:

For the longest time I’ve had this nagging feeling there’s a great, pithy literary parallel to the situation of the so-called “mosque” (well, no, it’s not really a mosque) at (well, not really “at,” it’s a few blocks away from) the former WTC site. I just hadn’t been able to think of it.

Until tonight. It finally hit me. Not all of you will know this reference, but I’m pretty sure some of you will.

That recent literary parallel is: The monastery at Mar Terrin.

For those not familiar with this, it’s from a 5-book fantasy series called The Belgariad by the late David Eddings. In it, there had been — millennia prior to the events in the book — a race known as the Marags who lived in their own country called Maragor. They were invaded and slaughtered by a neighboring race, the Tolnedrans. Maragor was left a ruined land where no one lived (not voluntarily, anyway), haunted by the ghosts of its former inhabitants. In one of Maragor’s ruined border cities, Mar Terrin, a few Tolnedran monks settled, praying and chanting, in an effort to ease the suffering of the dead Marag souls still lurking in Maragor. In the books, the monks of Mar Terrin — who aren’t very numerous, since the vast majority of Tolnedrans prefer not even to think about how they destroyed all the Marags — are called “the conscience of Tolnedra.”

Building an Islamic cultural center near the site of the World Trade Center would effectively be very similar to that. Make that, it COULD be. I’m not sure what the motives of its builders are; I haven’t heard they wanted to build it as a way of offering some kind of appeasement to those who fell there. But their motives pretty much don’t matter, so long as they go about the process legally.

At any rate, it’s bothered me that, so far, I haven’t been able to think of that. Now I have. Not that it matters much … but there you are.

BTW … if you haven’t read these books, I heartily recommend them. The five books can be purchased grouped into a two-volume set: The Belgariad, Vol. 1 (Books 1-3) and The Belgariad, Vol. 2 (Books 4 & 5). Yeah, I know, this series is stuffed full of all sorts of obvious tropes … but it’s nonetheless a fun read. Call it a “guilty pleasure,” if you must. It was followed by a sequel series of 5, The Malloreon, which is not as good.

Eddings also wrote another, different, series of 3 books called The Elenium, now available in a single-volume set: The Elenium. That trilogy had a sequel trilogy, too, called The Tamuli, but as with The Malloreon, it’s also inferior to its predecessor. And yes, The Elenium is its own massive romp through many tropes, but a lot of readers prefer it even to The Belgariad.

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