Thursday, July 15, 2010

So wrong on so many levels

Embedded below is an advertisement made by the National Republican Trust PAC in opposition to Cordoba House, the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque", which is planned to be built two blocks north of the World Trade Center site. The management of CBS and NBC have refused to broadcast it, with an NBC spokesman saying that the ad blurs responsibility for 9/11 in order to imply that Cordoba House's sponsors were culpable for the attacks. (Read here.) While that is true, it puts too fine a point on the reason the ad is wrong. The ad appears to hold all Muslims responsible for 9/11, say that all Muslims celebrated the attacks, and characterize Cordoba House as part of that celebration. That is not just wrong, it is intended to inspire hate and create a hostile atmosphere. Watch it and judge for yourself:

Scott Wheeler, who runs the National Republican Trust, claims that CBS and NBC rejected this advertisement due to liberal bias. Wheeler cites the fact that both networks have broadcast ads by the liberal group as evidence of a double-standard, which it would be if the ad had been rejected because it represents a conservative viewpoint. But that is not why the ad was rejected, as Wheeler knows. As to whether the ad actually promotes conservatism is also debatable, although it does indicate that some conservatives will resort to hate speech to gain the support of the angry and fearful.

With respect to the ad's claim that "they" are mocking the 9/11 dead with this mosque, Wheeler claims that the word "they" referred only to those who are funding the Cordoba House project. The fact that this charge follows a statement that "(o)n 9/11 they declared war of us" renders Wheeler's defense hollow and meaningless. It is a deliberate deception designed to conceal two things: first, that the opposition to this project is based on bias against all Muslims, and, second, that Wheeler, like all of the Cordoba House opponents, have a dearth of evidence for, and an excess of accusations of, the bad intentions of the Cordoba House backers.

An earlier post on this blog cited a report that the Cordoba House project's leader, Imam Feisal Rauf, was on the board of the Perdana Global Peace Initiative (read here) to temper my earlier unqualified support for the project (read here).  Perdana, which is one of several anti-Israel groups set up by Malaysia's corrupt, authoritarian and anti-Semitic former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir, lists Rauf as a board member on their website. While it claims to be a pacifist group, Perdana absurdly singles out Israel for the vast majority of its
opprobrium, giving most of the world's governments, including those who should be targeted by a truly pacifist group, a free pass.  Speaking on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show this morning, Imam Rauf's wife, Daisy Khan (who heads the Organization for Muslim American Advancement) stated that Rauf is not on the board of the Perdana group, that he merely gave a presentation at a Perdana conference three years ago, and that the Perdana website is in error. She went on to say that both she and her husband denounce terrorism of any kind including terrorism by Hamas. While I am not thrilled to hear of any association between Imam Rauf and Tun Mahathir or Perdana, the link does not raise the sort of red flags being hysterically waved by Cordoba House opponents such as the New York Post and blogger Pamela Geller, who unreasonably impute terrorist connections. That being said, Rauf and Khan would do well to open a conversation with those who both support their group's right to worship freely and who oppose Mahathir Tun's cynical manipulation of anti-Israel sentiment.

In her interview, Daisy Khan also emphatically stated that the choice of the Cordoba House site on Park Place between Church Street and West Broadway had nothing to do with proximity to the World Trade Center site, a statement I find convincing. First, the neighborhood is a normal New York City neighborhood, not the shrine depicted by the project's opponents. Second, the congregation associated with the project have been in the neighborhood for over 25 years. Third, the site in question has been underutilized for decades, in spite of a real estate boom that has driven up property values and increased occupancy rates. Third, based on that real estate boom, the congregation was essentially faced with choosing between leaving the neighborhood where they were established (making access by the congregation more difficult or impossible), locating the center in a smaller or otherwise inappropriate building, or choosing this site. For the foregoing reasons, it seems much more likely that they chose this site because it was the best one available, not, as the Republican National Trust would have it, to dance on the graves of 9/11 victims.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio has made opposition to Cordoba House the keynote issue of his campaign, alleging that it raises unspecified "security issues" and groundlessly calling for criminal investigation of the project backers for ties to terrorists. (Read here.)  (Earlier this week, Lazio testified at a public hearing implausibly claiming that he opposed the project on historical preservation grounds, because it would alter a historical building.) The Republican National Trust, Rick Lazio and several other Republican and Tea Party candidates currently campaigning against Cordoba House need to stop making unreasonable, hateful accusations against the project, and begin answering a few questions with respect to their intentions, their methodology and their good faith. If they don't, we will be left believing that they are motivated by political opportunism, that they are willing to discriminate and spread hate against innocent people, and that they don't care sufficiently about the results of their actions. They need to temper their questions about the project with the knowledge that speech that encourages hate hurts everyone. By definition, political campaigns which take advantage of racial or religious fear corrode the public discourse and create additional divisions within the community. Those effects can't be measured. We depend on the good faith and responsibility of our leaders to temper their speech on this and similar subjects. They should be working to counter fear and hate, not encouraging more of it.

The bottom line: as far as I know, those behind Cordoba House just want a place for Muslims to worship and build a community center of the kind familiar to Jews and Christians. What's wrong with that?

A note on terminology: As someone who worked for one year in a building next door to the Cordoba House site, and for 12 years directly across the street from the site, and as someone who was present at both World Trade Center attacks (1993 and 2001), I have a lot of personal feelings and opinions relating to the neighborhood. Some of these find expression in the words I choose to use. I will not call the World Trade Center site "Ground Zero". The use of that term (originally coined to refer to the site of the direct impact of the Hiroshima atomic bomb) to refer to the World Trade Center site was an understandable product of journalists looking for words to describe the massive, smoking ruins of the towers in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack. Destruction like that had never before been seen in an American city, and conventional terminology failed to express either its dimensions or its emotional impact. Almost nine years later, the site is finally being redeveloped -- as it should have been years ago. It is no longer "Ground Zero" except for those who would freeze time and maintain the level of fear, anger and hurt that existed in the aftermath of the attack. That is not a place I choose to stay. It's no longer "Ground Zero", it's the World Trade Center site; and when the buildings are completed, it will be the World Trade Center. And it goes without saying that everyone should be welcome there regardless of their religion.


Will48 said...

But you SHOULD be angry and fearful - because the Jihad war WAS declared on us by _them_. And here _them_ does not refer to Al-Qaeda only, leaving out Hamas, Hezbollah, IRGC, Muslim Brotherhood and other salafist movements. No, the war was declared on us on behalf of ALL of them JIHADI Muslims.

And that's the only distinction you can make among Muslims without denying the Reality As It Is. Which is, the reality of Jihad global war declared by Bin Laden on behalf of all the Jihadi Muslims, against the Free World (a.k.a. the West) - which proclamation they all heartily embrace and support.

Some might argue that Jihad is an inseparable part of Islam. In fact any Muslim cleric will do so, only they will try to sell you (in English) the BS of "inner struggle" Jihad. That is a demosntrable falsehood since more than 90% of Jihad references in Koran and Hadiths are to war-Jihad, not any inner struggle, which in reality just comes down to some (mainly wealthy) getting a pass from fighting the war themselves by making donations to it. So their "inner struggle" is to part with money - on condition that it goes to fund the actual Jihad war against the infidels.

There is a reason why _the_ bestseller in the Arab World, Mein Kampf, is translated as My Jihad into Arabic. It is because his "struggle" is exactly what Jihad is.

To conclude, the litmust test is simple and clear: any Muslim that rejects Jihad war can not indeed be held responsible for the Jihad atrocities. The problem is, you won't find many such muslims. Those that do denounce Jihad war for Domination and Muslim Supremacy, are our allies and dear friends. And by "us" I mean, the Free World - those in it that are sane, and not choosing to live in denial just to hold on to their pink-tinted glasses a little bit longer.

If WWII were to teach Humanity anything, it is that Evil is to be confronted head on, as early as possible, until it gets a chance to become stronger by enslaving more and more minds while the pretenders and wishful thinkers pander to it by denying its Evil nature.

The Jihad Islam IS our enemy.

Will48 said...

Your support for the Ground Zero Mosque you base on the claim that "the congregation associated with the project have been in the neighborhood for over 25 years".

But Pamela Geller wrote that this is not true, and most of the visitors to that mosque come from far away neighborhoods especially.

I don't think she's a liar, and neither do I think that about you, but she does provide specific references in support of her claim, and you just make a general statement here, so it seems you're just misinformed, mislead by your own good intentions, eager to believe in peaceful intentions of Muslims behind that project.

But whenever a Muslim claims to support "peace" you should inquire whether it is a Peace for the Believers he has in mind, or Peace for the Infidels (not likely). Dont forget the two biggest "fighters for peace" too, Arafat and - yes - Hitler. Both were big on "Just Peace". "No justice, no peace", I'm sure you're familiar with that leftist slogan.

We should not translate words by their intended meanings in _our_ culture, but rather in culture they originated from. Honor, and Peace in Arabic/Muslim has nothing to do with Honor and Peace in English.

You also make positive reference to "pacifism" in passing, as if obvious. What should have become obvious for any people of conscience long time ago, is that pacifism is evil, because it fawns to dictators and enables aggressors to gather strength, by demanding - of others - suicidal non-violence, even in self-defense.

You can consult history on the impact of French and British "pacifists" pre-WWII for more background.

Will48 said...

You also imply that they chose that building for the new site for their mosque out of financial considerations.

But it was reported that they bought it for $5-8 million, and plan to spend upwards of $100 million in renovations, so it would seem this argument is false too.

Will48 said...

You speak of the mosque imam family renouncing "Hamas terrorism" but what about Hamas ideology? Do ask them, whether they renounce that?

You write of "hate speech against innocent people" but would you consider it such if someone would oppose "innocent" followers of SS-ideology, personally not (yet) involved in any specific "terrorist" activity?

Is the ideology of Supremacy and Political Domination of Aryans (or Muslims) not, in itself, enough?

Is it?

livingengine said...

Adam, I am still waiting for you to comment on Feisal's book, his fanaticism over Sharia law, his stated goal of transforming the country in ten years, his CNN interview, his dissembling about Mahathir, his being a slumlord, and tax cheat, in short, his unrelenting dishonesty, and hostility.

You ignore all of this just so you can retain your "liberal" credentials.

You will live long enough to see the product of your folly, and may you remember this comment.


Adam Holland said...

livingengine: OK.

First, he's not a "fanatic supporter of Sharia law", as you claim. That's not supported by the evidence. Insofar as he's a religious Muslim, of course he believes in Sharia just as a religious Jew believes in halacha and a religious Catholic believes in canon law. That doesn't mean he wants Sharia imposed on the entire nation.

Second, Feisel may or may not have dissembled about his ties to Mahathir, as I have written previously. (Maybe you didn't read that post.) I have said and I say now that he should address his connections to Mahathir's cynically motivated "anti-war" group to clarify this.

With respect to his real estate and financial dealings, I don't know about them so I can't really comment. If what you say is true, shame on him; if not, shame on you. Either way, I don't think that it's germane to the question of whether a mosque should be allowed to operate near the World Trade Center.

I don't feel that I have the right to demand that Feisel agree with me about politics or religion as a condition of being a clergyman in Lower Manhattan. Why others feel they have that authority is beyond me. Do they really want a government that operates like that? Maybe they haven't really thought the issue through.

In response to your questions, I have a question for you: why would you impose a stricter set of criteria for this project than you would for any other? The answer to that gets to the root of the problem with the whole anti-mosque movement; that is, it's anti-Muslim. To say otherwise is to deny the obvious.

You think my motivation for supporting this project is rooted in a desire to maintain my status as a liberal. Have you considered the most obvious explanation? I am a liberal. I actually believe in freedom of religion. I actually believe that religions and other groups should get along with each other. May we all live long enough to see such obviously true ideas come to fruition everywhere. In the meantime, let's do our best to let them flourish here.

livingengine said...

You have no facts Adam, only your liberalism.

"That doesn't mean he wants Sharia imposed on the entire nation."

Yes, that is what he wants.

"It also would not be a violation of church-state separation to have a subsidiary entity within the judiciary that employs religious jurists from diverse religious backgrounds to comment on the compliance of certain decisions with their religious views and to provide guidance to their religious communities on how kosher or Shariah compliant these decisions are. ' - Feisal Abdul Rauf

"America is Sharia compliant . . ."

"America is an Islamic country . . ."

There are many other examples of this. Feisal clearly intends to inject Sharia into American society, and government.

Feisal does not speak for all Muslims. You should not be treating him as if he did.

This is about one man, his friends, and their vision of the future of this country.

You have no interest in this story, and should just say so, rather than assuming some pose of being an advocate for freedom.

When someone like Adam Holland won't read a book, it is time to jump off the liberal bandwagon.


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