August 27, 2010

On the proposed Islamic community center a few blocks away from Ground Zero

Posted in Current events, Politics, Religion at 4:18 pm by The Lizard Queen

[My hope is to ease my way back into blogging by pointing to someone else’s writing first.  We’ll see how it goes.  🙂 ]

Everyone and their pet lemur is talking these days about the so-called Ground Zero mosque.  I’m inclined to think that a lot of pundits are being deliberately disingenuous: they know full well that it’s a community center, not just a mosque, and they know full well that it’s not on the actual Ground Zero site.  However, plenty of people out there hear discussion of a Ground Zero mosque and believe that’s exactly what’s being proposed: a mosque built on the spot where the Twin Towers used to be.  I can understand why people would be opposed to that particular proposition; I wouldn’t be terribly fond of it myself, not because of any hard feelings toward Muslims, but because I wouldn’t be particularly keen on seeing any sort of place of formalized religious worship built there.  (I quite like Roger Ebert’s proposal of a green field, discussed toward the end of this post.)

My point, then, is that I appreciate the various attempts being made at clarifying the discussion, at discussing the issue as it actually is.  In particular, I liked what Jill Filipovic had to say on the subject close to a week ago (emphasis added):

Alvy Singer was probably right when he said that the rest of the country looks at New York like we’re left-wing, communist, Jewish, homosexual pornographers – that’s why a lot of us transplants moved here in the first place. But Republicans have made it clear that they don’t find that characterization nearly as charming as many of us do. When election time rolls around, New York is the GOP’s favorite punching bag: We’re not “real America;” we’re elitists; we’re latte-drinking arugula-eaters. For 364 days a year, Republicans are happy to characterize us as Sodom to San Francisco’s Gomorrah.

And then there’s September 11th. Any mention of that day and all of a sudden we’re a city so important, and of such hallowed ground, that local zoning laws and the decisions of our community boards should be issues of national debate.

The so-called “Ground Zero Mosque,” which is neither at Ground Zero nor a mosque, was catapulted into the national spotlight by anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller as evidence of the supposed “Islamicization” of America. . . .

Go read the rest here (it’s the second post on the page–and for the record, I understand and appreciate what Karol Markowicz is saying in the first post on that page; I just don’t agree).



  1. DavidD said,

    Your links are helpful. I’d heard Pamela Geller had a lot to do with advancing this as a cause celebre, but it was interesting to read of the interplay between her outrage over anything Muslim and the calculating partisanship of the New York Post to make this a Republican talking point for so many of the usual mouths and typing fingers that are devoted to expressing such points.

    I have two lines of questions:

    What exactly explains the comments to the Filipovic/Markowicz article? Who are these people? Does it take a psychiatric condition to believe that one extreme view is so absolutely right, while every other possibility is ridiculous? I can guess, but I wish I had hard evidence.

    Secondly, just how many Muslims do opponents like Karol Markowicz believe the US has killed, directly and indirectly? I mention this because a point in many attacks on the imam for the proposed Cordoba House is a line he delivered in speeches that said that the US has killed more Muslims than Al Qaeda has killed Americans. There’s not much analysis that accompanies this citation. It’s just, “Oh, how outrageous! How dare he say that?!” plus the conclusion that he must support terrorism if he said that. Only that skips so many steps. How many Americans has Al Qaeda killed? How many Muslims has the US killed? It’s not that one can determine morality purely from those numbers, but what do those numbers mean, in reality, not in partisanship fantasies that currently dominate our media, as they’re so stimulating? Yeah, like cocaine, meth, even caffeine, such a stimulating media has its downside. I really think stimulation is our national drug more than alcohol.

    I doubt I’d ever get a straight answer to that one from those who oppose the Cordoba House. I’d be told that wars don’t count, that the US never blew up the largest building in any Arab country purposefully to kill civilians and make Americans dance in the streets. That’s true, but the attack on the imam supposedly supporting terror was about numbers, so what are the numbers?

    Karol Markowicz may be wrong when she believes that there should be another possibility besides either allowing Cordoba House as planned or be rightly identified as someone who hates Muslims. Genocide isn’t the only way that hate is expressed. Those who forcibly relocated Mexicans to Mexico from LA during the Depression, even when those “Mexicans” were US citizens, might have denied that their actions came from hate, but rather just some sort of orderliness. People behind ghettos, whether defined by law or mere custom, can deny their hate. So those who back whatever discrimination against Muslims they think is excusable can claim not to be motivated by hate, but merely the sort of concern and compassion that Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich say they have for victims of 9/11.

    I doubt such excuses are the driving force behind any discrimination. How many who say they merely want the Cordoba House relocated would put other restrictions on Muslims, to deny them sensitive jobs, to deny them schools where their customs would bother non-Muslims, anything that becomes a Republican talking point. What is the emotion that goes with comments that claim that Islam isn’t even a religion? That is not an argument that comes out of pure intellect.

    I don’t know what it would take for the media to quit calling every conflict between groups a debate. There’s no debate here. There are competing verbal behaviors that differ in how much any other side matters, differ in underlying goals, differ in their approach to facts, whether those are cherry-picked facts, fallacies or attempts to understand all the facts about a subject in a well-documented way. The Fox News approach of presenting just one side is ridiculous, but the CNN approach that “balances” the words of two or more propagandists is just as contemptuous of facts and their audience.

    If this were really an objective debate, one picture of the abandoned Burlington Coat Factory would show that this is not about hallowed ground. Only this never really was about hallowed ground. That’s an excuse, a way that Pamela Geller can feel righteous and stimulated about finding yet another way she can attack Muslims. I think it’s all about hate and how lies allow hate to be expressed in ways that don’t admit the hate, unlike genocide. Until everyone with hate, which includes me, can discuss that without being attacked immediately by those who are just trying to win an argument, all the words of so many “debates” are a sham. Of course, us haters have to be willing to come clean that it is our hate that’s the issue, not our superiority in analysis, morality, whatever. I’m not holding my breath waiting for Karol Markowicz to come clean along with me. And she might be the easiest opponent for me to talk to on this issue, to talk about how there is no rightness to relocating the Cordoba House, just feelings.

    It’s not a debate. It’s a struggle. Time will change the struggle, but how?

  2. Karol said,

    Just came across this post googling myself (yeah, that’s right, don’t say you don’t) so don’t know if anyone will see it but, David, it’s a struggle, really? Is that a poor choice of words or is there something you want to “come clean” about?

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