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Friday, August 20, 2010
Ground Zero Mosque: American intolerance on full display for Muslim world
By Michael Hughes
Building poised to house the Cordoba Initiative Mosque two blocks away from Ground Zero.
Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
In similar fashion as Voltaire (and Mel Brooks) deconstructed the false notion of the Holy Roman Empire – positing that it was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire – one could dismantle the misnomer of the “Ground Zero Mosque”, for it is neither a mosque nor is it located at ground zero.
The American public’s oppugnancy to the erection of said mosque (which is technically a community center – not that it matters really) two blocks away from the site where the Twin Towers once stood only serves to reinforce the worst fears of Muslims around the globe - which is a shame because obstructing such an endeavor couldn’t be more un-American. And trying to defeat hate with more hate has historically been a counterproductive strategy.
Meanwhile, the United States is in the midst of a war and ideological struggle against the Taliban in Afghanistan, and this absurd and vociferous opposition to the Islamic development project in New York City is a PR nightmare for the ISAF and is certainly not helping our troops, especially when political leaders parallel Islam with the Third Reich, such as Newt Gingrich who said: “Nazis don't have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington."
Making proclamations that equate Islam with Nazism is not going to win over Muslim hearts and minds anytime soon, which is an integral component of U.S. counterinsurgency strategy in Central Asia. A recent poll conducted of men in Kandahar found that three fourths of respondents believe the U.S. is in Afghanistan to occupy their country and to destroy Islam. And now, that percentile has likely spiked.
Opponents of the so-called mosque are beside themselves that one of the leaders of the Cordoba initiative is Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who they allege made deplorable statements after 9/11. Rauf said he was not overjoyed about the event but did believe the U.S. basically had it coming.
Yet one of Rauf’s purported horrifying mentions could actually be categorized under “the truth hurts”, when he stated: “In the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the U.S.A.” If anyone doubts this notion I recommend you readInvisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, probably the greatest historical account of U.S. explicit involvement via the C.I.A. in the creation and fanning of pan-Islamic extremism, specifically with respect to the development and funding of the efforts of one Mr. bin Laden.
It also bears mentioning that, according to TPM, none other than Bush and Cheney selected Mr. Rauf to spearhead a program to ease tensions between the faiths:
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the chairman of the Cordoba Institute - and a person whom Fox "News" has regularly labeled a "radical" - appears to have another interesting tidbit in his background: In March of 2006 he traveled with Bush's former press secretary Karen Hughes as a "Partner for Mideast Peace." Apparently, the Bush administration thought enough of his standing as a patriotic American that he should be included in Hughes' effort to improve U.S.-Muslim relations around the world. Now, of course, he's a radical Islamist intent on defiling America's Holiest of Holy sites.
The truth is Rauf is moderate by most definitions, being involved with interfaith efforts throughout his career to bridge the divide between Muslims, Christians and Jews, he believes the undertaking is an opportunity for Muslims to prove to the world their faith is truly a religion of peace. Hearing the Palins and Newt Giulianis of the world, however, one would think Rauf was advocating building a jihadist training facility replete with seal and soundproof rooms best for storing and torturing infidel hostages who were once innocent lower-Manhattan passersby.
These abhorrent reactionaries have also smeared Muslim Americans, making all of them responsible for a heinous act of terrorism they had nothing to do with and one most rightly condemn. And, yes Virginia, people of the Muslim faith were in the Twin Towers on September 11th, and yes, there are Muslims, as hard as it is for neocons to fathom – whoare patriots.
Even more hideous is the way in which these bigots try to hide their overt prejudice in the emotional guise of love and caring, purportedly because they believe we must be “sensitive” to the families of the victims of 9/11. So then, let us be sensitive to their desires, I say. A group called the September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrow, which represents over 250 families who lost loved ones on 9/11, strongly supports the mosque, according to ABC News:
But Donna Marsh O'Connor, who lost her daughter Vanessa on 9/11, questioned why "a center dedicated to peace and understanding should be built anywhere but at Ground Zero." She represents the support group September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, which, she said, counts 250 families of victims as members. "I will not speak for everyone in our group but, as an organization, we stand for this center and this mosque," she said. "The mosque and center should be built. It's important to the future of America. It does honor to my daughter that in this place of hell on earth, a place for peace and love be established."
And it is one thing to personally hold a view, publicly or privately, against the mosque’s placement, but another entirely to pressure the government to halt its fruition, because there is a name for such state intervention - it is called fascism. And those opposed are suggesting a caliber of suppression one might find in places like say, ironically, Saudi Arabia.
And there is more than enough irony to be had as right-wingers dead set against government intervention when it comes to closing tax loopholes are suddenly activist when it comes to violating the most basic “God-given” civil liberties, repressing the freedom of expression of fellow citizens, not to mention impinging on property rights that conservatives typically hold oh so dear. The likes of Hayek and Rand are probably cringing as they spin.
The xenophobic disrespect Americans have shown for another monotheistic world religion is completely unwarranted and inappropriate - there would be less outrage if an atheist bath house for sadomasochists were put in its place (an establishment that would likely be patronized by many who doth protest). And if this moronic open dissent is ultimately successful, I may start a movement to have Christian churches shut down within the vicinity of where the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building once stood.
(The writer is a Corporate Writer and a journalist. He writes for the Huffington Post and Examiner.Com).