A cracking good debate on burqa bans (and an article on Ground Zero mosques)

Am I giving too much away when I say that the woman in the headscarf is full of win? Just one of many interesting ironies in this half-hour of must-see TV.

Another thing that occurred to me while watching this: Why do we have to go to an English-language program from a RUSSIAN channel to see such interesting, reasoned debate? Why is it that when we turn on a “news” show here, we don’t get to see nearly so much discussion, much less so intelligent? Yes, I’m glaring at FUX Snooze here, but I’m also glaring at the Chicken Noodle Network, and the all-news channels of CBC and CTV. They COULD have something like this going on, but they don’t. One wonders why.

One also wonders why one has to go to the written word to get something that the talk shows have missed about the the so-called “mosque at Ground Zero” (which is not, in fact, actually located at Ground Zero, or even within eyesight of it). But for once, the NYTimes comes through:

Just to show you how naïve I am: When I first heard about the plan to build a mosque and community center two blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks, I didn’t envision any real opposition to it.

Sure, I can understand how some people traumatized by 9/11 — firefighters who survived it, or people whose loved ones didn’t — might not like the idea. But I’d have thought that opinion leaders of all ideological stripes could reach consensus by applying a basic rule of thumb: Just ask, “What would Osama bin Laden want?” and then do the opposite.

Bin Laden would love to be able to say that in America you can build a church or synagogue anywhere you want, but not a mosque. That fits perfectly with his recruiting pitch — that America has declared war on Islam. And bin Laden would thrill to the claim that a mosque near ground zero dishonors the victims of 9/11, because the unspoken premise is that the attacks really were, as he claims, a valid expression of Islam.

There then follows an astute attack on the Weekly Standard (or Weakly Substandard, as I prefer to call it–much more accurate) and two right-wing New York state candidates blatantly pandering to the scaredy-cat vote. It’s a fine kick to the goolies. Go read the whole thing. And ask yourself, as I do: Have we heard from any actual 9-11 survivors or relatives of the fatal victims condemning this planned mosque? Because so far, all I’ve heard of this nature are the Paliness and her Palinettes, all parroting the stupid contention that this edifice will be a “stab to the heart”. They do this, of course, from the safe distance of those who have never lived in New York, who were not there on that day, who are not struggling with lingering health problems as a result of inhaling the toxic dust and smoke of the World Trade Center, and who in any event don’t consider New York to be part of “the real America” because it’s not a vast stretch of sparsely inhabited land, like most of the so-called Red States. They forget that Muslims were among the victims that day, and no, not the ones hijacking the planes, either. (I have it on good authority that some of them, on their last days pre-martyrdom, spent time in sleazy bars, drinking and ogling the strippers. Not exactly the deeds of a devout, self-sacrificing Muslim.)

A great many groups lost someone to that terrorist act, and all of them have the right, in a real democracy, to places near the site where they can seek solace after their own fashion. To deny one group that right, just because 19 hijackers supposedly belonged to it, is not democracy, any more than is a veil ban. It is a cheap political stunt that actually sets back the efforts of those struggling to build bridges between ALL groups by way of unconditional equal rights, not forced conformity. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has the last word on the matter, and a good one it is:

“Government should never — never — be in the business of telling people how they should pray, or where they can pray,” Bloomberg said last week. “We want to make sure that everybody from around the world feels comfortable coming here, living here and praying the way they want to pray.”

Spoken like a true bridge builder, and one who is determined to let neither violent terrorists nor slimy scaremongers win.

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