Why so afraid of a “Ground Zero mosque” that isn’t?


Israeli cartoonist Shlomo Cohen neatly illustrates the phantom nature of the “victory mosque at Ground Zero”. It’s not a “victory” mosque, it’s not even an actual mosque, and it’s not actually at Ground Zero. I’m pretty sure, though, given his background and country of residence, that satirizing irrational fear and hate was NOT his intention here.

Maybe I shouldn’t post this so soon after the longest fucking quarrel I’ve had with a troll to date, but I’m damned if I let outsiders set my agenda here, any more than I let idiots make up my mind for me. So, here goes: I’m all in favor of Park 51, the non-mosque that is not gonna be built on the ashes of the former World Trade Centre.

That’s right, you read that correctly. I’m totally cool with Park 51.

And yes, this post is gonna be my little contribution toward the education of those who let fear, hatred, bitterness, bigotry and generalized stupidity rule their lives. If it changes their minds about Park 51, great; if it at least forces them to think and rethink, it will have done what I meant it to do. (I can’t do your thinking for you either, people, but I can give you plenty of crunchy food for thought, and I can ask you to take it quietly home and chew it over on your own, can’t I?)

So. Here goes.

For starters, let’s consider the political climate that surrounds the Park 51 debate. You would have to be totally dissociated to think that this debate is occurring in a vacuum. There is an awful lot of racially-charged hate being whipped up very deliberately right now, some of it in the guise of a certain recent “non-political” rally to “restore honor”. The rally in question was, of course, VERY political. And honor, that vague, shifty concept that people are known to kill each other for across all cultural boundaries, had fuck-all to do with it. Unless you consider ugly people with ugly attitudes scrawled all over their ugly shirts and getting ugly with perceived outsiders to be “honorable”, of course. In which case, yeah, something was restored, all right.

Now, with that kind of climate, is it so surprising that a drunken idiot would try to start a brawl in a bar with a Middle Eastern theme? Or that a Muslim cab driver gets his throat slashed, specifically, for being Muslim? Or that a bunch of armed teenagers would go around trying to terrorize worshippers at a mosque in western New York, which is nowhere near Ground Zero? Or that an arsonist would try to torch construction equipment at the site of a mosque-in-the making more than 800 miles from Ground Zero?

Which is why I wonder if the trolls who pooped here, claiming that two blocks’ walk from Ground Zero was too close for a Muslim community centre, have any real idea of how ridiculous their pleas for “sensitivity” towards the insensitive demands of non-Muslims really are. Or how fucking ironic. If Murfreesboro, Tennessee, isn’t far enough away from Ground Zero to build a mosque–a REAL one–then clearly no place in North America is.

And that means that Muslims are not really welcome here.

What’s sad and ironic is that Muslims in North America have made real, serious contributions to these lands since the first one to settle in New York landed in what’s now Manhattan, nearly 400 years ago. And one of their finest gifts, their contribution to the fight against Islamist terrorism, isn’t being given due credit. Instead, we get to see them treated to utterly demeaning shit like this:


…which is hardly a ringing endorsement of inter-faith peace. It’s a ridiculous demand, coming from someone who lives just about as far in the US as it’s possible to be from Ground Zero (unless you count Hawaii), someone who will never have to look directly upon that heart-stabbing community centre herself. Why the hell should Sarah Palin care, as long as she can score cheap political points on the tweeter?

But if the political points are cheap and easy for a Sarah Palin, they come at a much greater cost to those at whom these barbs were directed. Why do peaceful Muslims constantly have to repudiate and refute (not refudiate, which is not a real word) those who use Islam as their bludgeon? And can you imagine what would happen if they, in turn, demanded that Christians “refudiate” their own extremist brethren? It’s not as if there’s any shortage of them. Especially in the anti-mosque camp. Will they repudiate the violent amongst themselves? Will they come forward to denounce those who advocate burning mosques?

If my own skirmishes with the anti-mosque crowd are anything to go by, they’re falling on their asses in this department. I have not seen ONE opponent of Park 51 say his confederates: No, don’t burn, don’t vandalize, don’t terrorize. Not even when I asked them to, would they repudiate. Instead, they turned on me, telling me to be more tolerant. Of what? Arson threats? Intolerance? Oh, please. If I can’t ask you to tolerate a peaceful Muslim community centre, you have no right to tell me I should tolerate your intolerance of it. That’s just fucked up.

And even when peaceful Muslims come forward, time and again, to repudiate and denounce those who tarnish the name of their religion, their voices go unheard. Instead, they get drowned out by shriekers like this one at Alan Colmes’s website:

These people are everything that is wrong with America. Why are so many blacks, like those pictured above, for the victory monument at Ground Zero? Because in their hearts, they know the attacks are not aimed at them, so they don’t give a damn.

That’s fucked up, too. (And racist, clearly–which is another hallmark of the current toxic political climate. Why else would the commenter mention the color of their skins?)

In case anyone forgets, blacks and Muslims died in the collapse of the WTC, too. They worked in that building. How could the attacks that killed them NOT be aimed at them? Is Park 51, which will incorporate a memorial to the victims (but not the hijackers), a slap in THEIR faces, too?

If you’re going to talk about “everything that’s wrong with America”, and somehow loop Muslims into it, you may want to consider the singular irony of Saudi oil money going to finance the leading anti-Islamic crapaganda channel in the United States. (What–did you really think Rupee Murdoch was brainwashing you just out of the goodness of his own grinchy little heart? Wake up, Amurrica.)

And–irony upon irony–the Park 51 project is headed by an imam whose brand of Islam is anathema to the Wahhabi princes of Saudi Arabia. FactCheck has a marvelous list of facts about Park 51 that would make your head spin. Among them is this:

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has a long history of cooperation with the U.S. government, beginning during the Bush administration. In February and March 2003, he led cultural awareness training for FBI employees in the bureau’s New York field office, New York division officials told us. In 2007 and twice in 2010, he traveled to the Middle East to talk about religious tolerance and Islam in America as part of a speaker program organized by the State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs.

Philip Crowley, assistant secretary of state for public affairs, said of the imam: “His work on tolerance and religious diversity is well-known and he brings a moderate perspective to foreign audiences on what it’s like to be a practicing Muslim in the United States.” Rauf’s most recent trip, which is in progress as we publish, garnered objections from people who feared he would try to raise money for the Park51 project during his trip, but the State Department said those concerns were unfounded.

Rauf is an adherent of Sufism, a mystical form of Islam that has itself been targeted by extremists. A 2007 report by the nonpartisan RAND Corporation suggested that Sufis could be potential partners against radical Islamism. “Because of their victimization by [extremist sects] Salafis and Wahhabis, traditionalists and Sufis are natural allies of the West to the extent that common ground can be found with them,” the RAND study concluded. Indeed, Rauf has often spoken out against extremism, including recently as part of a Washington Post discussion about the Park51 project, then called the Cordoba Institute:

Rauf, July 21: We are not the extremists. We are that vast majority of Muslims who stand up against extremism and provide a voice in response to the radical rhetoric. Our mission is to interweave America’s Muslim population into mainstream society. We are a Muslim-American force for promoting the universal values of justice and peaceful coexistence in which all good people believe.

Wait, what? He’s a Sufi? He co-operates with the US government? He speaks up for peace? He wants Muslims to live in the mainstream, not the margins? What a stab to the heart. What a slap to the face! Everything that’s wrong with America, yup yup yup, that’s him all right. Why, he might even ask us to join him in singing Kumbaya! The horror!

And yet, if my trolls are to be believed, I’m some kind of extremist for supporting this moderate man of Islam.

As my friend Orwell’s Bastard notes, these guys are terribly busy trying to make words mean what they don’t mean, to the point where they become utterly meaningless; when that happens, they go and make up their own, which could mean anything and actually mean nothing. Could that be what “refudiate” really means? I mean, how else is it possible for me to be an “extremist” for liking this moderate, Imam Rauf?

Oh, but of course. If you’re tolerant of Muslims, especially moderate ones, you’re intolerant, because that means you’ve shut the wingnuts, those “moderates” who keep moving the goalposts ever further to the right, out of consideration. You’re ignoring their crapaganda whenever you look at the facts and refuse to be swayed by emotional blackmail. And if you refuse to let your blog be hijacked and your discourse derailed by those who try to sneak a false label onto you by claiming you’re falsely labelling THEM, why, you intolerant extremist you!

I would argue that I’ve been more than tolerant enough by letting the trolls babble at me about my imagined insensitivity for their poor hurt widdle feelings for as long as they did. I even argued back in good faith, and got shat on all the more for it, in unmistakably misogynous terms. I got accused of having no sense of humor (which, as anyone who reads this blog regularly can tell you, is the most ridiculous charge of all.) Normally, they get three strikes. If they can’t say anything decent within three posts, they get the royal flush. Sometimes, if I’m really not in the mood, they get it even sooner. My blog, my rules. If they don’t like ’em, they can get their own; I promise I won’t visit.

And if you really want to talk about intolerance and insensitivity, how about this?

This is the same fucking asshole who convened that flop-sweat rally to “restore honor”. Nice, eh? And of course, he’s a leading voice in the anti-mosque (really, anti-Muslim) “movement”. The timing of his bullshit is no coincidence; he also heads up some travesty called the 9/12 Project. It claims to be “non-political” (there’s that non-meaningful phrase again!), but it’s just another fucking wingnut hijack. Glenn Beck, who is not a 9-11 survivor himself, has no shame about using the ugliest date of the past decade to his own selfish, hateful ends.

And he uses it to whip up the same selfishness and hate in others. The kind that raged on the day after September 11, 2001. The kind that led to the torching of the Hindu Samaj Temple in Hamilton, Ontario; the kind that led to numerous attacks on Sikhs; the kind that is now leading to attacks on existing mosques, mosques under construction, and a Muslim community centre that’s still only on the drawing board.

I’m supposed to tolerate this hate-mongering crap in the name of “moderation”, but you know what? I’ve had more than enough. I owe you “moderate”, “non-political”, “anti-agenda” rightards nothing. No tolerance for your intolerance, no acceptance for your meaningless redefinitions of words, and no platform for your absurd phantom visions of a “victory mosque”. From now on, all you get out of me is a well-deserved Doc Marten bootprint on your sorry asses.

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7 Responses to Why so afraid of a “Ground Zero mosque” that isn’t?

  1. Brian says:

    FYI I wouldn’t call it racially charged, more like religiously charged. Islam isn’t a race, it is a religion.
    P.S. Did you see that video on PETA about the girl throwing those puppies into the river? Talk about sick.

  2. I’ve seen that video posted in various places, but can’t bring myself to watch it. I’d as soon watch someone’s head being sawn off.
    And while Islam isn’t a race, it’s amazing how many Muslims who’ve been attacked, one way or another, weren’t white. So yeah, it’s racially charged.

  3. Brian says:

    Fair enough. PETA put out a 2k reward to find out who this girl is. It’s pretty shitty. They said they’ve already traced the youtube account that first uploaded this video and found the guy who did it. They have 6 leads, but that’s as far as they’ve gotten. I’m kinda hoping she fell in personally.

  4. To me the truly sad and creepy thing is how the flaming intolerance of the mouthy minority (I still have hope that it is a minority) have flavoured American discourse (coming soon to a Canada near you, of course). I have perfectly reasonable American friends who are shocked to hear that there is a Canadian comedy called “Little Mosque on the Prairie”; it makes them uncomfortable. “Mosque” is becoming a dirty word, thanks to the fuckwads you describe above.

  5. Margarita, some of them are even spelling it as a four-letter word. That’s way beyond ignorant. That is officially through the Looking Glass.
    Meanwhile, I love the show for pointing out a few key things:
    Muslims are just like everybody else–they laugh, cry, eat, sleep, breathe. They even fall in love, and get into arguments with their parents–just like everybody else.
    Muslims have a sense of humor! ZOMG! (The show’s scriptwriter? A Muslim woman.)
    Muslims live on the Prairies! Oh noes, they’re everywhere–even making their mosques in Anglican church basements!
    Muslims blend into their communities! They’re not some kind of alien entity, even if the odd clodhopper thinks they are. They work, they vote, they pay taxes, everything–just like the other townsfolk.
    Muslims are NOT all alike, even in the same congregation! Some are very conservative, others much less so. (I love how the imam, of all people, is a progressive young guy from Toronto.)
    Muslims don’t all oppress their women. A white Christian woman can marry one, have a daughter by him, and not end up kidnapped back to wherever, in a burqa? They can live as a normal, mainstream Canadian family? Ye Gods!
    Headscarves don’t put a ceiling on the brain! Rayyan may wear one, but she’s the smartest and feistiest character of them all. Her scarf may say “I am a Muslima”, but it doesn’t define her beyond that. Who defines her? SHE does.
    And the show is a hit way beyond our borders. Other countries have translated it for their TV audiences. It’s probably CBC’s all-time biggest hit. So clearly there’s a thirst for knowledge and understanding out there–and laughter, too. If laughter can’t shatter cultural stereotypes, nothing can. I just wish more people in the US would see it–it would totally change their perceptions.

  6. Wren says:

    All of those reasons for supporting Cordoba House’s efforts in Manhattan are very commendable, ‘Bina, but the foundation of religious freedom in the U.S. is based on the first two clauses of the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: The Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause.
    The basic argument against this community center is just the fallacy of guilt by association to justify the revocation of the Free Exercise Clause by popular opinion. Everything else is just an attempt to obfuscate this argument.
    And of course tolerance of intolerance only promotes intolerance. So I APPLAUD your intolerance of the intolerant. Never stop!

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