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View Diary: Park 51 - The real threat in the mirror. (15 comments)

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  •  You've gone 2/3 of the way (3+ / 0-)
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    Spoc42, BaritoneWoman, Kyrus

    now finish the picture:

    Both parties are asking the American people to stand firm in our ever-spreading wars in the Muslim world (5 countries now and counting). Body bags are coming home and too many of our soldiers are being shot at, bombed, etc. by those whose countries we've invaded. Knowing who is a 'friendly' Muslim and who is not, is touch and go at best for those soldiers we've tossed into harm's way to serve imperial greed.

    And all of it is justified by the events of 9/11. Obama has done it too.

    Now you want Americans to parse out the difference between 'good' muslims and 'bad' muslims. Easy if you know Muslims - as I do - not so easy if the preacher has been using the bible to justify the past decade of war and all you really know are folks 'like you'. Not so easy if family and friends are in those wars, or have come home maimed, wounded or dead.

    And, of course, all Muslims are subjected to surveillance and racial profiling. More police/intelligence scrutiny is given to mosques than churches (including radical-right churches). All of this is legitimated because we are at war.

    Now try and get a mosque planted next to the spot every politician in America used to justify imperial war in the muslim world.

    What's that you say? Blowback?

    If you want religious tolerance for all faiths, if you want all Americans and friendly visitors from elsewhere to be treated with equal respect; if you want your civil rights back and an end to this national (in)security state; spend less time worrying about where the mosque will be eventually sited and much more time getting out of the friggin' wars.

    Wars generate hate and death. The hurt remains for generations. Grievances pile up like body bags. Wars depend on the constant mobilization of the populace in support of those wars and sectarianism is how we achieved that mobilization, never mind the endless grandstanding on the dead from 9/11.

    This mosque debate is collateral damage from war. It means nothing to those who need someone to hate and means nothing to those we bomb.

    If you want a better life for your Muslim neighbors, help get us out of these bankrupting, unending - and ever widening - wars in the Muslim world.

    •  True statements (3+ / 0-)
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      Spoc42, BaritoneWoman, Tom Taaffe

      And while it is arguable that stirring up the hornet's nest may have made us more of a target, thereby making us more vulnerable to attack than we were before, Al Qaeda has been significantly hampered by our efforts.  But at what cost?

      Unfortunately, the utilitarian in me sees us killing thousands, and responsible by engaging in war for thousands more, innocents, all to spare some of our own innocents from terrorist attacks.  I can't justify that tradeoff as serving any greater good.  Nevermind the massive financial expense in engaging in the wars.

      The response to being attacked, losing a few buildings, and, tragically, several thousand countrymen was not to double down on death and go about spreading it further, all the while quashing our civil liberties.  The right response was to take threats more seriously, improve public awareness of terroristic threats, and remind people to always be on the lookout for suspicious [em]behavior[/em] (as opposed to people, to prevent profiling).  Just as distributing computing power can create powerful information processing capability for programmers, distributed situational awareness can create a powerful security system.  If justice is still a concern, much more surgical measures should have been attempted than invading entire nations.

      •  Al Queda has not been detered. (2+ / 0-)
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        BaritoneWoman, Kyrus

        our presence in the Mideast, never mind our violent wars, are all the recruiting help they need. Our wars have already turned a minor fringe group into a real international player. Since they are not a command-and-control guerilla group, splinter groups and localized movements are still the fruit of their efforts.

        We are agreed, the right response was a thorough investigation into the events of 9/11 - which never happened - and the pursuit of those who did it, not the invasion of two countries and covert wars in several more. As a friend of mine put it, as we contemplated who we knew that was still alive or dead (my neighborhood was the heaviest hit that day), 'I hope nobody else dies because of what happened.' Sadly, hundreds of thousands of people died in our subsequent wars.  

        And tragically, we could have gotten Osama bin Laden without firing a shot. Since the Taliban offered to give him up on the eve of war, if he were sent to a country that practiced Muslim law (either Pakistan or Saudi Arabia). The Saudis would have jumped at the opportunity to put his head in a basket by Christmas time and rebuilt downtown manhattan at their expense, because all of this was 'bad for business.'

        Those paranoid effects you describe are the necessary elements for mobilizing a population for foreign war. We should always view them with deep suspicion and cynicism.

        You can't buy into the wars and then expect people to go along with a mosque - when both seek to claim (relatively) the same space - even though the Sufi's have as much to do with the events of 9/11 as the Quakers have to do with right-wing Christian fanaticism.

        While building mosques anywhere in the US is fraught with fear and racism, sticking this mosque/cultural center two blocks from the former WTC site was simply inviting trouble. I suspect those who proposed this knew what they were doing. Anywhere else in NYC and this would have remained a local matter. And it would have been built.

        We built our legitimating arguments on the destruction of that site - both parties grandstanding on the dead, in service of war - laced it with sectarian hatred and fantasies of a 'new crusade' that mixed unpleasantly with Tony Blair's call for a new 'liberal imperialism' and fueled a decade of war.

        Now we're asked to parse out the difference between 'religious tolerance' and continued support for a sectarian/imperial war. The bigots are more honest than the liberals in this case. At least they are consistent in their thinking, however odious their thoughts may be.

        •  I think there's a fine line (1+ / 0-)
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          Tom Taaffe

          I see your reason for calling my description of alertness paranoia.  And again, I agree with what you said except that I wish to clarify that I do believe there exists a fine line between paranoia and situational awareness.  One need not presume others are suspect to be open to interpreting things.  However, I probably give way more credit to the average person's ability to properly analyze a situation without jumping to conclusions.  If a person walks briskly away from his bags at an airport, he very well could be leaving a bomb behind.  A paranoid person would presume so, especially if the person "appears Muslim."  But wait a moment - did he just walk into the bathroom?  Again, he still could have left a bomb behind, but it's probably more like a poor decision in leaving his things unattended.  A paranoid person may still think things are worth raising an alarm, even if it's not yet.

          However, that section is halfway through boarding, and as you hand over your boarding pass, you realize that the man still hasn't returned.  Regardless of the appearance of the individual, now is probably the best time to say something.

          Hindsight can prove anyone wrong given the right set of circumstances.  But advocating paranoia is always a mistake.  Will you catch more bad guys before they do bad things?  Sure, but at the expense of turning society onto the path towards worlds like that depicted in "Minority Report."

          I don't think I advocated for paranoia, but I would also hardly argue for public complacence.  People should be aware, but should be looking for appropriate clues and linking them together properly.  Logic, however, would also prevent our need to do so if everyone practiced it properly.  What an interesting circle :)

          •  fear is a healthy human emotion (1+ / 0-)
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            Kyrus

            and knowledge abhors a vaccum, so what we don't know gets filled in by our available information. When we are kept - by circumstance or manipulation - in a heightened state of fear, anyone can be made paranoid.

            I didn't accuse you of paranoia, I was referring to the emotional state we were all ushered into by those who manipulated us into a state of fear and rage, in order to justify wars that had little to do with the events of 9/11, except that it turned a covert conflict into an open war.

            Those who have little exposure to 'Muslims' have little information to make nuanced judgements. Those who already have antagonism to brown people or anyone who isn't just 'like them', have a yawning gap of ignorance what was readily filled with hate radio and TV that played on their feelings, fed them false information and feelings of 'solidarity' and 'loyalty'. All broadcast news became a terror-making machine after 9/11, mobilized to support endless war.

            Once committed, the realities of war sustained that crisis, punctuated by body bags and the very real pain of those who fought our wars or who suffered losses on 9/11.

            After a decade of this madness, we are all exhausted. But the death toll and the bonding of our militaristic and supremacist notions of self-identity still plays out across the social landscape, no matter what our feelings toward these particular wars or Muslims in general may be.

            Getting out of these wars must be the first task. Letting go of our supremasist beliefs - 'world's policeman' for starters - is the second. Making peace with our muslim neighbors will be the hardest, because grievances are real on both sides now and there will always be people on both sides who want to carry the conflict further for their selfish or wounded reasons.

            But it is clear we cannot even take the first step. So we carry on with the wars, unable to find an exit, creating more confict as we do, spreading the wars wider and deeper. It will continue along this path - punctuated by new violences that will legitimate further violence and war - until we will either have the courage to break the cycle and let go, or end up with the whole world against us and Muslim resistance movements across the world.

            We are already half-way there.

            This mosque business is like tossing a match on dry tinder. Whatever its advocates may have hoped it would symbolize or lead to, it is having an utterly opposite effect.

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