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This being my first Daily Kos diary, I apologize in advance if I fail to follow traditional rules of the road.

Like many of you, I've been closely following this "debate" concerning what has been labeled the "Ground Zero Mosque."  Also, like many of you, I have been contemplating how it all fits in the big picture.  My thinking, though, has been a source of great concern, as my conclusion does not bode well.  That is, unless we are able to reverse the course of public opinion in this matter.

What is public opinion on this matter?  As we know, CNN's August 11 poll has found that 68% of Americans oppose the plan, and the question was more or less fairly worded.

Of course, this is all a big distraction.  

Why?  Because one would have to ask why people are opposed to the center.  I strongly doubt that a basketball court or swimming pool are offensive to folks who oppose it.  So let's just cut to the chase.  They are offended by the mosque part.  But why?  Well, since I also doubt that the generic act of building a house of worship in the neighborhood is offensive (a church definitely would not be causing any significant controversy), it's the Muslim part of it.

So, the fact that Muslims are building a house of worship here is worth opposing, if we're to trust 68% of Americans.  The reasons for this opposition have been, really, not so varied.  They've more or less fallen under the argument of offending the sensitivities of 9/11 victims.

Frankly, I don't care who claims to be offended by it.  They're all wrong.  Many have recently tried to argue that, like the Gainesville, FL Quran burning, that just because they have the right to do it does not diminish that it is wrong to do so.  The problem is, Park 51 is not wrong in any way.  The only thing that is wrong is choosing to be offended, and that fact has deep consequences.

Choosing to be offended by the generic fact that Muslims are buildnig a mosque near Ground Zero is failing to distinguish the hijackers from Muslims at large.  Muslims, making up roughy 1/5 of the world population, are not responsible for 9/11 any more than Christians in general are responsible for bombing abortion clinics.  People who twist their views and values no longer share views and values with those who do not twist them.  Crumple a piece of paper.  Is it still paper?  Yes, but we can distinguish it from the rest of the ream of paper that remains uncrumpled.

This failure to make a distinction is a fatal flaw.  If we, as a people (68% is no small number), refuse to distinguish between radical Muslims and Muslims in general, then we are saying every single Muslim is suspected of being the enemy, just as radicals are the enemy.

Why is this so terrible?  We already see it with how loathsomely the media reports on civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Even when it is reported to Americans, in print or television, it's barely given more than a statement of fact.  We just don't seem to care.  And that's when we are making a distinction.  If we fail to distinguish who the enemy is, then 13 suspected terrorists and 7 civilians turns into 20 suspected terrorists.

We've got soldiers on the ground hunting suspected terrorists.  If Americans think every Muslim is a suspected terrorist, then what is stopping us from demanding that our military hunt every Muslim?  It would seem to me that the only thing is the failure of Americans to realize the consequences of their logic, and the hope that if they did, they would realize the error in it.  I think H.P. Lovecraft said it best in the introduction to The Call of Cthulhu:

"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.  We live in a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far."
"[T]he piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality..."

Originally posted to Kyrus on Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 06:54 AM PDT.


How many people have you successfully persuaded from opposing Park 51?

28%4 votes
64%9 votes
7%1 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes

| 14 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

    •  What about economic development? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Spoc42, Clytemnestra, Demi Moaned, Kyrus

      No one ever mentions the fact that this area of NYC is not a prime area for businesses. When you see pictures of the proposed center (the Burlington Coat Factory building), neighboring buildings seem to be boarded up.

      Putting a neighborhood center which happens to have a "chapel" (prayer center) inside should stimulate other businesses in that area. This ought to be a strong Republican value! But I guess it's not OK to bring a new activity to any area in this country if it is a Muslim enterprise. Shame on the Republicans for fomenting this trouble.

      "The word bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out." George Carlin

      by lynneinfla on Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 07:34:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've mentioned it several times (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Floja Roja, Kyrus

        even challenged those who oppose Park51 to come up with a plan and the cash to develop the area

        and heard nothing from them as to this

        they just revert back to their talking point hatred

        I wish more people in the media would bring it up.

        Bumper sticker seen on I-95; "Stop Socialism" my response: "Don't like socialism? GET OFF the Interstate highway!"

        by Clytemnestra on Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 07:49:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  A fine first diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clytemnestra, Tom Taaffe, Kyrus

    If every diarist put as much thought and effort into their work as you did here the overall quality would be significantly better.

    Yes, the poll is more or less fairly worded:

    ... a group of Muslims in the U.S. plan to build a mosque two blocks from the site in New York City where the World Trade Center used to stand.

    But not much has been done to highlight what already exists within a two-block radius of that site. The "Ground Zero" site may be "hallowed ground" in some way, but that it casts some aura of sanctity on the surrounding environment in such a densely populated city is deeply offensive to me.

    "The smartest man in the room is not always right." -Richard Holbrooke

    by Demi Moaned on Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 07:10:37 AM PDT

  •  I would compare the 9/11 attackers to Timothy (0+ / 0-)

    McVey and Terry Nichols, two christians who destroyed the Murro Building and killed a lot of innocent men, women and children to get back at the government for Waco.   These were white male christian zealots.  Should we condemn all white christian males and churchs?

    •  Timothy McVeigh was not.. (0+ / 0-)

      a devout Christian.  I actually had a brief though to include him, but while he did claim to believe in a higher power of sorts, he did not believe in Hell, and he did not really practice Christianity.  His parents were more active in religion than him.  Now, in the same way that many people would label folks as Muslim erroneously, we could tie McVeigh into all this, but it would be equally wrong, in my opinion, to do so, just because he was raised Christian.

      Now, his actions were deplorable, however they were politically motivated, not really religiously motivated.

  •  You've gone 2/3 of the way (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    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-)
      Recommended by:
      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-)
        Recommended by:
        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-)
          Recommended by:
          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-)
            Recommended by:

            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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