Monday, September 27, 2010

“The Beast is Out of the Cage”

by Brandon Clarke

"Cordoba House"..."Park51"..."Islamic community center"..."Ground Zero Mosque."

However the property in lower Manhattan that has polarized America's electorate is characterized, one thing appears certain: virtually everyone in the country has an opinion on the subject, and most polls suggest the majority is opposed to its construction.

For the people forever linked to one another by the loss of their loved ones on September 11th, the notion of an Islamic cultural center - which hardly qualifies as a mosque by any traditional definition - being erected two blocks from where the Twin Towers stood - where their friends and family members were slain - profoundly impacts their emotions.

Though lamentable, it'd be ill advised to pass judgment on those among them whose grief has bred immense distrust of those who practice the very faith the attacks were committed in the name of.

Try to imagine walking a mile in their shoes, if you dare.

Only, their heartache has been exploited by politicians like conservative blowhards Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and Rick Lazio of late.

Their opportunism is without shame, and they've been among the most prominent figures to denounce the project.

The most vociferous opponent, however, is a little recognized overzealous right-wing blogger named Pamela Geller.

As the executive director of an anti-Islamic advocacy group named Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA); she is the chief bugler sounding the charge against the center's development.

Based on the views expressed on her website, the very presence of any mosque or so-called Islamic center - not merely the one whose proposed construction in lower Manhattan is hotly contested - poses a grave threat to both the country's security and its constitutional liberties.

Gellar portrays Islam as a barbaric religion absent of any virtue.

She asserts her ideology by displaying content which includes graphic photos of human remains that were shot in the aftermath of suicide bombings committed in Pakistan, testimonials of heinous acts perpetrated against (non-Muslim) Sudanese civilians by the Arab Janjaweed militia, and stories about honor killings committed right here in the United States; all of which are coupled with selectively chosen passages from the holy Qu'ran that reference the more rhetorically violent aspects of its teachings.

Combined, they depict a terribly frightening and unflattering image of a faith whose tenets - the belief in a single all-knowing and powerful God, the sanctity of Jerusalem, and a final Day of Judgment - are philosophically indistinguishable from those of its fellow Abrahamic religions: Christianity and Judaism.

These and so many other truths matter little now because the narrative has long been seized by the purveyors of religious intolerance, fear-mongering, and xenophobia.

They would impress upon on us the idea that western society and culture is being imperiled by the world's one and a half billion Muslims, yet the phenomenon of radical Islamic extremism that we as Americans have become all too accustomed since 9/11 was virtually without precedent prior to the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

Before being besmirched by his detractors, Park51 chief proponent Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf served with distinction as the spiritual leader of a Tribeca mosque located twelve blocks from Ground Zero, Masjid Al-Farah, since 1983.

Recently slandered as a "terrorist sympathizer," Rauf eulogized murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

The federal government has such admiration for his vision of a non-violent, tolerant, and inclusive Islam; many of his speaking engagements in the Middle East are financed by the U.S. State Department in a continuation of a message campaign first waged by the Bush administration to market a friendly image of America to the region's Muslim population.

The only gesture of compassion towards the families of 9/11 victims opponents of the mosque would be willing to accept is total acquiescence.

If this is to be the only resolution, then the real question is, as NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg asked recently, "...how big should the 'no mosque zone' be around the World Trade Center site?"

Muslims have been praying in the building located on the property of the proposed Islamic center for months now with hardly any acknowledgement of their presence.

Should they now be restricted from using the facility to practice their faith in order to appease the masses?

This is what some citizens are demanding in the city of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where the construction site for a mosque recently - and suspiciously - caught fire.

To commemorate the ninth anniversary of 9/11 this Saturday, a minister in Gainesville, Florida intends to burn copies of the holy Qu'ran.

A recently conducted Pew Research poll revealed that a 38% majority of Americans (compared to 30%) have an unfavorable view towards Islam; whereas, that same poll five years ago reflected a 41% (compared to 36%) favorable rating.

What has changed in that period of time?

Politics.

In the post September 11th world, the politics of making Americans fearful of one another, their neighbors, and that which they do not understand have supplanted the culture wars (abortion, gay marriage) that were used to great effect in certain parts of the country during the late 20th Century.

Islam has become the new Red Scare, and the American people’s fear of this illusive serpent that’s surreptitiously coiling itself around our constitutional liberties has masked the truth about the motives of those who proclaim themselves to be the vanguards of freedom.

If we are to continue to claim the mantle of exceptionalism among nations, we must recapture our focus, and center it on things of actual significance: jobs, clean energy, education, innovation.

That is unless we should discover that we’ve always been less than so.

3 comments:

  1. Nice article, good job Brandon

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  2. well written and informative

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  3. True, Islamiphobia (I believe this is the word they use) is the new Red Scare. Recent attitudes towards this mosque clearly show that Americans have become collectively stupid. And yes, I mean stupid as in the brain has exited,stage right.
    If Islamiphobia us the red scare, then terrorism is the bogeyman. We are constantly bombarded wiht notions that we are free, yet we let those in control take our liberties chip by chip. Ever been searched on the subway or street? Ever flown, especially with these new x-ray scanners? To fully explain American thinking on this subject, I will end with a caricature of this thought.......remember, we are stupid and pacified.....
    Look, muslims in the neighborhood, guess they are gonna....yes officer, you can check me,,,,uh fox news says (Blah Blah).....alright, need a new color TV....Honey, you know there is still a war in Af-gahn-eigh-stan?
    PS...Thank you for the great article. It is nice to see anyone who is thinking in the correct direction.

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