Why the anti mosque rhetoric is really an anti Muslim rhetoric
Last years big debate amongst the GOP was the so called “Death Panels” debate against the new Health Care Bill, also known as “ObamaCare” amongst certain people on the Right. That failed, didn’t stick nearly enough, and while it may still hold weight with some – like Sarah Palin for example, it did not stop the passage of the Health Care bill.
The GOP after struggled to stick mud on President Obama and the Left. Although certain factions of the Right kept up attributing “Chicago style politics”, questions about his birth legitmacy, “Communist/Nazi/Socialist” agendas and every other wingnut conspiracy inbetween, nothing drew as much ammunition for the Right. They floundered and began to fracture again, until they found a new common cause to rally behind – the so called “Ground Zero Mosque”.
For anyone who is not aware, a group headed by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, head of the Masjid al-Farah Mosque in New York plan to build a Muslim Community Center at 45–51 Park Place, Manhattan, a building owned by themselves. The project is also known as Park51. It is formerly the location of the Burlington Coat Factory. Imam Feisal is known as a Moderate Muslim who seeks to build a bridge of relations between American Muslims and the rest of the American population. As Iman Feisal states, “We want to push back against the extremists”.
The building has drawn some controversy as to it’s location. For history purposes, on 9/11, the building suffered some damage when a wheel from one of the hijacked planes crashed through it’s roof. It is also two blocks away from Ground Zero, albeit not in sight and not the only Islamic Center in the area. (More on that in a while.)
While there is genuine understanding as to why some would feel aggreived at the building of an Islamic Institute, the rhetoric taken by many on the Far Right, is to use this as a rally cry, asserting that the center will be little more than a recruting ground and a “victory” for Muslims who support the terrorists. Newt Gingrich went so far as to say:
“The folks who want to build this mosque — who are really radical Islamists who want to triumphally prove that they can build a mosque right next to a place where 3,000 Americans were killed by radical Islamists — those folks don’t have any interest in reaching out to the community. They’re trying to make a case about supremacy. That’s why they won’t go anywhere else, that’s why they won’t accept any other offer.”
“And I think we ought to be honest about the fact that we have a right — and this happens all the time in America. You know, Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington. We would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor. There’s no reason for us to accept a mosque next to the World Trade Center.” Huffington Post August 16 2010
Gingrich’s view is shared by a number of people on the Right, including demonstrators who regularly appear at demonstrations against the site with signs that include: “No Mosque at a War Memorial” and “Islam Builds Mosques at the Sites of their Conquests and Victories”. However the rhetoric is wholly unsupportable and just another chapter in fear warfare as conducted by many on the Right who when they don’t have a genuine issue like to ramp up the fears of the people.
The protests also show that it is little to do with a Mosque and more to do with an irrational meme to tar all with the same brush – in this case, “all Muslims are terrorists and any Mosque or Center built is a victory symbol and a win for the extremists”. What the irrational do not see, is that their rhetoric is all the terrorists need – they need never bomb another building or kill thousands as they did on 9/11 as the fear they need is being generated by Right Wing America. What better way than to divide the nation and create fear if fellow Americans just because propoganda has led you to believe that all Muslims are terrorists.
One only has to look at news message and comment boards to see many parroting myths and half truths that anti Mosque high profile members of the media and political establishment have been trying to engender onto the population. For one, the fact is, this is no Mosque, it is a center that that will hold Prayer Rooms as well as leisure, educational facilities and a memorial to all that died on 9/11 in an attempt to show solidarity with fellow New Yorkers. Secondly, the building is not at Ground Zero but two blocks away from the site. Attempts to say this is “hallowed ground”, only add an emotional but irrational element to the debate. After all, this is not the only Islamic Building in Manhattan, there is a Mosque four blocks from Ground Zero (see Google Maps) and lets not forget on that “hallowed ground” Americans who are Muslims also lost their lives. And I am not talking about the Saudi Terrorists, I am talking about workers, first responders – innocent men and women who were equally targetted by the terrorists who preach a twisted form of Islam.
When one states the Center will be too near, one has to ask, well how far away should it be and what will one do with the other buildings nearby. As others have also stated there are a number of strip clubs in the vicinity of Ground Zero – wouldn’t that equally be distasteful to the memories of those that died?
Protestors against the Mosque claim that the insensitivity is only in how close the site is located, but one only has to look further afield in America to see that this is questionable.
At this time, there are a number of other protests against Islamic Centers being proposed in American Cities. As Newsweek points out:
Since 9/11, American mosques have been the subject of protests, arguments, and attacks, from Manhattan to Milwaukee and Tennessee to Temecula, Calif.
As many who are standing by the decision of the Center to be built state, Constitutionally the Muslims have a right to build under the 1st Amendment, through Religious Freedom, but some protestors against the Mosque go futher. They state that while the Muslims may have the right, are they doing what is right?
Operation Save America, is a radical Christian group who normally are seen protesting against abortion but in June 2010 began to protest outside the Islamic Society of Greater Charlotte during. OSA see Islam as “evil” and as part of a greater conspiracy to spread abortion and homosexuality throughout the US – which is slightly irnoic when other protestors against Islamic Centers often cite how they would like to build a gay club near the proposed “Ground Zero” establishment to protest against Islam’s frowned upon stance against Homosexuality.
In Tennessee, protests began against the proposed building of a Mosque. Demonstrators suggested that “allowing it to go forward would be abdicating to Islam”.
In Sheepshead Bay near Coney Island, in June 2010, another protest began against the proposed building of a mosque on a vacant lot.
Also in June in Staten Island there were heated debates as people argued as to whether the Muslim American Society, should be allowed to buy and convert a former nunnery into a mosque. The Church that owned the building brought an end to the proposal by refusing to sell the building after much protest.
At the beginning of the year in Oostburg, plans to buy a former grocery store and turn it into a Mosque to make it more convinient to worship for many Muslims were protested against. Known anti Muslim activist Guy Rodgers, came to Oostburg and suggested:
“Our research shows that about 7 out of 10 mosques are using materials and teaching things, and calling for jihad, calling for the overthrow of our constitutional republic.”
In May the town board approved the Mosque.
This is just a handful of of the anti Muslim protests that have begun in America. And funnily enough from the same kind of people that will argue that Obama is trying to destroy the Constitution. Yet here they are deciding how the Constitution works and whom for more importantly.
I am not suggesting that all protests are anti Muslim or defined by the same vile rhetoric but I am suggesting some are and it is being used by certain people to further claw their way upwards against the President. Take for example ex Governor Sarah Palin who took to her twitter account on several occassions against the Mosque.
In July she appealled directly to American Muslims by saying:
“Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real.”
Funnily enough this was actually the second tweet she had made on this as her original and since deleted tweet was much more clearer:
“Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate,” (CBS)
She also said:
“Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing,”
And after President Obama commented on the Constitutional right that American Muslims have to build a religious center, she again took to Twitter (circumnavigating what most people do which is talk to the press) and said:
Mr. President, should they or shouldn’t they build a Muslim mosque steps away from where radical Islamists killed 3000 people?Your position?
Well as the President said and as the Constitution bears out, yes they should and why shouldn’t they? After all the builders of the Mosque are not the “radical Islamists” who attacked America. To even make that insinuation shows how low the rhetoric has gone.
As Keith Olbermann said on August 16th edition of his show (see above):
“Yet in a country dedicated to freedom, forces have gathered to blow out of all proportion the construction of a minor community center to transform it into a training ground for terrorists, and an insult to the victims of 9/11, and a tribute to the Medieval Muslim subjugation of the West. There is in fact no Ground Zero Mosque. It isn’t a mosque. A mosque technically is a Muslim holy place where only worship can be conducted. What is planned for 45 Park Place New York City is a community center. It’s supposed to include a basketball court and a culinary school. It is to be thirteen stories tall, and the top two stories will be a Muslim prayer space. What a cauldron to terrorism that will be, terrorist chefs and terrorist point guards.”
And as PoliticUSA pointed out in their article on Olbermanns piece:
There is no Ground Zero Mosque, but what he didn’t add is that this whole story is a shameless and sleazy attempt to scare a group of ignorant and vulnerable people about Muslims, in the hopes of getting to vote Republican in November 2010 and 2012.
It is ironic that the same people who label themselves patriots have no qualms over destroying the basic freedoms our nation, which they claim to love and hold so dear. These same people who are so willing to sell out our freedoms are the greatest and most lasting victory for the 9/11 terrorists. They are the legacy of the hijackers. These people who are so governed by fear that they are willing to take away what the terrorists hated, are not only Osama Bin Laden’s legacy, but they are also the biggest threat to our freedoms as Americans.
As I have said in this article, while I believe there are those who have genuine concerns whether motivated by grief or a lack of understanding of the facility, this is not just about the center in New York but part of a larger and more disturbing rhetoric enveloping America, an anti Muslim rhetoric, an attempt by some to tar all Muslims with the same brush. And using it as a political tool against the President to further create division amongst Americans.
Because rationally let us not forget Muslims are Americans too, and they should be able to support their religion within the sanctity of the 1st Amendment as given by the Founding Fathers. Instead they are being used as a scapegoat.
As Daisy Khan, executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement said:
We do agree with Ms. Palin and others that it is time to heal from the wounds of the tragic events of 9/11. We peace- loving Muslims have a responsibility to lead the effort of rebuilding Lower Manhattan. We envision a community center for multi-faith collaboration that is focused on promoting integration, tolerance of difference and community cohesion. (Media Matters)
Why can’t others show the same tolerance that the demand from the Muslims?
I leave the final words to former President George W. Bush who when hosting his fifth Iftar Dinner (a point to remember to anti Obama opinion makers who like to bring up Obama’s own hosting of an Ifatr dinner):
“We must stand confidently in the cause of freedom – including the freedom of people everywhere to practice their faith in peace. We must also firmly oppose all who commit evil in God’s name. I am grateful to the Muslim nations that have joined our coalition in the War on Terror – including many nations that have been victims of terror themselves….I have asked young Americans to study the language and customs of the broader Middle East. And for the first time in our nation’s history we have added a Quran to the White House Library.” (Newsblaze)
- Bigots and the “Ground Zero Mosque” (harpyness.com)
- Mosque-Erade (videocafe.crooksandliars.com)
- The Ground Zero Debate: Exaggerating the Jihadist Threat (time.com)