Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ground Zero 'Mosque:' What was He Thinking?

I prefer to assume that folks mean well, and are savvy enough to understand the difference between something like 'freedom of expression' and playing a stereo full blast at 3:00 a.m.

That's why I've been quiet about what's (with debatable accuracy) called the "ground zero mosque." It's an election year, with less than three months to go before the polls open: and I've come to expect quite a lot of crazy ideas to surface at times like this. And wildly intemperate slogans.

In my opinion, efforts to build this "cultural center" close to where Islamic fanatics killed several thousand people may be an incredibly tone-deaf effort to 'reach out' to those infidels who aren't just like the imam involved. Or maybe it's a deliberate effort to inflame anti-Muslim sentiment, giving the imam a legitimate grievance.

There are other possible motives - but I see those as the top two most likely.

The West is At Fault, of Course

From today's news:
"The controversial imam at the center of the debate over the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero says his goal is to create coalitions across the religious divide, but during a 2005 conference in Australia, he said America may be worse than Al Qaeda.

" 'We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than Al Qaeda has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims,' said Imam Fiesal Abdul Rauf, speaking at the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Center during a question and answer session dedicated to what sponsors say was a dialogue to improve relations between America and the Muslim world.

" 'You may remember that the U.S.-led sanctions against Iraq led to the death of over half a million Iraqi children. This has been documented by the United Nations,' said Rauf, who called himself a spokesman for Islam...."
(FOXNews (August 24, 2010))
Up to this point, I'd been willing to consider the possibility that the folks who wanted to but an "Islamic center" near ground zero of Al Qaeda's blow against infidel America were essentially well-meaning. Clueless, ignorant of American culture and recent history, monumentally certain of the righteousness of their cause and blind to the possibility that any decent person else might not see things their way: but well-meaning.

As for that "goal is to create coalitions across the religious divide?" There's some room for hope there: he apparently didn't identify all non-Islamic Americans as infidel dogs.

In fact, the fellow has - again apparently - shown a certain amount of insight:
"...He explained that frustration and emotions can lead to terrorism, actions he condemned.

" 'Acts like the London bombing are completely against Islamic law,' Rauf said. 'Suicide bombing, completely against Islamic law, 100 percent, but the facts of the matter is that people, I have discovered, are more motivated by emotion than logic. If their emotions are in one place and their logic is behind, their emotions will drive their decisions more often than not.'

"Raud added that having homes and lives destroyed does not justify 'bombing innocent civilians' or 'actions of terrorism.'..."
(FOXNews (August 24, 2010))
And then, it was right back to the tired old "western oppression' line.

I think Raud may think that he means well, and that what he's doing will somehow convince non-Islamic Americans that Muslims can deal with a world that isn't 100% up to the standards of the nearest imam.

Still: Would building an all-white church on the site where several thousand blacks had been slaughtered by the KKK (a hypothetical situation, BTW) make American blacks feel all nice and fuzzy about white Christians?

Tolerance: It Goes Both Ways

Given the sort of rants I've seen, representing several sorts of viewpoints, a little clarification may be in order. In my opinion:
  • Tolerance
    • Is a good idea
    • Is
      • Not killing people who don't agree with you
      • Not saying "I hate [group of people]"
      • Letting others express views without
        • Killing them
        • Shouting them down
        • Saying "I hate [group of people]"
      • Taking into account the culture and history of others
        • Even if they are part of a group which is in the majority in the country where you live
    • Is not
      • Stifling your own views if someone else doesn't agree
      • Supporting one set of views while suppressing all others
      • Blaming everything on
        • Western oppression
        • American imperialism
        • Jews
        • Christians
        • Muslims
        • Space aliens
        • Whatever
  • America
    • Is
      • A place where people may
        • Worship as they see fit
        • Not worship if they see fit
        • Build churches, temples, mosques, cultural centers or bowling alleys as they see fit
          • Zoning, regulations, and economics permitting
        • Reach out to their neighbor in friendship
        • Cluelessly alienate their neighbor for any reason
          • Or no reason at all
    • Is not
      • Perfect
      • All bad
That isn't a complete expression of my views, but I think it'll do for this post.

Related posts:Background, another case of (cluelessness?):

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.