Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Mosque Burned in Tennessee: What Does it Show?

The Islamic Center of Columbia, Tennessee wasn't a very big mosque, and it hadn't been around very long. But for the 10 or 15 people who had gathered there since 2000, it was a place of worship.

Then, last Saturday, some jerks painted swastikas and slogans on the walls, and set the place on fire.

The center's president, Daoud Abudiab, said that some of the slogans were "white power" and "we run the world."

Daoud Abudiab also said:
  • "We have not had any trouble."
  • "This is the first incident."
  • "This has been home for us _ Middle Tennessee and Columbia _ since 1998, and people have been supportive and friendly and welcoming."
  • "Obviously, we are concerned, but it hasn't really sunk in yet."
Sounds like most of the 38,000 or so people who live in Columbia are decent sorts.

I'll admit to being biased: wherever I've lived, there have been a lot of people who are willing to get along, and a tiny minority of noisy jerks. As a result, I expect to find jerks everywhere. But, I also expect that if I use a noise filter, I'll find a lot of people who are as willing to put up with me.

Back to hatred and violence in Tennessee.

Three men, members of the Christian Identity movement, were arrested Saturday:
  • Eric Ian Baker, 32
  • Michael Corey Golden, 23
  • Jonathan Edward Stone, 19
That "Christian Identity movement" isn't one organization, but a sort of network of "a theology that is associated with several groups, such as the Aryan Nation." There are two Christian Identity movement organizations in Tennessee: and they're both in the eastern part of the state.

So far, the three firebugs face federal charges (unlawful possession of a destructive device) and state charges (arson). I'd say that the odds are that hate crimes will be added to the list, since "White Power" was one of the slogans.

The complaint against the trio gives a sort of doorway into the mind of the three arsonists. I'd suggest wearing a mental hazmat suit before entering. Quotes from the complaint:
  • "Stone admitted to special agents that he is a member of the Christian Identity movement and that stripes or promotions are earned for committing acts of violence against 'enemies'."
  • "Baker explained to the special agents that 'What goes on in that building is illegal according to the Bible,' "
  • "Baker also explained to the agents that the Nazi symbols painted on the building meant 'freedom on the streets.' "
These days, I probably have to say it: Those three bozos are not typical representatives of Christian beliefs or practice.

In my experience, at least, outfits like the Mid-Atlantic Dialogue of Catholics and Muslims (established 1996) are more typical of Christian-Muslim relations in America. (More at the "Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs - Islam" page of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' website.)

So What?

Islam doesn't have a monopoly on having moonbat-crazy supporters. As the the Christian Identity movement members showed last weekend, Christendom has its share of wackos.

However, I think that the War on Terror would be over much sooner, if more Islamic countries followed the example of (Islamic) Indonesia and (Christian) America1 in treating terrorists as the dangerous people they are. Even if the terrorists claim to be supporting the country's major religion.
1 I know that it's unpopular in some of the 'better' circles to call America a Christian country, unless it's a criticism. However, since 78% of Americas are Christian, lumping together Protestants, Catholics, and Mormons I think it's safe to say that America is a country with a Christian majority.

Related posts, on Islam, Christianity, Religion, Culture and the War on Terror.
Related posts, on tolerance, bigotry, racism, and hatred.

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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.