Anderson Cooper is the man in the above interview with Renee Ellmers. He follows up with each assertion and gives the Ground Zero mosque debate proper and mature treatment.
Alissa Torres is a widow whose husband died on 9/11. It was his second day of work and she was pregnant at the time:
What did I think about the decision to construct a “mosque” this close to ground zero? I thought it was a no-brainer. Of course it should be built there. I sometimes wonder if those people fighting so passionately against Park51 can fathom the diversity of those who died at ground zero. Do we think no Muslims died in the towers? My husband, Eddie Torres, killed on his second day of work at Cantor Fitzgerald while I was pregnant with our first child, was a dark-skinned Latino, often mistaken for Pakistani, who came here illegally from Colombia. How did “9/11 victim” become sloppy shorthand for “white Christian”? I wish someone would put out a list of all the ethnicities and religions and countries and economic levels of the victims. For all the talk of “remembering 9/11,” I wonder if we’ve missed the patriotic message entirely. So, in short: No, I did not think it was “a bad idea.”
Algebra I. I was sitting in a circle of desks with my classmates Alex and Pete as we toyed with our TI-83 calculators. We most of time didn’t work much on our packets but pranked each others calculators, drew funny messages on each others desks, and threw pencils across the room. The life of a freshman.
Our teacher, Mr. H, came in to the classroom from his side office without saying a word and turned on the rear TV. He said nothing nor did he have to. We all directed our attention one by one to the TV. We looked up and saw one of the twin tours burning and smoking. The headlines seem now to be a blur. We all watched in awe. I don’t remember anyone saying anything. We then watched as the second place hit and then both of the buildings crashed down.
I don’t remember much of the rest of the day. We may of had a message from our principal over the PA system and I am sure some students left for the day to spend the rest of the chaotic day safely with their families.
I remember going to the Seven Dolors parish that night with my Dad. We went there to pray. We prayed for our country, for those helping out up in NYC, for those hurt in D.C., in Shanksville Pennsylvania, and those utterly in shock over what had just sent ripples through the Western world. I remember that night at the parish seeing and hearing helicopters and airplanes overhead. L-RD only knows what was going on up in the air.
Years from today, people will ask me and you where were you on 9/11. I think back to this experience of mine because as I see everything that has built up over the summer; from the NYC mosque proposal, proposed Koran burnings in Gainesville Florida, and religious extremism. Life is too short to get wrapped up in these ephemeral matters. 9 years ago today, we lost Muslims, Atheists, Jews, Christians, and thousands of others in three separate states. Life cannot continue to be minimized to the point of being spoken and muted over by fussing noise under the guise as news. Even Jay-Z said that this can’t be life.
It doesn’t seem like it has been 9 years since 9/11. It doesn’t seem that all of my high school years are gone, my undergrad time is done, and now I am married. I am an old soul, as is MJ, so our life both together and individually is ahead of our generation in some ways. These years have gone by and I have seen and felt myself grow in quantum leaps. It may sound ironic or paradoxical but as I have grown in my interest in current events and politics over the past 2 years, I have grown less tied down by them. Call it a bit of desensitization but I have a feeling history will continue to repeat itself. It seems we are on a tear towards having our history books substituted (or hijacked) by demagogic personalities on TV and radio directed towards ad hominen stances laced with vitriolic discourse and placated beliefs. I see that as more fuel for me to be a history teacher. But I digress.
I read up on a bunch of neat articles, blog posts, and similar musings related to 9/11 and wanted to blog on them. Alas, I will cut it short and leave you with some short style cuts. David Dunlap describes the new World Trade center in an interactive style, Andrew Sullivan laments over warring religious fundamentalism while providing an uplifting Monty Python clip related to the other Terry Jones (the Florida wackjobs German mission from God here). Arjun
Appadurai delves into the suffix “ism” in relation to religious fundamentalism, Marc Ambinder describes the roots of militant ideology towards the USA, and Lisa Borden beautifully asks what would Jesus do on 9/11?
I feel that no amount of blog posts or commentary can fully wrap up this day. It is an ecumenical moment in our melting pots history. Let us embrace the stories surrounding this day as a way of learning, growing together, and extending love in all directions possible.
For the important part of Newt Gingrich’s interview, tune to the 3:00 mark.
Newt makes a few comments that have been replayed and analyzed countless times. Newt calls the group that wants to build this mosque radical Islamists (no proof to back that up), they have no interest in reaching out to the community (no proof to back that up, and the essence of the mosque being a community center contradicts Newt outright), they are trying to make a case about supremacy over America (no proof to back that up), and he finishes up with the unintelligent hyperbole comparing how we would never let the Nazi’s put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum, therefore these “radicals” shouldn’t build their mosque. MJ doesn’t know half of the nitty gritty details about this and when I told her that comparison, she knew right away that Newt was talking about two different things.
I gave this a lot of thought while I was on vacation. Beyond Newt’s unfounded demagogic assertions, I see at the core of this the utilization of hyperbole and prejudice. In Newt’s comparison, the victims are the Jews and Americans while the persecutors were radical Islamists and the Nazis. The problem with this comparison is that Newt twists the facts and blurs the lines between radicals and moderates.
I am not very knowledgeable on contemporary Nazism but I would guess there are not many moderates within that party. Within Islam, there seem to be many moderates and the mosque push is headed up by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who was utilized under the George W. Bush presidency. Rauf is seen as a radical because he sees America as partly to blame for 9/11. Do you become a radical terrorist sympathizer when you point out a blatant flaw in America?
I wrap this up with the inner workings of prejudice. In one way or another, many citizens of America have been hurt by 9/11. Some who have been hurt by what radical Islamists committed on 9/11 still hold that hurt today. That isn’t what I am addressing. I see that when we are hurt by a certain person, we respond by placing them within a larger homogeneous grouping. Take Muslims for example. They are only a few thousand around the globe that will turn their religion into jihad. There are 1.57 billion Muslims in the world (23% of the total global population). Look at the damage a few bad apples have done. As we place this certain person into its homogeneous group, we not only lie to ourselves about who they are but insert hate into the equation. I feel we react this way only out of self-protection. We are afraid of this person/group because they hurt us and in a way to take away our feeling of vulnerability, we make ourselves think that they are simpler than they are. This gives us the one up on them and ends any conversation and ultimately any chance of redemption. An dated version of this that I am currently reading is the view of African Americans in Atlanta during the beginning of the 20th century.
This all is right up Joe’s alley when he said how powerful our minds truly are.
Several Arab commentaries describe the Muslim world’s opinion on America’s inner conflict over building a Ground Zero mosque. This is helpful to read to see how those in the East view the rise of hate and Islamophobia in the US and the repercussions that could come from all of this.
Don’t you love when unknown demagogic groups make nonsensical statements for millions of viewers to be washed over by?
When will the white Right accept that they do actually have partial blame for 9/11?
“There is a great Spanish proverb: olvidar la injuria es la mejor venganza: to forget an insult is the greatest revenge”, Stephen Budiansky as he compared Londoners moving on after its demolition by the Nazi’s to him suggesting the USA move on with the mosque near Ground Zero after 9/11.
You may have heard some disparaging or supportive comments pertaining to the proposed building of a mosque near Ground Zero. A few outcomes are generated from the discourse related to this topic:
- Deciding on the place of Muslims in America
“The question is whether they should be presumed to be terrorists unless proven otherwise — hence the constant, suspicious demands to find out where the money behind the putatively innocent project is coming from — or whether they should be afforded the same general presumption of innocence enjoyed by other religions”, Jonathan Chait
- The differing stances within the GOP on the mosque and questioning if they are meant to boost a candidates potential
“The project is opposed by many of the leading GOP officials in Congress, from John Boehner to Eric Cantor to Mitch McConnell. What’s more, the battle over the Islamic center has actually become a litmus test for the 2012 GOP hopefuls, with Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Tim Pawlenty all trying to out-demagogue each other on the issue.
Meanwhile, on the other side, the Republicans who have stepped forward to support the project are largely former Bush officials who are no longer in positions of power or aren’t running for office anytime soon. In other words, the Cheney-ite line has become the required position of thise with actual influence within the GOP — or those who are currently in the process of seeking it”, Greg Sargent (emphasis added by me).
The first point on the benefit of doubt given to other religions except Islam is clear as day. The actions and emotions on 9/11 are still fresh as they approach 9 years since the day the planes were hijacked. As Stephen Budiansky notes perfectly, “it is hard in this age of endless memorialization to even express this view (getting beyond sacred ground) without sounding callous.” The crimes committed by the Protestant or Catholic churches, at least as of late, have been attempted to of been covered up (see child molestation in the Catholic church) or ambiguously wrapped in innocuous religious-political stances (aka euphemisms) such as “state building” via carpet bombing innocent civilian villages in hopes of rooting out terrorists or conducting “enhanced interrogation techniques” such that can be found in great description here and here; these two links are essential to having a solid understanding of contemporary torture (in my opinion).
My second comment above alluding to the blood shed in killing innocent foreign denizens or in torture chambers is not meant to directly link American foreign policies to the Protestant church. Far from that, I am looking at that in terms of an religious influence referenced by many government officials (by any means necessary) and many Christianists when supporting nation building or the ticking time bomb theory.
Not to sound doomsdayish, but Sargent’s point is wrapped up with an auspicious outlook for the House and Presidency in the coming general and mid-term elections should the GOP swoop in.
Ron Paul is interviewed by CNN and asked a plethora of good questions. I like his answers, too.
Grr to CNN for not letting me embed their video!
Stephen M. Walt at ForeignPolicy brings up an ironic note within the “discourse” over erecting the Mosque (community center with multiple different facilities included in it) near Ground Zero:
Critics of the proposal are aware that their views contradict the principle of religious tolerance on which the United States was founded, so they have fallen back on the idea that building the community center here is “insensitive” to the families who lost loved ones back in 2001. (Presumably it’s not “insensitive” that the same neighborhood contains strip clubs, bars, and all sorts of less-than sacred institutions). And notice the sleight-of-hand here: first, demogogues raise an uproar about a “Mosque at Ground Zero,” thereby generating a lot of public outcry, and then defend this bigotry by saying that they’re just trying to be “sensitive” to the objections they have helped to stir up.
You throw this together with the straw man group known ambiguously as the families related to 9/11 victims and you have some fallible arguments. Look for a longer essay from me soon on the psychology behind our exaggerations within prejudicial views. It will surely tie in to demagogic comments related to this.
Here you have a real example of someone who had a family member die on 9/11 and is speaking about their views on building a mosque near Ground Zero. As one person noted, this “straw man” group known as the “families related to those who died on 9/11” is an arbitrary group that has not been polled on this issue and is automatically assumed to of taken the stand against the mosque proposition. Money quote by Olson:
And that we don’t want to turn an act of hate against us by extremists into an act of intolerance for people of religious faith. And I don’t think it should be a political issue.
Glenn Greenwald sees the building of the mosque near Ground Zero as an opportunity to dissect the our feelings surrounding this debate:
My argument is simple. This center may be intended as a bridge or a healing gesture but it will not be perceived that way unless a dialogue with a real attempt to understand each other happens. That means the builders have to be willing to go beyond what is their right and be willing to talk about feelings whether the feelings are “justified” or not. No doubt the Republic will survive if this center is built on its current site or not. But I think this is a missed opportunity to try to have an open discussion about why this is a big deal, because it is a big deal to a lot of Americans who are not just right-wing politicians pushing the hate button again. I think those people need to be heard respectfully, whether they are right or whether they are wrong.
Of course it will be brought up that this debate can happen without building this mosque and crossing the line for many 9/11 families, et al. I just don’t see the debate ever coming about if we look at it that way. This mosque can stand on it’s mission of being a real life example of cooperation and moderation just a few blocks from one of religion’s biggest inflictions on mankind. If the mosque doesn’t go through, which wouldn’t ruin my day, it will continue to provide opportunities to delve into the annals of religious bloodshed.
Mark M sees irony in the dispute over placing a mosque a few blocks from Ground Zero:
Just as Al-Qaeda Muslims lump all Americans into one world-destroying pile (conveniently labeled “infidels”), some American’s want to do the same thing to Muslims. We equate the God-fearing, peace loving Muslims of America with the militant nut cases duct-taping bombs under their button downs. By resorting to simple fear and ignorance, we end up denying Americans the same rights the terrorists tried to destroy. President Obama said it pretty well. In reference to the first responders on 9/11, he stated “We do not honor their lives by denying the very Constitutional rights they died protecting. We honor their lives by defending those rights — and the freedoms that the terrorists attacked.”
This is a short post but packs many punches. I liked how Mark mentions the other mosques near Ground Zero that have so far gone unscathed.
This has obviously ended in a clear case of anathema for some of the critics. It has lead some to act out of emotion and not with reason. How sadly ironic is it that some are responding in ways similar to the Jihadists? Take away the planes into buildings and look into the thought process – fringe, emotional, sometimes uneducated, and there you have it.
One side of the coin:
“An enormously complex and emotional issue — but ultimately the right thing to do. A president is president for every citizen, including every Muslim citizen. Obama is correct that the way to marginalize radicalism is to respect the best traditions of Islam and protect the religious liberty of Muslim Americans. It is radicals who imagine an American war on Islam. But our conflict is with the radicals alone.” -Michael Gerson, former top adviser to George W. Bush
The other side:
“There’s no denying the elephant in the room. Neither is there any rejoicing over the mosques proposed for Sheepshead Bay, Staten Island and Ground Zero because where there are mosques, there are Muslims, and where there are Muslims, there are problems.” -Shavana Abruzzo
These two quotes are very strong in different ways. The second is obvious in its wide brush appeal. That will catch the ear of many talk radio listeners. The other quote is in my opinion the more “patriotic” than the first. It is directing the “war” against the right people: the nihilist jihadists. Barack Obama is protecting all citizens and covering for the Muslim citizens killed on 9/11.
Tobin Harshaw has a blog post that is highly linked and delves into the many complexities and commentaries surrounding the Mosque near Ground Zero. This is worth a read.
Here are some excerpts. Be prepared for the flame war from the Right.
These events are also an affirmation of who we are as Americans. Our Founders understood that the best way to honor the place of faith in the lives of our people was to protect their freedom to practice religion. In the Virginia Act of Establishing Religion Freedom, Thomas Jefferson wrote that “all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion.” The First Amendment of our Constitution established the freedom of religion as the law of the land. And that right has been upheld ever since.
Now, that’s not to say that religion is without controversy. Recently, attention has been focused on the construction of mosques in certain communities -– particularly New York. Now, we must all recognize and respect the sensitivities surrounding the development of Lower Manhattan. The 9/11 attacks were a deeply traumatic event for our country. And the pain and the experience of suffering by those who lost loved ones is just unimaginable. So I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. And Ground Zero is, indeed, hallowed ground.
But let me be clear. As a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. (Applause.) And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are. The writ of the Founders must endure.
Full transcript here.
After reading this and seeing his stance with the Arizona vs. Washington feud per immigration, I am a fan of BO.
Abu Muqawama hits the nail on the head in relation to conservative thoughts on the Ground Zero mosque:
This staff editorial in the National Review — like so much of the rhetoric deployed in opposition to the proposed mosque near Ground Zero — is disgusting. The passions expressed in it — and it is, fundamentally, an argument based on emotion and not reason — are a threat to American values and freedom. On the one hand, you would think “conservatives” would be pretty clear on matters related to the freedom to practice one’s religion — not to mention private property rights. But when that religion is Islam, what passes for “conservativism” these days apparently takes a vacation.
His ad fires up citizens across the country but all without any evidence. Wheeler says that the new mosque is tied to al Qaeda but can’t prove it. Wheeler says that the new mosque will be a “military barrack” but can’t prove it. He poorly tries to construct an argument that the media has given us proof that the mosque is tied to al Qaeda before he starts to crumble in his attempt to make a point. I commend you Allen Chernoff for asking thought provoking questions and getting at the root of Wheeler’s claims.
In the end, this has 52% of New Yorkers not wanting a mosque built 2 blocks from Ground Zero. It may just be too close to the heart of many peoples pains.
Above is the TV advertisement playing the “they” card.
Daniel Larison responds to the “they” comment:
Anti-jihadists keep making the same errors over and over. Instead of exploiting differences between jihadists and non-jihadists, among different kinds of Islamists, and between different groups of jihadists, anti-jihadists have been perfectly content to roll all of them into a single “Islamofascist” menace. That artificially inflates the strength of actual jihadist enemies by lending credibility to their propaganda, and as a result it makes jihadist causes more appealing. In this case, anti-jihadists are compounding their error by confusing the equivalent of Muslim ecumenists with hard-line Islamists. That is exactly what Gingrich does when he claims that the project is a “a test of the timidity, passivity and historic ignorance of American elites” in the face of demands from aggressive Islamists. It’s not just that anti-jihadists are conflating any and all Muslims together here, but they are vilifying as aggressors some of the least aggressive Muslims around.
Anti-jihadists such as Sarah Palin are ignorant to the reality that all Muslims do not in fact want to be suicide bombers or take time to sing, dance, and sing praises when Americans die.
D. True mulls over this topic:
Still, why not begin with an appeal to reconciliation? The mosque is intended to be a symbol of our refusal to be alienated from one another by the terror, hate, and fear. Why then, allow ourselves to be divided by our deepest and most sacred convictions? Indeed, wherever we find meaning and purpose, don’t many of us believe in the path of reconciliation and peace? What could be more American?