Sunday, September 12, 2010


I try to avoid using the Internet for any political sermonizing, but the carnival of hypocrites, opportunists, and the willfully ignorant surrounding the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" has gone on for far too long, and at such a fever pitch, for me to keep my opinions bottled up any longer. So, citizens, let me learn you some truth.

Sham Consideration for the Victims' Families

The only semi-plausible case against the building of Park51 is the discomfort it will cause for families of 9/11 victims. This might sort of make sense, but the people using this as their justification never got angry when punditrix Ann Coulter unleashed a venomous broadside against a group of 9/11 widows in 2006. It's in Coulter's book Godless, no less. Quote, "I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much ... how do we know their husbands weren't planning to divorce these harpies? Now that their shelf life is dwindling, they'd better hurry up and appear in Playboy." People eager to defend the feelings of families impacted by the World Trade Center tragedy should start by attacking Coulter, maybe even burning a book or two of hers, instead of pumping their fists in the air every time she smacks down another undeserving target whose politics don't agree with hers.

Bloomberg Could Have Stopped This?

One thing that modern conservatives seem to agree on: elected officials who overstep the prescribed limits of their power are no good. Yet one of the bad guys in this whole brouhaha, according to foes of Park51, is Mayor Bloomberg, who should have stepped in and run the whole project out of town. Never mind that, by doing so, he would have interfered in a matter in which he had no official say--the permits were in order, the transactions were legal, and the community boards had approved the whole thing. Bloomberg not only refrained from kiboshing it, he even proved himself the only hero in this fiasco with a couple of speeches that should have ended the whole affair.

Sacred Ground

If it needs to be mentioned again: Park51 is being installed in a building that formerly housed a Burlington Coat Factory. There's at least one strip club nearby, and probably a gay bar. Fast food and delis are everywhere. There's another mosque already, four blocks away, and no one has ever complained. Sacred ground my ass.

Feisal Abdul Rauf Is a... Something

Rauf is a Muslim, and Muslims are all terrorists, right? Except that Rauf belongs to a sect of Islam that continues to be persecuted by hard-line fanatics like the Taliban and Al Qeada.

What the Koran Really Says

Commenters on sites across the Internet have been playing a tired game of quoting the inflammatory passages from the Koran as proof of Islam's sinister secret agenda. The book says wage war against Christians, Jews are pigs, etc. First of all, I'm highly doubtful that all these dittoheads have been scouring their copies of Islam's holy book for these snippets; far more likely, they've been cutting and pasting from Michelle Malkin or some such far-right-winger. Second of all, quoting passages from ancient religious texts doesn't prove a thing about what motivates present-day believers. The Old Testament says to eschew shrimp and denim, yet I know plenty of Jews who would never pass up a lobster dinner or a comfy pair of Levis. The God of the Old Testament also doesn't seem to condemn slavery or genocide. Jesus said explicitly that rich people can't go to heaven and that he wanted children to be in conflict with their parents (putting him at odds with the 5th Commandment), yet Christians are hardly seeking to put the heads of wealthy parents on the tops of spiked poles. Martin Luther, enshrined in stained glass in the church where I went as a kid, was a full-blown anti-Semite who truly believed Jews were a demonic race, yet no one, as far as I know, has every accused Protestantism of having an anti-Semetic secret agenda. Oh, I could go on. Yes, there are contentious passages in the Koran, there are eyebrow-raisers and such, but there are also reconciliatory passages and warnings not to judge others (and, if the film Lawrence of Arabia is to be believed, there's a passage letting the Muslim faithful know that that they don't need to read and obey every single word of the Koran).

Farenheit 451

It may seem hypocritical of me to champion Park51 while opposing another guy wanting to exercise his free speech, Florida pastor Terry Jones (it certainly is a very... fishy fish). In general, I don't like book burning. I don't like the idea that, hey, here's an opinion that I disagree with--let's destroy it! (And yes, I was joking about burning Ann Coulter's book--I don't even think her books deserve to be consigned to the flames, which says it all). Plus, there are constructive acts and destructive acts. Building a prayer center that includes a swimming pool is a constructive act. Burning copies of a book just to knowingly piss people off and further erode any kind of small gains we've made toward making the US look awesome in the eyes of Middle Easterners is stupid. Osama bin Laden and his crew have controlled the narrative in that region, and we're running around completely without a clue as to how we can operate with that kind of control. Apparently, force doesn't get you control of the narrative--we've tried, and years later our enemies still get to put the spin on anything that happens. That's not going to change if we keep on torching Korans and protesting mosques.

It's always tempting to defend one's ideology by ramping up one's outrage, but what I'd like to see from everyone is a little less ideology, and a little more thought put into solving real international--and historical--crises. Fanaticism got us into this mess, and it's not going to get us out. Build the mosque already.

Thursday, September 02, 2010


Here are the selections for the book club. Fly, readers, fly to your local independent bookstore, purchase these marvels, and begin your edification post haste.

--A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
--The Drifters by James A. Michener
--The Trial by Franz Kafka
--Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries by David Ulansey (this one's hard to find so get your library system on the horn pronto)
--Narcissus and Goldmund by Herman Hesse
--World War Z by Max Brooks

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