ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘New York

Poor Taste.

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The antics by the hodgepodge of opponents to Cordoba House in New York made the news.

Capitalising on the 9/11 anniversary is in extremely poor taste.

But then again I would suspect that those so keen to stir up anxiety and anger over this issue are not the least bit concerned by the feelings of others, and in particular the 9/11 families. They are merely using it as political capital for their own ends.

Haaretz has an interesting piece:

“Donna Marsh O’Connor, the national spokesperson for the September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, lost her pregnant daughter in the terror attack on September 11, 2001 in one of the World Trade Center towers in New York City.

The September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows is a nationwide group founded by family members of the victims of the 2001 attacks. The group advocates non-violent options and actions in pursuit of justice, hoping to break the cycle of violence.

O’Connor spoke to Haaretz on the recent controversy surrounding a plan to build an Islamic center close to the site of the World Trade Center attack. The specific location has offended many Americans, and many around the world, who contend the proximity to the site of the attack, perpetrated by Islamist terrorists, disrespects the victims. The imam behind the initiative, however, insists that the Islamic center’s goals are to inspire peace.

This remembrance day seems like no other, with the controversy surrounding the Islamic center meant to be built in Lower Manhattan. Why do you support this project?

“I am an American citizen, and I know that my family and many American families have the same story – families that came here to escape religious persecution. It doesn’t make sense in America that we say no to the Muslim people – to the very people who denounced this horrible tragedy. This is, in our opinion, an act of peace and understanding and reconciliation. That’s what 9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows stands for.”

“I have been teaching writing and rhetoric for 26 years, and I have been teaching students what rhetoric and racism are and what mechanisms are at work here – how no one thinks they are racist or bigoted, and still we are a nation that has a very bad history regarding racist tendencies and religious intolerance. These Muslim people didn’t perpetrate the crime on 9/11. 19 hijackers backed by the horrible criminal group al-Qaida did it, and also the Taliban supported that work, but not Muslim American people.”

Did the Islamic center backers contact you asking to intervene on their behalf?

“No. We reached out to Daisy Khan (Executive Director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement , wife of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf who stands behind the Park 51 initiative), though not right away. But when it was clear that they were being ripped on by a lot of people who we thought were using 9/11 families as a monolithic voice against Daisy Khan – we as an organization reached out to her to say: ‘Look, we don’t think you are these horrible conquerors, we don’t think that this Islamic cultural center is more than just an attempt to build the facility, to support residents of Lower Manhattan with a swimming pool, with a gym, with a prayer center, with a memorial to 9/11, with all the other things this center was going to be for the use of people in Lower Manhattan.'”

“So we reached out to her to say: ‘We are sorry you are going through this.’ When it got huge and reached a crescendo, Daisy actually tried to call me one day, and I couldn’t talk to her – I was inundated with people from the press calling and asking why we were 9/11 family members and we didn’t agree with other 9/11 family members who basically took the position that if we are going to do this, Allah is going to kill all the Americans.”

“It was so hyper inflated on the part of other people that should know better that to use the inflated inflammatory diction. I am happy they have the right to do it, just as I am happy that Imam Rauf and Daisy Kahn have the right to build this Islamic cultural center. So frankly, I never had an opportunity to have a conversation with Daisy after things got to a crescendo. But I look forward to having this conversation at some point. I don’t know what necessarily we would say, except for how stunned we are at all of this.”

“But as for the question – are we collaborators and in coalition with the imam and Daisy Khan – no, we are not. We don’t have to be. But we support the Muslim American efforts to build this facility. And we think it will be really shameful if they’ll be forced to move it elsewhere. I think it says to Muslim American people, who are peace-loving people and raising children in this nation, that they are another group in this nation that is not valued. I know what pain can be inflicted on groups of people when they have rhetoric shout at them in negative way.”

Update 1: 9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows are here.

Written by modernityblog

12/09/2010 at 02:42

More On Irrationality.

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Adam Holland skewers the cranks, bigots and historically illiterates congregating around David Horowitz’s blog.

Elsewhere Jeff Goldberg reminds us:

“In 2003, Imam Rauf was invited to speak at a memorial service for Daniel Pearl, the journalist murdered by Islamist terrorists in Pakistan. The service was held at B’nai Jeshurun, a prominent synagogue in Manhattan, and in the audience was Judea Pearl, Daniel Pearl’s father. In his remarks, Rauf identified absolutely with Pearl, and identified himself absolutely with the ethical tradition of Judaism. “I am a Jew,” he said.

There are those who would argue that these represent mere words, chosen carefully to appease a postentially suspicious audience. I would argue something different: That any Muslim imam who stands before a Jewish congregation and says, “I am a Jew,” is placing his life in danger. Remember, Islamists hate the people they consider apostates even more than they hate Christians and Jews. In other words, the man many commentators on the right assert is a terrorist-sympathizer placed himself in mortal peril in order to identify himself with Christians and Jews, and specifically with the most famous Jewish victim of Islamism. “

Obama Makes Sense.

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For once President Obama agreed with me, which is not surprising.

The issue is, of course, the proposed mosque in New York.

I have followed this issue over weeks and been largely mystified by the angry and thoughtless responses, that is even excluding the lump in the US Constitution which deals with freedom of religion and must be relevant in this situation.

It is not as if these issues have not been debated and who can forget the 10 Commandments controversy in Alabama and Judge Roy Moore?

Often I get the impression that many of these issues are purely seen on an emotional and subjective level, without any reference to history or the US Constitution.

I simply can’t understand the reasoning behind many of the objections. If it is permissible to build a church, synagogue or ashram, etc in New York then surely the same rules apply to a mosque?

That is, if you believe in the universal right to religious beliefs.

Or are the rules changed according to the nature of the religious building?

Which would obviously be inconsistent, bias and suggests that prejudice, not reason, is at work here.

Still, I can’t do all these arguments justice, so Mystical Politics has some delightful and informative posts on the topic of the new New York mosque.

Matt at ignoblus makes some good points too about racialicious and the nature of much of the debate.

Michael Weiss offers his own arguments.

Incidentally I think Abe Foxman is very wrong on this issue, but there is no need to racially abuse him as denizens of racialious do.

Update 1: Things have moved on a bit since I first penned this a few days ago, as Mark Mardell argues:

“Within 24 hours he’d performed the trick that is beginning to frustrate and upset those who should be his most loyal supporters.

In that airport sound bite, he said that he was not commenting and would not comment on the wisdom of building the mosque, merely the right to do so. It may well be that this is “Professor Obama” to the fore again, making a distinction that would be obvious to anyone at Harvard Law School between what the constitution says and what is morally or culturally desirable.

But politicians live and die by crude sound bites and the even cruder caricatures that flow from them and would-be liberal supporters despair that this looks like taking fright and running away. They despair that he is holding too true to campaign promises to stand above petty party politics when the fray is at its height.

To be seen as moderate and judicious might be no bad thing for the president. The trouble is that in these febrile times, there is no chance of that: the right immediately leapt on his remarks and portrayed them as un-American. Those planning the mosque, within an Islamic cultural centre inside a tall building, say it is a monument to peace and they want a memorial to the victims of the attacks inside. No matter. Conservatives compare them to Nazis building near a concentration camp or the Japanese setting up a cultural centre at Pearl Harbour.”

Update 2: The New Times has a piece on it too.

Update 3: Thanks to Adam Holland, Salon covers it too:

“A group of progressive Muslim-Americans plans to build an Islamic community center two and a half blocks from ground zero in lower Manhattan. They have had a mosque in the same neighborhood for many years. There’s another mosque two blocks away from the site. City officials support the project. Muslims have been praying at the Pentagon, the other building hit on Sept. 11, for many years.

In short, there is no good reason that the Cordoba House project should have been a major national news story, let alone controversy. And yet it has become just that, dominating the political conversation for weeks and prompting such a backlash that, according to a new poll, nearly 7 in 10 Americans now say they oppose the project. How did the Cordoba House become so toxic, so fast?

In a story last week, the New York Times, which framed the project in a largely positive, noncontroversial light last December, argued that it was cursed from the start by “public relations missteps.” But this isn’t accurate. To a remarkable extent, a Salon review of the origins of the story found, the controversy was kicked up and driven by Pamela Geller, a right-wing, viciously anti-Muslim, conspiracy-mongering blogger, whose sinister portrayal of the project was embraced by Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post.”

Update 4: I found this web site for stopping the building of the mosque, not sure who or what they are, I’d welcome any background info on the stopthe911mosque.com

Written by modernityblog

18/08/2010 at 13:55

New Yorkers Against David Irving.

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You’ve got to like em!

New Yorkers Against David Irving have managed to block part of his speaking tour in New York City, Infoshop news has more:

“Irving was scheduled to speak on November 14th at the Catholic Kolping Society at 165 East 88th Street. Along with several concerned citizens and citizen’s groups, New Yorkers Against David Irving made calls to the venue, explaining who David Irving is and why he was hiding behind a fictitious name in order to reserve space at their facility. Further, they demanded that the event be canceled.

New Yorkers Against David Irving firmly believes that Holocaust revisionists and deniers and neo-Nazi sympathizers have no place in NYC – or anywhere else for that matter! We will always take action to ensure our city stays clean from the likes of David Irving and other fascist scum.”

(H/T: Entdinglichung )

Update 1: New Jersey Residents Against David Irving (NJ-RADI) managed to do the same, great!

Update 2: A few neo-nazis want to gloat about Irving in the comments box, I would refer them to my post.

Written by modernityblog

14/11/2009 at 01:22