Religious intolerance in NYC


Some people in New York are offended by the building of a mosque near the site of the World Trade Center bombings. Clearly these objections to the mosque are rooted in bigotry rather than common sense. Obviously, the people who committed those acts of terrorism do not speak for Islam any more than the man who gunned down abortion doctor George Tiller speaks for Christianity, but you wouldn't hear people suggesting that it would be insensitive to have Christian church services located near the site of George Tiller's killing.

Columnist Andrea Peyser of the New York Post betrays her own prejudice in a column about this issue in which she characterizes a group with an explicit agenda of hostility towards Islam as a "human rights group". The name of the group? "Stop Islamicization of America" 'Nuff said.

It is clear that we have a long way to go towards interfaith dialogue. Fortunately, the press report that I cited above does indicate that not everyone looks at it in the same way:

Marvin Bethea, a paramedic who survived the toxic collapse of the twin towers and suffers from a range of afflictions, including post-traumatic stress disorder and asthma, said he supports the mosque.

"Not all Muslims are terrorists," Bethea said. "Muslims died on 9/11, as well. This is a tremendous gesture to show that we're not all full of hatred and bigotry."


Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Fear and ignorance go hand in hand and the terrorists win every time they are allowed to reign.

As I started to read this I though the same thing that Bethea said. Muslims died in the trade towers too.

Sherry said...

I have been sickened by the rhetoric one hears regarding Islam. It seems that this kind of vicious bigotry is okay in America. There seems no ability to see that the terrorists are but a small fraction and a fundamentalist one at that, similar in kind to the Christian form. Both degenerate into violence easily. Yet of course it is the extreme right in America that is the most vocal about warring against Islam and the stupid claim that Allah is some "other" God. In that they seem to suggest that they actually believe in some form of polytheism.

bdickens said...

But most of the terrorists are muslim.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

And KKK members are Christians, of course a tiny splinter of Christianity, just like Muslim extremism is a tiny splinter of Islam.

Mystical Seeker said...

Every time someone makes a comment about terrorists being Muslims, I can think of a simple two word response to that: Timothy McVeigh.

People who assert that terrorists are mostly Muslims are just ignoring the vast number of terrorists who aren't. It is interesting to see how easy it is to filter out the counterexamples that don't suit one's prejudices.

bdickens said...

You really should read more carefully before having your knee jerk jihad-denying reaction. I said most - not all - but most.

Timothy McVeigh. You always love to trot out Timothy McVeigh. Well, whethet or not he was a Christian is immaterial (incedentally, he claimed to be an agnostic ) as he did not do what he did in the name of his religion. Neither does the IRA and for that matter, neither did Obama's buddy Bill Ayers.

Nice try, though.

It is interesting to see how easy it is to filter out the obvious examples that don't suit one's prejudices.

Mystical Seeker said...

The point is that Timothy McVeigh was not a Muslim, which means that attempting to profile individuals as terrorists based on whether they are Muslim is obviously absurd. History is littered with the bodies of people killed by non-Muslim terrorists.

(Also, the claim that "most" terrorists are Muslim is unsubstantiated and meaningless. When was the terrorist census taken that identifies this "most" figure? And what percentage would that be? 50%? 75%? And is it being claimed here that most Muslims are terrorists?) As far as religious identification goes, the man who assassinated George Tiller, as I pointed out in the original posting, claimed to be a Christian. Lots of people do lots of evil things in the name of religion.

Muslims do not have to apologize for their faith any more than Christians do, and it is time that this kind of bigotry against people of faith is called out for what it really is.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Oh in that case, then most racists are Christians. Yes, that sounds much better, after all, I didn't say all.

bdickens said...

Who blew up a 747 over Lockerbie, Scotland? Gee, it wasn't Muslims, was it?

Who tried to blow up the World Trade Center the first time? Gee, it wasn't Muslims, was it?

Who rammed a boat full of explosives into the USS Cole? Gee, it wasn't Muslims, was it?

Who drove around the Washington, DC area shooting people as they went about their daily lives? Gee, it wasn't Muslims, was it?

Who crashed planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing almost 3000 people? Gee, it wasn't Muslims, was it?

Who tried to blow up a plane with explosives hidden in his shoe? Gee, it wasn't a Muslim, was it?

Who shot up Ft. Hood? Gee, it wasn't a Muslim, was it?

Who tried to blow up a plane on Christmas Day with explosives hidden in his underwear? Gee, it wasn't a Muslim, was it?

Who just tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square last week? Gee, it wasn't a Muslim, was it?

But back to the original point. Muslims - oops, there's that word again - are planning to open a mosque right next door to where the World Trade Center used to be before Muslims - oops, there's that word again - burned it to the ground, killing 2752 people and injuring 251. And when is the opening date? September 11, 2011. Care to guess what the significance of that date is? It is the 10th anniversary of said destruction of the World Trade Center and the murder of nearly 3000 people. Isn't that just a wee bit insensitive?

No, of course not.

But what is insensitive to display the American flag - in America - on Cinco de Mayo.

Mystical Seeker said...

Sorry, bdickens, but I'm not going to play that game with you. As is obvious to many of us, it is just as easy to cite examples of atrocities committed by people who are not Muslims just as easily as we can by those who are. To even attempt to explain this would be to give bigotry more credibility than it deserves.

bdickens said...

What exactly is bigoted about pointing out objective, verifiable facts?

Lions kill and eat gazelles. That is not bigotry against lions, it is an objective, verifiable fact.

Scandinavians tend to be tall and fair-skinned. That is not bigotry against Scandinavians, it is an objective, verifiable fact.

There are a higher percentage of Blacks on death row than whites. That is not bigotry against Blacks, it is an objective, verifiable fact.

There are many Muslims who commit terrorist acts in the name of Islam. That is not bigotry against Muslims, it is an objective, verifiable fact. It is quite frankly Muslims who should me the most outraged about Islamic terrorism.

Only Muslims threaten and sanction the killing of people who make cartoons of Mohammed. Christians do not call for the murder of people who make fun of Jesus. Not even Pat Robertson does that, and he is pretty vile.

Muslims justify the wholesale slaughter of infidels for no other reason than they are infidels. Christians do not do that.

Mystical Seeker said...

As I said, bdickens, I am not going to debate with you on this subject. I would no more debate with an anti-Muslim bigot in my blog here than I would debate with an anti-Jewish bigot or any other kind of bigot. I have better things to do with my time.

bdickens said...

" is just as easy to cite examples of atrocities committed by people who are not Muslims just as easily as we can by those who are...."

Please do. I seriously doubt that the numbers could compare.

"The majority of the terrorist acts of the last three decades, including the 9/11 attacks, were perpetrated by Islamic fundamentalists in the name of Islam. We, as Muslims, find it abhorrent that Islam is used to murder millions of innocent people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike."

That's not right-wing Fundamentalist Christians writing that. That's Muslims.

bdickens said...

I haven't said one thing that is anti-Muslim and if you were intellectually honest and not blinded by an unwillingness to see Islamic terrorism for what it is you would admit that. I don't have anything against Muslims per se but I certainly have something against Muslims who murder people just like I do with Christian, Hindu, Norse Pagan, agnostic and even atheist murderers for that matter.

There is not an entire movement inside of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism or even atheism that advocates the wholesale slaughter of nonbelievers. But there is inside of Islam. Even Muslims admit that. And the decent ones would like to see that movement stamped out.

That is not bigotry. That is an objective fact.

I, for one, would like to see some actual examples of this supposed anti-Muslim bigotry and backlash that you jihad-enabling ostriches are wringing your hands about instead of nebulous suppositions about what might happen. We bend over backwards in this country to not offend people, particularly Muslims. If only everyone else did the same.

Opening a mosque at Ground Zero, in a building that was damaged in the attacks on 9/11 by Hindus - oh, wait, it wasn't Hindus, it was Muslims - on the 10th anniversary of the attacks and you don't think it might make some people a bit uneasy?

Is it too much to ask of our Muslim brothers to display just a little bit of cultural sensitivity and maybe put their mosque somewhere else or pick a different day to open it? I don't think the Japanese would put a cultural center at Pearl Harbor or the Germans put a Goethe Institute across the street from Auschwitz even after all these years, let alone open the doors on the tenth anniversary.

They knew there would be a reaction and they knew what it would be. If I went downtown and started waving a gun around I should fully expect to cause no small consternation among passerby, even if I had no intention of shooting anyone but only wanted to display the fine craftsmanship and mechanical ingenuity inherent in the device. And I would rightly be arrested and hauled off to jail.

It isn't surprising that you don't want to debate the subject because you don't have anything to bring to the table.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

"an unwillingness to see Islamic terrorism for what it is"

Please, enlighten us. What is Islamic terrorism? I'm really curious to find out what exactly I'm unwilling to see.

Mystical Seeker said...

Mike, Mike, Mike. You are just being a "jihad-enabling ostrich" by asking such a question. :)
Obviously, Mike, anyone who thinks that Islam is not a terrible religion is just an apologist for terrorists! Get with the program!!!! :)

bdickens said...

That would be terrorism perpetrated by Muslims IN THE NAME OF ISLAM.

But you knew that already.

I don't recall anyone here saying that "Islam is a terrible religion," but then you appear to be capable of incredible mental gymnastics in order to avoid seeing things for what they are. I'm sorry but repeating over and over that 2+2=5 does not make it so.

Muslims doing evil things in the name of Islam doesn't make Islam evil any more than Californians doing evil things makes California evil but neither does it remove the fact of the evil and the reasons for which it is perpetrated.

Mystical Seeker said...

If we are all in agreement that Islam is not a terrible religion, then perhaps throwing around an accusation that others in this discussion are "jihad-enabling" is just a tad inappropriate.

bdickens said...

And putting a Mosque in the shadow of Ground Zero and scheduling opening day on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 is a tad inappropriate as well.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Setting up terrorist headquarters would be inappropriate. I see the Mosque as bold defiance of terrorism by mainstream Islam. To me it says to the terrorists "You do not represent Islam, you do not speak for us, we choose peace."

Mystical Seeker said...

Your use of the word "as well" seems to suggest that you agree that it is inappropriate to accuse anyone in this discussion of being a "jihad-enabler." Thanks for that clarification.

Mystical Seeker said...

Exactly, Mike. The assumption behind the idea that it would be inappropriate to open a mosque there is that sincere and faithful Muslims are somehow guilty by association. It is insulting to Islam to suggest that it would be inappropriate to open a mosque there. I doubt that any of the Christians who think it is inappropriate would care to be associated with Christians who murder abortion doctors, and yet they are perfectly willing to do the same sort of tarring by association with a broad brush in the case of Muslims. All the overt protestations of respect for Islam don't really jibe with this assertion of inappropriateness in building a mosque there.

The important point here is whether sincere people of faith should feel ashamed or somehow responsible for the evil that is done by others in the name of their faith--especially when people of that same faith were themselves victims of that same evil (which is the case with 9/11, since Muslims were also murdered by the terrorists there.) To answer that with yes is to stigmatize innocent people and their entire faith. It is one thing to protest that you are not bigoted against a particular faith in one breath when in the next breath you stigmatize the faith by tarring it with a wide brush; to claim that any celebration of Islam in the shadow of Ground Zero would somehow be "inappropriate" makes assumptions about the Muslim faith that belie this alleged tolerance and respect for Islam. Trying to have it both ways here doesn't cut it. Do we respect Muslims and their faith and understand that those who commit terrorism in the name of Islam do not speak for the vast majority of good and faithful practitioners of Islam? Or do we not?

Jon said...

Hmm - have any of you read "Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism" by Robert Pape. It's getting a little dated now but it's a study of every suicide terrorist over a period to 2003 (I forget how many years), looking at what motivated them and what they had in common. He and his co-researchers concluded that they came from a variety of religious backgrounds - for instance, the Tamil Tigers who invented the suicide bomb vest are of Hindu background although essentially secular nationalists, the World Trade Centre bombers were Islamic, the various terrorist groups in Palestine are a mix of fundamentalist Islamists (Hamas) and secular socialists (the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine). What they found in common for all of them was that they saw their country as occupied by a foreign power, and their "side" as both oppressed and powerless in that situation. They even applied this to Osama bin Laden, who is a Saudi - there are thousands of US troops permanantly in Saudi Arabia and he was fiercely opposed to their presence prior to being expelled.

Mystical Seeker said...

Jon, I have not read that book, but what you describe of the author's thesis makes sense to me.

CT said...

sorry mystical but in my opinion the whole reason that we now have bigotry against Muslim people is that many acts of terrorism in the last 10 years have been committed by Muslims. This is not to say that all or even the majority of Muslims are terrorists - that is clearly preposterous and it is not being suggested.

but I do believe there is a strand of Islamic fundamentalism that is vehemently anti-Western, and this hatred has had a significant impact on the world in recent times.

If Mr Dickens and argued for discrimination or opposition to Muslims just because of who they are then that would be bigotry.

you can definitely argue that Christians have been just as bad if not worse over the course of history, but just at the moment that is not the case.

As for the mosque this is a tricky one. I am sure there will be some fundamentalist Muslims who will see this as a victory for aggression and violence against the West. But hopefully there will be many more who will see it as a victory for harmony and peace and the opportunity to continue cross cultural dialogue

Mystical Seeker said...

CT, I think we can all agree that fundamentalist Islam is not a good thing. I feel pretty much the same way about all forms of fundamentalism. The question is whether we should judge an entire faith based on fundamentalism, or, in the case of the mosque in NYC, whether we should judge an entire faith based on the actions of some of certain extremists.

bdickens said...

Who is judging an entire faith?

Cindi said...

"There are a higher percentage of Blacks on death row than whites. That is not bigotry against Blacks, it is an objective, verifiable fact."

The fact that there are a higher percentage of African Americans on death row is in fact proof of bigotry against them.

CT said...

sorry Cindy but that doesnt follow

It may just be that they commit more crimes.

Now that may be as a result of poverty, lack of education, an absence of role models, etc..etc... but you cant simply say its due to bigotry.

That conclusion is also dangerous as it breeds a victim mentality that tells aggressors to blame any of their behaviour on others, or on history, or on anything but themselves and their own choices.

bdickens said...

Not quite, Cindi.

The numbers of Blacks on death row is an objective verifiable fact that stands independent of any reason that may be.

Quite the same as that the fact that the majority of terrorist acts in the past 30 years have been comitted by Muslims in the name of Islam is independent of any value judgement of Muslims as a whole or indeed of the Islamic faith.

But some people get so wrapped up in their emotional knee-jerk reactions that they can not seperate the two.

Mystical Seeker said...

"the fact that the majority of terrorist acts in the past 30 years have been committed by Muslims in the name of Islam"

You must have looked up that objective statistic in some resource book I am not aware of, like maybe the World Almanac of Terrorist Facts. Please be more specific. A majority is anywhere from 51% to 100%. What is the exact percentage, please?

bdickens said...

Oh, please.

Mystical Seeker said...

Okay, just as I thought--you actually don't know. You proclaimed "objective verifiable facts" as the source your statements and then turned around and presented a completely unverified claim in the next breath. It appears that you actually don't know how many terrorists acts have been committed by Muslims versus non-Muslims, but somehow you apparently just know intuitively that more than 50% of them since 1980 have been committed by Muslims acting on behalf of their interpretation of Islam.

Not to mention the fact that this involves trying to make an "objective" claim about what is a difficult and a slippery concept. There is no universally agreed upon definition of what exactly constitutes a terrorist act (if anyone doubts me, just consider the question of whether the King David Hotel bombing in 1948 was a terrorist act or not. I would say that it was, but the man who engineered it later and became Prime Minister of Israel didn't consider it a terrorist act at all). As the saying goes, "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." So making blanket statements about the percentage of terrorist acts committed by one group of people (such as in claiming that more than 50% of them since 1980 have been carried out by Muslims) tends to be more difficult in practice than in theory. "Objective verifiable facts" that are neither objective nor verifiable do not make the grade.

bdickens said...

I already presented a list - by no means comprehensive - of terrorist acts committed against Americans by Muslims in the name of Islam. So far, I have been given exactly one counterexample.

I'm not going to do your research for you. You claim that Islamic terrorism is not as prevalent as non-Islamic terrorism in the US. You make the claim, you provide the evidence.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

There would be no point.

Mystical Seeker said...

Au contraire, bdickens, I make no claim whatsoever. I have not asserted what percentage of terrorist acts I think are committed by Muslims. You are the one in this discussion who is making a specific, numeric claim here--that Muslim acts of terrorism constitute somewhere between 50% and 100% of all terrorist acts since 1980. Yet you are also the one in this discussion who also proclaimed yourself to be the defender of objective, verifiable data. I merely point out that your claim is unsubstantiated, which doesn't jibe with your professed allegiance to objective facts. If you are going to proclaim yourself the king of objective facts, then it might behoove you not to go around tossing unsubstantiated statistical claims. You don't know how many terrorist acts have been committed by Muslims, and since you have offered no data to back you your "at least 50% since 1980" claim, I think it is clear that you are just pulling statistics out of your butt.

For the record, the exact number of Muslim acts of terrorism versus non-Muslim acts of terrorism is not something I consider relevant, since I don't judge all Muslims based on the acts of some, and I therefore think that focusing on Muslim acts of terrorism with one breath while claiming not to be prejudiced against Muslims in the next is highly disingenuous. If we can all agree that the Muslim faith cannot be judged by the insane acts of some any more than the Christian faith can be judged by the insane acts of some, then trying to defend the bigotry of some NYC residents who associate Islam with acts terrorism is not consistent with any alleged lack of prejudice against Muslims.

bdickens said...

Were you absent on the day they discussed truth values in logic class?

Let's pretend for a moment that I am in fact an anti-Muslim bigot. That has no bearing on the truth or falsity of anything I have claimed.

Are there or are there not terrorist acts committed by Muslims?

Do the people committing those terrorist acts or do they not claim to be doing them in the name of Islam and claim to be doing the work of Allah?

Are there or are there not specifically Muslim organizations dedicated toward propagating terrorism?

An honest look at the world around you can only lead to one answer to those three questions: Yes.
Ergo, Islamic terrorism.

Your focus on the numbers and statistics ignores the real point. There have been many attacks and attempted attacks on Americans by Islamic terrorists. Islamic terrorism is real. Islamic terrorism is a major threat to this country. Islamic terrorism, not returning veterans and NRA members, despite what Janet Napolitano might want you to believe.

When one digs a little into the principal figure behind the Ground Zero Mosque, one begins to find a few things that are just a little bit disturbing. Feisal Abdul Rauf is a tireless advocate for Sharia law.

Among other things, he advocates that Sharia law should coexist for Muslims in the US alongside our secular law. That patently flies in the face of the founding principles of the US. Religious law has no place in a secular society and the Founders expressly forbade it in the Constitution.

Sharia law as it it practiced is itself a species of terrorism, despite what apologists claim. They point to lofty ideals about equality, fairness and social justice but the reality of practice is far different.

Countries where Sharia law holds sway is where women are denied their basic human rights. That is where women are beheaded for allowing their ankles to show. That is where fathers murder their daughters for "bringing shame" to the family by refusing forced marriages. That is where women are beaten for appearing in public without a male escort or for speaking to a man other than her husband.

Sharia law is used to terrorize and subjugate women to not even second-class status.

Rauf told Ed Bradley on 60 Minutes that "United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened [9/11]."

Rauf also has ties to CAIR. Despite their public facade, CAIR is a terrorist organization. Oh, they don't use bombs and bullets. But they use lawsuits, threats of lawsuits and complaints to regulatory agencies to stifle any opposition to aggressive behavion on the part of Muslims.

CAIR was named as unindicted co-conspirator in the Department of Justice funding case brought against Hamas, an openly terrorist organization.

The founder of CAIR, Omar Ahmad, has been reported as saying "Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth."

Even the name of Ruaf's plan, The Cordoba Initiative is a slap in the face. Cordoba, the seat of the Caliphate that once ruled Spain, is a name often used today by Islamic militants when recalling the glory of the Islamic Empire from the years when they occupied Spain.

Ruaf is a man who talks out of both sides of his mouth, saying one thing to us infidels and quite another to his co-religionists.

Is there any wonder that some people might be concerned?

Your knee jerk insistence on branding anyone who opposes the Ground Zero Mosque as a bigot rather than meet their legitimate objections head on serves only to betray your own bigotry and prejudice.

bdickens said...

To add, many Americans vividly remember the spectacle of witnessing huge throngs of - wait for it - Muslims - rejoicing and dancing in the streets at the news of the Twin Towers' collapse. That is still a festering sore on the American consciousness and many feel that this mosque would be rubbing salt in that wound.

Mystical Seeker said...

The truth or the falsity of any of your claims is not particularly relevant in this discussion. The issue is whether an entire religion should be tarred based on the actions of a wacko segment of that faith.

You have made it abundantly clear, including from your last comment about "salt in the wounds", that you think the answer is yes. Thanks for sharing your point of view.

bdickens said...

And you have made it abundantly clear that you need to improve your reading comprehension skills.

Do you level the same charges against Mulims such as M. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, who oppose the Ground Zero mosque for the very same reasons I outlined? Is he an anti-Muslim bigot bent on tarring an entire faith?

bdickens said...
This comment has been removed by the author.