August 20, 2010
CENSORED - NYT comment to Douthat on the Mosque - wrong, wrong, wrong.
In a general way, Ross Douthat isn't wrong when he says that there are two aspects to America: The absolute ideal of liberty and justice for All is one side of America, along with the cultural imperative for new-comers to absorb certain American cultural norms - the latter having a lot to do with the first absolute, in my opinion.
We believe in individual rights. Within the law, each individual has the right to say, or do, or believe something different from their neighbor. This is something I am sure that has to be learned, but it is also, I am sure, highly desired by most immigrants - which inspired them to come to America in the first place.
So far so good. But the writer then tries to make a hard-right segue into arguing that the 'second America' that 'speaks English' and no other - the blend-and-assimilate America - is rightly offended at the proposal to establish a mosque or Muslim cultural center or whatever you want to call it, two blocks from 9-11's Ground Zero, why? Because it is a 'sign of disrespect', and because we harbor the 'darker suspicion that Islam in any form may be incompatible with the American way of life.'
He admits that this might sound a 'xenophobic note' but lightly steps over that slight quandry to his target of justifying the Second America's protest.
I'll give that there is some degree of necessity for societal cohesion in the expectation, to a degree, of assimilation. But all too often this line is crossed into hatred, racism and intolerance toward anyone different from ourselves.
The issue of the mosque is black and white. It cuts to the core of what it means to be American. There are no shades of gray. Out of this malodorous fog ignorance, intolerance, hatred and fear further spread.
This is strictly a religious freedom issue. It is a tolerance issue. It is playing out against a very black backdrop where, just as from time to time in America's past, darkened momentarily here, there - real people who, in this case, identify themselves as Muslims, are being discriminated against, shunned and worse in their communities.
Douthat insinuates that too many Muslims hold 'illiberal' views that are considered to be 'beyond the pale'. I've got news for him. Many Americans - White, non-Muslim Americans - believe that America WAS an accessory to the crime of 9-11.
Let's get this straight. Under President Clinton, we are responsible for the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children. That's just the children. We starved them. And we poisoned them by bombing, deliberately, Iraq's water treatment plants - in a desert. Then, we refused to permit the importation of children's vaccines.
We maintained a military siege upon Iraq for TEN YEARS before we invaded militarily.
Osama bin Laden clearly cited what we did to Iraq as one of the top three reasons for the 9-11 attack.
But the people in the World Trade Center were civilians. Yes. That's true. It was wrong. But, what do you think: Were Iraq's children members of Saddam's army?
Three-thousand people here, we invade both Iraq and Afghanistan; we go to war. 500,000 children we kill somewhere else and it is forbidden to discuss it.
We are awash, in America, of so much spilled blood that it will be a wonder if we can ever wash this stain out of the national character.
On Israel, many Americans don't just believe - they know - that Hamas is the legitimate political party duly-elected by the Palestinian people, and that they should never have been designated a terrorist group. Such designations are too often used as a political ploy to avoid hammering out peace deals - and so it is in the case of the oppressed, dispossessed Palestinian people - long the victims of a racist Israel bent on its continuing program of ethnic cleansing.
Americans pay for Israel's armaments which enables Israel; to the tune of three billion in American tax dollars-worth of military hardware - each and every year.
Douthat's last point is as loathsome as it is incorrect. 9-11 was NOT committed in the name of Islam.
I applaud Mayor Bloomberg and the local community for giving their full backing to the planned mosque - for all the right reasons.
If we want a society built on the highest of constitutional and brotherly ideals, the shortest way to get there is to treat people the way we would wish to be treated. Here. And across the seas over there. It's as easy, and as profound, and as challenging as that.
New York Times' Ross Douthat Op Ed column, 'Islam and the two Americas'; August 15, 2010