Friday, August 20, 2010

Fear-mongering Washington Times editorial attacks Park51

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Park51 concept art
Park51 concept art
[source: Tikun Olam-תקון עולם: Make the World a Better Place]

The Washington Times, faithful to its goal of being the wingnut counterpart to the Washington Post, has a new editorial on the subject of – you guessed it – the misleadingly labeled “Ground Zero Mosque”. And, as you can expect from the “Moonie Times”, it’s a piece filled with the usual false claims and fear-mongering about how the cultural center is to be a symbol of Islamic victory over Ground Zero and a hotbed of terrorists and so forth.

The disingenuousness starts off at the very first lines:

The Ground Zero Mosque project already has failed in its intended outreach mission, and its backers now seem to be committed to alienating as many Americans as possible.

Of course, they omit the fine point that it’s the rabid far-Right – ie. an agglomeration outlets like themselves – that is entirely responsible for all the demagogy and thinly veiled Islamophobia that has cost Park51 its previously good standing with the majority of the public. It’s akin to Jock Dave spreading vicious rumors about Nerd Timmy at school and then claiming that Timmy sucks at making friends. Apparently, recognizing transparent dishonesty isn’t the Washington Times’s forte – particularly since they’re the ones engaging in it.

The Times then goes ahead and tries to paint Park51’s imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf, as a terrorist sympathizer by “following the money” (which, as The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart pointed out last night, sounds an awful lot like “six degrees of separation”), but it quickly becomes apparent they have nothing but straws to grasp at:

The latest galling revelation is that the cash-strapped Cordoba Initiative is willing to accept funding for the mosque from overseas sources, including Saudi Arabia and Iran. This was not necessarily something the project's backers wanted known. In 2008, the Cordoba Initiative raised only $18,255, which generated questions why the group believed it could undertake a $100 million project. If the developers had a funding source already lined up, they were keeping it a secret. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf had always said that the effort would be underwritten by donations raised in the United States. But earlier this year, he told a London-based Arabic-language newspaper that he would seek funds from throughout the Muslim world. When asked about this, spokesman Oz Sultan refused to comment, but added that they would seek money in the United States "to start."

That the mosque will be funded from abroad reinforces the view that the proposed mosque is not an effort to serve a Muslim community in Lower Manhattan and is instead a symbolic effort to claim the area near Ground Zero for Islam. It is pertinent that Mr. Rauf, the mosque mastermind, has refused to admit Muslims had anything to do with the Sept. 11 attacks, and he quipped, "Osama bin Laden was made in the USA." This calls into question his self-identification as a "moderate" Muslim.

So … Because Imam Rauf turned to other Islamic countries for financial help when it became apparent he wouldn’t be able to raise enough money through donations in the US alone, and because he doesn’t make wild, bigoted claims about all Muslims supposedly having a role in 9/11, and because he recognizes the fact that it’s the United States’s own shitty, belligerent overseas policies and actions in the Middle-East that has spawned so much animosity towards them, including the likes of bin Laden … he’s not a moderate.

Where are these people storing their brains at night? The temperature must obviously be too high.

Non-Muslim Americans are continually asked to be solicitous to Muslim sensitivities, but the Ground Zero Mosque backers show no concern whatsoever for the feelings of mainstream Americans. Ever since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the powers that be have preached to the American people that Islam is the religion of peace and we must go out of our way not to offend Muslims while simultaneously fighting a bitter war against Islamic extremists. This officially mandated obsequiousness with which Americans are told to treat all things Islamic doesn't invalidate the genuine sentiments of those opposed to the Ground Zero Mosque.

Um, guys – no-one expects you to show respect for anything and everything Muslim or Islamic. They just don’t want you to lump the great majority of moderate, pro-peace Muslims (including your fellow countrypeople) in with the fringe of violent extremists. And the Muslims who are trying to set up the Islamic cultural center you so love to rail against are nothing if not peaceful Americans. Calling them terrorist sympathizers isn’t only a terrible insult to them, but it alienates moderates and pushes them further into the fringe – in effect, turning allies into enemies. Is this really that difficult to understand?

Trying to defend the mosque, Mr. Sultan said, "if you build moderate Muslim communities, that's what's going to fight extremism." But if this is the case, the Cordoba Initiative should be focusing its efforts on countries that have more active and dangerous Muslim extremist problems, like Saudi Arabia, Yemen or Iran. It's counterproductive to court a handful of moderate Muslims while alienating millions of moderate Americans. The Ground Zero Mosque is not healing a rift but deepening a wound. If the mosque is constructed, the terrorists win.

Short version: “Because the Cordoba Initiative tries to deal with issues in its own homeland, the terrorists win.”

Here’s a little thought experiment, guys. On one side, you have a man who preaches peace and harmony and who wants to open a cultural center to spread his message. On the other, you have tabloids, conservative rags and the general forces of lunatics doing their best to paint him as a terrorist sympathizer, solely because he dares to try and open his center in an area they don’t like. In doing so, the latter side works only to piss Muslims off and push them away, thus dividing the country’s own population and stoking outrage over absolutely nothing at all; over an endeavor that was intended to promote peace and fellowship.

Who’s the real enemy, here?

(via Media Matters for America)