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Mayor Bloomberg: "I hope [Wilders] spends a lot of money. We need the sales tax revenue."
August 12, 2010 3:38 PM   Subscribe

Dutch MP and vehement Islam critic Geert Wilders will travel to New York to speak at a Sept. 11 protest against Park51, the so-called "Ground Zero mosque", sparking controversy in the Netherlands where he is currently taking part in negotiations to form a new government. Dutch diplomats are worried.

Although Wilders' Party for Freedom (PVV) will not — if negotiations succeed — take part in the envisioned cabinet, he will be in a position to exert substantial influence on it as a coalition of free-market VVD and Christian Democrats (CDA) will have no majority in the House of Representatives and will have to rely on the PVV for parliamentary support. Even with the PVV, it will have a majority of just one vote.

This unorthodox construction — even in the Netherlands where drawn-out, complicated cabinet formations between multiple parties are common — is often compared to the situation in Denmark, where the People's Party, ideologically comparable to the PVV, has propped up a minority government since 2001, in return securing some of its policies such as a strict immigration policy.

Wilders was invited to speak in New York by Pamela Geller's "Stop Islamization of America".

Previously on Metafilter: Geert Wilders, Cordoba Initiative / Park51
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (160 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I want to print "You are not helping" t-shirts and send ten of them to Wilders.
posted by angrycat at 3:52 PM on August 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


Certainly, there is no better user (name) to be posting this to the blue.
posted by mannequito at 3:53 PM on August 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


I don't know why Geller had to outsource. We've got the best, hardest-working damn xenophobes right here in America.
posted by zjacreman at 3:56 PM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Keep away from us citizens of less ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she

With silent lips. "Give me your racists, your intolerants, your bigots,

Who presume to speak for silent masses yearning to suffocate,

All the non-Christian believers,

Or as they like to imply, the wretched refuse of some remote teeming shore.

Send these, the haters, the politically tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

posted by bearwife at 3:56 PM on August 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


There's an odd silver lining of hope that I feel about this, as an American, that even the world's most religiously tolerant nation can have bigoted jack-asses rise to positions of power.

I don't know why, but I just like the idea that the U.S. isn't so far afield from the rest of the world as to be irredeemable.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:04 PM on August 12, 2010


Seriously Geert, stay out of this one. As Angrycat said, you're not helping.

this from someone who supports the right of Cordoba to build whatever they want in accordance with the law, but wishes they could have been a little more attuned to local sensibilities. to me, it's like the libertarian party opening an office next door to the alfred p. murrah site in oklahoma city.
posted by BobbyVan at 4:05 PM on August 12, 2010


I don't know why Geller had to outsource. We've got the best, hardest-working damn xenophobes right here in America.

It's not outsourcing when white people do it.
posted by Talez at 4:08 PM on August 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


The offices of Representative Al Lindey are just 1.5 mi away from the Oklahoma City National Memorial.
posted by muddgirl at 4:10 PM on August 12, 2010


Lindley
posted by muddgirl at 4:10 PM on August 12, 2010


Bobby Van, the local sensibilities are generally in favor of Cordoba. It's the non-local sensibilities making hay out of this.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:12 PM on August 12, 2010 [10 favorites]


Also I think it is very American to say that asshole sensibilities can shove it.
posted by ghharr at 4:13 PM on August 12, 2010


Dear America,

Can you please keep him? I'd even take Sarah Palin in exchange.

Thank you,


An European
posted by Skeptic at 4:15 PM on August 12, 2010


it's like the libertarian party opening an office next door to the alfred p. murrah site in oklahoma city

If you mean that complaining about libertarians opening an office near the Federal Building would be total, gibbering nonsense, then yes, it's exactly like the Cordoba situation.

I don't think that's what you meant though.
posted by zjacreman at 4:16 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dear America,

Can you please keep him? I'd even take Sarah Palin in exchange.

Thank you,


An European


No way. Wait, oh shit this is harder than I thought it would be. I'll get back to you.
posted by nola at 4:18 PM on August 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


Also, that Bloomberg quote is sorta cool. He's been growing on me lately, the first rich old non-leftist politician to do so.

I also don't live there any more, so *shrug*.
posted by angrycat at 4:20 PM on August 12, 2010


zjacreman: "I don't know why Geller had to outsource. We've got the best, hardest-working damn xenophobes right here in America."

Actually, I think we outsourced the idea to you, more or less.

Oh and be careful what you wish for, Skeptic.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:23 PM on August 12, 2010


Preservation of Ground Zero*? Good gods above and below, what does that even mean? Preserve as in keep safe from injury, harm, or destruction; or to keep alive, intact, or free from decay; or to keep up and reserve for personal or special use? As of earlier this summer, there were foundations being laid for the future development, so we're not keeping the ruins intact. And we're not building back what was there. Plus, there is no magical "circle of sacred space" around destroyed buildings that must be kept free from contamination. In short, WORDS MEANS SOMETHING, and you can't go about all willy-nilly changing things. There is nothing to preserve at Ground Zero.

* From the Stop Islamization of America** link, in which the "dynamic, charming, and well-informed" Pamela Geller gets angry that the MTA won't approve her organizations bus banner-ads.

** And what does this even mean? How are Muslims taking over the US, or converting it to their nefarious will? Which Islamic branch or school? And the slogan "Racism is the lowest form of human stupidity, but Islamophobia is the height of common sense" makes me confused and angry. Islam is a religion, not an issue of race, so are these phrases even related?
posted by filthy light thief at 4:29 PM on August 12, 2010


zjacreman: You're right, complaining about it would be total, gibbering nonsense... but if I were a libertarian opening an office in OKC, I wouldn't do it next door to the ruins of the Murrah building.

One more aside. This made me laugh.
posted by BobbyVan at 4:29 PM on August 12, 2010


...I wouldn't do it next door to the ruins of the Murrah building.

This "come on, it's your right, but why not be a bit more sensitive?" argument was very well demolished by Greg Sargent in the Washington Post.

In short: if you were building Cordoba House you could take this view, sure, but in telling moderate Muslims that they ought to take it, you are unavoidably suggesting, even if inadvertently, that 9/11 was in some sense an act linked to or representative of all of Islam.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 4:34 PM on August 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


this from someone who supports the right of Cordoba to build whatever they want in accordance with the law, but wishes they could have been a little more attuned to local sensibilities.

Already covered on the blue: you're confusing the actions of a few now-dead Islamic terrorists with the wishes of different, still-living and probably pretty peaceful Muslims.

posted by filthy light thief at 4:36 PM on August 12, 2010


Krauthammer makes the case better than me (and Sargent for that matter).

"Location matters. Especially this location. Ground Zero is the site of the greatest mass murder in American history -- perpetrated by Muslims of a particular Islamist orthodoxy in whose cause they died and in whose name they killed.

Of course that strain represents only a minority of Muslims. Islam is no more intrinsically Islamist than present-day Germany is Nazi -- yet despite contemporary Germany's innocence, no German of goodwill would even think of proposing a German cultural center at, say, Treblinka."


bracing for a torrent of anti-Krauthammer ad hominem
posted by BobbyVan at 4:42 PM on August 12, 2010


but wishes they could have been a little more attuned to local sensibilities

53 percent of Manhattanites have no problem with it, and another 16 percent are undecided. As a whole the city may be slightly against it, but if you took out Staten Island, it might change. So much of this is outsiders stirring up trouble (which makes me sound like a Southerner in 1963, but like in reverse).Most of the people at the protests before this went national didn't live in Manhattan much less Downtown, so this is perhaps the opposite of local sesnibilites.
posted by dame at 4:43 PM on August 12, 2010


I think the building of this mosque is outrageous. I am also outraged by the building of a new Christian church in Salem, Massachusetts, merely two blocks away from where the Witch Trials were perpetrated by radical Christian extremists. I hope Palin and Gingrich will join me at the protest this weekend, I will bring chips and lemon drink.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:46 PM on August 12, 2010 [11 favorites]



Of course that strain represents only a minority of Muslims. Islam is no more intrinsically Islamist than present-day Germany is Nazi -- yet despite contemporary Germany's innocence, no German of goodwill would even think of proposing a German cultural center at, say, Treblinka."


No, it would be like allowing a progressive, ecumenical Christian church 3 blocks away from Treblinka...that serves the relatives and descendants of those killed there.
posted by availablelight at 4:46 PM on August 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


progressive, ecumenical Christian church 3 blocks away from Treblinka

If this were in one of the most densely populated areas on earth, such that the church wasn't visible from Treblinka.
posted by ibmcginty at 4:52 PM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


The American Family Association says that no mosques should be permitted to be built in America and Muslims are unworthy of First Amendment rights to freedom of religion.

All these Republicans are going to speak at the AFA's summit in September, where they will share a stage with the author of that article. Someone should be asking them whether they are still going to attend the summit or whether they agree that Muslims are less than human.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:55 PM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I do have to admit that at a certain point, the analogies become a little absurd. I was about to make a point (that I still think might be valid) about building a kool-aid factory in the Guyanese jungle, but thought that might be going a bit far.
posted by BobbyVan at 4:57 PM on August 12, 2010


I would just like to observe that it is both possible and rational to hate Islam and Wilders all at the same time. Thank you. That is all.
posted by Decani at 4:57 PM on August 12, 2010


bracing for a torrent of anti-Krauthammer ad hominem

I have to say that one of the worst things about moving from NYC to Philly a year ago has been my reading of Krauthammer's column in the Philly Inq.

I don't think it's an ad hominem remark to state that his various stances on various things I find gag inducing, and though I haven't read his column on this kerfuffle, I betcha good money its a vomit-bag of bollocks, much like his other columns.
posted by angrycat at 4:58 PM on August 12, 2010


Can you please keep him? I'd even take Sarah Palin in exchange.

I'll take that exchange in a second. No matter how bad Geert is, he has one very important advantage over Palin: he is not a natural-born citizen of the United States, and therefore can never be elected President.
posted by baf at 4:59 PM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


it is both possible and rational to hate Islam

Jesus. Was that hamburger? Restore some light to my soul and say yes.

Unless you're an all-religion hater, in which case, I might be sympathetic.
posted by angrycat at 5:00 PM on August 12, 2010


Yeah, this group is run by people who advocate that black people be banned from voting and that Islam be outlawed. They are 100% fascists, no exaggeration.

Pamela Gellar is a dangerous nutcase.
posted by empath at 5:06 PM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Uh, anyone who is calling the 9/11 attacks "the greatest mass murder in American history" has zero credibility. Have they not heard of the natives? Our country was founded on both ignorant/unintentional genocide and entirely conscious genocide (and mass murder -- no, they aren't the same thing).

Furthermore, comparing building a mosque near the World Trade Towers site to building a German cultural center near Treblinka is explicitly claiming 9/11 is similar to the Holocaust. Claiming the perpetrators are similar to Nazis and equating the deaths of 3000 or so to the Shoah is grotesque. 9/11 was perpetrated by all accounts by a very small number of outcasts who sometimes have weak support from a fairly small number of people in the world. The Holocaust is a decades long tragedy (talk to all the Jews who will never meet their grandparents) perpetrated by tens of (if not hundreds of) thousands of people in a government and military that wanted to conquer the world, supported knowingly (at least for anyone with eyes to see) by a large population of Germans (and others), many of whom decided it was best to just forget after the war (this is a topic of much discussion and pain in Germany even today). Comparing the 9/11 site to Treblinka is absurd.

Krauthammer should be ashamed.

In any case, I suppose this foolish Dutch MP should be allowed entry so he can show himself the bigot he is in front of a crowd of either ignorant, frightened or bigoted people. Perhaps Krauthammer can show up and defend himself against the presumably large population of Americans who find such ill-considered comparisons to the Holocaust disturbing.
posted by R343L at 5:08 PM on August 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


According to the Daily Kos, AFDI board member John Joseph Jay recently has posted a series of truly vicious anti-Muslim rants — apparently without the benefit of a capital letter function on his computer. “if islam kills non-believers as a matter of religious doctrine, then why should muslims expect to be free of retribution in the name of those islam kills?” he wrote. “why should muslims get a free pass? if it is right for muslims to kill non-believers, then why is it no less right for the rest of us to kill muslims?”

In another screed, the Daily Kos said Jay wrote: “there are, friends, no ‘innocent’ muslims. they obey. and they obey the dictates of the koran on jihad. and, they obey the commands of local clerics. in this, they have no choice. because, friends, there is no ‘free will’ in islam, one obeys the dictates of allah.”

Last month, Jay expanded on his advocacy of violence against Muslims to include people in positions of power. He commented on his blog about a magazine article regarding America’s “ruling class” as follows: “friends, if you wish to retain and preserve individual virtue, you are going to have to kill in order to do so. if we are to excise the ruling class, it will be with violence. they used violence to attain their privilege, they use it nakedly in the form of the s.i.e.u. [an apparent reference to the SEIU, the Service Employees International Union] and black panther thugs in elective politics to maintain it, they contemplate relocation camps to preserve it. … buy guns. buy ammo. be jealous of your liberties. and understand, you are going to have to kill folks, your uncles, your sons and daughters, to preserve those liberties.”
posted by empath at 5:11 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


no German of goodwill would even think of proposing a German cultural center at, say, Treblinka.

What are you talking about, Krauthammer? This is Treblinka This is NYC. Here are some other thoughts for you:

1. Treblinka is the site of an extermination camp. NYC is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world.

2. The entire German nation was run by a dictator and a party which implemented the killing at Treblinka as part of a state policy of genocide. The murderers of 911 are a tiny fringe group who are not the legitimate leadership of any nation and whose doctrines are contrary to principal teachings of Islam.

3. There is no known constitutional right at issue for your posited German cultural center. There are recognized first amendment rights of association and religion which support the right to open the Cordoba center.

Etc. How absurd. I'd add as a person from a family that suffered badly in the Holocaust, as well as someone who lost classmates in the WTC attacks, that the only messages that really offend me as to either event are those that suggest they didn't happen, or (WTC) were somehow justified.
posted by bearwife at 5:11 PM on August 12, 2010 [9 favorites]


Dear America,
Can you please keep him? I'd even take Sarah Palin in exchange.


Can you throw in some draft choices and cash? I'm having a hard time making this work under the asshattery cap.
posted by lukemeister at 5:12 PM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wilders...Wilders...where have I heard that name before? Oh yes, he was the one whose views are so repellent that the UK Home Office refused to let him enter the country for most of last year. This is a pretty big deal - as an EU citizen, all Wilders would have had to do normally would be to show his passport and he's in, no questions asked. More importantly, it puts him in the company of such illustrious figures as L Ron Hubbard, Slobodan Milosevic and Robert Mugabe.

This isn't to say it's right that Wilders was refused entry (I personally think freedom of speech is more important in this instance), but yeah, this dude has a track record.
posted by ZsigE at 5:13 PM on August 12, 2010


It's not about stopping this mosque. It's about stopping any mosque.
posted by empath at 5:13 PM on August 12, 2010


Per the post title, the entire Anti-Mosque protest should be a tourism bonanza for the City of New York precisely because it'll be dominated by outside agitators. (I like the term Bigotourists myself)
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:16 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was about to make a point (that I still think might be valid) about building a kool-aid factory in the Guyanese jungle, but thought that might be going a bit far.

They committed suicide with Flavor Aid at Jonestown, so that would actually be an excellent metaphor for people unable to distinguish between different two things.

I would just like to observe that it is both possible and rational to hate Islam and Wilders all at the same time. Thank you. That is all.

Possible? Yes. Rational? I'm not convinced.
posted by Amanojaku at 5:24 PM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Muslims are awesome.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:53 PM on August 12, 2010


R343L: so krauthammer's use of the holocaust to illustrate an example about 9/11 is out of bounds and offensive, but it's OK to compare 9/11 to the genocide of native americans to make the point that 9/11 isn't the WORST killing that's ever happened in north america? i hope you're making some kind of pedantic joke.

as far as i'm concerned, cordoba can put a mosque where ever the hell it wants to. it's a free country. and i'm free to find it in poor taste for them to put one 2 blocks from where 3000 people (tiny pieces of whom are still being dug up) were murdered by 19 lunatics screaming "allah akhbar." and i'll be damned if anyone's is going to call me a racist for believing that.
posted by BobbyVan at 6:32 PM on August 12, 2010


Wilders is dangerous, and the Dutch know this. That makes it both better and worse. I'm visiting the Old Country in two days, so I'll see firsthand myself soon, but when I was back in February, it wasn't pretty at all. People would see him on national television and shake their heads and tut tut...and then say something along the lines of, "Well, he does have a point about...."

And regarding ground zero. I live here, and I was there that day, and just fucking build some shit around there; I don't really care at this point what.
posted by digitalprimate at 6:44 PM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'd be curious to know how the opponents of the mosque citing "bad taste" and "insensitivity" felt about the Dutch Mohammed cartoons.
posted by Kirk Grim at 6:45 PM on August 12, 2010


Danish cartoons. My bad.
posted by Kirk Grim at 6:46 PM on August 12, 2010


I think we can all agree that neither the Danish cartoonists nor the Cordoba initiative leaders ought to be beheaded.

and I also think it's in bad taste to go out of your way to insult another person's religion or other deeply held beliefs
posted by BobbyVan at 6:51 PM on August 12, 2010


BobbyVan, I'm not going to call you a racist. I lived only blocks from the WTC only months before it happened, and I was still living close enough to watch with my own eyes. I also know New York. Cordoba is in a spot only possibly considered "Ground Zero" by those who don't live or work around there. It's just not the same neighborhood, despite what a map might make it look like. And even if it were, I'd still be for it, but that's neither here nor there.

My favorite kinda-sorta attack on Cordoba, in fact, is from Fox fucking News, with Greg Gutfeld securing investments to build a gay bar right next to the center, specifically to cater to gay Muslims. While I have SEVERE suspicions about his intent, I like his idea. New York is a place which will defend freedom, and will not let others tell us that a mosque cannot be built so close to ground zero, and for good reason. As such, New York will also not prohibit Gay Muslims from congregating so closely to the mosque (or, in reality, community center.)

In truth, I'm still a little squicked out by it, as it seems to be (really: is) a roundabout way of saying that Muslims should know better than to build a Mosque nearby where terrorists with their same religion performed a terrorist act, and to that I'd say that it's like telling Christians not to build a church too near to the OKC bombing site, but I'm also happy that someone at Fox has taken freedoms so far as to invest in a place for Homosexual Muslims to meet up.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:53 PM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


it's a free country. and i'm free to find it in poor taste for them to put one 2 blocks from where 3000 people (tiny pieces of whom are still being dug up) were murdered by 19 lunatics screaming "allah akhbar." and i'll be damned if anyone's is going to call me a racist for believing that.

You are aware that Islam is not a race?
posted by empath at 6:53 PM on August 12, 2010


yeah, empath, i am. please see my point above about pedantry.
posted by BobbyVan at 6:55 PM on August 12, 2010


BobbyVan: I don't understand why you think I was criticizing all comparisons between various awful historical events, rather than just offensive ones. I was pointing out that Krauthammer lacked perspective if he considered 9/11 the "greatest mass murder in American history". It's a factual statement that is easily disproven. E.g. 4,000 of 15,000 Cherokees died being forcibly relocated in 1838. In any case, I think me pointing out there are other examples of mass murder in our history he may want to consider before declaring "this one is greatest" to be a bit different than explicitly equating 9/11 with the Holocaust. Aside from the obvious difference in numbers, the social context behind the perpetrators and the victims are entirely different. They are entirely different awful events and bringing up the Holocaust in this piece is either ignorant, ill-considered or done intentionally to gain unwarranted agreement (because no one will want to disagree with your conclusion if you have the Holocaust as support for your point.)

And no one (here) said anyone was a racist for being against this center (which has but a small mosque in it). But many have said it is possibly bigoted and surely short-sighted to group all muslims of all kinds (there are over a billion in the world after all) in with the kind that are willing to kill 3000. We aren't willing to lump all Christians in with abortion clinic bombers, so why is it okay to do the same with Muslims?
posted by R343L at 6:55 PM on August 12, 2010


BobbyVan, do you actually know any Muslims? This is a serious question.
posted by availablelight at 6:59 PM on August 12, 2010


I should clarify that "greatest in history" may not be a purely factual statement, but going just on numbers it *is* easily disproven. And I at least believe that our various crimes against the native americans are in many ways worse than 9/11. Take it for what you will.
posted by R343L at 7:00 PM on August 12, 2010


I think we can all agree that neither the Danish cartoonists nor the Cordoba initiative leaders ought to be beheaded.

I hope so. But it's still sounding a bit like you're having a difficult time differentiating between violent extremists and Muslims.

I also think it's in bad taste to go out of your way to insult another person's religion or other deeply held beliefs

Can you not see it as an insult to Mulims' religion and beliefs when you argue that mosques can't be located near Ground Zero because they are tainted by the actions of the 9/11 terrorists?
posted by Kirk Grim at 7:11 PM on August 12, 2010


> I would just like to observe that it is both possible and rational to hate Islam and Wilders all at the same time. Thank you. That is all.

It's also rational to think that you're full of it and don't actually know any Muslims. Seriously, are you playing the cheap seats here or what?
posted by Burhanistan at 7:14 PM on August 12, 2010


yeah, empath, i am. please see my point above about pedantry.

It's not pedantry to point out that your bigoted opinions are based on ignorance.
posted by empath at 7:41 PM on August 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


"Free Speech!...........Unless we don't like it!"
posted by ambient2 at 11:24 PM on August 12, 2010


wishes they could have been a little more attuned to local sensibilities.

I am appalled by all the Christian churches in the vicinity of the ruins of the Alfred P. Murrah Building. Have those people no sensitivity at all?
posted by Jimmy Havok at 11:53 PM on August 12, 2010


The other thing is that this mosque (or community center with a mosque in it) isn't at ground zero at all. Think about it. Ground Zero is the location on the ground directly underneath a nuclear explosion. The bomb actually goes off in the air. It makes a lot of sense for earthquakes, which actually happen deep underground.

Anyway the Cordoba House is going to be about 150 meters or so from the old WTC site. So really it ought to be the 'ground 150m mosque'
posted by delmoi at 11:55 PM on August 12, 2010


Who is this BobbyVan person? Because I knew Bobby Van. Host of "Make Me Laugh" in the '70s. Here's a clip in which Gallagher fails miserably to make Frank Zappa laugh and Bobby messes up the 'studio audience' part of the game (probably overwhelmed by Zappa's serious face). Anyway, THAT was Bobby Van, and sir, you are no Bobby Van .
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:05 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am appalled by all the Christian churches in the vicinity of the ruins of the Alfred P. Murrah Building.

So how many people is it in this thread who have attempted to use the "Christian terrorism" moral equivalence of the Oklahoma City bombing? Ludicrously funny... except I think you are being serious.

Is this the bit where I call you an ignorant bigot who is full of it, playing for the cheap seats?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:24 AM on August 13, 2010


So how many people is it in this thread who have attempted to use the "Christian terrorism" moral equivalence of the Oklahoma City bombing?

Especially since McVeigh wasn't even particularly religious:
In a recorded interview with Time magazine[80] McVeigh professed his belief in "a god", although he said he had "sort of lost touch with" Catholicism and "I never really picked it up, however I do maintain core beliefs." Throughout his childhood, he and his father were Roman Catholic and regularly attended daily Mass at Good Shepherd Church in Pendleton, New York. The Guardian reported that McVeigh wrote a letter to them claiming to be an agnostic and that he did not believe in a hell.[81][82] McVeigh once said that he believed the universe was guided by natural law, energized by some universal higher power that showed each person right from wrong if they paid attention to what was going on inside them. He had also said, "Science is my religion."
posted by delmoi at 12:45 AM on August 13, 2010


LUCIUS MALFOY?! is that you?!!
posted by victory_laser at 1:36 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mere apologism. Next you'll be claiming God Bless the USA isn't a Christian Nation.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 1:38 AM on August 13, 2010


Shameless Christians put their icons of torture all around the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta. How soon we forget!
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:10 AM on August 13, 2010


You know, Pim Fortuyn would've kept all these morons like Geert Wilders in check, or marginalized them. Instead, the other side's crazies gave them a martyr.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:49 AM on August 13, 2010


Do you know what all of this squabbling over religious locations reminds me of? The non-stop parade of violence in Israel and Palestine over who visited what sacred place. Damnit, folks, this is America. This is New York City. This is the one shining light to the world about how to live peacefully and equally before the secular law that we choose for ourselves. Laws that specifically prohibit denying someone their rights because of the race, gender, or religion. Over the history of thousands of years, we're one of the first nations that has made the dream of self-governance come true. It's been hell, and there are still some people who are suffering injustice, but now is not the time to start giving it all up to score political points or satisfy some primitive bloodlust.

Terrorism has existed since the beginning of civilization. Anyone who claims it's only the Muslims, or only the Christians, or whatever, are first making the mistake of lumping several billion people together in under the same label. I know Christians who believe that God thinks everyone should be rich. I also know Christians who think it's a sin to covet material goods. I know pacifist Christians, violence only as a last resort Christians, Jesus was the ultimate warrior (really, Chuck?) Christians, etcetera. Just read about Islam for more than a few minutes and you'll realize that their sects are just as diverse. The guys who flew the planes into the buildings may have been under the impression that they were performing God's will, but they are not the first to make that mistake. Christianity, in it's darkest hours, not only actively participated in pogroms across Europe since the middle ages, and the Inquisition, and the mass torture and murder of non-believing natives from the Caribbean in the 1500s all the way over to the Philippines in the early 1900s, but it's largest sect at the time remained completely silent during the holocaust. Politely, her wedding dress should definitely be off white, if not crimson.

Are we to assume that Christians have a thing for invading other countries, killing their leaders, and converting them to Christianity? Well, I don't think so. That didn't stop Ann Coulter from saying, "We should invade other countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity." The only thing separating her fringe opinion from that of Ahmadinejad is proximity to power and the preferred methods of warfare. So I can also understand why some young muslims see American military absolutely crawling all over the middle east and wonder if she's bluffing or not. I also understand how Ahmadinejad and Al-Sadr can enjoy support in parts of the world where people simply don't have access to independent news sources.

Even before our response to 9/11, Osama bin Laden didn't just wake up one day and decided he hated freedom. His main complaints about the US were: we support Israel, and we stationed troops in the holy land of Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War. How's that for some irony when we're talking mosque locations?

What both Ann Coulter and Osama bin Laden have in common is that they believe the only solution is to kill one another because of our religious affiliations. We can't let them devolve our national conversation to that point. The reason is because we have principles enshrined in the Constitution, such as:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

That's the first amendment! As in, the one that was so important we put it first! So please, people, tell me we have not reached the point in our national discourse when the location of a mosque triggers people to try and deny fellow citizens their constitutional rights without batting an eyelash. If we can't stand up for religious freedom, the idea that Jefferson contemplated with "sovereign reverence," what exactly can we unite to fight for?
posted by atypicalguy at 3:49 AM on August 13, 2010 [11 favorites]


Don't worry, angrycat, Decani is indeed quite catholic in his dislike of all religion...
posted by Skeptic at 4:46 AM on August 13, 2010


There's an odd silver lining of hope that I feel about this, as an American, that even the world's most religiously tolerant nation can have bigoted jack-asses rise to positions of power.

I'm afraid you're referring to a version of my country that ceased to exist quite some time ago. Wilders' rhetoric is an extreme version of what most major parties in the Netherlands use nowadays. 'Islamification' is almost universally treated as a problem, one that must be solved by limiting immigration and forced emigration of criminal (third generation!) immigrants.

On top of that, the Netherlands don't seem to be the only European country where one can see these developments in action.
posted by mahershalal at 5:06 AM on August 13, 2010


I'd like to quote my Indonesian grandmother here; "Never trust an Indos who bleach their hair". Well, she was talking about Anneke Grönloh at the time, but as a general statement, it still stands.
posted by ouke at 6:23 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Aaargh. (lose the 'an' in my comment above)
posted by ouke at 6:24 AM on August 13, 2010


This is super depressing that people are trying to introduce European style anti-muslim racism into the United States.

It may be hard for some people here to believe, but compared to French and Dutch anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racism the American variety is relatively rare and unobtrusive. Arabs I know refer to a kind of Anglo-Saxon exceptionalism with regard to this particular variety of racism. Many of them find Europe totally unbearable, but the United States a pretty comfortable place to be. I'm referring here to the kind of secular, intellectual, non-religious or not-overtly religious types you'd expect to fit in anywhere. The same, however, apparently holds for religious types as well, from girls in hijabs or niqabs, to men with big, scary looking Salafi beards and zebibas.

To the extent that this observation is actually true, it's probably related to our rather extremely individualistic society with it's live-and-let-live(or die) attitude; and perhaps to our relatively-empire free history in the region. Although that doesn't explain a similar attitude on the part of the Brits, does it?

So now we've got the wackos of the Republican party base bringing Wilders (and before him Hirsi Ali, I guess) and his ilk over to try to get our racism moving in a more modern European direction. Thanks guys, maybe if we make our local Muslims feel unwelcome they'll start blowing up trains and stabbing filmmakers here too...*

It's nice to see that NY Mayor Bloomberg has actively resisted the anti-mosque nutters. He's a real asshole and hasn't always been very helpful on anti-muslim racism in NYC, but here at least, he's sticking to his guns.

The whole thing is particularly ironic and depressing since the people starting this mosque and cultural center are the kind of airy-fairy let's-just-accept-everyone Sufi types who would probably be beheaded and declared kuffar by the jihadis that Palin et.al supposedly fear.

I mean, if it was a jihadi mosque, I guess I might have a problem with them putting one a couple of blocks from the WTC too. But then again, jihadi mosques aren't really my thing anyway.

*I should note that I don't actually think it's racism that causes this kind of disgusting behavior on the part of a few young Muslim men in Europe and elsewhere; the causes are a good bit more diffuse and hard to get a grip on...
posted by jackbrown at 7:09 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Isn't Islamification a problem, mahershalal? I think the debate goes further than simply (in)tolerance of other people's religion. What you see happening in some areas is the creating of bubbles of a society which are growing so strong in their own ways, own language etc that for instance it is more difficult for people who grow up within the bubble to simply find work outside the bubble. It is more challenging for immigrants and offspring to get ahead. There might be racism involved but also things like a strong working class accent might not help if you are after a high paying job in the City. If you are Joe Average it is even more difficult to gain the skills required and you might find comfort and ways of gaining respect within the structures of the bubble.

Question is do we want these bubbles and do we want them to grow. When we are building new towns have our councils not been trying for years to mix rich and poor, rent and buy?

What about the people who get caught up in the bubble when it grows and suddenly find in their walking circle and in their perception that there is nowhere to buy alcohol or cigarettes, no bars, no gambling, no church, people in the shop that don't speak your language anymore, halal food and a dress code. That is not just religion anymore that is a lifestyle change being forced.

You find this bubbles everywhere including the Islamic countries so indeed not very unique problem for The Netherlands although we should not forget that The Netherlands is a small and densely populated country. So can we see immigration as separate from this issue? Don't we all want to exile our criminals on a deserted island?
posted by Mrs Mutant at 7:13 AM on August 13, 2010


'Islamification' is almost universally treated as a problem, one that must be solved by limiting immigration and forced emigration of criminal (third generation!) immigrants.

That's not entirely accurate though, is it? From the parties represented in Parliament, I only remember hearing the PVV talk about "islamization". There may be elements within the VVD, but I don't think you'll hear that word used seriously anywhere left of the CDA. I don't think that qualifies as "universal".

I will submit that stricter immigration policies have become socially acceptable very quickly after Fortuyn died, and that stricter views on immigration and integration have in a sense pervaded most parties' platforms, maybe even GL/SP/Labour, no matter how slightly. (I'm also constantly surprised at how mild and reasonable Fortuyn seems in retrospect, at least compared to Wilders.)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:21 AM on August 13, 2010


jackbrown, I think that the lack of anti-Arab or anti-Muslim prejudice in the US has less to do with the individualism of US culture than with lack of exposure. There are, after all, few cultures quite as individualistic, in their own way, as the Dutch and the French. American bigots have always had a wide range of other minorities to pick on, so that Muslims went under the radar. On the other hand, not only do Muslims represent an overwhelming contingent of the immigrants living in both France and Holland, but both countries went through extremely messy decolonisations of large Muslim nations (Algeria and Indonesia, respectively), that planted the seeds of a deep dislike of anything Muslim among large swathes of the population of both France and Holland. Ouke is only half-joking about Wilders, and it's worth noting that Le Pen came of age fighting Algerian insurgents as a paratrooper...
So, after almost ten years fighting similarly messy wars of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, it isn't entirely surprising that the same sentiments are starting to surface in the US...
posted by Skeptic at 7:39 AM on August 13, 2010


I don't find Islamification to be a problem, because I believe that the western, secular lifestyle will convert more Muslims than the opposite. It may be that Islamification is a threat to Christianity, but that's six of one, half-dozen of the other to me.

I suppose that immigration may lead to a short term problem of Islamization in some areas, but I think the affect will be limited in both time and space.
posted by empath at 7:43 AM on August 13, 2010


What about the people who get caught up in the bubble when it grows and suddenly find in their walking circle and in their perception that there is nowhere to buy alcohol or cigarettes, no bars, no gambling, no church, people in the shop that don't speak your language anymore, halal food and a dress code. That is not just religion anymore that is a lifestyle change being forced.

Quite frankly, tough shit. I'm sure the white people who lived in the Chinatown complained a lot, too. They all eventually moved, though, and the world went on.
posted by empath at 7:46 AM on August 13, 2010


('the neighborhood that became Chinatown', i had meant to type)
posted by empath at 7:47 AM on August 13, 2010


What about the people who get caught up in the bubble when it grows and suddenly find in their walking circle and in their perception that there is nowhere to buy alcohol or cigarettes, no bars, no gambling, no church, people in the shop that don't speak your language anymore, halal food and a dress code. That is not just religion anymore that is a lifestyle change being forced.

And actually, let me reverse that. Imagine you're a Muslim moving into a non-Muslim area: No one speaks your language, they sell alcohol and cigarettes everywhere, casinos, no mosques, the food isn't halal, etc.

You can see why they will move where Muslims already live. Everyone wants to live in a place that feels like home.

I personally believe that over time, immigrants will acclimate and grow to appreciate Western countries for what they are. The kinds of people that move halfway around the world seem to me the kind of people that would be more likely to adjust quickly.

Every city will have a Muslim quarter where first or second generation immigrants leave, but it's not going to spread to the whole country.
posted by empath at 7:51 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


> What about the people who get caught up in the bubble when it grows and suddenly find in their walking circle and in their perception that there is nowhere to buy alcohol or cigarettes, no bars, no gambling, no church, people in the shop that don't speak your language anymore, halal food and a dress code. That is not just religion anymore that is a lifestyle change being forced.

This is something that happens with most any ethnic group. Stigmatizing it as "islamification" is a fallacy.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:13 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I disagree that the founding fathers, especially George Washington didn't anticipate this. The history of the Reformation involved repeated events of terrorism, pervasive discrimination, civil warfare, inflated rhetoric, political sniping, and virulent anti-semitism that has persisted in many forms through to the present day. Devout Anglicans were not exactly comfortable having Nonconformists and Catholics next door, and Catholics had every reason to be suspicious of what a Protestant majority in congress would do. For President Washington to state clearly unequivocally that the members of the Jewish Congregation of Newport equal and full citizens of the United States was an extremely radical position at a time when most heads of state also held the title of Defender of the Faith.

The United States wasn't entirely immune to inter-denominational violence and discrimination. I find it profoundly stupid when Catholic pundits like O'Reily and Buchanan praise an ideological myth of "anglo-saxon" culture that was originally virulently anti-Catholic. But the relative absence of systematic discrimination and segregation made the present ecumenical environment possible.

Mrs Mutant: Um, I'm having problems understanding how this is radically different from the Little Italys, Chinatowns, Devon Streets, Irish Catholic Neighborhoods, and Harlems we've had before. The primary difference is that it's no longer fashionable for people like Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt to publicly speculate that anglo-saxon culture will fall if WASPs don't have enough babies. It is fashionable to speculate that a small religious minority will turn NYC into an independent Islamic state should be permitted to build on a site they've been using as a house of prayer for the last few years.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:16 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I should clarify in that there certainly has been de facto religious segregation in the United States, but if we've learned anything from the last 500 years it's that when the government attempts to protect the religious sensibilities of one group by isolating another, that makes things even worse.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:36 AM on August 13, 2010


Why do people have to move Empath when they have been living in a certain area for all their lives? So they have to be unhappy and/or move to a new neighborhood (stress factor) so some other group of people can be happy? That it happens and life goes on does not make it right. And where do the people in the Netherlands move to? You can drive theoretically from one end of the country to the other in about 3/4 hours. Add to that that Islam is the only growing religion in the Netherlands, that average size of a Muslim family is bigger and that asylum seeker families are being spread over the country so you find yourself unable to obtain social housing anywhere else so it is very difficult to move I'm just not surprised Wilders is so popular in the Netherlands.

Then you also have to think about how the issue originally started with immigrants who were not expected to stay so never received any help and were willing working for less. Then the original wave of immigrants complaining about a new wave of immigrants that is even more willing to work for less forcing themselves to live in cramped conditions while others end up in the benefits trap which also leads to the neighborhood changing to some sort of ghetto. You see this in all villages and cities now immigrants leading 4 or more separate households in one family home and then they bring their family over. Sure they appreciate the Western countries for what they are. Very nice.

My point here it is not only about religion but mostly about welfare like most disputes but the religion bit does not help.
posted by Mrs Mutant at 8:51 AM on August 13, 2010


Eh, we're here we're queer Muslim, get used to it. There's an explosion of Muslim births compared to white northern European, and the latter is naturally feeling threatened. I can only shrug at their sorry plight.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:56 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why compare Muslim births to white northern European? Can't white Europeans not be Muslim as well?
posted by Mrs Mutant at 9:25 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


> Can't white Europeans not be Muslim as well?

Certainly, mabruk! But it's undeniably a secular white European versus invasive Muslim species thing going on there.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:29 AM on August 13, 2010


So it is about race?
posted by Mrs Mutant at 9:30 AM on August 13, 2010


It's clearly a combination of skin tone and lifestyle--not one or the other.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:32 AM on August 13, 2010


Agreed combination of factors also including differences in welfare, differences in views about what is socially acceptable.
posted by Mrs Mutant at 9:45 AM on August 13, 2010


In fact, the U.S. Bill of Rights only restricted the federal government until we passed the 14th Amendment, atypicalguy. I've no idea if specific site restrictions would be problematic constitutionally, maybe not under this court.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:46 AM on August 13, 2010


Why do people have to move Empath when they have been living in a certain area for all their lives?

They don't have to move. They can also learn to put up with people that are different from them. The world doesn't owe you a culturally homogeneous neighborhood.
posted by empath at 9:49 AM on August 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's a privilege to live in a neighborhood where you are part of the culturally dominant in group, not a right. When you move into a neighborhood that was primarily white, middle class and christian, there is no guarantee that it will always stay that way, nor should there be. People move, the world changes. Everyone needs to adapt.
posted by empath at 9:55 AM on August 13, 2010


More likely get a fight over who is boss in the neighborhood especially as resources are scarce. How do you keep the little people under control?
posted by Mrs Mutant at 9:55 AM on August 13, 2010


The people in the hood have decided you should wear a sheet over your head Empath with two holes for your eyes. Do you adapt?
posted by Mrs Mutant at 9:59 AM on August 13, 2010


They don't get to make a decision for us, Mrs Mutant. They make decisions for themselves. That's how it works.
posted by Kirk Grim at 10:05 AM on August 13, 2010


The people in the hood have decided you should wear a sheet over your head Empath with two holes for your eyes. Do you adapt?

How would such a restriction be legally enforced?

In the US, I live in a mixed neighborhood that is primarily Indian immigrants. Many of the women and men favor a style of dress that is much more modest that modern American dress. And yet I do not feel compelled to wear long sleeves and long pants in the middle of summer as they do! Being a white person in a white country, I know that if I were ever "persecuted" for my style of living, I would be privileged with the police force and with the justice system, unlike my neighbors.
posted by muddgirl at 10:09 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


More likely get a fight over who is boss in the neighborhood especially as resources are scarce. How do you keep the little people under control?

Am I to take this at face value or are you being sarcastic?
posted by empath at 10:11 AM on August 13, 2010


> The people in the hood have decided you should wear a sheet over your head Empath with two holes for your eyes. Do you adapt

Come on. This is blatant fear mongering.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:11 AM on August 13, 2010


Just pointing out that it is not that easy to adapt, people are often not willing to adapt and don't see the point in adapting and that religion or a law system does serve a purpose to keep peace amongst the people. What is more important the law of the people or the law of God? The opinions differ.
posted by Mrs Mutant at 10:21 AM on August 13, 2010


> Just pointing out that it is not that easy to adapt, people are often not willing to adapt and don't see the point in adapting

No, you keep moving the goal posts. People will have problems adjusting to others, but it's really a matter of perception. No Muslim immigrants to Europe are going to make you wear a burqa. This is silly, and you're not doing yourself any favors by shifting around like that.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:23 AM on August 13, 2010


Exactly what I mentioned in my first post. It does have a lot to do with perception. How do you change perception? Suppose I was very afraid about the burqa what guarantees can you offer me?
posted by Mrs Mutant at 10:28 AM on August 13, 2010


Just pointing out that it is not that easy to adapt, people are often not willing to adapt and don't see the point in adapting and that religion or a law system does serve a purpose to keep peace amongst the people. What is more important the law of the people or the law of God? The opinions differ.

You aren't being coherent. Or you are being coy. Do you mean that white christians are not willing to adapt to changes in their neighborhoods brought about by new immigration? Or that immigrants are not willing to adapt to the prevailing culture of the neighborhoods they move into?

Both situations are surely problematic, but I don't think they rise to the level of "Things That We Need to Do Something About." It has ever been this way, and either people learn to adapt, or they find somewhere else to live, or I suppose they can grouse about it on internet message boards.

It has nothing to do with Islam or religion, or the law of god, and everything to do with people being provincial.
posted by empath at 10:28 AM on August 13, 2010


Suppose I was very afraid about the burqa what guarantees can you offer me?

I would say you're being paranoid, as I don't believe there's been a single case of a non-Muslim being forced or even encouraged to wear a Burqa in a non-Muslim country.
posted by empath at 10:30 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


The very protections that give Muslims the right to live, worship and dress as they like are the same protections that give you the right not to wear a Burqa. If you start down the path of dictating how others in your country should live, you put your own rights on shaky ground.
posted by empath at 10:31 AM on August 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


what guarantees can you offer me?

The US has the Constitution, Canada has a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I'm not sure about where you live, but I'm sure there's something similar.
posted by Kirk Grim at 10:45 AM on August 13, 2010


You know we are just both wasting time here Empath but I do think this is a fascinating subject that needs to be discussed as someone posted earlier this whole thing could develop in something dangerous. Wilders party in the Netherlands is already almost the biggest and he is due to have a say in Dutch government and get his face on American telly. No points for guessing as I am Dutch I know a few people that 100% are behind Wilders and who were even going way further than Wilders in their election time rantings about Islam while I also got quite a few Muslim friends and live in a UK neighborhood with over 40 mosques versus 25 churches. Local council is over 50% Muslim. It is no doubt a very interesting area to live. Crazy stuff happens like leaflets that we go to hell if we vote (haram) but we also have other extremists of all colors and a lot of normal people, just making a living. In the beginning when I moved in I was always looking for English people (hee an English person) but I now realize quite a number of Muslims can best be typified as working class locals so English if you like to label people. I'm just reading a leaflet now of a group of local Muslims who do not want to associate themselves with a Saudi imam oriented group who is active in the biggest local mosque, being called fascist and now stands accused of infiltrating local schools. Ah so there is an issue with this group. But when the local non Muslim MP said something about this group he got a bucket load of shit over him, while the Muslim MP kept her mouth shut. Both got extra security. So not sure what to think anymore. What am I allowed to think?
posted by Mrs Mutant at 11:24 AM on August 13, 2010


Oh good grief. We're talking about a building permit, for a property where a group has been hosting prayer sessions for the last few years. And they're getting a shitstorm of grief from bigots over it.

The most entertaining thing to come out of this whole mess was the guy who went "Hurr durr, I'm going to open a muslim-friendly gay bar in the same neighborhood." Guess what, there are already three gay bars.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:38 AM on August 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Do you know if those gay bars have Muslim guests? I see none in my 'hood.
posted by Mrs Mutant at 11:41 AM on August 13, 2010


I'd consider it quite likely.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:43 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


"... I am Dutch ... and live in a UK neighborhood..."

Isn't Hollandization a problem? What guarantees do the English have that they won't be forced to wear clogs and build dykes and eat pannekoeken and allow American tourists to get stoned at cafes?
posted by Kirk Grim at 11:57 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


None. London will soon learn to do things the Dutch way. Backwards English. Like we also plan to take back Manhattan at some point start replacing Macy's with a HEMA.
posted by Mrs Mutant at 12:01 PM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Heh. I can't find the exact quote now, but paraprhasing, Fortuyn once said he had nothing against Moroccan boys: after all, he had had plenty of them.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:02 PM on August 13, 2010


Is there a local fatwa in effect against punctuation?
posted by empath at 12:05 PM on August 13, 2010


I think the point is, Mrs Mutant, that you alleged or at least implied that Muslims could dictate non-Muslims' clothing, and as it stands that is out of the question as far as I'm concerned. (Even if push comes to shove, I'm sure you know how difficult it is to amend the Dutch constitution.)

So hoping you will agree that the sheets can stay in the linen closet for now, but if we are going to deal in hypotheticals anyway, I would think it sensible to ask: what is the worst thing that Islamic influence can bring to Geuzenveld, or Tower Hamlets? (Or the Schilderswijk, or Handsworth)?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:11 PM on August 13, 2010


Sure, you make jokes now, but it won't be so funny when the capital is covered in tulips, will it?
posted by Kirk Grim at 12:12 PM on August 13, 2010


Oh no I did not imply Muslims could dictate non-Muslims clothing. My question was could you adapt if someone would ask you to dress a certain way. You probably would if you would be visiting certain countries. But would you conform to certain dress or habit if you were politely asked in your own area? Again that non Muslim MP got a lot of flack for publicly walking out of a London Muslim wedding because he was not allowed to sit together with his wife. I say he should have conformed even with dress if asked, you don't spoil a wedding but where do you draw the line. I avoided a Muslim wedding because may do something wrong but maybe not next time.

The growing tendencies towards niqab are not perceived as a positive development by all Muslims in my area. But the difference is that I can't say I don't like it.
posted by Mrs Mutant at 12:51 PM on August 13, 2010


> But the difference is that I can't say I don't like it.

Uh, you just did. Anyway, I stand by my previous comment and bid you farewell.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:53 PM on August 13, 2010


Skeptic, I certainly agree that in the French case at least, racism against Muslims has a lot to do with colonial history, and in both the French and Dutch cases, quite a bit to do with exposure as well.

In California, where I live, anti-Chinese racism in the 1880s (or thereabouts) resulted in the ethnic cleansing of all the Chinese immigrants north of San Francisco in a series of violent pogroms which started in the bigger towns, and eventually even the tiny little town I grew up in was Chinesenfrei when they deported their one local Chinese fellow. It all came down to exposure, economic competition, and opportunistic local politicians.

So the fact that Americans hadn't been exposed to many Muslims might have something to do with it. But I think actually political opportunism has a lot more to do with it. I mean, I am a very well informed and quite intellectually curious person, and before 2001 had quite a number of nominally Muslim friends. But I had only the vaguest notion that they were "different" in some fundamental way at that point. I knew there was something called Ramadan, that they weren't supposed to drink alcohol and eat pork, and that they worshiped Muhammad in some sense the way my grandparents and a few other people I had met worshiped Jesus. But I mean, I didn't think any of them under the age of 50 actually prayed, or fasted or worshiped Muhammad or did anything silly like that. I think most Americans in the good old days had only the vaguest notion that there was something different about Muslims.

I think what has changed isn't the Muslims, or their numbers in the USA, but the amount of political propaganda we've had shoved down our throats about them. To the extent that there's anti-muslim racism in the US now, it's a result of an obsessive focus by politicians and our worthless and uninformative press.
posted by jackbrown at 12:53 PM on August 13, 2010


No I did not say I don't like it - I said I can't say I don't like it. I said nothing about niqab. Gettit?
posted by Mrs Mutant at 12:56 PM on August 13, 2010


Good point jackbrown. What has changed and why? To what purpose?
posted by Mrs Mutant at 1:06 PM on August 13, 2010


What has changed and why?

End of the Cold War.

To what purpose?

Without the spectre of international Communism, our masters need a new threat. Voila: the spectre of international Islam.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:30 PM on August 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


But Mrs Mutant, you said:

The people in the hood have decided you should wear a sheet over your head Empath with two holes for your eyes. Do you adapt?

Is that not dictating? Or are they not Muslims? These are honest questions, I'm just really confused as to what point you're trying to make.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:13 PM on August 13, 2010


In Defense of Mrs Mutant:

First, to those of you who haven't lived an appreciable portion of their lives in the Netherlands (I'm looking at you, monolinguists), you need to understand that this is not just another country's version of Arizona, Tea Party style anti-other-color-people crazy (and to any of my friends in A'dam and den Haag, you should get out of your own circles and geographies more.) This is not congruent or even parallel to what's happening in the US or the UK because most of the anti-immigration people in these countries were at best closeted racists to begin with.

That is not true of the majority of conservative Dutch people. Do you think the famous Dutch tolerance could really be supported for so many years - centuries - by people who, in reality, were anti-gay, anti-non-white, anti-alternative anything? That it was all just an illusion for tourists?

What's happening in Holland would be more like the coastal intelligencia in the US suddenly saying things like, "Well, Palin is an idiot, but she makes a few good points..."

Wilders and his ilk are bad-crazy, but they are infectious, like a disease. For Holland of all places to even entertain in polite conversation much less national debate the idea of expelling people based on their religion? Seriously, things have gotten bad.

I have my own ideas about why they've gotten so bad, and I think it has less to do with racism per se (right now) and more to do with a real and realistic concern about the character of the nation. Little Whatevers in the US could expand more or less indefinitely, populations could expand indefinitely, and the culture in the US could absorb it simply because of its immense size and natural resources, neither of which Holland possesses. When a Western nation went to some other land and tried to change its national character, we had a word for that.

And make no mistake - the thing the Dutch are concerned will change is the very concept of tolerance, that it will be OK for girls to not learn how to swim or even finish high school based on religious tolerance. We had the debate on physicians performing female circumcision in Holland to avoid girls actually dying a *decade* ago.

So when I say that the problems are not based on racism - yet - that's not to say that if things get any worse they won't be based on out and out racism, because that's straight where they are headed, just like in the US. I don't have any idea at all what the solution might be (although things like head scarf bans certainly wouldn't help). I just want people to stop pigeon holing this into their own, limited and non-Dutch experience. It is not just US style intolerance with a funny accent and vastly superior dairy products.
posted by digitalprimate at 5:51 PM on August 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sure, you make jokes now, but it won't be so funny when the capital is covered in tulips, will it?

Funny thing about Tulips.

Those damn Muslims, destroying Dutch culture for 300 years.
posted by empath at 6:28 PM on August 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


IMHO, Mrs Mutant's local MP, representing the constituency that s/he does, knew damned well what the seating arrangements in a mosque are like for a wedding as in any other case and 'walking out' was merely a dumbass bit of showboating or (worse) unforgiveable ignorance.

But, knowing the area they live in from previous discussions here with Mr Mutant, I can accept that the theory presented -- that at some point it will become difficult in that particular square mile to dress in an 'immodest' fashion as determined by some local Muslim bigmouth -- isn't entirely far-fetched.

I don't, however, think it's especially likely. Brick Lane's only 300m from Bishopsgate, ffs, and barring the overspill of orange-faced straightened-haired bleach-blonde belts-for-skirts-wearing Essex girls on a Friday night would be extremely bad for business of a Friday night. And that's ignoring the vast daytime tourist traffic on weekends around Petticoat Lane and en route to Columbia Road, which we shouldn't.

Separately, it's probably not known to most of the world that the Netherlands has among its few national daily newspapers one run by the Reformed (Calvinist) Church. Illiberalism is alive and kicking over there and, if anything, galvanised by our view of the Dutch as uniformly laid-back and liberal. (You may remember Calvinists from such other socially-liberal groups as the 'Pilgrim Fathers', Ian Paisley's DUP, and the Boers.)
posted by genghis at 6:50 PM on August 13, 2010


Background info on Mrs Mutant's MP and that wedding:

MP defends Wedding Walkout

Jim Fitzpatrick condemned for 'hijacking' wedding.
Mr Fitzpatrick, the MP for Poplar and Canning Town where a third of voters are Muslims, did not know the couple personally but was invited by the bride’s father.
When he and his wife Sheila, a GP, were told by someone outside the couples’ families that they would be separated, they left the event.
The wedding party was keen not to offend Mr Fitzgerald so a local Labour councillor rang him up and invited him to come back, saying there was a table where non-Muslims of different sexes could sit together.
But instead the minister contacted his local newspaper to tell them he was “disappointed” by what had happened.
“We are trying to build social cohesion in a community but this is not the way forward,” he said.
Mr Fitzpatrick blamed a hardline group that has an office at the mosque, the Islamic Forum of Europe, for imposing stricter rules on weddings and claimed he previously had been to many where men and women mixed freely.
But the newlyweds insisted they wanted the wedding ceremony to be split along gender lines.
Mr Islam, the director of a training company, said: “I didn't let the IFE dictate to me or tell me what to do. Neither they, Mr Fitzpatrick, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia or the Pope has a right to tell me and my wife what to do.
“I am not part of the forum and neither is my wife. We liked the religious service, we paid for it, that's it.”
Muslims have infiltrated Labour Party, says Jim Fitzpatrick.
posted by empath at 7:08 PM on August 13, 2010


Well yes, but the Reformatorisch Dagblad has a a circulation of only about 56,000, compared to 260,000 for de Volkskrant and 700,000 for De Telegraaf. It is — to my mind — not at all of influence in NL public opinion aside from the CDA / CU / SGP choir it is preaching to.

(If you look past its Reformed slant however, it does have some insightful opinion once in a while IMO, especially in opposition to Wilders / the PVV. To put things in perspective however, I will concede that the paper's web site is closed on Sundays. No, really. Try it during a European Sunday.)

It would be far from me to defend the Dutch Reformed Church, but comparing its modern incarnation to Paisley or the Boers seems pretty near-sighted to me.

Also, how does NL have "few" national papers? Among de Volkskrant, De Telegraaf, NRC, Trouw, AD, Reformatorisch Dagblad, Nederlands Dagblad, nrc.next I count eight, and that's not counting Het Parool, which is Amsterdam-centric but sees national distribution, and De Pers, Sp!ts and Metro, which are free. That would bring the total up to eleven.

Sorry to nitpick, but that seems reasonable or even generous considering 16.6-ish million inhabitants, when compared to other Western countries.

I do agree that a perception of the Netherlands in English-speaking countries as a progressive Valhalla is naive at best, if that's what you were getting at, but the Reformatorisch Dagblad is such a minor force in this to my mind that I cannot help but protest the example.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:24 PM on August 13, 2010


Obama supports plan for mosque near ground zero: At a Ramadan dinner at the White House, the president breaks his silence on the issue, framing it as one of religious freedom.
posted by homunculus at 8:24 PM on August 13, 2010


Funny thing about Tulips.

So you're telling me they re-gifted?
posted by Kirk Grim at 8:55 PM on August 13, 2010


For those of us who haven't lived in the Netherlands, I found Ian Buruma's Murder in Amsterdam, about the Theo Van Gogh killing, to be a fine and careful look at the events and the broader question of Dutch tolerance. One of the finer pieces of journalism I've read on a topic as fraught as this, I thought. I'm curious what goodnewsfortheinsane and digitalprimate, among other Dutch on this thread, might have thought of it.
posted by jackbrown at 12:50 AM on August 14, 2010


Genghis if you walk down from Brick Lane towards Whitechapel and Stepney Green and then cross through Jubilee Street to Watney Market you do see the world changing with type of people around you on the street. Have a look at this video but note that I strongly disagree with him that the streets are 100% Bangladeshi like this former LibDem MP candidate is saying: Ajmal Masroor walking down Whitechapel

Recent developments in the hood: student pub has changed in a dessert bar with non alcoholic cocktails. Mr Mutant don't like but I am totally fine with that one definitely going to try (if they also solved the mouse problem that is). The lap dance bar is being refurbished. Two other pubs are gone. The co-op down the road has stopped selling lottery tickets, we could not find out why because attendant did not speak English. Listed building being refurbished into girls school with mosque. School allowed to teach in mother tongue. School uniforms with hijab. But we do still have 24/7 off-license selling liquor and pork meat products and loads of fried chicken bars all halal. Personally I have nothing against making the area an alcohol free zone and the only thing I really object to is the teaching in mother tongue although always good to speak multiple languages. Brick Lane is not really representative for the area as it is supposed to attract tourists
posted by Mrs Mutant at 3:09 AM on August 14, 2010


Militant Muslims may have infiltrated the Labour Party but also the local Conservative Party? At the selection meeting of the local Conservative Party MP candidate all women sat separate from the men. One of the Bangladeshi candidates was chosen with an overwhelming majority while he was not the best speaker nor the candidate with the best CV. The brother of the chairman of the controversial IFE.

Next to the general and local election we also had a vote for elected mayor yes/no. I noticed a strong presence of local imams invited to speak about a political issue at the campaign meetings Yes for Mayor (separation church/state?). Number of women outside campaigning No for Mayor. Labour Party stance was against elected mayor except for a very glossy leaflet from prominent local Labour representative Lutfur Rahman (linked to IFE by Channel Four documentary, sent out letter to fellow non Muslim councillors to ask them to participate in Ramadan, fame) supporting the Yes for elected Mayor vote. Recently he went to court to force the Labour Party to put his name forward to be elected as Mayor of Tower Hamlets in October after they failed to select him as a potential candidate two times. As it is very likely that any Labour candidate will be chosen as Mayor in this area next October you could see the motivation to be put on the ballot paper but going to court??? There were other Bangladeshi candidates on the Labour selection list but arguably not as strong as the white male candidate. Labour Party is stuffed.
posted by Mrs Mutant at 4:40 AM on August 14, 2010


But it is all really about perception. What do we know?
posted by Mrs Mutant at 5:20 AM on August 14, 2010


Jackbrown wrote: The whole thing is particularly ironic and depressing since the people starting this mosque and cultural center are the kind of airy-fairy let's-just-accept-everyone Sufi types who would probably be beheaded and declared kuffar by the jihadis that Palin et.al supposedly fear.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf may be an airy-fairy sort, but if so he has some odd friends. Don't get me wrong - I still think he's entitled to build his mosque - but he is the number-two listed guy on a foundation that blames Jews for nuclear weapons, financial crises, and "the negation of the freedom of speech when it comes to the alleged killings of Jews in World War II".
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:42 AM on August 14, 2010


I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with that book, jackbrown.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:33 AM on August 14, 2010


Um, Joe, they merely published a response from the President of Malaysia on their blog.

He's not even in the foundation. So please at least try to be honest when you attempt to smear people and groups.
posted by empath at 8:42 AM on August 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually, I'm sorry, I misread. He's the founder of the group. So uh, yeah. I'm completely wrong there.
posted by empath at 8:44 AM on August 14, 2010


I'm not familiar with that book either, jackbrown, but I should probably check into it.

And, more alsoer, I hope I didn't add to the stereotypes regarding Dutch tolerance now or historically. Tolerance in NL is a very nuanced and complicated thing, and certainly Holland is not nor has it ever been some kind of live-and-let-live paradise.

That said, I still think what's happening now is unprecedented in modern times, mostly because the Dutch have (admittedly often grudgingly) practiced a somewhat unique form of national tolerance for so long and in a much more pressurized environment than say the Scandinavian nations.
posted by digitalprimate at 9:04 AM on August 14, 2010


Because of their track record of killing Americans, I can't support the construction of a Ground Zero McDonald's.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:27 PM on August 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


President Obama was for the mosque before he was against it. Because urban planning is what Heads of State are for.

Yes, I know this is a bit unfair to both Barack Obama and Prince Charles.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:34 PM on August 14, 2010


Prince Charles not very eager to support these English working class people living next to Victoria Park, Tower Hamlets
posted by Mrs Mutant at 12:10 PM on August 15, 2010


The battleground is chosen. We didn't choose it. They did. So we have to win here, on this issue. I think it is time for a speech. If you really think about it, tying your horse to religious bigotry is a hell of a risk, especially when you have nothing to back it up with. Tie this agitation to the assholes protesting mosques in Tenn. and Cali. Ask the Republicans if they support the building of mosques there.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:59 PM on August 16, 2010


BBC: ..."Yet the Ground Zero mosque debate transcends local politics. It's highly-charged, invoking emotional ideas of American identity and religious respect through the prism of the most defining and traumatizing incident in the nation's recent history"...
posted by Mrs Mutant at 3:13 AM on August 17, 2010


Gingrich Backs Out Of 9/11 Anti-Islam Rally?
posted by ericb at 1:23 PM on August 17, 2010


The battleground is chosen. We didn't choose it. They did. So we have to win here, on this issue.

WTF is all this "we" and "they" shit? You sound like a bit of a xenophobe. Please explain.

And who exactly did choose this battleground? Was the site of the mosque deliberately chosen to be in such a sensitive spot? Or was it a case of the community needing a mosque, and an after-the-fact "Oh gee, ground zero? We never realised."
posted by uncanny hengeman at 4:02 AM on August 18, 2010


hengeman, FWIW, i read ironmouth's "they" as 'knee-jerk cordoba opponents' or 'knee-jerk islamophobes'. but it took me a re-read, so maybe it could have been phrased more clearly, if in fact that was the meaning.
posted by lodurr at 5:00 AM on August 18, 2010


Thanks. Yes, I thought the "we" and "they" teams were the other way around for the first part of the post. I also had to do a re read.

Interesting question, but. Who turned it into a battle? Was the choice of site deliberate? If so, then surely that's when the battle lines were drawn.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:29 AM on August 18, 2010


Uncanny hengeman: I suspect it was chosen because it was a vacant building of around the right size that was just down the road from the organisers' existing mosque (245 West Broadway). But this article from the NY Times does say that Imam Feisal, the spiritual leader of this initiative, considered the location a plus because it "sends the opposite statement to what happened on 9/11 ... We want to push back against the extremists." As I understand it, from his perspective having a mosque there is actually a bit of peacemaking: it's saying that the congregation wants to stand with the mourners of September 11th against the intolerance of the hijackers.

My own opinion is that this shouldn't make a difference: unless someone is actually inciting violence they've got a right to their opinions and the peaceful use of their property. Denying them the right to construct their mosque/community centre would be an outrageous surrender to a vindictive lynch mob.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:52 AM on August 18, 2010


Pat Buchanan thinks Newt went too far in comparing the Park51 people to Nazis.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:14 AM on August 18, 2010


Mosque a long shot to be built -
The Cordoba Initiative hasn’t yet begun fundraising for its $100 million goal. The group’s latest fundraising report with the state attorney general’s office, from 2008, shows exactly $18,255 — not enough even for a down payment on the half of the site the group has yet to purchase.

The group also lacks even the most basic real estate essentials: no blueprint, architect, lobbyist or engineer — and now operates amid crushing negative publicity. The developers didn't line up advance support for the project from other religious leaders in the city, who could have risen to their defense with the press.
[via]
posted by Burhanistan at 11:49 AM on August 19, 2010


Gainesville church planning ‘Burn the Quran Day’ is denied permit, but plans to do it anyway.
posted by ericb at 11:53 AM on August 19, 2010


AP Fact Checks Mosque Controversy: "A look at some of the claims and how they compare with the known facts."
posted by ericb at 12:37 PM on August 19, 2010


The people in the hood have decided you should wear a sheet over your head Empath with two holes for your eyes. Do you adapt?

Uhhhh....

I don't think that's what you're implying but it's still ironic.
posted by Talez at 4:21 PM on August 23, 2010


"If we want to cut off funding to the Terror Mosque we must, together as a nation, stop watching Fox News!"

Nice catch.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:52 PM on August 25, 2010


Just in from the Old Country, jetlagged as hell, update to follow tomorrow or Sunday. I had four very interesting conversations about this this I shall relate.
posted by digitalprimate at 7:02 PM on August 27, 2010


Well, I said I'd comment, so I guess i should even though I doubt if anyone's still reading at this point.

My most recent visit pretty much confirmed what I'd begun to suspect during my visit to the inlaws in February and is mostly what I wrote in my initial post. I spoke to several close friends including a relatively liberal, English small business owner, a very liberal senior political figure in a major city, several conservative (but reasonable) relations and had several impromptu talks with people in bars, shwarama shops, etc.

I think my original take was right: that most people are concerned about the character of Holland changing in ways different to the ones in the 1950s and 1960s decolonization and guest worker periods. That said, all but the most liberal of my friends (the aforementioned politician) seemed to be protesting their non-racist take on this far to much for comfort. I'm afraid this issue is, after all, going to increase outright racism in the non Millennial generations.
posted by digitalprimate at 5:15 AM on August 30, 2010


Taliban Operative: We Are Using Protests Against Park 51 To Get ‘More Recruits, Donations, and Popular Support’.
posted by ericb at 8:10 AM on August 30, 2010


Arson Suspected At Construction Site Of Tennessee Mosque Expansion.
posted by ericb at 8:11 AM on August 30, 2010


Imam: Election-year politics to blame for mosque flap -- Opposition to Muslim center near ground zero is led by “tiny, vociferous minority,” says Muslim cleric.
posted by ericb at 1:50 PM on August 30, 2010


Anti-Muslim, Anti-Gay '9/11 Christians' Plan Church Near Ground Zero.
posted by ericb at 2:05 PM on August 30, 2010


Sen. Orrin Hatch: ‘I’d Be The First To Stand Up For Their Rights’ To Build A Mosque Near Ground Zero.
posted by ericb at 2:08 PM on August 30, 2010


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