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CNN Interview with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf
September 9, 2010 3:34 AM   Subscribe

A snippet of the full interview between Soledad O'Brien and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who is in charge of the Cordoba Initiative which plans to build a cultural center, including a mosque, two blocks from ground zero with accompanying article. Five surprises to come from the interview, post-interview debate on Anderson Cooper, and iReporter Kathi Cordsen reacts.
posted by lauratheexplorer (87 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
iReporter Kathi Cordsen reacts.

Facepalm
posted by chillmost at 3:49 AM on September 9, 2010


2. Rauf says the reason he can’t move the Islamic center now is because of national security concerns, saying parts of the Muslim world would be violently inflamed at the news of the center’s relocation.

“The headlines in the Muslim world will be that Islam is under attack… (there’s) the danger of the radicals in the Muslim world to our national security, to the national security of our troops,” he said.


I can't see that line of argument playing well with the kind of blowhard, don't-need-a passport, don't give a shit about what people think because I'm simultaneously shit scared about terrorists while subconsciously near certain they're not going to attack Anchorage or Wichita or wherever person Sarah Palin and her ilk are telegraphing.

No bully likes being bullied. As long as there are limited personal risks to saying "f**k you" then some beardy fifth columnist issuing veiled threats is a red rag.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:57 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well thank God someone is covering this issue.
posted by nomadicink at 4:02 AM on September 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


“It was a front-page article in New York Times," Rauf told CNN, “and no one objected. This controversy only began in May, and it began as a result of some politicians who decided to use this for certain political purposes.”

Here's that article. FWIW I think the Imam hit the nail on the head.
posted by IvoShandor at 4:03 AM on September 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


2. Rauf says the reason he can’t move the Islamic center now is because of national security concerns, saying parts of the Muslim world would be violently inflamed at the news of the center’s relocation.

Oh, come on!
Parts of the Muslim world will always be violently inflamed about something, no matter whether the center is relocated or not. If not about the relocation of the center then about some other perceived "offense".

I am not against the center at all, and I think they should go ahead and build it, but I think this argument is totally bogus and just underscores the reservations that many non-Muslim people have against a religion that calls itself peaceful, yet has so much violence incited in its name.

For comparison, it is pretty much unthinkable that a politician or Christian cleric would advise against relocation of a church or burning of the bible because that might cause violent mobs of Christians in some totally unrelated part of the world go berzerk and attack embassies or innocent people. Not that Christianity hasn't caused its fair share of violence, but thankfully it has emerged from the middle ages and is pretty tame now, at least in most parts of the world.
posted by sour cream at 4:29 AM on September 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


Parts of the Muslim world will always be violently inflamed about something, no matter whether the center is relocated or not. If not about the relocation of the center then about some other perceived "offense".
You don't see many Muslims trying to attack Japan. Why do you think that is?

But anyway, there isn't some predetermined number of 'inflamed' Muslims out there, they get pissed off about things we actually do. So by avoiding offensive actions we would reduce the number of potential terrorists.

Although I don't think this is particularly good reasoning to use for the mosque. At least not in that form. It would be one thing to say "putting the mosque here would show that America doesn't hate Muslims, and therefore reduce the animus towards the U.S in the Muslim world" and saying "Moving the mosque would offend people and increase the risk."
posted by delmoi at 4:52 AM on September 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Never have I been both so apathetic and outraged at the same time.
posted by DU at 5:01 AM on September 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


Not that Christianity hasn't caused its fair share of violence, but thankfully it has emerged from the middle ages and is pretty tame now, at least in most parts of the world.

Still, no one objects to a church being built in the US, just because doctors get shot, women get assaulted and public spaces get bombed by anti-choice Christians. So there's little rational basis here for objecting to a mosque and community center, just because of a small, fringe group of extremists whose operations have for all practical purposes been relegated to wastelands thousands of miles away from the United States.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:17 AM on September 9, 2010 [17 favorites]


Parts of the Muslim world will always be violently inflamed about something

Parts of the world in general will always be inflamed about something. Letting those people drive the public debate on whatever the inflammatory subject is is probably a bad idea.
posted by TedW at 5:17 AM on September 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


Long story short, Rauf is correct that there is real danger here from placating American extremists of the Christian and Jewish variety. Danger to soldiers overseas, as much as danger to our collective freedoms.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:22 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


“It was a front-page article in New York Times," Rauf told CNN, “and no one objected. This controversy only began in May, and it began as a result of some politicians who decided to use this for certain political purposes.”

I didn't know that.


You didn't know that? Then you're either an incompetent journalist, a fool, or both.
posted by Optamystic at 5:28 AM on September 9, 2010 [11 favorites]


Who is Kathi Cordson, and why should I care what she thinks? Reporter? Don't make me laugh. I've got an iCam & bandwidth, & that doesn't make me a reporter any more than she deserves that name. Does she know that there is a mosque, since the 70s, TWO blocks from the WTC site? That has been there since before the WTC towers were built? NO? Geez, louise, spare me from the "new face" of jirnelizm.
posted by beelzbubba at 5:41 AM on September 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


You don't see many Muslims trying to attack Japan. Why do you think that is?

The Japanese don't have any freedoms to hate?

This is why the American response to terrorism could never have been - and will never be - anything other than murderously insane. Because we are culturally incapable of admitting the most fundamental fact of the situation. That we are a global military empire whose actions have given the Muslim world abundant reasons to hate us.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:42 AM on September 9, 2010 [80 favorites]


This is why the American response to terrorism could never have been - and will never be - anything other than murderously insane. Because we are culturally incapable of admitting the most fundamental fact of the situation. That we are a global military empire whose actions have given the Muslim world abundant reasons to hate us.

I almost broke my desk favoriting this. QFT.
posted by nevercalm at 5:52 AM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


That we are a global military empire whose actions have given the Muslim world abundant reasons to hate us.

While I don't doubt that is true in many respects, the transcripts of Osama Bin Laden's diatribes against America about 9/11 make interesting reading.

In short, amongst the waffle his big issue is American military presence on Saudi soil. He's not arguing so much that America's propping up arguably the hardest line Islamic regime on earth. Or that the Saudi royal family are wasting a nation's legacy on whores and fast cars. He mainly doesn't like Americans on home turf. Or holy turf.

The issue of American support for Israel, for example, barely gets a mention in the early transcripts. It comes much later as a post hoc justification.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:03 AM on September 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Many people want to live in a world where no one is willing to offend the sensibilities of anyone else.

"I would like to build a mosque near Ground Zero."

"That offends me"

"Oh. Well. In that case, I won't do it."

Many of those same people are irritated by the cultural upheaval wherein minority groups made the conscious decision to stop caring about "offending" the majority. This was because (1) the majority would not admit that the "offense" was rooted in a frustration with the very existence of the minority, and (2) the majority would not acknowledge that a hat-in-hand, eyes-downcast apology and promise not to be "offensive" again was rarely the product of some preternatural humility, but rather of systematic cultural oppression.

Personally, I think it would be wonderful if our society were so close-knit that the organizers of this mosque were unwilling to proceed out of love and respect for those whom they might offend. I think a society joined by mutual love and respect is vastly superior to one joined by collective individual assertion of personal liberty.

But given that history teaches us "love" and "respect" in this context are often placeholders for more accurate terms like "hegemony" and "guns," I suppose what we've got is the best we can hope for.
posted by jefficator at 6:04 AM on September 9, 2010 [11 favorites]


From the "iReporter":

...I just feel like there's an ulterior motive, and I know that's probably wrong, but that's how I feel...

So, you feel that way AND you know it's wrong BUT that's how you feel...SO you have to let the whole damn world know.

Suddenly I understand how the Tea Party works.

This "iReporter" gimmick is a perfect example of why CNN is circling the drain. Ignorant questions, from ignorant people, that add nothing to the debate and take up time/oxygen that could be used for actual journalism. just throwing a question over the wall doesn't make you a "reporter," i- or otherwise. It makes you a "caller," ("Let's open the phones, Kathi with 'i' fer chrissakes, from Bumblefuck, California, you're on the air") even though you have a videocamera that you can't even aim properly. It's patronizing and borderline Orwellian to pretend otherwise.
posted by PlusDistance at 6:07 AM on September 9, 2010 [18 favorites]


Personally, I think it would be wonderful if our society were so close-knit that the organizers of this mosque were unwilling to proceed out of love and respect for those whom they might offend.
posted by jefficator at 2:04 PM on September 9


Personally I think it would be wonderful if our society had a sufficiently-developed sense of proportion, perspective and confidence not to contain so many individuals and groups so endlessly ready to be offended.
posted by Decani at 6:14 AM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


She's not a "reporter." she's a willfully ignorant hick with a webcam. Goddamit.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:25 AM on September 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Personally, I think it would be wonderful if our society were so close-knit that the organizers of this mosque were unwilling to proceed out of love and respect for those whom they might offend.
posted by jefficator at 2:04 PM on September 9

Personally I think it would be wonderful if our society had a sufficiently-developed sense of proportion, perspective and confidence not to contain so many individuals and groups so endlessly ready to be offended.


Trollish as this may sound, the U.S. has an "us vs. them" attitude, of segregation, of isolationism. This, combined with a strong sense of arrogance, allows issues such as this one to build. Segregation has a long history in the country, and this is essentially just another aspect of it. NIMBY.
posted by ashbury at 6:36 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


The issue of American support for Israel, for example, barely gets a mention in the early transcripts. It comes much later as a post hoc justification.
Contrary to popular belief, bin Laden did not start mentioning the plight of the Palestinians and the occupation of the Aqsa mosque only after 9/11. In every single statement issued by bin Laden, before or after 9/11, he unfailingly mentions both the occupation of Jerusalem and the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia as a critical part of the list of Muslim grievances against the West.
-- From a review of a collection of bin Laden's early writings and speeches.

There are extensive mentions in his August 1996 fatwa, "Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places." He also mentions US support for Israel as a driving factor in US actions against Iraq in his February 1998 fatwa.

"Our enemy is the crusader alliance led by America, Britain and Israel." -- January 1999 interview

"Our duty is to incite the jihad against America, Israel and their allies." -- 1998 interview
posted by kirkaracha at 6:37 AM on September 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'm going to hold a NY Post Burning Ceremony this weekend...anyone want to make an international incident out of it?

Also, in a deft and banal sleight of hand, your friends at News Corporation would like to remind you that no American company has vacated Lower Manhattan since 9/11, and that Wall St. bankers only make bonuses...not base salaries.

And there is no such thing as Saudi or Kuwaiti interest in Iraq...only Iran has interests in Iraq.

Bernie Madoff was never the chairman of Nasdaq.

The fact that we didnt find WMD's is proof they were there.

We can't have a trial for KSM because Fox News is going to make a circus of it.

http://www.ubu.com/film/serra_television.html
posted by lslelel at 6:52 AM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


a religion that calls itself peaceful, yet has so much violence incited in its name.

You'll have to be more specific.
posted by rocket88 at 7:04 AM on September 9, 2010 [15 favorites]


4. The New York Islamic Center will include a memorial for those killed in the 9/11 attacks.

Sadly I think this will have the opposite of the intended effect. People opposed to the center will interpret it in line with their worldview & will see it as gloating rather than sympathizing with the victims of 9/11. People will see what they want to see, and people who hate & fear anything to do with Islam will see hate & fear in return instead of an attempt to bridge the divide between us.
posted by scalefree at 7:07 AM on September 9, 2010


HELLO! WAKE UP!
Here's the Real Deal: The place ought to be built as planned. They have their permits, that's the end of it. This is, after all, the United States of America.

Freedom ain't free, they say. Okay! It costs us accepting the simple fact that freedom of religion means freedom of religion, not freedom of Christianity. This is so fundamentally American, I am astounded that anyone would allow the idea of a question being raised. Astounded, yes, and severely offended, and ashamed.

Build the mosque, and wave that red, white and blue, and Allah Bless America. Tell those right wing babies to shut up or get out of the country. If they can't handle freedom of religion, they can go some place that sees things differently. And I mean that most sincerely.

But you know what? I'm glad this matter came up. It provides a convenient means to identify the phony Americans that are not really interested in supporting the constitution and traditions of the country. And how shocking that some of them are politicians who swore an oath to uphold and defend that same constitution.

Oath breakers, unfit for public office of any kind, that's what they are. It's very simple. Is there any politicians left in America with the brass to stand up and call for an accounting from these oath breakers?
posted by Goofyy at 7:07 AM on September 9, 2010 [18 favorites]


“It was a front-page article in New York Times," Rauf told CNN, “and no one objected. This controversy only began in May, and it began as a result of some politicians who decided to use this for certain political purposes.”

I didn't know that.


Optamystic
: You didn't know that? Then you're either an incompetent journalist, a fool, or both a CNN reporter.

FTFY.
posted by The Bellman at 7:12 AM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Chris Floyd:

... this week we have been treated to the bleakly comic sight of the avatars of these very establishments expressing their deeply humanitarian concerns -- and their nostril-flaring moral outrage -- over the plans of a Florida religious crank to publicly burn a few Korans on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. These societal leaders -- such as Gen. David Petraeus and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- sternly warn us that such an act will inevitably produce violent blowback, stoke Islamic extremism and exacerbate anti-American feeling in the Muslim world.

...

One wonders if the actual burning and slaughtering of actual human beings in the Muslim world -- covertly and overtly, in country after country, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year -- by the highest, most honored, respected and powerful worthies of American society might, just possibly, incite more violence and ill will against us than the burning of a few books by a marginal, powerless goober down in Florida.

posted by Joe Beese at 7:14 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sorry, one correction: That we are a global military empire whose actions have given the Muslim world abundant reasons to hate us.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:19 AM on September 9, 2010


Goofyy wrote: "Freedom ain't free, they say. Okay! It costs us accepting the simple fact that freedom of religion means freedom of religion, not freedom of Christianity. This is so fundamentally American, I am astounded that anyone would allow the idea of a question being raised. Astounded, yes, and severely offended, and ashamed. "

Yeah, I think most everybody understands that they have the right to build the mosque and will accept it if they do so. Even some of the more..interesting..people I know get that. For whatever reason, they have decided that it is offensive to the memory of those killed on 9/11. As the iReporter said, they know it's wrong, but that's just how they feel.
posted by wierdo at 7:22 AM on September 9, 2010


I'm going to hold a NY Post Burning Ceremony this weekend...anyone want to make an international incident out of it?

Can I be your iReporter? Lessee, that would only give me a couple of days to think up some really inane questions, but I think I am up for to the challenge. Wait! Am I supposed to be for burning the Post or against?
posted by beelzbubba at 7:28 AM on September 9, 2010


After giving this some though, I think this discussion is about an emerging president, can Americas citizen lobby against and prevent the building of religious centers? If the Muslim community center gets blocked, does that mean that my community and I can block the building of any more Christian community centers? NO MORE CHRISTIAN CHURCHES IN BROOKLYN! I think Christianity has done enough damage to this country and we shouldn't be allowing those people to keep building their hate centers in our lovely burough.
posted by fuq at 7:55 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


After giving this some though, I think this discussion is about an emerging president, can Americas citizen lobby against and prevent the building of religious centers? If the Muslim community center gets blocked, does that mean that my community and I can block the building of any more Christian community centers?

No, for two reasons: Islam isn't a religion & America is a Christian nation so you can't block Christian churches.
posted by scalefree at 8:14 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't give a shit what Americans do anymore. Who's with me?
posted by rusty at 8:16 AM on September 9, 2010


No, for two reasons: Islam isn't a religion & America is a Christian nation so you can't block Christian churches.

Oh I guess I was confused. Stupid Christians coming in and taking over my country!
posted by fuq at 8:28 AM on September 9, 2010


No, for two reasons: Islam isn't a religion & America is a Christian nation so you can't block Christian churches.

Not according to this: Islam

America: secular

Definition of secular: ...whereby a state or country purports to be officially neutral in matters of religion, supporting neither religion nor irreligion.[1] A secular state also claims to treat all its citizens equally regardless of religion, and claims to avoid preferential treatment for a citizen from a particular religion/nonreligion over other religions/nonreligion. Most often it has no state religion or equivalent.
posted by ashbury at 9:05 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


If only the Burlington Coat Factory that was on the site of the Cordoba Center had this much attention.
posted by birdherder at 9:05 AM on September 9, 2010


Nitpicky point: I disagree strongly with Kathi, but there's nothing hypocritical in the "but that's what I feel" comment. She's saying that many people feel that there's something gloaty about Rauf choosing not to move Park51. She knows that that's not the case, but thinks that a move would assuage the feelings of hers and others toward Park51. That's not contradictory.

And although people don't get to vote on whether a nonprofit sets up shop in Manhattan (people in California, no less), the public's feelings are pretty crucial for getting an organization running, supported, and useful.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:16 AM on September 9, 2010


Yeah, I think most everybody understands that they have the right to build the mosque

I'm not sure that's true; The American Center for Law and Justice (the group suing to stop construction) obviously doesn't. And there are a large number of Americans who (wrongly, of course) believe the US is an explicitly Christian Nation, with the implication that non-Christians do not have the same rights as Christians.
posted by TedW at 9:18 AM on September 9, 2010


Why are they debating on Anderson Cooper? What did he do?
posted by Eideteker at 9:19 AM on September 9, 2010


The i stands for ignorant.
posted by creasy boy at 9:24 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


ashbury, I'm afraid you're consulting the wrong authorities. According to the most reliable sources, Islam is not a religion & America is a Christian nation.
posted by scalefree at 9:25 AM on September 9, 2010


I think the main point of all of this is that CNN is an entity to be ignored.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:32 AM on September 9, 2010


a religion that calls itself peaceful, yet has so much violence incited in its name.

You'll have to be more specific.


Jainism! Oh, wait.
posted by FatherDagon at 9:33 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


ashbury: "No, for two reasons: Islam isn't a religion & America is a Christian nation so you can't block Christian churches.

Not according to this: Islam

America: secular

Definition of secular: ...whereby a state or country purports to be officially neutral in matters of religion, supporting neither religion nor irreligion.[1] A secular state also claims to treat all its citizens equally regardless of religion, and claims to avoid preferential treatment for a citizen from a particular religion/nonreligion over other religions/nonreligion. Most often it has no state religion or equivalent.
"

I thought scalefree was being facetious -- giving the response that fundies would give, not that.. wait.. is scalefree a fundie? Then yeah, please give the appropriate response as you just did.
posted by symbioid at 9:35 AM on September 9, 2010


damn you poe's law!
posted by symbioid at 9:35 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


roll truck roll, I don't object to Kathi having this question or asking this question. I object to her being accorded the same level of professionalism as, say, Savannah Guthrie, Chick Todd, or even, ferjimmy's sake, Soledad O'Brien.

I took enough j-school classes to know that what the reporter thinks or feels has absolutely no place in the interviewing of anyone! Now, I am not a fool, I know that every reporter has a bias, has a POV, but I should be able to rely on a REPORTER to ask questions and not make the story about her! SHE doesn't think THEY should build the mosque there? OK, fine, but what investigation has she done to find out whether Rauf's group vetted the location, or have made commitments that would cause significant financial or political disadvantage to Rauf's standing within his Islamic community, within the larger community of congregants in HIS area who have openly supported the building of the center? Anything? No? Then, in my humble and considered opinion, she needs to STFU. As someone said upthread, if she is represented as "Kathi, a caller from SoCal, has some questions for the imam..." I'm ok with that.

My beef, really, isn't so much with her (except she handled her biases so badly and baldly) but with CNN for devaluating the position of reporter.
posted by beelzbubba at 9:49 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


scalefree: Your "most reliable sources" are not ones that I'm familiar with, which isn't to say that they aren't wrong. A little research came up with this. As to the website Islam Watch, well, I think the contributors there have an axe to grind and could perhaps be a little biased in some things.

Anyway, symbioid is probably right - you're most likely a fundie and there's really not much point in discussing this with you. But thanks for pointing me in the direction of those two websites - now that I've seen them I know not to go there ever again.
posted by ashbury at 10:03 AM on September 9, 2010


Maybe I'm alone but I find the Burger King on the next block to Ground Zero much more offensive and disrespectful. That being said, I find the 25 cent peep show with the glory hole maze around the corner to be a fitting tribute.
posted by wcfields at 10:06 AM on September 9, 2010


TedW wrote: "I'm not sure that's true"

I live among a bunch of fundamentalist crazies and I haven't been able to get even one to argue that they don't have the right to build there. Obviously, those folks are out there or there would be no lawsuit, but I think that by and large it is more about emotion than denying that Muslims have the same rights as the rest of us.
posted by wierdo at 10:34 AM on September 9, 2010


>a religion that calls itself peaceful, yet has so much violence incited in its name.
>>You'll have to be more specific.

That's a bit disengenuous, don't you think? I'm with the consensus here, that they have every right to build the center, & US foreign policy has given a lot of people reasons to hate the U.S.

But people who criticize Islam in various ways face violent reprisals in a way that I don't think is typical of other religions. And it's not just related to Islamist terror groups. You know the examples: Salman Rushdie, fatwa'd for writing a novel, the Danish cartoon controversy, resulting in multiple murder attempts, etc.

It's great to be sensitive to other cultures, but you don't see this kind of reaction with Buddhism, or Jainism, or even Christianity despite the bad history of the Inquisition, Crusades, heretic purges, etc. So when Rauf uses the threat of violence to justify not moving, I think there's a legitimate concern about rewarding intimidation here.
posted by msalt at 11:01 AM on September 9, 2010


You know the examples: Salman Rushdie, fatwa'd for writing a novel, the Danish cartoon controversy, resulting in multiple murder attempts, etc.

Why stop there? Add more examples: Northern Ireland, Palestine, Taiping, George Tiller, Barnett Slepian...
posted by rocket88 at 11:12 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually, msalt, I see your point, and those examples are indeed despicable, but I think they're more examples of Islamism, the political ideology, than of Islam, the religion.
posted by rocket88 at 11:21 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


You don't see many Muslims trying to attack Japan. Why do you think that is?

Easy: Because Muslims don't have an inferiority complex with respect to Japan.
Here's a rough formula of what's going on:

Muslim inferiority complex + perceived offense (however slight) = raging mob

This also explains why it is primarily the disadvantaged and poorly educated in Muslim countries that will turn violent, while the more educated often shake their heads in disbelief.

Oh, and I predict that the same thing will happen in the US in 40 to 50 years, when the actual economic and political significance of the US will have fallen far below the still perceived significance. A proud tradition, lots of disadvantaged unemployed people who have nothing to lose and will feel offended by the most innocent remark by, say, a Chinese politician -- it's the same ingredients.
posted by sour cream at 11:22 AM on September 9, 2010


TedW: Well said words! Especially in an increasingly us (USA?) vs them (everybody else?) discourse.
posted by drogien at 11:30 AM on September 9, 2010


But people who criticize Islam in various ways face violent reprisals in a way that I don't think is typical of other religions. And it's not just related to Islamist terror groups. You know the examples: Salman Rushdie, fatwa'd for writing a novel, the Danish cartoon controversy, resulting in multiple murder attempts, etc.

They criticize Islam as if it were some monolithic, lockstep ideology, with an identifiable, consensus leader akin to the Pope or the Archbishop of Canterbury but there really isn't one, and therein lies the heart of a lot of the misunderstandings when Islam is the topic.

Yes, there are those who command a tremendous following, but any imam can call for a fatwa, much as any Gainesville nondenominational Christian pastor can without it being, on the face of it, an blanket indictment of Christianity.

IANAM, but your two examples do NOT speak for Islam as a whole. No one can. I do understand and do not minimize the terror that can come as a result of an imam politically (mis)interpreting the Koran to achieve political ends.

But what Rauf is trying to do in NYC (as I see it) is exactly what so many of us have called on Muslims to do since, well, since at least Tehran in 1979 and certainly since Hezbollah actions in Lebanon from 1982 onward: present a face of moderate Islam to your fellow American citizens, so that the Terry Jones's and the Kevin Fisher's of Murfreesboro won't gain traction. Not as subterfuge or sleeper cell, being as American as apple pie or falafel.

I hesitate to join in with those whose indictment of America make it sound as if we deserved the WTC attacks. We--the people of America--do not. But no one "deserves" to have their homes and cities and towns and villages blown up. Spilling that hate against peaceful people such as imam Rauf just keeps fanning those flames and no amount of posturing justifies it.
posted by beelzbubba at 11:39 AM on September 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


>>But people who criticize Islam in various ways face violent reprisals in a way that I don't think is typical of other religions.
>They criticize Islam as if it were some monolithic, lockstep ideology, with an identifiable, consensus leader akin to the Pope or the Archbishop of Canterbury but there really isn't one, and therein lies the heart of a lot of the misunderstandings when Islam is the topic.


I'm not sure we're talking about the same thing. Are you saying that Salman Rushdie, the Danish cartoonist, etc. were calling Islam monolithic? I don't see that.

In the controversies over these incidents, there are many moderate Muslims who make comments like Rauf did in this case; that action X, while permitted in Western countries, is deeply offensive to Muslims and therefore these violent responses are predictable and sort of OK, and we shouldn't "provoke" people.

I see this as fairly unique to Islam, and problematic. The closest analogy in the reverse direction would be some of the cultural traditions in some Islamic countries that we see as anti-woman (FGM, banning work or education for women, etc.), and I don't think these things are comparable to writing a novel or publishing a cartoon or moving the location of a cultural center.
posted by msalt at 12:37 PM on September 9, 2010


No, msalt, I think you missed my point; if it was the way I expressed myself, sorry. Rushdie & the Danish cartoonist weren't calling Islam monolithic. The people who lump ALL Islam in with those fatwas--for example the woman in Murfreesboro who was all over the news calling the Murfreesboro Islamic community a "sleeper cell" and those who fear Rauf because all Muslims are plotting to overthrow the US are the ones I am pointing to.

I get your point about the fatwas and their potential damage--but to intimate that these fatwas did more damage than the Inquisition takes this to a level of evaluating fanatical religious incidents against each other, which helps no one. "despite the bad history of the Inquisition, Crusades, heretic purges"? I mean, c'mon.
posted by beelzbubba at 1:07 PM on September 9, 2010


According to the most reliable sources, Islam is not a religion & America is a Christian nation.

According to the Founding Fathers, "the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion."

The Founding Fathers and Islam: "it is clear that the Founding Fathers thought about the relationship of Islam to the new nation and were prepared to make a place for it in the republic." Thomas Jefferson's Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom was a precursor to the First Amendment and Jefferson said it was "meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination." (emphasis added).

Hmmm...which sources are more reliable, the Founding Fathers or some dude on the internet? It's so hard to choose.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:30 PM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


I thought scalefree was just taking the piss by posting that idiotic misinformation from heavily biased sources. That was posted as an earnest contribution? I think the 5% doctrine applies, then.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:33 PM on September 9, 2010


I get your point about the fatwas and their potential damage--but to intimate that these fatwas did more damage than the Inquisition takes this to a level of evaluating fanatical religious incidents against each other, which helps no one. "despite the bad history of the Inquisition, Crusades, heretic purges"? I mean, c'mon.

That's not what I meant at all. I was echoing someone's earlier point that, while Christianity and its adherents have certainly engaged in horrible violence against those who disagree with its tenets, that is in the past. Today, with the exception of anti-abortion crusaders, that does not happen any more.

With Islam, attacks on critics of Islam or even people who just print drawings of Mohammed are current and ongoing. And when moderate Muslims such as Rauf say we'd better not do anything that triggers these violent reactions, even if that thing is unobjectionable otherwise, I believe that supports this intimidation and undercuts the argument that only a fringe of extreme Islamists are violent.

Let's put it this way; does anyone here dispute that Christianity is more violent than Buddhism? Seems evident to me. Are folks saying we should never judge any religion, or just disputing whether Islam has certain troubling tendencies?
posted by msalt at 4:34 PM on September 9, 2010


On reflection, Christianity does have at least one ongoing problem with violent enforcement of beliefs, in the anti-gay legislation proposed in Uganda. Which doesn't make Islam non-violent, of course. Both religions have tendencies toward persecution of non-believers and heretics, it seems to me.
posted by msalt at 4:38 PM on September 9, 2010


Let's make it a trade
They get the mosque near Ground Zero.
We get to build a Christian church near Mecca.
Everyone is happy.

Man this is a fucked up world.

George said it best.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 5:06 PM on September 9, 2010


...while Christianity and its adherents have certainly engaged in horrible violence against those who disagree with its tenets, that is in the past. Today, with the exception of anti-abortion crusaders, that does not happen any more.

Mmm ... I think you might want to reconsider that statement.

Let's make it a trade
They get the mosque near Ground Zero.
We get to build a Christian church near Mecca.
Everyone is happy.


Let's not. "Ground Zero = Mecca" isn't a particularly good comparison.
posted by Amanojaku at 5:43 PM on September 9, 2010


But people who criticize Islam in various ways face violent reprisals in a way that I don't think is typical of other religions. And it's not just related to Islamist terror groups. You know the examples: Salman Rushdie, fatwa'd for writing a novel, the Danish cartoon controversy, resulting in multiple murder attempts, etc.

You're kind of comparing apples to oranges. Only the crazy extremists of any religion are the ones doing the religious killing. The bottom, stupidest, most ignorant and violent percent of a percent of any religion are the ones out killing. You can't compare the majority of peaceful christians to the couple of murderous nut-jobs any more than you can compare the majority of peaceful Muslims to the sick fuckers like the Westboro Baptist Church and the abortion doctor murderers and Timothy McVeigh.

Maybe Muslims protest in louder or more annoying ways than Christians, but if you round to big numbers, the adherents of all religions are relatively peaceful.

Every family has its black sheep, and you can't say the Wilsons are a normal family even though Cousin Elroy is in prison, but those Cleavers are pig fuckers because their kid broke a window.
posted by gjc at 6:48 PM on September 9, 2010


...while Christianity and its adherents have certainly engaged in horrible violence against those who disagree with its tenets, that is in the past. Today, with the exception of anti-abortion crusaders, that does not happen any more.

That could change if the leaders of Joel's Army get their way. This is a large group instilling a paramilitary culture into young Christian recruits. Sooner or later they're going to get tired of training & want to see some action.
posted by scalefree at 7:08 PM on September 9, 2010


Today, with the exception of anti-abortion crusaders, that does not happen any more.

I won't dignify them with a link, but the Christian Identity movement and The Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan are still around. And Eric rudolph was not just an anti-abortion crusader; he also targeted gay bars and the Olympics.
posted by TedW at 7:25 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Let's make it a trade"

The 'trade' you're talking about involves trading our principles for childish moralisms.

No deal.
posted by Eideteker at 8:27 PM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hmmm...which sources are more reliable, the Founding Fathers or some dude on the internet? It's so hard to choose.

AH TRUST MAH GUT AN MAH GUT SEZ JESUS IS THE FOUNDING FATHER + THE BIBLE SEZ IT 2 SO STFU YOU LIEBRUL!!!! why don'cha have a latte or something to go along with your book larnin! That shit ain't gonna get you into heaven boy.

Very seriously though, why are people protesting the Amish Market? I like their buffet.
posted by fuq at 9:15 PM on September 9, 2010


This is a large group instilling a paramilitary culture into young Christian recruits. Sooner or later they're going to get tired of training & want to see some action.

And the way this will probably play out is that the FBI and the ATF will give it to them, in spades.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:35 PM on September 9, 2010


Me: while Christianity and its adherents have certainly engaged in horrible violence against those who disagree with its tenets, that is in the past.
Amanojaku: I think you might want to reconsider that statement [in light of the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group in Uganda]

The LRA may have some tenuous basis in Christianity, but it is a bizarre variant at best, with 3,000 members according to your source. Unlike, say, Wahabism or Taliban flavored Islam which control national governments (on and off) and have millions of followers. I did note that more traditional American Christians are backing the vicious anti-gay legislation in Uganda, which is a better criticism of Christianity. Christianity clearly has a vicious streak; IMHO Islam has a worse one.
posted by msalt at 11:07 PM on September 9, 2010


gjc: Maybe Muslims protest in louder or more annoying ways than Christians, but if you round to big numbers, the adherents of all religions are relatively peaceful.

All religions? Do you really think Islam is no more violent than Buddhism or Taoism? No offense, but I think that is absurd.
posted by msalt at 11:08 PM on September 9, 2010


All religions? Do you really think Islam is no more violent than Buddhism or Taoism? No offense, but I think that is absurd.

While Islam has a clear advantage over Buddhism in the violence department, the margin is probably closer than you think. I give you Buddhist Warfare.
posted by scalefree at 12:27 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Many things can be said in this argument, but ultimately, they are a distraction. The TRUTH is, all this religious wankery is designed as a cover-up for ugly nationalistic fascism.

Fear, hate, self-righteousness, and nationalism. The deadly mix that destroys the very soul of nations. This is the path down which Glen Beck and his ilk are leading. Seriously.

And this idiot Terry Jones, with his Koran burning. Pardon me, while I vomit. Der Spiegel has him all figured out.
posted by Goofyy at 1:54 AM on September 10, 2010


The LRA may have some tenuous basis in Christianity, but it is a bizarre variant at best, with 3,000 members according to your source. Unlike, say, Wahabism or Taliban flavored Islam which control national governments (on and off) and have millions of followers.

I'm beginning to suspect that "No True Scotsman" is better called "No True Christian" these days. The LRA is no more or less tenuous a bunch of Christians than the Taliban are Muslims -- the Taliban are also heavily influenced by local tribal customs that have nothing to do with Koranic verse, but they're considered Muslim extremists nonetheless.

Also, the parallel isn't from the LRA to Wahabism -- even most ultra-conservative Wahabis are non-violent. The parallel would be from Wahabis to Evangelical Dominionists or the like, and from the LRA to, say, the number of actual Taliban fighters, who didn't number more than 25,000 at the outside. Given the LRA was preying on civilians for decades -- from 1987, they were responsible for 60,000 kidnappings alone -- I wouldn't at all be surprised if the death and/or mutilation toll was substantially higher for the LRA than for the Taliban and Al Qaeda to date.

So regardless of the precise numbers, Christian violence most certainly does still happen today, and on a scale substantially beyond "just" the shooting of abortion doctors.

In spite of all that, I think the religious pissing contest is the wrong way of looking at the situation. I would go so far as to say that Christianity doesn't have a vicious streak; nor does Islam, or Buddhism, or any other religion. What does have a vicious streak is human nature, and it needs only the thinnest of justification to be red in tooth and claw. Religion is a convenient excuse, no less an artificial rallying point than nationalism or race.

To even "rank" religions in order of "badness" is to miss the point (and the causes) entirely, IMO.

While Islam has a clear advantage over Buddhism in the violence department, the margin is probably closer than you think. I give you Buddhist Warfare.

I would also add Zen at War -- while Shinto's influence is often remembered, people tend to forget about militant Buddhism's role in Japan during WWII.
posted by Amanojaku at 2:53 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


In spite of all that, I think the religious pissing contest is the wrong way of looking at the situation.

THIS. In spades. Especially when it comes to using it as a lever to say that the Cordoba Institute or the Murfreesboro mosque shouldn't be built b/c it makes somebody somewhere unconstitutional.

And as far as the person who wanted to trade the Cordoba project for a church/synagogue at Mecca? I call bullshit. We--the people of the US-are NOT Saudi Arabia, and our constitution enshrines freedom of religion as a cornerstone.
posted by beelzbubba at 6:03 AM on September 10, 2010


errr, s/b "somebody somewhere UNCOMFORTABLE."

ftfm
posted by beelzbubba at 6:04 AM on September 10, 2010


>> I think the religious pissing contest is the wrong way of looking at the situation.
>THIS. In spades. Especially when it comes to using it as a lever to say that the Cordoba Institute or the Murfreesboro mosque shouldn't be built b/c it makes somebody somewhere uncomfortable.


This thread, however, is about Imam Rauf saying he can't move the center to another location because doing so would make Moslems around the world uncomfortable violent.

Whether you think the violent reactions of Moslems around the world are unique to their religion or not, I hope you agree that they shouldn't be used a lever to control where non-Moslems build buildings, or what they write or publish.
posted by msalt at 9:07 AM on September 10, 2010


Because we are culturally incapable of admitting the most fundamental fact of the situation. That we are a global military empire

The Pentagon Triumphant on the Media Battlefield: The Military’s Media Megaphone and the U.S. Global Military Presence
posted by homunculus at 9:28 AM on September 10, 2010


Well thank God someone is covering this issue.

Amen.

I wish we could just have one Park51/Cordoba/mosque thread and put all of the links and comments in it.

It's getting a little ridiculous.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:48 AM on September 10, 2010


I would go so far as to say that Christianity doesn't have a vicious streak; nor does Islam, or Buddhism, or any other religion. What does have a vicious streak is human nature, and it needs only the thinnest of justification to be red in tooth and claw. Religion is a convenient excuse, no less an artificial rallying point than nationalism or race.

Good and interesting points. The links about violent Buddhism were striking (though in Thailand it's a response to frequent attacks by Moslems, and in War Zen the Buddha was replaced by the Emperor as the center of the religion, which is a pretty major change). I think it's too easy to wave off religion as a "convenient excuse," though.

IMHO, religions are forms of ideology, and history has demonstrated that some ideologies are more virulently aggressive or dangerous. A religion whose founder says "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" or was a military general advocating holy war is likely to be a more warmongering ideology. That's common sense, and history has borne it out amply in both cases.
posted by msalt at 9:54 AM on September 10, 2010


This thread, however, is about Imam Rauf saying he can't move the center to another location because doing so would make Moslems around the world uncomfortable violent.

Sure. I get your point. I don't speak for Imam Rauf of course. I think though, that he is echoing what Petraeus is saying, and what the State Department is saying. And it may be untenable for him to say, "y'now what, zoning boards can't, by law, stop religious organizations from building in any location (provided they have followed all of the other guidelines and have bought or are in contract for the land, and so on), so regardless of how Kathi from Bakersfield feels about it, we've got an already overcrowded mosque two blocks closer to the WTC, so we think this is an acceptable distance." Instead, he says what his advisers have asked him to stick to, and which has little to do with Islam, but a lot to do with political movements that recruit from among the disenfranchised in the area that includes a lot of the Islamic world.

So, I'll step out of the Holy Wars here, b/c for me it has nothing to do with whether Islam is more violent than Buddhism or Christianity, or whether people will become violent or enlist in jihadist or counterjihadist groups, but whether or not the Cordoba movement has a right to build there, and whether they covered all of this up front, which they apparently have--I mean, no they didn't ask me, they asked Kathi the iReporter--so whatever answer Rauf gives is fairly immaterial to me. I really do believe he would choose a different site if he knew then what he knows now--but I think his answer to Kathi came from the State Department, which has pretty consistently come down on the side of: don't give the Taliban more recruiting leverage. That in itself is pretty amazingly feeble, b/c if a drone blows up your village and the US says, whoops, my bad! I don't think they need to use Koran burning or mosque building to gain more recruits.

Bottom line, I agree with you that Rauf should not use the specter of anti-US recruitment as a justification for not backing out. But he/they should not have to back out.
posted by beelzbubba at 11:59 AM on September 10, 2010


I agree with you that Rauf should not use the specter of anti-US recruitment as a justification for not backing out. But he/they should not have to back out.

I think we're in total agreement here.

It's kind of a shame that Petraeus had to get involved to put pressure on the freak Koran burning pastor, but this situation has all sorts of ironies (eg the ACLU I'm sure defends his right to burn them, and many conservatives who got all freaked out over the Skokie march and flag burning are suddenly supporting free speech rights.)

The real reason that pastor should back off is that that burning ANY book is un-American, because we don't believe in shutting down speech and thought. Though you also have the perfect legal right to do so, since we don't believe in shutting down speech and thought.
posted by msalt at 12:57 PM on September 10, 2010


Fox News' Latest Anti-"Mosque" Propaganda: The 9/11 Body Map
posted by homunculus at 7:12 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


That is freaking ghoulish. It's interesting information, but using it in a blatant attempt to score political points? Ghoulish.
posted by wierdo at 7:33 PM on September 10, 2010


> Fox News' Latest Anti-"Mosque" Propaganda: The 9/11 Body Map

That's rather insane, and pretty much a full admission by Fox News that they are islamophobic. Their punishment is to be trapped inside their own heads.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:13 PM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


This film tells the story of the meeting between the Prophet Muhammad and a Christian monk named Bahira. The meeting happened in the shade of a tree. Fourteen hundred years later that same tree was discovered still alive in the northern deserts of Jordan.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:44 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Given the vitriolic opposition now to the proposal to build a Muslim community center two blocks from ground zero, one might say something else has been destroyed: the realization that Muslim people and the Muslim religion were part of the life of the World Trade Center.
posted by zarq at 4:11 AM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


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