Sunday, August 22, 2010

Spreading Hate, Fear, and Poison

The right wing in America is frothing at the mouth on the "issue" of building a mosque "near" the World Trade Center site. Everyone -- except the absolutely deluded -- agree that the US Constitution's First Amendment gives religious groups the right to freely worship which includes the right to build a place of worship where they please. But the right wing crazies think this legal "right" means that "in theory" you can do this but not actually. Some would say that 2 blocks away is "too close". Others would say that two miles away is "too close". And still others would say two thousand miles away is "too close".

The "arugment" presented is that "you have to 'respect' the feelings of those who lose lives in 9/11". The implicit "belief" behind this argument is that those who died were Christian and any Moslem is guilty of the crime. This ignores that those who died in the World Trade Center were Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, etc. How would this heterogenous religious group be "offended" by a mosque. The Muslims who died would be offended by Muslims building a mosque? Really?

The right wing loonies "just know" that -- on behalf of all those who died -- this proposed building is an offense. Odd. Just how do they know this? The right wing loonies should explain just how they know that "All those who died at the WTC would demand that the US Constitution be trampled in the dust to assuage their deaths. I don't hear any explanation or evidence. All I hear is the right wing crazies assuring us that they "know" this is so. Well, some people "just know" that the earth is flat and that the moon is made of green cheese. Their "knowing" this doesn't make it so.

What I do know is that a civil society is built on tolerance, not bigotry.

Here's Maureen Dowd's take on the "WTC mosque" insanity:
The country is having some weird mass nervous breakdown, with the right spreading fear and disinformation that is amplified by the poisonous echo chamber that is the modern media environment.

The dispute over the Islamic center has tripped some deep national lunacy. The unbottled anger and suspicion concerning ground zero show that many Americans haven’t flushed the trauma of 9/11 out of their systems — making them easy prey for fearmongers.

Many people still have a confused view of Muslims, and the president seems unable to help navigate the country through its Islamophobia.

It is a prejudice stoked by Rush Limbaugh, who mocks “Imam Obama” as “America’s first Muslim president,” and by the evangelist Franklin Graham, who bizarrely told CNN’s John King: “I think the president’s problem is that he was born a Muslim. His father was a Muslim. The seed of Islam is passed through the father, like the seed of Judaism is passed through the mother.”

Graham added: “The teaching of Islam is to hate the Jew, to hate the Christian, to kill them. Their goal is world domination.”
Yes... yes... she's a typical liberal with hand wringing, mumbling, saying "a little of this, a little of that", and not able to really open up and vent on how she feels. But she's a timid woman. A liberal who is afraid to hurt people's feelings. So you have to give her a break. Remember, she's a woman and therefore congenitally unable to unburden herself of her true feelings like a man. Not like Rush Limbaugh or Franklin Graham! Those are guys with cojones!

Enough joking... Dowd makes it damn clear that the right wing rumour-monger machine is in high gear. What I find unbelievable is that Americans fall for the slime that the right wing crazies spread.

But I also blame Obama. He hasn't shown leadership in a crisis. He doesn't have a clear vision and certainly hasn't enunciated one. He has failed to see that the number one job of a president is "the economy, the economy, the economy". He has allowed Wall Street types to dictate his anemic "financial reform" package.

Maureen Dowd nicely crystalizes my complaints about Obama:
Too lofty to pay heed to the daily bump and grind of politics, Obama has failed to present himself as someone with the common touch. And to the extent that people don’t know him or don’t get him, he becomes easier to demonize.

Obama is the victim of the elevated expectations he so skillfully created in 2008.

He came as a redeemer and then — tied up in W.’s Gordian knots, dragged down by an economy leeched by wars and Wall Street charlatans — didn’t redeem. And nothing bums out a nation that blows with the wind like a self-appointed messiah who disappoints.

If we’re not the ones we’ve been waiting for, who are we?
What really bugs me is the fact that the very political party that created the economic train wreck, the party that sold its soul to Wall Street, is out there beating the drum and whipping up support to take power again in the coming mid-term elections. It is as if the Herbert Hoover fan club got out on the streets in 1934 and created a hullabaloo about FDR's "failings" as a president and got people to flock to the voting stations to re-elect Herbert Hoover as president. You know, the guy famous for hoovervilles where millions huddled, starved, and froze waiting for the dead economy to revive. You know, the Republican Hoover, the man of "business" who used all the tricks that the right wing has to aid his rich friends and created the biggest economic disaster the US has ever known. It is as if he and his Republican buddies got out on the street, banged the drum, and got large crowds eager to bring back the "good old days" of 1929-1932! That's what the Republicans are selling today. And that is what the American public is buying! Along with trampling the Constitution and putting political idiocy on a pedestal as the emblem of Republican "family values".

For a sane discussion of the "WTC mosque" issue, here is the discussion on ABC's This Week with Christiane Amanpour:

The above is a wonderful example of tolerance across religions. I also enjoy the fact that Rabbi Joy Levitt points out that similar complaints and prohibitions kepts Jews from having synagogues in New York (and elsewhere in the US). This current brouhaha is just ugly religious intolerance raising its head yet again.

Now, turn to a "typical" interview showing intolerance. Here is a a debate on CNN that is fairly ugly in passing off intolerance as "this is a special case". Listen carefully to see the holes in the argument.

I particularly enjoy this comment by Muslim Eboo Patel who makes the telling point:
Patel: I have to tell you that this seems a little like telling black people 50 years ago: you can sit anywhere on the bus you like - just not in the front.
At this point, the CNN anchor, Don Lemon, shows terrible judgement by saying:
Lemon: I think that's apples and oranges - I don't think that black people were behind a Terrorist plot to kill people and drive planes into a building. That's a completely different circumstance.

Patel: And American Muslims were not behind the terrorist plot either.
Here is a blatant example of a "news" organization editorializing in the midst of a "news" report. I don't mind Don Lemon having a point of view, but if so, he should step out of the anchor chair and be interviewed. The person conducting an interview needs to rise above the debate and moderate in the sense of providing access to viewpoints and keeping the discussion civil. Ganging up on one of the interviewees is just too much.

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