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Sudsy Wants You to Join the Oregon Commentator

On logical discourse.

Developers attempting to build an Islamic cultural center two blocks from ground zero in New York City are facing resistance from a number of individuals and politicians in the area and around the country, even catching the attention of President Obama himself.

Here’s how I’m looking at it.

A Baptist man moved to Springfield, Illinois and killed a bunch of four-year-old redheads. Nine years later, when individuals wanted to build a new Baptist church in Springfield a couple blocks from the elementary school, the developers received a considerable amount of backlash from not only the citizens of Springfield, but the mayor of the city and governor of Illinois. They all requested that the church not be located in Springfield, but instead in a neighboring town, so as to protect their redheaded children from all . . . the . . . Baptists . . .

wait, what? What’s going on, America?

I understand that by attempting to develop in such close proximity to ground zero, these developers were willingly entering into a conversation and opening themselves up to scrutiny and conflict. But this whole conflict seeks to demonize a religion for the acts of certain followers of that faith, which seems a bit absurd to me.

  1. Java says:

    Reminder – the issue, currently, is largely one of WHERE, not the Constitutional legality of WHETHER.

  2. Java says:

    No wolves here, Mr. Knott. American freedoms have all too often been compromised by “sensitivity demands.”

    During all the pushing and shoving, it’s as appropriate as any other suggestion to ask the Muslim developers to consider the wishes of the majority. Minorities, especially religious minorities, sometimes need sensitivity training, too.

  3. Jay Knott says:

    This student site has some of the most mature ideas in the country. Nice job, Lyzi.

    OK, here goes. If you oppose building a mosque near the World Trade Center site you are saying it’s right to discriminate against Muslims because of September 11th.. It doesn’t matter how you do it, whether you attack Islam like Barry Sommer, or criticize the decision in a mild way like Kenny Ocker or the Anti-Defamation League, or like ‘Java’, who is normally a friend of freedom but who asks New York Muslims to a “consider the cultural sensitivities of the non-Islamic American majority”. That argument is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and eerily reminiscent of the Wiesel words of the Eugene Anti-Hate Task Force.

  4. Can’t we just build all the churches, synagogues and mosques at the bottom of the ocean or some place?

  5. Iskren says:

    One of the best ways to learn about Islam and Muslims is to visit a Mosque, like the one we have here in Eugene. Or contact the Muslim Students Association at the University of Oregon.

  6. Java says:

    Right on the money, Tim! “In fact, that

  7. Tim! says:

    Yes obviously there are quantitative and qualitative differences in the hatred espoused by Phelps and his ilk vs. that espoused by Islamic extremists, between “God hates fags” and “America is the Great Satan.”

    Perhaps the Dominicans of 12th & 13th century Spain would be more appropriate denomination than Baptists for comparison. As a Cathar who moved to Monaco to escape persecution, would you protest the building of a chapel/dungeon in the central square of your new hometown? I suspect that you would not, for if you did you would be captured, tortured, and killed. Isn’t America awesome, that we can stage this debate at all?

    We know that “terrorism” has lost its meaning, no longer denoting “small-scale violence carried out against citizens for political gain” and instead denoting “those Other guys we don’t like.”

    Unfortunately, the United States is also a clear example of a government that has funded terrorism (in its original sense) or carried it out directly: Indonesia, Vietnam, Cuba, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Chile, etc. etc. We helped both Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden rise to power.

    Westboro and their ilk do indeed receive US government money through tax breaks and faith-based initiatives. Granted, those are not intended to promote violence and they apply to a wide range of religious groups. I concede that Iranian and Taliban influence over terrorist groups is significantly stronger and more direct. I do not concede that Islam has anything to do with it. There are differences between a theocratic government and a single mosque. In particular, theocratic governments tend to use religion as a political tool (or weapon) rather than as a spiritual practice. I contend that at precisely the moment you use religion for power, it stops being religion in anything but name.

    In fact, that’s probably the strongest argument that can be made against the ground zero mosque: it is intended as a political statement and media showpiece more than as a house of worship.

    However, let’s go back to first principles; this was a hypothetical thought exercise. The questions at hand are: whether it is reasonable to paint all members of a group with the same brush based on the actions of extremists from that group and whether the group ‘Muslims’ is dominated by said extremists.

    Yes it’s true that many middle eastern Muslim nations condone atrocious acts. I submit that the basis for these acts rises not from Islam but from the “mythic agrarian patriarchal ethnocentric cultural context” I mentioned in my first comment. Muslims raised in a “equalitarian worldcentric cultural context” would never condone such acts.

    The problem across the world, in Muslim countries and here, is that the group consciousness has not yet evolved beyond the ethnocentric (and in many cases not even the egocentric) stage. The solution is to open minds, not close houses of worship.

  8. Sir Thriller says:

    It would be benificial to the global society if political and religious leaders would medatativly and humbly smoke sensimilla. There is something warm and friendly about it. It perculates understanding and respect within individuals who bless it. Maybe it will allow them to see how the diversity of lifestyles, religious views, and self are not only natural but necessary. We need to listen to the earth more, it has been around much longer then us, what better way to do so then physically inhale one of its greatest gifts. It forces an individual of intellegence to deal with their livelihood in a very moral manner. Yes, I know this sounds a little crazy, but I look forward to your responses, for by answering them, I can explain further.

  9. Java says:

    Think we’re on a roll here…

  10. Tackler says:

    Java- list of differences between Westboro and other American morons and the Islamic network of extremists:

    Drake/Westboro do not have the support of any government – Iran/Taliban are clear examples of govts that fund or have funded terrorism

    Fred Phelps has not tried to blow up a plane over Detroit within the last year.

    Westboro/Drake are not capable of widespread influence over the nations populace – Numerous theocratic govts in the middle east frequently stone women for adultery, kill homosexuals, do not allow freedom of speech/religion… Freddy Phelps is a moron who cannot influence anyone outside of his immediate family.

    To say that 9/11 was just a group of ragtag guys going nuts is very ignorant, but comparing them to Fred Phelps is about the dumbest argument one could make.

  11. Java says:

    Counterpoints taken, Tim. If someone wants to tackle any difference between extremist Baptist threats/actions and extremist Islamic terrorist threats/actions, I’m all ears.

  12. Tim! says:

    “No extremist Baptist groups had been threatening death to Americans”

    Counterpoint: Westboro Baptist Church
    Counterpoint: Wiley Drake re: Dr. George Tiller

    Yes, we should consider the cultural sensitivities of the non-Islamic American majority. We should also consider and attempt to correct their cultural deficiencies. We should also consider that this country was founded on the idea (among others) that minority viewpoints ought not be snuffed out by the tyranny of the majority. We are better than that.

  13. Lyzi Diamond says:

    There is truth here — ultimately, we’re talking about private property and individuals’ rights on that private property.

  14. Java says:

    Your analogy has at least one flaw. No extremist Baptist groups had been threatening death to Americans before (and since) the event. Nor have extremist Baptist groups been given a pass for non-separation of church and state, which flies in the face of the Constitution.

    I hear there’s a Baptist church ready to burn copies of the Koran. Well, I’d rather they found found something more constructive to do with their time, but no matter – apparently they can’t get a burn permit anyway.

    The Islamic Cultural Center and the mosque it will include have a legal right to be built. In selecting a site, it would be a good
    opportunity to consider the cultural sensitivities of the non-Islamic American majority.

  15. Tim! says:

    The main difference is that “some people” displace their own malignity onto other groups. “Some people” need to learn how to get along with their neighbors and planetmates, to refrain from blowing up buildings, to refrain from telling everyone else how to practice spirituality, and to start actually practicing spirituality. The road of spirituality has very few steps before you realize you’ve been a dick and should cut it out.

  16. Curtis says:

    The main difference is just that “some people” say that Islam isn’t a benign religion, that the people who committed the 9/11 attacks were representative of Islam as a whole rather than an extremist fundamentalist sect. Not too many people think that Baptists are trained to be extremists, but there are an unfortunate number of Americans who think that Muslims are.

    That said, the biggest question here isn’t whether the cultural center SHOULD be built, it’s whether the cultural center SHOULD BE LEGALLY PREVENTED from being built. One is a question about politics/sensitivity, and the other is a question about the proper role of government. Too many people (Harry Reid included) are conflating the two issues.

  17. Tim! says:

    Also, SNAP.

  18. Tim! says:

    Good metaphor, Lyzi.

    They want the backlash. This whole project is an attempt to rekindle the discussion of religion, religious freedom, and the distinction between robots brainwashed by religious symbolism (and the largely non-spiritual assholes who brainwashed them) and regular people who use religion to build community (and the largely spiritual caring leaders who draw the blueprints).

    The really important task these days is to find the fundamental and important lessons that all religions have to offer, extract them from the mythic agrarian patriarchal ethnocentric cultural context in which they were written, and re-integrate them into our currently burgeoning post-rational post-industrial equalitarian worldcentric cultural context.

  19. Kenny Ocker says:

    It was obviously going to piss a lot of people off from the outset, so I don’t understand why they tried to do it so close to Ground Zero. They brought the backlash upon themselves.

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