My local paper published a letter that made me sad and got me to wondering about the frailty of our society. The writer was "outraged" that another writer had used the "tired old demonization card" on folks who were sensibly demonizing Islam? The entire letter is such a jumble of illogic that it turns my brain to mush if I think about it too hard. How dare we accuse the writer of Islamophobia when "the growing anger and prejudice is actually reasonable", have we never heard of "the Trojan Horse?"...And there is a school somewhere in Virginia promoting Sharia and "Saudi backed saboteurs in the Muslim Brotherhood operate in America" and promise to eliminate and destroy Western civilization. And, and, the promoter of the "so called Ground Zero Mosque" has connections to Hamas and aren't you really scared now?
Well, no. First off, the "Ground Zero Mosque" is neither a mosque nor is it at Ground Zero. It is a cultural center with gyms and swimming pools and meeting rooms and all the things that one would find at any other large faith based facility. It does have connections with a mosque that already exists two blocks from the World Trade Center site. It's headed by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, whose life has been dedicated to multiculturalism and interfaith co-operation. His contacts with Hamas were actually conducted at the behest of the Bush Administration for which Rauf served as an emissary attempting to defuse the hostilities in the Middle East. Since the letter writer couldn't even get Rauf's name correct, it is to be expected that she would be ignorant of the man her letter disparaged, and whose mosque has stood at its current site since before the World Trade Towers were even constructed. Here are some of the things other more knowlegable people say about Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf...
Rauf "has participated at the Aspen Institute in Muslim-Christian-Jewish working groups looking at ways to promote greater religious tolerance. He has consistently denounced radical Islam and terrorism, and promoted a moderate and tolerant Islam." ...Walter Isaacson, head of The Aspen Institute
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf ... is a bridge figure because he has deep roots in both worlds. He was educated in Egypt, England, Malaysia and the United States, and his mosque in New York City is only a few blocks away from the World Trade Center. After September 11, people often asked me, "Where are the moderate Muslims? why are they not speaking out?" In Imam Rauf, we have a Muslim who can speak to Western people in a way they can understand." ...British author Karen Armstrong
Rauf speaks of "the need for Muslims to live peacefully with all other religions", for emphasizing the commonalities among all faiths, for advocating equal rights for women and opposing laws that in any way punish non-Muslims. ...Fareed Zakaria of CNN and Time Magazine
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is a Sufi Muslim, a sect that holds Jesus as a prophet. His ministry has been from day one an advocacy for peace. Al Queda has declared him an enemy. So in fact, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is a force for peace and co-operation. His dream of a cultural center is not at ground zero, but is his life's goal of peaceful interfaith coexistence.
The letter attributes the atrocities of certain radical Sunni Muslims to what is in effect a completely different religion, Sufism. This is simply ignorant and seems to me to violate the Old Testament Commandment against bearing false witness. (I suspect that the writer is also ignorant of the fact that the Old Testament is found in the Christian Bible, the Quran, and the Torah. Bearing false witness is a sin in Islam, Judaism, and supposedly Christianity. Too bad there isn't a commandment that says, "Thy shalt not let others bear false witness to you and delude you into paranoid fantasies." That would put an end to this Tea Party cult thing, if any Christians still paid attention to the commandments instead of waving them around on plastic signs.)
The same people who foam at the mouth with the effervescence of their "paranoid fantasies" about all Muslims are the same ones who tout conservative Christian values. I would contend that "conservative" and "Christian" are mutually exclusive, given that Christ called upon us to "embrace our enemies", "love our enemies", "turn the other cheek", but no, we have to lump an entire religion into one monolithic scary monster fantasy and be afraid. By doing this we validate Muslims doing the same thing to us. Are Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Quakers the same as the Serbian "Christians" whose religion justified the atrocities of rape, murder, and the genocide known as ethnic cleansing? Is the writer of that letter the same kind of Christian that Adolf Hitler was, after all, Hitler's speeches often declared himself a Christian doing God's work in eradicating the Jews?
Of course not. This entire fiasco is totally manufactured nonsense intended as another wedge issue in the coming election. It is simply more of the same kind of manufactured nonsense created by think tanks funded by Charles and David Koch, billionaire heirs to the Koch empire who also funded $100 million in anti global warming propaganda to help keep their vast oil and energy holdings raking in profits even while destroying their own planet. In dissecting the campaign against a good and well intentioned Sufi Imam, we can see how evil these people are and what they are doing to turn friend against friend and neighbor against neighbor simply to feed their own avariciousness.
May their god forgive them, because I won't.
The New Yorker Piece on the Kochs