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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's Muslims Today; Who Will it be Tomorrow?

I have no problems at all with a mosque anywhere in the United States. We didn't stop building churches in or near Oklahoma City just because Timothy McVeigh bombed the Murrah building. Lord knows us Christians have done enough pillage and plundering throughout the years, we don't even deserve a damn pew to pray in. We still build churches in Mississippi for all the nonsense against African Americans that was done in the name of the “Lawd.” This is ridiculous. These same jokers bitching about a mosque near Ground Zero are probably the same folks driving Toyotas, Lexuses, Nissans and other Japanese cars but have forgotten Pearl Harbor. It's just discrimination against Muslims (James Williams, Co-Founder, Freebird Forum).

My favorite political cartoonist, Peter Steiner, had the uncanny knack of capturing the mood of our culture and then etching it in comic irony. When former DC mayor, Anthony Williams, was disqualified from running in the 2002 Democratic primary because more than half of 10,000 signatures on his re-election petition were found to be fraudulent, Steiner stung the mayor with a cartoon that had a whimsical looking campaign worker asking a dog if he wouldn’t mind signing a petition to place Mayor Williams on the ballot. In response to the Bush Administration’s fluctuating of the Threat Alert Level, Steiner published a cartoon of an exhausted security analyst bursting into his boss’s office exclaiming, “Raise the Alert Level! We’ve just received intelligence someone is planning to assassinate President Lincoln!”

Another classic Steiner moments was not long after 9/11 when security measures were increased in nearly all public facilities, he had two Pilgrims stepping through a metal detector and then a Native American waved a hand held metal detector over them, with another Native American saying to her companion in the background, “I feel safer since we stepped up security.”

Since Steiner is retired, I can only guess how he would respond to the Mosque controversy. Perhaps he would have an announcement made that Toyota surpassed GM to become the largest automobile manufacturer on the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Or maybe he’d have the ghosts of Jesus and Prophet Mohammed discussing ways to improve the behavior of their followers. Or possibly he would simply have the grand wizard of the KKK submit a request for a building permit to build a Church in Mississippi. And let’s not overlook the possibility of him having the murderer of a doctor who performs abortions praying to God with a Bible in his hand while serving time in prison.

Who knows? However, one thing is for sure, just as many Christians would argue that God did not tell an anti-abortion advocate to shoot a physician who performs abortions, many Muslims would also concur that God did not give the 9/11 terrorists authority to bomb America. It goes without saying that there are misguided beliefs in every practice of faith. Does a misguided belief in a religious faith condemn that faith? If so, how do Christians claim allegiance to God and his son Jesus Christ after the Holocaust? Considering the fact that the Catholic Church did not excommunicate any Nazis during World War II, and Hitler claimed to be doing God’s will by exterminating Jews, does the Catholic Church’s complicit conduct during the Holocaust condemn Christianity as a religious faith? Or does the bombing of the World Trade Towers by a group of fanatical Muslims condemn Islam?

Will we as Americans select what is good for the goose, but bad for the gander?

Each time the Mosque controversy comes up, I can’t help but wonder how Geronimo or Sitting Bull or Tecumseh or Crazy Horse would respond to a permit request by European Christians to build a worship center at Wounded Knee. The Mosque controversy is bigger than simply opposition to an Islamic place of worship near “Ground Zero.” It appears be a sign of a rising tide of anti-Muslim sentiment across this nation. According to a recent Time Magazine poll, the mood against Muslims has shifted significantly as of late: the poll found that 43 percent of Americans hold an unfavorable view of Muslims, while less than half that figure have an unfavorable view of Catholics and less than a third of that figure hold unfavorable views of Jews and Protestants.

Certainly some of this rage against Muslims is a residual affect from September 11th; however, I wonder how much of it is the result of hate-filled, anti-Muslim propaganda that has been spewed across the country. A recent email has been circulating that depicts Muslims praying at the intersection of 42nd Street and Madison Avenue in New York City for their traditional Friday Afternoon prayer. However, one didn’t have to look too far to determine that this was a half truth, singed with fraud. These photos were scenes from the Annual New York City’s Muslim Day Parade, where Muslims have been celebrating their faith since 1985. These kinds of half truths got Shirley Sherrod terminated from her position at the Department of Agriculture, and is fanning the flames of Islamic hatred in America.

The anti-Muslim tone that we see in America is gaining momentum, and much of its traction can be credited to propaganda that has been spewed by the conservative community. The late Professor Samuel P. Huntington, in his two-book series on America’s European roots, decried the notion that America was swiftly becoming a multi-cultural nation. In part 2 of his series, titled Who are We, Huntington gave his sanction to an America that would reverse back to its racist past:

“…the various forces challenging the core American culture and Creed could generate a move by native [white] Americans to revive the discarded and discredited racial and ethnic concepts of American identity and to create an America that would exclude, expel, or suppress people of other racial, ethnic and cultural groups. Historical and contemporary experience suggest that this is a highly probably reaction from a once dominant ethnic group that feels threatened by the rise of other groups. It could produce a racially intolerant country with high levels of intergroup conflict (Who are We, p. 20).”

I’ve met many peace-loving Muslims over the years, and I believe that it is essential for all men and women of faith to defend their right to worship peacefully in the spirit of this nation’s Constitution that grants the freedom of religion. How ironic that this same group that is protesting against the Muslims for building a worship center two blocks from the former World Trade Towers have never uttered a word of condemnation for the thousands of witch covens in America.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has reiterated his unequivocal support of the Mosque at a Ramadan dinner he hosted this week. According to a transcript of his remarks, Bloomberg said not building the Mosque “would send a signal around the world that Muslim Americans may be equal in the eyes of the law, but separate in the eyes of their countrymen.” I defend all peace-loving Muslims right to worship anywhere, because if we permit the forces of rage and hate to diminish their right to serve their God, then guess whose rights will be abridged next? I leave that for you to ponder, but I will close with one of my favorites quotes from Dr. Franklin H. Littell, who was a Methodist minister, college professor and Holocaust expert:

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me--
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

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