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Monday, August 23, 2010

Last post on the Great Mosque-oversy?

I hope so. I heard nothing about it on the way in to work today. Maybe it's fizzling already and won't be an election issue after all.

Protest sign: “I learned all I need to know about Islam on 9-11.”

Newt Gingrich: "We can't let the Nazis put up a building next to the Holocaust Museum"

There's also a protest sign talking about Ground Zero being a burial ground, but from what I understand, there's a mall planned or already built right inside the very soil of Ground Zero, not two blocks away. A tacky expression of our consumerism and excess is ok for the burial ground, but a place of worship (several blocks away from and not visible at Ground Zero) reinforcing the first amendment and community center that plans to bring people and faiths together is an insult.

The so-called Christian American reaction is interesting (and bugs me) for two reasons (maybe more):

One is that in the Bible it talks of the doctrine's propensity to cause offense. The way it is often misused - righteous anger replaced with slander and vengeance. When you're sinning, you're wrong and you realize it, this causes shame and maybe defensiveness. When you realize your family is in error and they don't want to change, this causes friction. These are the kinds of offense I think scripture talks about. It is the right thing to do to hold to the truth even though it causes offense. Sometimes, as I felt in this mosque controversy, it seems that Christians feel entitled to say hurtful things and spread lies and put it in the same category as the righteous offense described above. If the response had sparked a real doctrinal discussion rather than - they want to kill us, they're trying to get rid of Christians or Christianity, etc- I'd have still thought that Muslims have the right to practice and build that mosque, but I'd have also been able to be proud of the Christian or American response. When Christians of any kind discuss Islam, it tends to end up that way. I've heard and read very few real discussions and comparisons of teachings - meaning discussion of actual Muslim beliefs rather than an extremist caricature written by a Christian highlighting every verse that can possibly be interpreted negatively. I for one, have more faith in the Bible that it can stand up to a real discussion. Jesus was provacative, but he used truth; he didn't go around making things up or repeating rumors that reflect negatively on the people he reprimanded.

The other reason, finally, is the Ramadan connection.

So, this thought ran through my head last month during the Palin comments on the mosque, but in commenting on all the garbage that was out there, I forgot to add it.

Ramadan started August 11. Palin's comments or tweets (she loves her some Twitter; no room for annoying nuance in 140 characters) were in July; I don't know when in August I started hearing about mosque opposition and protests on TV each morning, but it could have been around then.

Ramadan. The Muslim holy month. The time when they focus on giving to the less fortunate. In fact, if I understand correctly, the fast is to help them identify with the people they are supposed to help. It's a bit ironic or hypocritical that Christians would choose this month to get all up in arms about Muslims. This is when similarities should be quite evident (if we knew anything about Muslims beyond the TV stereotype). They've been praying at that spot for a year with no one saying anything and now they want a mosque. Big deal. And they are focusing on helping the less fortunate now. What on earth is wrong with that? Christians should probably do less complaining about Muslims and more of that. Same goes for me about complaining about those complaining about Muslims. :)

Instead of any mention of this relevant item, we are hearing repeated lies and generalizations about Muslims. They kill their children. They hate us. They want to wipe Christianity off the map. They hate Jews. A mosque near Ground Zero is a monument to terrorists.

Another criticism was it's 9/10 or 9/11 opening. How could they be so insensitive? That is actually the end of the fast this year. It is always a big deal with feasting and visiting family, things not uncommon to the rest of us who have ever observed a holiday. Should we expect them to cancel their holiday and/ or curb their freedoms 9 years out from the national tragedy that also claimed Muslim lives? Who is really being insensitive? Is it non-Muslims or is it Muslims?

I also put this analogy forth on Facebook. I think it's valid. Maybe I'm off the mark. Many say Muslims have the right to build, but they should relocate because it is proving divisive and insensitive to 9/11 victims. Besides painting all Muslims with the same broad brush, this brings to mind this problem. Let's say a black man invades my house and kills a family member. Would I have a negative feeling about all black people? Should I? Would it be acceptable of me to ask all black people to respect my sensitivities and quit plans to build or move within a 2 block or mile or whatever radius of me? Or would I be racist? The example doesn't quite fit in that Muslims died on 9/11, too, but you get the idea.

Soldiers are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan (however rightly or wrongly depending on your understanding) because of 9/11, like it or not. While I don't think our soldiers in either place are fighting for our freedom, as many say, are they not fighting for the freedom of religion which would allow Muslims to practice in the same way as anyone else with no restrictions?

Maybe this hazing is indeed part of becoming American (see last post). Many an immigrant community has endured this sort of thing, including violence against them. I mean, at one time we tried to scientifically prove that black people were inferior. I have a picture of the textbook illustration depicting this burned in my brain. This kind of thing is absolutely dismissed, considered ignorant and racist today. As it should be. It's hard to believe that it was once mainstream and popular. I hope it will soon be the same with the crazy stuff said of Muslims.

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