Archive for Cordoba House

Book Review: Ornament of the World by Maria Rosa Menocal

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 26, 2011 by loonwatch

Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain, by Maria Rosa Menocal, ISBN-13: 978-0316566889

Maria Rosa Menocal published this gem of a book just before the events of September 11th, 2001, when a cadre of young Arab Muslim men driven by the politics of occupation, empire and rage combined their grievances with a religio-ideological veneer and flew out of a clear blue sky into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.

The infamous day was seared into our collective conscious just as deeply as the burning aftermath that smoldered into the earth at Ground Zero, and with it a whole new era was upon us. One in which our confidence, our ideas, our principles and our policies were shook in a seismic way.

How did we react as a society and as a nation?

We clamped down on civil liberties, expanded surveillance on citizens to unfathomable and previously unheard of levels. We compromised the Constitution, built and invested even more in the Military Industrial Complex and invaded two nations while outsourcing torture. We paid lip service to Democracy while compromising with despots and apartheid regimes.

Initially, politicians, including President George W. Bush made statements to the effect that “we aren’t at war with Islam” and “Islam is a religion of peace.” Despite these fluffy statements, Islamophobia increased and cynical politicians and organizations oiled the machinery that would churn out the new bogeymen: Islam and Muslims.

Fear-mongering, especially amongst the Right continued apace and was given a new impetus with the election of Barack Hussein Obama (the “secret Mooslim”). This past summer 2010 saw the greatest backlash against Muslims since 9/11, the scene once again was Ground Zero.

A group of Muslim developers led by Sharif El-Gamal and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf created a project that according to them would mirror all the best in Islamic values, while also being an inclusive space that welcomed all faiths. It would be designed to facilitate events, programs, lectures, debates, studies, and in theory would be quite similar to the 92nd StreetY– they named the project Cordoba House.

Cordoba House was the perfect name for a project with such lofty aims. It immediately evokes images of the beautiful palm-like arches of the Cordoba Mosque and stirs the memory of Andalusia.

Anti-Muslims opposed to the mosque raised hackles at the name Cordoba, and with their usual blustering ignorance and foolhardy arrogance put forward the bizarre and illogical lie, that, by using the name Cordoba for their project, the developers were trying to build a “triumphal mosque” to mark the conquest of Islam.

Such mendacity is dangerous because it seeks to alter reality by revisiting history and washing it of truth so as to fit a particular agenda. Cordoba was the capital of Andalus, a culture, in fact a civilization that stands as a beacon and a warning to humanity.

Menocal’s book deals with this subject, and in contradistinction to the Islamophobes, relates that Cordoba and Andalus was for a moment in history the epitome of tolerance, culture, civility and harmony.

The story of Andalus is about,

a genuine, foundational European cultural moment that qualifies as “first rate,” in the sense of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wonderful formula (laid out in his essay “The Crack-Up”)–namely, that “the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time.” (p.10-11)

Cordoba is therefore not separate from the West, it is not the “other” as some wish to cast it, but rather it is quintessentially Western.

Andalusian culture viewed contradictions within oneself and ones culture as having the possibility of being “positive and productive.” These contradictions consisted of differing religions, philosophies, languages, races, etc. Something which we take for granted in our societies but which is under pressure from fanatical and retrograde forces who mirror the forces that brought down the Andalusian civilization.

The founding stone of this culture was one of the last survivors of the Umayyad dynasty, Abd al-Rahman who traversed from Damascus to Muslim Spain “Aeneas-like,”  to become “the first, rather than the last, of his line.”

His arduous journey and homesickness for his native land were evident throughout his life. He wrote in verse his feelings of “exile”:

A palm tree stands in the middle of Rusafa,

Born in the West, far from the land of palms.

I said to it: How like me you are, far away in exile,

In long separation from family and friends.

You have sprung from soil in which you are a stranger;

And I, like you, am far from home. (p.61)

Not for much longer were his descendants to feel like “strangers.” Andalus and its jewel, Cordoba became home to a glorious civilization in which everyone, Muslims, Jews and Christians alike took part:

It was there that the profoundly Arabized Jews rediscovered and reinvented Hebrew; there that Christians embraced nearly every aspect of Arabic style–not only while living in Islamic dominions but especially after wresting political control from them; there that men of unshakable faith, like Abelard and Maimonides and Averroes, saw no contradiction in pursuing the truth, whether philosophical or scientific or religious, across confessional lines. (p.11) (emphasis mine)

Andalus produced such prominent Jewish poets, military leaders, governmental leaders, philosophers, theologians, architects, and intellectuals as: Dunash Ben Labrat, Hasdai Ibn Sharput, Maimonides, Samuel the Nagid, Ibn Ezra, Judah Halevi, Moses of Leon and a plethora of others. I cannot do justice to their contributions to humanity in this short review, for more on their works and lives read Menocal’s book.

These Arabized Jews ushered in a Jewish Golden Age and contributed to the redemption of Hebrew which had become a near dead language, relegated to the realm of liturgy,

The brilliance of the Golden Age came from Hebrew’s redemption from its profound exile, locked inside temples, never speaking about life itself. Maimonides, born in Cordoba just five years before Halevi left al-Andalus, described this post-exilic, pre-Andalusian state of things in his Laws on Prayer: ‘When anyone of them prayed in Hebrew, he was unable adequately to express his needs or recount the praises of God, without mixing Hebrew with other languages.’ It was not that Jews should speak other languages but that the Hebrew they spoke was no longer the language of true love, of complex emotion, of seemingly contrary ideas and feelings: maternal, erotic, spiritual, material, transcendent. Maimonides, Andalusian that he was, believed that God needed and wanted to be spoken to in a language alive with that whole range of possible emotions. It was an attitude that later allowed English to find its voice in the love sonnets of Shakespeare as well as in the prayers of the King James Bible. The prayers prove more satisfying, perhaps even more true, for being in the language of the love songs.

Hebrew’s redemption had come at the hands of writers who were masters of Arabic rhetoric, the Andalusian Jews, men as thoroughly and successfully a part of the cult of Arabic grammar, rhetoric, and style as any of their Muslim neighbors and associates. A century before Halevi took his final leave to find Jerusalem, Samuel the Nagid had first made Hebrew perform all the magic tricks that his native tongue, Arabic, could and did. He had been made vizier because his skill in writing letters and court documents in Arabic surpassed that of all others. He then went on to write poems in the new Hebrew style, among them verses recounting his glories leading his taifa’s armies to victory. In one fell swoop, Samuel’s Hebrew poetry, with its Arabic accents and prosody –the features essential to making alive for the Arabic-speaking Andalusian Jews–vindicated and completely exceeded all the small steps that others had taken in the centuries before him to revive the ancestral language, to reinvent it as a living tongue. Everyone, from Halevi to the nineteenth- century Germans who made the Andalusians into the noble heroes of Jewish history, knew that Hebrew had been redeemed from its exile thanks to the Andalusian Jews’ extraordinary secular successes, first during the several Umayyad centuries and then in the taifas. Because they had absorbed, mastered, and loved the principles that made Arabic easily able to sing to God and Beloved in the same language, they had been able to revive Hebrew so it could, once again, sing like the Hebrew of David’s songs, and Solomon’s songs. It was a great triumph…(p.161-62) (emphasis mine)

One of those whose story I found very intriguing was Judah Halevi who encapsulated all the contradictions and creativeness that was Andalusia. He was a profound poet, much admired by his peers and was considered one of the “greatest champions” of the Andalusian ethic. However, he transformed over time and turned his back on Andalusian culture, “he declared that it was all folly and inimical to Jewishness and had to be forsaken, in spirit certainly and — if possible, as he intended to do — physically. People were astonished, and some of them offended.”(p.163)

This sort of destructive change and move away from the Andalusian ethos afflicted Muslims and Christians as well.

[T]he first significant instances of cultural puritanism in the Iberian Peninsula were imported from places with little of the Andalusian experience. The Berber Muslims of North Africa never quite understood the Andalusian application of the dhimma, and they mostly disapproved of the syncretic culture that resulted from it. From the Berber sack of Cordoba at the beginning of the eleventh century on, a variety of “reform” movements swarming northward from across the Strait of Gibraltar always threatened to remake Andalusian politics and culture in their own image of Islam. At the same time, the Berber obtuseness was mirrored by the incomprehension with which the peninsula’s Christans were viewed by their coreligionists north of the Pyrenees. This was especially evident after Castile began to expand into territories that had been under Islamic rule for three and four centuries, and to incorporate their thoroughly Arabized populations, Muslims, Jews, and Mozarab Christians alike. An often stark difference in worldview separated the Roman Church as it had evolved outside the peninsula from the Christian communities within it. And these differences grew more profound in the decades and centuries that followed the Christian expansion southward…

During the second half of the twelfth century and the beginning of the thirteenth, more puritanical visions of these cultures converged in Iberia. The determinedly crusading forces from Latin Christendom and the equally fanatic Berber Almohads became influential parts of the landscape and inevitably met, head-on, on the plains between New Castile and old al-Andalus, at Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212, with disastrous results for the Almohads. The effects of the long-term presence of two expansive religious ideologies, each originally foreign to the Andalusian ethic, transformed the nature of the conflicts at hand. They made religious-ideological warfare a reality, cultural orthodoxy a real possibility, and monochromatic identity a realizable ideal.(267-68)

I have not recounted the amazing and spectacular contribution of Muslim scholars, philosophers, scientists, poets, musicians, theologians, architects, statesmen and leaders. This review would become very long if we recounted the lives of: Ibn Rushd (Averroes), Ibn Tufayl,  Ibn Hazm, Abd al-Rahman, Abd al-Rahman III, Muhammad Ibn Abbad, Ibn Arabi, Ibn al-Khatib, al-Idrisi and the many others.

AlCazar, the Church on top of the hill

Nor have I recounted the glorious arabized Christian production and contribution in this period: the Alcazar, the syncretic identity of theMozarabs, the development of Mudejar architecture, the “for hire” activities and sagas of ElCidPeter of Castile, the Abbot of Cluny’sQur’an, the translations by Christians of Arabic works into European languages and how it effected the diffusion of knowledge in Europe and the age of exploration.

How can I do all this justice, when even Menocal’s book seems to only give us a tantalizing glimpse and a thirst for more?

The dynamic, intellectual, creative, unique output in regards to language, literature, philosophy, theology, politics, and science serves as an ultimate rebuke to the concerted effort of Anti-Arabs and Islamophobes who claim that Muslim peoples accomplished nothing, were intellectually bereft, culturally barren and uncreative. The well worn talking point that makes frequent rounds in Islamophobic circles, the idea that ‘anything of value that Muslims created or invented was stolen’ is forever put to rest and quietly mocked by al-Andalus.

Menocal’s book on Andalusia gives us insight into the possibilities of various religions, ideas, identities to not only coexist but to exalt in differences and to view them positively. It also warns us against the insular, narrow view of nationalism, fanaticism, supremacism, both religious and cultural. It is a warning that we would do well to listen to and comprehend for our own time and place.

For our readers to savor a bit of the Andalusian experience, I provide two beautiful examples of Andalusian Music:

Ibn Arabi–”Her Words Bring Me Back to Life”:

Mozarabic Chant: “Alleluia” and Mauritanian Samaa:

2010: The Year of Islamophobia

Posted in Feature, Loonwatch Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2010 by loonwatch

2010 has been an unbelievable year! Can we say that we are happy that it is finally over? Only if that means that the wacky anti-Muslim Islamophobia that reached unprecedented and at times demented levels will recede. However, it doesn’t appear as though that will be happening any time soon.

Looking at the year in review we see that right-leaning and populist anti-Muslim/xenophobic organizations and party’s increased their power/influence across Europe while also initiating and passing discriminatory legislation in their countries.

  1. Rise of Geert Wilders and the Freedom Party
  2. EDL (English Defense League)
  3. Sweden Democrats
  4. Switzerland’s banning of Minarets
  5. BZO Austria
  6. Pia Kjaersgaard (DF)
  7. France and the face veil controversy
  8. Belgium’s banning of the face veil
  9. Catalonia face veil proposal

In the United States we saw the convergence and solidifying of a network of Islamophobes across the nation who joined arms with their brethren across the Atlantic ocean. We were also treated to the Republican party’s instrumentalization and usage of Islam for purposes of fear-mongering during the the run-up to the 2010 elections; add to this mosque controversies, hate crimes, anti-Muslim rallies and your run of the mill nuke Mecca suggestion and you had 2010.

The beginning of the year saw a slew of hate crimes, it also saw our piece, “All Terrorists are Muslim…Except the 94% that Aren’t,” go viral and become one of our most popular pieces ever, getting picked up by various mainstream media outlets.

Joseph Stack’s attack

Events picked up shortly after that with Joseph Stack flying his plane into a IRS office kamikaze style and the failure of many, especially on the right to equate the act to terrorism.

Such double standards were consistently exposed by us throughout the year, particularly in our “What if they were Muslim?” segment. We documented the colossal double standards that exist both in media and popular perception when it comes to judging crimes committed by Muslims against those committed by individuals of other faiths. Invariably, when a Muslim commits a crime it is blamed or linked to Islam, whereas if someone else does it his or her faith is not mentioned — even if it was the motivation.

Of course we would be remiss if we did not mention the biggest story of the year; the Cordoba House, i.e. Park51 or as it has come to be known by many, “the Ground Zero Mosque controversy.” This was a story that raged for months and was “whipped up into a frenzy by a pair of bigoted anti-Muslim bloggers, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, two individuals who should be summarily dismissed as loons that have zero influence in the mainstream media or amongst any of our politicians.”

The Republicans latched onto this story and attempted to make it the wedge issue that they could use to ride to victory during the elections. A dozen or more candidates incorporated this issue into their platform with some making it their sole selling point, (un)surpirsingly a handful actually came out victorious, most prominently the looniest of them all, Allen West.

This was also the issue that catapulted Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer into their 5 minutes of fame. We had been reporting on these two, their financiers, networks and supporters ever since we started Loonwatch, our pieces on both of these goons especially “Pamela Geller: The Looniest Blogger Ever” was picked up by mainstream media outlets including the New York Times, Salon.com, Christian Science Monitor and the Washington Post.

Both Geller and Spencer were irked to no end by this and though they attempted to play the silent game were forced at some point to respond to Loonwatch, but they did so only with ad hominemattack and zero interaction with the substance of our articles. Geller resorted to calling us a “Goebbels-style hate site” while Spencer wished to inflict “100-101 lashes” on Danios who he labeled a “slick liar” while continuing to run-away and evade Loonwatch’s open challenge to a radio debate.

Today the controversy over Park51 is still simmering though the rhetoric and verbiage on it has cooled down quite a bit to the chagrin of Spencer and Geller. The spill over from Park51 left a terrible residue and sparked controversies around the nation.

It seemed that the issue with mosques (i.e. Muslims) was not simply about proximity to “hallowed ground,” but the right to build and freely worship was being challenged all over the country.

  1. Murfreesboro, TN.
  2. Temecula, CA.
  3. Sheepshead Bay
  4. Sheboygan County, Wi
  5. Florence, KY
  6. Selden, LI
  7. Ohio
Ahmed H. Sharif

There are about six more places from our count where mosque controversies were raging, but the above sampling gives you an idea. The worst spillover of the mosque controversy undoubtedly manifested itself with the near fatal stabbing of New York City cab driver Ahmed H. Sharif. Passenger Michael Enright entered his cab, asked him “Are you a Muslim?” and when the cabdriver replied, “Yes,” slashed his throat.

There were other notable Islamophobiapalooza moments during the year as well. For instance Rima Fakih, the first Muslim Miss America drew the ire of right-wingers and Islamophobes who didn’t like seeing a brown lady with the crown, let alone a Mooslim. There was also the South Park/Revolution Muslim controversy and the resultant Everybody Draw Mohammed Day on Facebook which descended into an orgy of bigotry and hatred. Later this would reveal the epic double standards and failure of the moribund perception-makers in the media when contrasted with the way it dealt with the story of Pastor Terry Jones and his wacky Dove Outreach Church’s “International Burn the Koran Day on 9/11″ (Read: Islam and the Media in the Age of Islamophobiapalooza).

The final focal point with which Islamophobes and their cynical cohorts in the Republican party attempted to garner populist support through anti-Muslim fear-mongering was surrounding the buzz word: Sharia’. Sharia’ is the boogey monster that Muslims, 1% of the population of America is going to impose. Forget the fact that most of those advocating this conspiracy theory are themselveswoefully ignorant of the Constitution, a document that they subvert with every statement and move they make. It got so bad that Oklahoma overwhelmingly passed a measure banning Sharia’ which has (thankfully) been overturned for being unconstitutional, it should also have been overturned for being unbelievably stupid.

This leads us to consider the biggest Islamophobic conspiracies of the year, which could be a feature piece on its own:

  1. Sharia take over of the United States
  2. Park51 being a “victory mosque” for “Islamic supremacism”
  3. Barack “Hussein” Obama being a secret “Mooslim”
  4. Muslim Congressional Spy Interns
  5. Rep. Keith Ellison working for Hamas
  6. Google’s “e” as an Islamic crescent

At the end of the day, all hope was not lost. There were many whose eyes were opened and Loonwatch helped by being picked by prominent and diverse bloggers as well as media venues as varying as AlJazeera, NPR, Christian Science Monitor, The Independent, AlArabiya etc. Many concerned citizens spoke out eloquently to reject and counter Islamophobia, our segment “Anti-Loons” vividly  showcased the best of those who opposed bigotry and were sincerely and effectively working to counter hate and ignorance on all levels, especially against Islam and Muslims. Lesley Hazelton’s profound lecture describing her experience with the Quran left us with hope, that those who make an effort may come to see beyond the stereotypes, the ignorance that shackles us and fosters animosity between humanity.

“Part of the problem I think is we imagine that the Quran can be read as we usually read a book. As though we can curl up with it on a rainy day with a bowl of popcorn in reach, as though God, and the Quran is entirely in the voice of God speaking to Muhammad, were just another author on the best-sellers list. Yet it is precisely because so few people read the Quran that it is so easy to quote, that is to misquote, phrases and snippets taken out of context, in what I call the highlighter version, which is the one favored by Muslim fundamentalists and anti-Muslim Islamophobes.” –Lesley Hazelton

 

TIME: Majority Oppose Mosque, Distrust Muslims

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 20, 2010 by loonwatch

TIME has come out with a poll on the prevailing mood amongst Americans toward the mosque and toward their fellow Muslim citizens. What does this mean for the future of religious freedom and the failure of our leaders and the media in tackling this story?

Majority Oppose Mosque, and most Distrust Muslims

Opponents of the planned Islamic community center and mosque near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan have public opinion firmly in their corner. According to a new TIME poll, 61% of respondents oppose the construction of the Park51/Cordoba House project, compared to 26% who support it. More than 70% concur with the premise that proceeding with the plan would be an insult to the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center. Opposition to the project appears to derive largely from the conviction that the proposed site of the project — just two blocks from Ground Zero, in a building that formerly housed a Burlington Coat Factory outlet — is so close to “hallowed ground,” as President Obama put it.

Yet the survey also revealed that many Americans harbor lingering animosity toward Muslims. Twenty-eight percent of voters do not believe Muslims should be eligible to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Nearly one third of the country thinks adherents of Islam should be barred from running for President — slightly higher than the 24% who mistakenly believe that the current occupant of the Oval Office is himself a Muslim. In all, just 47% of respondents believe Obama is a Christian; 24% declined to respond to the question or said they were unsure, and 5% believe he is neither Christian nor Muslim. (See TIME’s photo-essay “Muslim in America.”)

And while more Americans are open to the idea of having a mosque built in their neighborhoods than near Ground Zero, it’s still not an overwhelming majority; 55% of respondents say they would favor the construction of an Islamic community center and mosque two blocks from their own homes, and an equal number say they believe most Muslims are “Patriotic Americans.”

As he attempts to shepherd the U.S. through the sluggish economic recovery and galvanize Democratic voters ahead of a congressional election cycle in which the party is expected to sustain heavy losses, Obama’s approval rating has held relatively steady, at a near-even split: 46% of respondents back his job performance, with 45% expressing disapproval. Voters are far less enthusiastic about the President’s policies, however, with 57% asserting the U.S. is headed in the wrong direction.

That wasn’t the only grim news for Democrats. The GOP has snatched the lead in generic Congressional balloting, with 43% of likely voters saying they would vote for a Republican candidate if the midterm elections were held today, compared to 37% for Democrats. (Last month, Democrats held a slight edge in generic balloting, 43%-42%.) While those figures augur well for the GOP, harping on the mosque issue — a tactic many Republicans appear to have embraced as the overheated debate nears a boiling point — seems unlikely to give the party’s fortunes a significant boost. Nearly three quarters of voters told TIME the issue will not have any impact on their decisions in the ballot box.(Read “Ground Zero: Exaggerating the Jihadist Threat.”)

While the poll revealed that prejudice toward Muslims is widespread, respect for other religions traditions remains sturdy. Respondents held the Jewish faith in the highest regard, with 75% professing to hold a favorable impression-just slightly higher than attitudes toward Protestants and Catholics. Fifty-seven percent say they have a favorable view of the Mormon faith, compared to 44% for Muslims. Despite (or perhaps because of) this widespread antipathy, 62% of respondents say they don’t personally know a Muslim American.

The poll, conducted by ABT SRBI, surveyed 1,002 adults — 89% of whom identified themselves as likely voters — on Aug. 16-17.

 

Salon.com: How the “Ground Zero Mosque” Fear mongering Began

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Blogs with tags , , , , , , , , on August 16, 2010 by loonwatch

Justin Elliot has a good piece on Salon.com, but he would have benefited from our pieces, Pamela Geller: The Looniest Blogger Ever and SIOA is an anti-Muslim Hate Group.

How the “ground zero mosque” fear mongering began

by Justin Elliot

A group of progressive Muslim-Americans plans to build an Islamic community center two and a half blocks from ground zero in lower Manhattan. They have had a mosque in the same neighborhood for many years. There’s another mosque two blocks away from the site. City officials support the project. Muslims have been praying at the Pentagon, the other building hit on Sept. 11, for many years.

In short, there is no good reason that the Cordoba House project should have been a major national news story, let alone controversy. And yet it has become just that, dominating the political conversation for weeks and prompting such a backlash that, according to a new poll, nearly 7 in 10 Americans now say they oppose the project. How did the Cordoba House become so toxic, so fast?

In a story last week, the New York Times, which framed the project in a largely positive, noncontroversial light last December, argued that it was cursed from the start by “public relations missteps.” But this isn’t accurate. To a remarkable extent, a Salon review of the origins of the story found, the controversy was kicked up and driven by Pamela Geller, a right-wing, viciously anti-Muslim, conspiracy-mongering blogger, whose sinister portrayal of the project was embraced by Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post.

Here’s a timeline of how it all happened:

  • Dec. 8, 2009: The Times publishes a lengthy front-page look at the Cordoba project. “We want to push back against the extremists,” Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the lead organizer, is quoted as saying. Two Jewish leaders and two city officials, including the mayor’s office, say they support the idea, as does the mother of a man killed on 9/11. An FBI spokesman says the imam has worked with the bureau. Besides a few third-tier right-wing blogs, including Pamela Geller’s Atlas Shrugs site, no one much notices the Times story.
  • Dec. 21, 2009: Conservative media personality Laura Ingraham interviews Abdul Rauf’s wife, Daisy Khan, while guest-hosting “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox. In hindsight, the segment is remarkable for its cordiality. “I can’t find many people who really have a problem with it,” Ingraham says of the Cordoba project, adding at the end of the interview, “I like what you’re trying to do.”
  • (This segment also includes onscreen the first use that we’ve seen of the misnomer “ground zero mosque.”) After the segment — and despite the front-page Times story — there were no news articles on the mosque for five and a half months, according to a search of the Nexis newspaper archive.
  • May 6, 2010: After a unanimous vote by a New York City community board committee to approve the project, the AP runs a story. It quotes relatives of 9/11 victims (called by the reporter), who offer differing opinions. The New York Post, meanwhile, runs a story under the inaccurate headline, “Panel Approves ‘WTC’ Mosque.” Geller is less subtle, titling her post that day, “Monster Mosque Pushes Ahead in Shadow of World Trade Center Islamic Death and Destruction.” She writes on her Atlas Shrugs blog, “This is Islamic domination and expansionism. The location is no accident. Just as Al-Aqsa was built on top of the Temple in Jerusalem.” (To get an idea of where Geller is coming from, she once suggested that Malcolm X was Obama’s real father. Seriously.)
  • May 7, 2010: Geller’s group, Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), launches “Campaign Offensive: Stop the 911 Mosque!” (SIOA ‘s associate director is Robert Spencer, who makes his living writing and speaking about the evils of Islam.) Geller posts the names and contact information for the mayor and members of the community board, encouraging people to write. The board chair later reports getting “hundreds and hundreds” of calls and e-mails from around the world.
  • May 8, 2010: Geller announces SIOA’s first protest against what she calls the “911 monster mosque” for May 29. She and Spencer and several other members of the professional anti-Islam industry will attend. (She also says that the protest will mark the dark day of “May 29, 1453, [when] the Ottoman forces led by the Sultan Mehmet II broke through the Byzantine defenses against the Muslim siege of Constantinople.” The outrage-peddling New York Post columnist Andrea Peyserargues in a note at the end of her column a couple of days later that “there are better places to put a mosque.”
  • May 13, 2010: Peyser follows up with an entire column devoted to “Mosque Madness at Ground Zero.” This is a significant moment in the development of the “ground zero mosque” narrative: It’s the first newspaper article that frames the project as inherently wrong and suspect, in the way that Geller has been framing it for months. Peyser in fact quotes Geller at length and promotes the anti-mosque protest of Stop Islamization of America, which Peyser describes as a “human-rights group.” Peyser also reports — falsely — that Cordoba House’s opening date will be Sept. 11, 2011.

Lots of opinion makers on the right read the Post, so it’s not surprising that, starting that very day, the mosque story spread through the conservative — and then mainstream — media like fire through dry grass. Geller appeared on Sean Hannity’s radio show. The Washington Examiner ran an outragedcolumn about honoring the 9/11 dead. So did Investor’s Business Daily. Smelling blood, the Post assigned news reporters to cover the ins and outs of the Cordoba House development daily. Fox News, the Post’s television sibling, went all out.

Within a month, Rudy Giuliani had called the mosque a “desecration.” Within another month, Sarah Palin had tweeted her famous “peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate” tweet. Peter King and Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty followed suit — with political reporters and television news programs dutifully covering “both sides” of the controversy.

Geller had succeeded beyond her wildest dreams.

 

Walid Zafar: Newt Gingrich Joins anti-Muslim Bandwagon

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on July 27, 2010 by loonwatch

Newt Gingrich Joins Muslim-Baiting Movement

by Walid Zafar

Early this week, disgraced former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich warned that “a commitment to religious freedom and God-given rights is being replaced by a secular oppression…”  Just hours after those words appeared on Human Events, Gingrich issued a statement forcefully opposing the construction of a community center and mosque in downtown Manhattan, two blocks from Ground Zero.

Gingrich’s affinity for religious freedom and his belief in God-given rights it would seem, doesn’t extend to Americans who are Muslim.  Such outright bigotry and blatant hypocrisy from Gingrich, an avid historian and former college professor, is even more repulsive when you consider his reasoning.

“There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York,” he writes, “so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia.”  Gingrich, who has been railing against the so-called secular socialist machine for trying to take religion out of the public square, and who, like most conservatives, decries the influence of foreign law, wants the U.S. to apply the same standards on Muslims that Saudi Arabia applies to those who are not Muslim.

That’s rich.

As the Washington Monthly‘s Steve Benen, after noting that conservatives continually justify despicable acts of torture on the premise that other nations and non-state actors employ such tactics, points out, “We’re not supposed to lower ourselves to the levels of those we find offensive.”

Gingrich’s clarion call continues: “Those Islamists and their apologists who argue for ‘religious toleration’ are arrogantly dishonest.”  What makes them Islamists, apologists or even dishonest? Gingrich doesn’t say but if you ask him, he’ll likely tell you about the Katusha rockets that Hamas has fired into Sderot or how Iran is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons.  Anything and everything to take the subject away from the “religious freedom and God-given rights” to which American Muslims are entitled.

To understand Gingrich’s paranoia that “America is experiencing an Islamist cultural-political offensive designed to undermine and destroy our civilization,” one must delve deeply into the polarizing, overzealous and paranoid minds of professional Muslim-baiters and the politicians who depend on their support and cater to their illiberal demands.

Many of them are monomaniacs who have made it their life’s mission to defeat Islam and “expose” all Muslims as radical Islamofascists.  If one asks them for evidence to support their claim that no Muslim can be trusted, they will likely mention a purported plot by Muslim Brotherhood operatives to destroy America from within.  The Council on American Islamic Relations and their intern/spies are routinely placed at the epicenter of the evil conspiracy.

Among these folks, any and all Muslims who “refudiate” such insane theories — who denounce violence and terror, profess their loyalty to the American system, take part in the democratic process and who have assimilated into the American landscape — are cleverly employing taqiyya, which, as any Muslim-baiter would tell you, is religiously sanctioned deception.  The same was said about Jews decades ago and anti-Semites once evoked the specter of “Judeo-Bolshevism” the way that Muslim-baiters and politicians like Gingrich today warn of “Islamofascism.” But none of those awful facts really matter, even to a historian such as Gingrich, because facts have long been accused of being part of the secular-socialist machine.

Gingrich’s stand against the mosque project and his attempt to smear its backers as “Islamists” and apologists earns him his anti-Jihad bona fides, and with that, the support of an increasingly mistrustful and hateful electorate which lives off of tying American Muslims to every heinous act that occurs anywhere that remotely sounds Islamic.  In this world, if the media fails to make the connection, they are clearly part of the soft-jihad.

Here is the key: The connection rarely has to be solid.  In fact, the more specious the connection, the more the Muslim-baiter will be seen by others as a patriot and an enterprising investigative reporter.  For instance, the New York Times‘ Robert Wright highlights one smear that has been contrived to defame the man leading the effort to bring the project to fruition.  The imam behind the project is not to be trusted because conservatives say that “[his] wife has an uncle who used to be ‘a leader’ of a mosque that now has a Web site that links to the Web site of an allegedly radical organization.”  If you can’t keep up with all of that nonsense, then you’re complacent about the Jihad.

Any and all statements against violence made by Muslims must always be placed in the right conservative context: scare quotes.  Gingrich does this masterfully.  That simple act in effect says that Muslims who preach peace are actually jihadists.

As Gingrich and his buddies believe, either you are with them or you are, through your dhimmitude, a proto-Jihadist.  No, you’re worse since you probably support a second genocide against Jews.  (Prominent Muslim-baiters have argued that Muslims instigated the Nazi holocaust!)  Now that you’ve learned all of these made up facts, you simply do not have an excuse to not fight! Wake up and oppose the “Ground Zero Mosque” the “Islamization of America” and prove to those who hate the freedom in America that those freedoms, as Newt argues, don’t actually apply to all Americans.

Cross-posted on PoliticalCorrection.org

 

Jay Bookman: ‘Feisal Abdul Rauf’ is Arabic for ‘Shirley Sherrod’

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , on July 21, 2010 by loonwatch

An excellent article from Jay Bookman on the parallel between the controversy surrounding Shirley Sherrod and what is happening to Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.

In some ways, ‘Feisal Abdul Rauf’ is Arabic for ‘Shirley Sherrod’

By Jay Bookman
[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjGJPPRD3u0&feature=player_embedded 350 300]

Feisal Abdul Rauf and Shirley Sherrod have a lot in common.

At first blush, that might seem a strange assertion. Abdul Rauf is a naturalized U.S. citizen and a Muslim imam in New York City; Sherrod is a black woman from the American South. But they have been both selected as targets by a conservative media machine that is so intent on creating useful villains that it pays little or no attention to concepts such as truth or accuracy. The goal is to create “Objects of Hate” that can then be used to inflame the American public.

Abdul Rauf, for example, describes himself as “both a Muslim and an American citizen, as proud of the important and fundamental principles that America stands for as I am the important and fundamental principles for which Islam stands.”

In fact, Abdul Rauf argues, the reason so many Muslims flee their native countries to come here is because the United States is actually more true to Islamic principles of “human equality, human liberty and social justice” than many so-called Islamic societies.

He proclaims himself a patriotic American, and has harshly condemned violent extremists who cite Islam as their inspiration. September 11, Abdul Rauf says, is “a day that will live in infamy,” noting that “no nation could suffer such an assault without responding in a very robust way.” In the wake of bombing attacks in Great Britian in 2005, he expressed “a sense of deep revulsion,” said that true Muslims “naturally condemn the brutal attacks in London in the most unequivocal terms,” and urged British Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement in identifying and capturing those involved.

Abdul Rauf has also worked tirelessly to promote better relations among the Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths. Rabbi Rabbi David Rosen, who heads the American Jewish Committee’s international interreligious affairs department in Jerusalem, calls him “an important voice of moderation,” and Jewish Week has lauded him as “a key voice of reason among Muslim leaders here.”

In 2003, Abdul Rauf joined Rabbi Israel Singer, chairman of the World Jewish Congress, along with members of the Israeli Knesset and Palestinian leaders, in an initiative to bring moderate Palestinians and Israelis together to try to find common ground.

In his 2004 book, “What’s Right with Islam is What’s Right with America,” Abdul Rauf writes that the future of Islam will depend on its acceptance of a form of democratic capitalism. Toward that end, he stresses the emergence of what he calls an “American Islam.” Catholic immigrants, he notes, came to this country and in time created a distinctive American Catholicism, which in turn influenced Catholicism as a whole. Jewish immigrants likewise created a distinctly American version of Judaism, which has also influenced the larger faith.

The creation of an American Islam, Abdul Rauf believes, can help modernize Islam globally and in the process ease the strains between his adopted country and his faith.

Abdul Rauf is, in other words, everything that critics of Islam claim they want to see. More importantly, his moderate, pro-American message has proved so appealing to fellow U.S. Muslims that his mosque has outgrown its origins in a lower Manhattan storefront and needs to expand. He and his congregation envision a 13-story complex on Park Street in lower Manhattan, modeled after the 92nd Street YMCA and the Jewish Community Center in New York. The facility would include a community center, auditorium, mosque, swimming pool and restaurants.

The local community board in lower Manhattan, which no doubt includes many who experienced September 11 firsthand, has voted 29-1 to approve the project’s construction, strong testimony to the faith they have in Abdul Rauf’s mission.

“I think they need to establish a place such as this for people of goodwill from mainline Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths so we can come together to talk,” said Father Kevin Madigan of St. Peter’s Catholic Church, located a block away from the proposed facility.

In some circles, however, Abdul Rauf’s proposed mosque has become better known as the “Ground Zero mosque.” (It is actually located two city blocks away from Ground Zero, with no view of the site.) Both Abdul Rauf and the proposed project have become the target of a vicious, concerted smear motivated in part by irrational if sincere fear, and in part by cynical opportunists who hope to profit by that fear.

The ad above, for example, was put together by the Republican National Trust PAC. The group supposedly tried to buy air time to put the ad on CBS and NBC but was rejected. (The Republican National Trust is a major player in the PAC world. In the 2008 cycle, it spent more than $8 million trying to beat Barack Obama, plus another $434,000 helping to elect Saxby Chambliss here in Georgia.)

Interestingly, there is no indication that RNTPAC tried to place the ad on Fox News, which makes sense for a couple of reasons. A rejection by Fox would have undercut the group’s effort to depict itself as a victim of liberal censorship. And besides, why pay for something that you’re going to get for free anyway?

palin’s+mosque+tweet+7-17-2010
Fox has played a major role in ginning up conservative opposition to the mosque. Sean Hannity has shown the ad on his Fox show, condemning Abdul Rauf as an “extremist” and a champion of “radical Islam.” Sarah Palin has gotten involved, using Twitter to beg “peaceful Muslims” to “refutiate” the mosque, as if to imply that Abdul Rauf must be a member of al Qaida.

Rick Lazio, the GOP candidate for governor in New York, has come out in opposition to the mosque, trying to use the issue to boost his campaign. That led the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association to rebuke Lazio, warning that “for any candidate for public office to politicize Ground Zero shows a lack of respect to the families, who will forever live with the terrible memory of that dark day…. This conduct forsakes the memory of all those who lost their lives on September 11th.”

On NPR, Sam Nunberg of the Center for Law and Justice has warned that approving the mosque “would be like removing the sunken ship in Pearl Harbor to erect a memorial to the Japanese kamikazes killed in the attack.” Pamela Geller, a prominent conservative blogger who appeared on CNN to debate the mosque, called Abdul Rauf a “stealth jihadist” and the mosque itself “an act of jihad.” Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, now retired but once the head of U.S. military intelligence in the Rumsfeld Pentagon, told a conference at Colorado Christian College that the mosque was part of “the incremental taking over of our nation.”

In each and every case cited above, opponents of the mosque have refused to allow a distinction to be made between Islamic extremists and Muslims of demonstrated good faith such as Abdul Rauf. Critics of the Islamic community complain repeatedly that they don’t hear enough from moderates, but it’s pretty clear from this example that they do not hear because they refuse to listen.

Karen Armstrong, one of the most respected religious scholars of her generation, wrote something that now seems all too prescient in her foreward to Abdul Rauf’s book.

“It is vital that we know who our enemies are, but it is equally important to know who they are not. Only a tiny proportion of Muslims take part in acts of terror and violence. If our media and politicians continue to denigrate Islam, accepting without question the stereotypical view that has prevailed in the West since the time of the Crusades, we will eventually alienate Muslims who have no quarrel with the West, who are either enjoying or longing for greater democracy, and who are horrified by the atrocities committed in the name of their faith.”

Finally, I’d like to close with a video of the “stealth jihadist” himself, appearing at a public hearing about the proposed mosque. Watch and listen, then compare Abdul Rauf’s message to the message of the video at the top of this post.

Ask yourself: Who is the purveyor of racial hate and fear, and who is the healer? Who is the extremist, and who is the moderate? Who is the danger to this country, and who is its friend?

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xlXMZkF_4w&feature=player_embedded 350 300]

 

Geoffrey Dunn: Palin’s Bigoted Calls on Muslims to “Refudiate”

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on July 19, 2010 by loonwatch

Palin’s Bigoted Twitter Calls on Muslims to “Refudiate”

by Geoffrey Dunn

Echoing the bigoted and right-wing contortions of the National Republican Trust PAC and disgraced Tea Party leader Mark Williams, Sarah Palin has sent the world of Twitter on fire this afternoon, with aseries of incendiary Tweets about the proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque two blocks from the site of the World Trade Center

She pulled down one of them after concocting the word “refudiate” and then used the word “refute” incorrectly.

Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate

Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real.

She then pulled the second attempt down and took a third swipe at it.

Peace-seeking Muslims pls understand. Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing

“Peaceful,” “peace-seeking”? Why the qualifier? How about “peaceful Christians“? And as if Sarah Palin knows anything about “healing.” Perhaps that’s the biggest joke of all.

Well, not quite. The Thrilla from Wasilla then compared herself to none other than the Immortal Bard himself (and with indirect reference to her primary obsession, Barack Obama).

‘Refudiate,’ ‘misunderestimate,’ ‘wee-wee’d up.’ English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!’

As Billy Boy so wisely noted in The Tempest:

You cram these words into mine ears against
The stomach of my sense.

 

Reza Aslan Rips Republican Zuhdi Jasser on Mosque

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature, Loon Media with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2010 by loonwatch

Reza Aslan, an Islamic scholar and an accomplished writer, blogger, and emerging popular culture figure was on CNN opposite Zuhdi Jasser, a contributor to Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum and a contributing writer for the virulently anti-Islam Family Security Matters.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOp4O9FwzRw 350 300]

 

Hardball: The Cordoba House Controversy

Posted in Loon Media, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on July 15, 2010 by loonwatch

Republican Michael Faulkner gets tongue tied here trying to support his view on why the Mosque near Ground Zero shouldn’t be built. I also think Scott Stringer did an excellent job.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

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