Archive for World Trade Center

Ten Years After 9/11 Attacks, Exploitation of “Patriot Day” Continues

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2011 by loonwatch

(Update I below)

Disclaimer:  I would like to point out that the views expressed below are mine alone and do not necessarily represent or reflect the official views of LoonWatch or any of its writers aside from myself (Danios).

Salon’s indefatigable Glenn Greenwald recently wrote (emphasis added):

Worship of the American military and all that it does — and a corresponding taboo on speaking ill of it except for tactical critiques (it would be better if they purchased this other weapon system or fought this war a bit differently) is the closest thing America has to a national religion.

If worship of the military is America’s national religion, then the U.S. soldier is this religion’s holy warrior.  Greenwald noted that the Navy Seals are “a member of the most sacred and revered religious order.”  Those who die in “the line of duty” are martyrs who must be remembered for all “they have done for this country.”  Any criticism against the rank-and-file holy warrior is considered blasphemous.

There can be no possible profession that is more highly praiseworthy to the American than soldier in the military.  Many U.S. airlines will let soldiers board the plane even before women with children and the disabled.  Being part of the war machine is more respectable than being a doctor, a social worker, a teacher for the disabled, or a volunteer at the local orphanage.  Saving people (what a physician does) can in no way, shape, or form be considered better than killing people (what a soldier does).

A person foolish enough to say that “a soldier kills people” will be beaten into submission and subservience by jingoist mantras such as “you should be thankful that you are able to express such views, because it is only due to the sacrifices of those in uniform–who protect your freedoms–that you are free to say what you want.”  This, even though no rational mind could possibly believe this: how does bombing, invading, and occupying Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, or Yemen “protect my freedoms?”  That is, unless one is naive enough to think that any of these Evil, Foreign Brown People were about to conquer the United States, topple its government, and take away my freedoms.

In any case, I have my own government to do that for me.  Far from “fighting for my freedoms,” the military-industrial complex and those in authority who wage these wars are responsible for clamping down on my civil liberties.  With the rise of the Orwellian-named Patriot Act and its like, there has been a sustained war waged not just against Al-Qaeda but against civil liberties, with dedicated assaults on the First and Fourth Amendments.

Worship of the military and the holy warrior runs so deep that even the most ardent critic of the war must never utter a single word against those who wage it.  Such a common sense thing to do is completely off-limits and beyond the scope of decency and propriety.  To do so would be to open oneself up to the criticisms of being “unpatriotic” and “disloyal.”  Criticism of the war must be couched in “patriotic language:” war critics must ceremoniously acknowledge their support for U.S. troops, arguing that I support the troops which is why I want to bring them home.  It is simply unacceptable to just clearly say: I don’t support the troops because they are shooting at, bombing, and killing people.  To do such a thing would be to commit the highest of sins in the American national religion.

The fact that even war critics would hush you up for saying something against America’s cherished holy warriors says something of how deeply ingrained militarism is in our society.  How can it be that opponents of America’s wars will criticize the war as unjust on the one hand but not be anything but absolutely reverent towards those who wage it?  The United States, after all, uses an all-volunteer military; by joining the military is not one making an active choice to take part in these unjust wars?  And certainly, one can choose not to fight, as many brave soldiers and ex-soldiers have done.

Noting with what absolute reverence Americans speak of their soldiers of war, one wonders how it is that they are simultaneously amazed at how unbelievably warlike those Foreign, Other People are for revering their own men of war.  We are taken aback by how “primitive” the North Koreans are when they mindlessly revere their soldiers, yet somehow mystified when we do the same with our troops.  The North Korean soldiers have certainly killed far fewer and waged far fewer wars than our own military.  But alas, those North Koreans are so primitive, whereas we are so advanced, civilized, and peaceful.

I don’t malign or vilify soldiers in the military (as I partially do accept the idea that “they are just doing their job”), but must we continue to speak of our holy warriors with such absolute reverence, awe, and worship?  Our mindless idolization of the military profession is what is to blame for so many of our impressionable youth choosing to join the military to kill people abroad instead of spending those years going to college to expand their minds.  Placing the military and its soldiers on a pedestal is the only way a society can convince its young boys to risk their lives to go to war for the country–something so illogical, so contrary to the biological drive to save oneself from harm or death, that absent the most compelling of reasons one can hardly find it worthwhile to do so.

Interestingly, even that religious and ethnic minority that is the target of America’s wars is itself affected by this national religion.  Muslim-Americans will often bend over backwards to point out that they too “proudly serve this country” by being a part of the military.  (Even the phrase “serve this country” can only mean one thing: soldiering.)  In order to be accepted as Full Citizens, Muslim-Americans must prove their dedication to America’s war machine.

And so, Muslim-Americans–many of them immigrants or children of immigrants–beg to be included in the same institution that wages endless wars in their ancestral homelands.  It is that same institution that is rife with racism and bigotry against Arabs and Muslims, yet so desperately do Muslim-Americans want to be included in it.

*  *  *  *  *

In this national religion, 9/11 is America’s Karbala.  The Battle of Karbala involved the slaughter of the Prophet Muhammad’s descendants by a tyrannical government–an event that is religiously commemorated each year by Shia Muslims, who will often make a religious pilgrimage (ziyarat) to the site of the battle or to the graves of the victims.  With vigor just short of this, Americans commemorate Patriot Day, the holy day of the American national religion.

Ground Zero, meanwhile, is the “hallowed ground”–a trip here is the ziyarat (religious pilgrimage) of the American religion.  The American flag becomes a symbol not to be disrespected, our nation’s holy book, waved high by people chanting “USA! USA! USA!”, which can only mean one thing: war!  The flag has become a raised symbol of war.

The military is our national religion, its soldiers are our holy warriors, the Navy Seals are our highest religious order, those soldiers who died in war are our martyrs, 9/11 was our Karbala, Patriot Day is our annual holy day, the flag is our holy book and symbol, Osama bin Laden is Lucifer, Terrorism is the greatest Evil, supporting the troops is our greatest religious obligation, and failure to do so is the greatest blasphemy and the highest of sins.

*  *  *  *  *

The problem I have with the cult-like remembrance of 9/11 is that it was the devotion to this day that was used to launch wars of vengeance that killed ten times as many people.  This date, 9/11, has been militarized.  It is a memory we are told that we must never forget lest we slacken in our resolve to wage war against the Forces of Evil, the Satan of our religion: radical Islam and Terrorism.  It is a memory that is invoked to remind the American people why they need to spend more of their taxpayer money to sustain their country’s illegal occupations and immoral wars.

Furthermore, the singling out of this day above all others (including days on which worse acts of violence were perpetrated by the United States), exudes the tribalistic mentality that infects people with strong feelings of national or religious identity–wherein only blood shed against one’s own national or religious group is remembered (and in fact, it is obsessed over), whereas that shed by one’s own national or religious group against others is ignored, denied, or justified.

Lastly, one cannot help but feel that 9/11 would hardly have been considered as important to the national religion had it not been Muslims who were implicated in the attack.  They attacked us.  The deaths of the victims of 9/11 are less relevant than the fact that they–those Foreign, Dark-Complexioned Moozlums–are the ones who caused these deaths.  The horrendous attacks of 9/11 have special significance due to the fact that the perpetrators were radical Muslims, an Existential Threat to our Safety and Freedoms.

The victims of 9/11 certainly ought to be remembered, as should all the victims of war and terrorism (whether the culprit be our enemies or our own country and whether the victims be American or not), but should their memory really be exploited to feed the national religion of warmongering?  Is it not deeply disturbing that an act of violence and the deaths of three-thousand innocents are being used to justify even greater acts of violence and even more civilian deaths?

Disclaimer: I would like to point out that the views expressed above are mine alone and do not necessarily represent or reflect the official views of LoonWatch or any of its writers aside from myself (Danios).

Update I: An interesting Facebook status that is making the rounds:

On 9/11, I’ll mourn the nearly 3,000 lives lost, over 6,000 injuries, the infrastructural carnage and devastation in NYC, and the humiliation of my country, all perpetrated ignorantly in the name of my religion

On 9/12, I’ll mourn the nearly 1,000,000 lives, the 10′s of millions of injuries, the infrastructural decimation in 3 countries, and the humiliation of my religion, all perpetrated ignorantly in the name of my country.

Update II:  Many readers and fellow LoonWatch writers have pointed out that many young people join the military due to financial reasons.  Additionally, many of them are “trying to serve their country” and “are just following orders.”  I do not completely disagree with these statements.  As I said, I do not malign or vilify soldiers, nor encourage that.  What I am opposed to is the glorification of what they do.

Anti-Muslim Nonsense Cloaked in Ground Zero Mystique

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , on March 16, 2011 by loonwatch

The key point to this NY Daily News article is here:

The former Burlington Coat Factory building at 45-47 Park Place is no more historically significant than dozens of buildings pelted with plane parts on Sept. 11, 2001, lawyer Adam Leitman Bailey told a Manhattan court Tuesday…

City lawyer Virginia Thomas pointed out that 56 other buildings were hit by plane parts and that no one’s pushing to preserve those. Century 21 is not a monument to 9/11,” she said. “Nor is 45-47 Park Place.”

Fifty-six other buildings were hit by plane parts, including Century 21.  But for some damn reason–I wonder why!?–these people only care about the Islamic cultural center that will replace the Burlington Coat Factory. It couldn’t possibly have to do with hating Muslims, right? No, absolutely not, that’s ridiculous!  Oh wait, it’s about parking!  Umm yeah, that’s it!

Are you buying it?  I’m not.  Sounds like “anti-Muslim nonsense cloaked in Ground Zero mystique.”

Proposed Park51 mosque site does not merit landmark status for being hit by Sept. 11 debris: lawyer

by: Jose Martinez

The lawyer for the owner of a building near Ground Zero that would house a controversial mosque says it doesn’t deserve landmark status just because part of a plane hit it on 9/11.

The former Burlington Coat Factory building at 45-47 Park Place is no more historically significant than dozens of buildings pelted with plane parts on Sept. 11, 2001, lawyer Adam Leitman Bailey told a Manhattan court Tuesday.

He was arguing the merits of a lawsuit filed by an FDNY firefighter – with the backing of aWashington conservative group – challenging the city’s refusal to grant landmark status.

Bailey trashed the legal action as anti-Muslim nonsense cloaked in Ground Zero mystique.

“Our property is not at Ground Zero,” he said.

“You can’t throw a football and hit it from Ground Zero.”

Firefighter Timothy Brown‘s suit says the building deserves the status because a plane’s landing gear crashed into it on 9/11.

“That building is a monument to that day because of what happened with the landing gear,” said Jack Lester, a lawyer for Brown.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission in August rejected an application to grant landmark status to the 152-year-old Italian palazzo-style warehouse.

It’s marked as the eventual site of Park51, a project that would include a community center and a Muslim prayer space.

City lawyer Virginia Thomas pointed out that 56 other buildings were hit by plane parts and that no one’s pushing to preserve those.

Century 21 is not a monument to 9/11,” she said. “Nor is 45-47 Park Place.”

Bailey portrayed Brown as a puppet of the American Center for Law & Justice, saying the firefighter doesn’t even live in New York and cares only about shutting down the mosque.

“The 800-pound gorilla in the room is freedom of religion,” Bailey said.

While lawyers for the firefighter carefully danced around the topic of religion before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Paul Feinman, outside court they trashed the Park51 project as “un-American.”

Feinman said he will issue a ruling on the case in the next month.

jmartinez@edit.nydailynews.com

Opposition to a New Mosque, Without the Ground Zero Excuse This Time

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2010 by loonwatch

(cross-posted from NYMag)

The uproar over a proposed mosque near ground zero is predicated around the idea that this specific site was inappropriate for a mosque because of its proximity to the place where Islamic terrorists killed thousands of Americans. The logic is still, not even very subtly, anti-Muslim — it only makes sense if you believe that Muslim-American worshipers are sympathetic to Muslim terrorists. Now a community on Staten Island is opposing another proposed mosque, and without the pretense that it’s motivated by anything but outright hostility toward Muslims.

On Wednesday night, a meeting was held by the Midland Beach Civic Association to bring together representatives of the Muslim American Society — who want to turn an empty convent there into a mosque — and the locals who want nothing to do with them. It wasn’t exactly a “civic” dialogue. The men were asked whether they realized that “every terrorist, past and present, has come out of a mosque,” and their organization was falsely accused of being on the FBI’s terrorist watch list. Their answers were drowned out by “catcalls and boos.” At one point a veteran of the war in Afghanistantried to broker the peace.

Mr. Finnegan said he was a Marine lance corporal, home from Afghanistan, where he had worked as a mediator with warring tribes.

After the sustained standing ovation that followed his introduction, he turned to the Muslims on the panel: “My question to you is, will you work to form a cohesive bond with the people of this community?” The men said yes.

Then he turned to the crowd. “And will you work to form a cohesive bond with these people — your new neighbors?”

The crowd erupted in boos. “No!” someone shouted.

Sad.

Heated Opposition to a Proposed Mosque [NYT]

 

On the Not Mosque at Not Ground Zero

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on June 10, 2010 by loonwatch

(cross-posted from Stageleft)

The anti-Muslim movement is a curious blend of old-fashioned racism, naive nativism, fear, and the brute, thuggish rage that infects a diseased minority in every generation and finds its scapegoat in every culture. Because it’s irrational to its core, it shuns reasoned discussion, which it dismisses as weakness or “appeasement”. Instead, it relies on theatre and crude sloganeering (Not All Terrorists Are Muslim, But All Muslims Are Terrorists!!) to make its “points”.

One of the most recent flashpoints for these racist rage-junkies is the “plan” to build a “Mega Mosque” on the site of Ground Zero in Manhattan, as a clear act of aggression and provocation against the Forces of Decency. (Those forces of decency, by the way, apparently don’t include the Borough of Manhattan, the City of New York or its Mayor Michael Bloomberg, all of whom support the project.)

Oh, they’re whippin’ themselves into a fine lather about this. A rally last week at week at Ground Zero drew between 300 (according to CNN) and 10,000 (according to Jihad Watch) people (that’s quite a disparity, isn’t it?) who want to see the site turned into a “War Memorial” instead of a Mega Mosque.

Now, we know these folks have problems with basic facts (I’m thinking lunatic teabagger Mark Williams, who doesn’t know that Hindus and Muslims worship different gods.) But the movement to prevent the building of a Mega Mosque at Ground Zero requires a suspension of reason that’s an order of magnitude above the shield of willful ignorance that usually protects these tiny, fragile minds. That’s because:

a) The “Mega Mosque” is not a “Mosque” – mega, maxi, or mini. It’s a 13-story community center that will include a prayer room, a performing art center, a gym, swimming pool and other public spaces. It will be open to everyone.

b) The community centre will not be situated at Ground Zero. It’s being built on the site of an old factory two blocks away. Organizers of the demonstration wisely opted to stage their drama at a more iconic location, rather than at the site itself. Better rage generation, you see.

So to summarize – a community centre open to the public and supported by the City and the Borough is being built blocks away from Ground Zero.

End of story? Of course not. Like the Flying Imams, or the Syrian Band, or the Flight 93 Memorial Conspiracy, this will enter Hater’s History as yet another imaginary Muzzie offense. They’re already amping up the ersatz rage with the rumour that the centre will be dedicated (or opened, depending on some) on 9/11/11, a notion I can find not a single actual piece of online confirmation for.

But it doesn’t matter. The Not-Mosque will be built at Not-Ground- Zero and opened on not 9/11/11, the world will move on, and the Haters will add this to their catalogue of non-history, and move on to another fantasy.

Coda: The story was most recently highlighted in Canada by our own indefatigable A Drain McNair, who couldn’t understand why a Muslim reader was offended by his misrepresentation of the project. The Drain concludes with superior sniff: “Some people just can’t handle the truth about Islam”. Indeed, Drain. Delete those last two words, and you’ve just about got it.

 

Richard Bartholomew on the New York Mosque Protest

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , on June 9, 2010 by loonwatch

(cross-posted from Barth’s Notes)

by Richard Bartholomew

Apparently this was said with a straight face at Sunday’s anti-mosque protest in New York:

“We’re not here today to condemn Muslims or Islam” said Pamela Geller, executive director of ‘Stop the Islamization of America’, “but we are here today to condemn the kind of mosque that will teach the very same radical ideology that gave birth to the 9/11 attacks…”

As has been widely reported, Geller was speaking at a protest against plans to build a mosque and Muslim community centre a couple of blocks away from the site of World Trade Center. A few days before, Geller had thundered that

“The only Muslim center that should be built in the shadow of the World Trade Center is one that is devoted to expunging the Quran and all Islamic teachings of the violent jihad that they prescribe, as well as all hateful texts and incitement to violence”

Of course, this isn’t a statement made in good faith: a Muslim center with an “expunged” Quran makes about as much sense as a church with the anti-Jewish parts of the New Testament expunged or a synagogue with the more sanguinary passages of the Torah expunged – ancient religious texts may be re-interpreted or contextualised in ways that make them more amenable to the modern world, but they are seldom repudiated by adherents.

Some background to the Cordoba House Muslim centre project was provided by the WSJ‘sMetropolis blog in May:

The project is driven in part by the needs of a growing Muslim population in Lower Manhattan. The nearest existing Islamic prayer space, the Tribeca Mosque, has been holding three evening prayer services on Fridays to keep up with demand.

“New immigrants coming to the area — you see a lot of people coming to Canal Street, a lot of street vendors and laborers,” says Daisy Kahn, executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement. “But also a lot of people in the financial community coming to prayers as well.”

When Kahn’s organization found a vacant property on Park Place, the former site of a Burlington Coat Factory that had been damaged by airplane debris on September 11, 2001, the potent symbolism of the site also became a compelling rationale for the project. “We decided we wanted to look at the legacy of 9/11 and do something positive,” she explained in an interview. Her group represents moderate Muslims who want “to reverse to trend of extremism and the kind of ideology that the extremists are spreading.”

For Geller and her Stop Islamization of America organization (currently on a roll following the “Leaving Islam?” bus-ad controversy), this is all a ruse – the purpose of the mosque is to gloat over the site of the World Trade Center and to establish Muslim supremacy over America; as reported by the LondonTimes:

“What could be more insulting and humiliating than a monster mosque in the shadow of the World Trade Centre buildings that were brought down by an Islamic jihad attack?” said Pamela Geller, the group’s director. “Any decent American, Muslim or otherwise, wouldn’t dream of such an insult. It’s a stab in the eye of America.”

Ms Geller’s group said that Islam had a history of building mosques on top of the holy places of other religions as a symbol of Muslim dominance. It cited al-Aqsa Mosque on top of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Ayasofya Mosque in the former Hagia Sophia basilica in Istanbul, and the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus atop what was once the Church of St John the Baptist.

The Times refered to an “anti-Muslim backlash”, which Geller objected to as a “lie” (Geller’s ally Robert Spencer does occasionally refer positively to “Muslims of conscience”, but how exactly they are to be defined is unclear).

Khan’s quote – slightly re-edited – has also been turned against her in a press release:

Daisy Khan has trivialized and insulted the memories of the victims of the 9/11 jihad attacks by saying that the mosque is intended to “make something positive out of 9/11.”

We’re also told that

…Ground Zero mosque Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is an open proponent of Sharia, Islamic law, a system that denies the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and the equality of rights of all people before the law.

Abdul Rauf has said that “an Islamic state can be established in more then just a single form or mold. It can be established through a kingdom or a democracy. The important issue is to establish the general fundamentals of Shariah that are required to govern.” Thus it is clear that this mosque will teach Sharia, Islamic supremacism, and the denial of basic rights.

Abdul Rauf and other mosque organizers have been inconsistent and deceptive about whether their planned Islamic Center at Ground Zero will contain a mosque; ultimately they have admitted that it will. Belying his claim that this mosque will become a place for interreligious harmony, he has told the Arabic press: “I don’t believe in religious dialogue.”

This information was provided by Walid Shoebat (who was not at the protest himself);  it seems he’s realised that he needs to come up with some new material if he’s going to keep his profile up. However, even Shoebat’s article puts the “religious dialogue” comment into some context; in his translation, it refers to:

Religious dialogue as customarily understood is a set of events with discussions in large hotels that result in nothing.

From the Google translation of Shoebat’s source, it appears that Rauf goes on to praise American diversity and to criticise Egypt. But whether Rauf is secretly an extremist is hardly the main point – it is clear that SIOA objects to any mosque in principle.

The protest itself brought together the usual “anti-jihad” activists, along with a few 9/11 rescue workers and bereaved family members – Geller has posted a number of speeches. The event also gave a politician named Jay Townsend an opportunity to grandstand, and there was an attack on Obama from a certain Bev Carlson, who insisted that America is a “Christian nation”.

The size of the rally has been disputed; a journalist named Mike Kelly puts the figure at 500, Geller herself has declared there were 8,000, while WorldNetDaily rounds the number up to 10,000. Sentiments expressed on some of the protest signs made further mockery of Geller’s claim that “we are not here today to condemn Muslims or Islam”, and Kelly notes one telling incident:

At one point, a portion of the crowd menacingly surrounded two Egyptian men who were speaking Arabic and were thought to be Muslims.

“Go home,” several shouted from the crowd.

“Get out,” others shouted.

In fact, the two men – Joseph Nassralla and Karam El Masry — were not Muslims at all. They turned out to be Egyptian Coptic Christians who work for a California-based Christian satellite TV station called “The Way.” Both said they had come to protest the mosque.

“I’m a Christian,” Nassralla shouted to the crowd, his eyes bulging and beads of sweat rolling down his face.

But it was no use. The protesters had become so angry at what they thought were Muslims that New York City police officers had to rush in and pull Nassralla and El Masry to safety.

“I flew nine hours in an airplane to come here,” a frustrated Nassralla said afterward.

Ahead of the protest, there were various objections, ranging from some Muslim criticisms of the project through to the most vitriolic spewing. As was widely reported, a Texas radio host named Michael Berry expressed the hope that the mosque would be bombed, and his excess was matched by the Tea Party leader Mark Williams, who denounced the Manhattan Borough President, Scott Stringer, as “a Jewish Uncle Tom who would have turned rat on Anne Frank” because he supports the project. Across the Atlantic, atheist comedian Pat Condell fired off another of his hectoring (and curiously joke-free) rants, insisting (I paraphrase) that the mosque was obviously being built to celebrate 9/11 and as part of a strategy to take over the USA, that Islam ought to be suppressed as a political ideology akin to Nazism, and that anyone who can’t see this is a fool (Condell objects to religion in general as being authoritarian and supported by people who are self-righteous).

The Forward carried a thoughtful editorial on the subject a few weeks ago. While backing the project, it notes that

Some families of those who perished on September 11, 2001, have displayed great courage by supporting the proposal to create a 13-story hub for Muslim religious and cultural life, two blocks north of where the twin towers stood. But other families have not and — unlike some of the bigots who oppose the project for unjustifiable reasons — their qualms and resistance need to be respected.

But with so much overheated rhetoric on the subject, it is difficult to see how the project organisers could make any revisions to their plans without opponents trumpeting alterations as climb-downs that supposedly prove extremist intent.

Meanwhile, Geller’s motives have been derided by her equally-unpleasant rival “anti-jihadist” Debbie Schlussel; she dismisses the protest as “a cleverly designed PR vehicle”, and claims that Geller is expressing

…faux-outrage in a “battle” that we already know won’t be won.  It’s already lost.  They have the property.  Move on to something we can win, not a… attention-whore trick, just weeks before her book is about to be released and needs to earn back a bloated advance.  If you think it’s anything other than this, you are a malleable tool, easily manipulated and not of much substance.

Schlussel, who has been in a feud with Geller for some time, also makes reference to the p0lice investigation into Geller’s ex-husband’s business affairs (I noted Geller’s book – which has a Foreword by John Bolton – here).

(S0me links H/T Loonwatch)

UPDATE: Ed Brayton has some fun with one detail:

Geller added, “There is a large piece of an airplane in that building. That is a war memorial”… That’s funny, there were pieces of airplane and debris in pretty much every building for many blocks in every direction after 9/11. And yet the only one she demands be made into a museum is the one owned by Muslims.