Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bread and Circuses: the Muslim Center near Ground Zero

Props to Eboo Patel, Executive Director of the Interfaith Youth Corps, for the following exchange: [Update: broken link.] 

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Patel: I have to tell you that this [i.e., telling a Muslim group they can build a mosque, just not near Ground Zero] seems a little like telling black people 50 years ago: you can sit anywhere on the bus you like - just not in the front.

Lemon: I think that's apples and oranges - I don't think that black people were behind a Terrorist plot to kill people and drive planes into a building. That's a completely different circumstance.

Patel: And American Muslims were not behind the terrorist plot either.

Lemon seems to have forgotten about the Black Panthers. Should the U.S. in the 60's have been able to impose Jim Crow laws and/or segregation on all African-Americans because one small but vocal group of African-Americans advocated violent methods? Of course not. However, when Muslims are involved, logical thinking seems to go out the window.

Also, this isn't a zoning issue, because if this facility had been a church, no one would care. The only reason this development is being singled out is because of the minority religious affiliation of the developer and the project. Therefore, Park51 involves a Constitutional issue, and a test of whether a majority of residents can force a religious minority to segregate themselves to areas they find acceptable.

By the way, below is a link to one of Park51's major investors: [Update: I've replaced the link. Former link no longer worked.] 

The page opens with a quote from Jewish-American scholar Elie Wiesel. Maybe I'm naive, but I'm happy with any Muslim group that quotes Elie Wiesel and wants to "heal conflict between Islamic and Western communities by...empowering women."

Overall, my opinion is that this is a local issue in NY where the local government officials are acting properly, and we need to be focusing on other issues, like the economy and the wars. We have thousands of American soldiers sweltering in the Middle Eastern heat; Pakistanis dying because of a major flood; the Taliban still in existence; Israel threatening to unilaterally bomb Iranian nuclear energy sites; and a massive deficit. Remember those real problems? Perhaps the government no longer needs to spend money on bread and circuses. They seem to have passed that job to the American media.

Bonus: more here. [Update: broken link.] I swear I wrote the post above before looking at the link. Like I said, bread and circuses.

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