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Ground Zero Mosque
Posted: 19 August 2010 10:31 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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I’ve never been one to write in forums before but I just wrote to my family on the debate between Sam Harris and Aslan, and figured I’d broaden the discussion here. Here is what I wrote:


http://www.scpr.org/programs/patt-morrison/2010/08/18/ground-zero-mosque/

The former link is to a radio program on the construction of the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ with guest scholars Sam Harris and Reza Aslan. Harris is a graduate in Philosophy and PhD in Neuroscience, and Aslan is a graduate in theology. I just finished reading a book by Harris called The End of Faith and it gave me my first taste of Islam -one I found quite frightening.

Harris touches on a few familiar issues, seen in his book The End of Faith, when addressing his problems with the ground zero mosque. In the radio segment he doesn’t so much call to question the legality of constructing the mosque as call to question the negative implications such a mosque will have: mainly,  the sense felt by Islamic extremists that the 9/11 martyrs and the jihad against non-believers has been successful, thus increasing the grounds for such extremists to act violently. Additionally, Sam seems focused on confronting the passive and neutral tone taken by westerners towards the inferential consequences of holy texts. So though Harris is troubled by the construction of such a mosque, he does not directly oppose it. (Despite Sam’s asserted respect for the constitution, I find his arguments can be seen to suggest an unclear position).

Aslan, who has also written on topics of religious extremism, supports the construction of the mosque.The first amendment of the constitution assures such a mosque can be built, and to deny its erection is to limit Americans’ religious liberty. Additionally, the coined term “ground zero mosque” is misleading as the 13 story building will have space for many different religious practices apart from Islam. Aslan considers Sam’s position to be that of a bigot, by grouping all 1.3 billion Muslims into one category.

As neither seem to be working within the same framework - Harris focused on problems of Islam more than the mosque, and Aslan focused on the mosque more than the problems of Islam - the argument comes to a disappointing standstill. I’d like to keep a discussion going working off of either the two guest speakers, or any any other related ideas y’all might have!

To begin, I would say I agree with Sam Harris’ general disapproval of Western ignorance and tiptoeing around issues of religion. I do, however, feel the ground gets slippery when we start molding our decisions around how some extremist might or might not react. Sure, to allow such a religious center to be built so close to the Trade Center could be seen as a victory for the likings of the Taliban, but one need also weigh the consequences of disallowing its construction. Maybe this would mobilize a greater hate towards America? I don’t really know the likelihood of either situation, and Harris gives no means to figure it out. It would seem that Harris is merely using the mosque to talk about other issues, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Aslan remains mostly focussed on the mosque, except when attacking Harris. Rather than engaging in the debate in the direction Harris tries to take it, Aslan accuses Harris of being a bigot. By attacking Harris he seems to dodge the topics he is challenged with, which is really too bad because Aslan is, after all, the expert. Turning to the problem of location, I don’t see how it would be unconstitutional to have the mosque built further away. How close is too close? Well, within a few blocks I would say counts as too close. If Person B attacked/terrorized Person A’s home, was discovered and found guilty, and Person B’s family seemed to have no problem with it, then Person A would likely have a problem with their neighbour hosting a party for B’s family. The analogy is far from perfect but highlights what many New Yorkers and American’s alike will feel with the mosque being built. The attack on the Trade Center was done by a close relative of the Islamic moderates looking to practice at the Ground Zero Mosque, and they would appear to share the same fundamentals as their feared family member. To simply preach freedom of religion and constitutional rights seems like a very insensitive way to go about the issue, and those who feel uneasy about the location should be granted more respect than the title of bigot.

Anyway, if any of you have an opinion or response on the matter I’d love to hear it!

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Posted: 19 August 2010 03:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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One of the callers to the program repeated an argument that has been made already:  Since the building is going up in New York, New Yorkers should decide whether or not to allow it.  But think back almost nine years.  When the Twin Towers were destroyed, Muslims all over the world rejoiced not because a city had been attacked but because the greatest and most powerful and—to them—the most evil COUNTRY had been attacked.  This is why we all have a stake in what happens there. 

I am concerned for the potential of violence if the center is built.  Another report today says that more and more Americans think President Obama is a Muslim.  As a sworn defender of the constitution, he can hardly oppose the free exercise of religion by any group.  But what if the crazy “birthers” and other wingnuts out there take the building of the center as a license for the kind of violent reactions we saw to 9/11.

Furthermore, I was not enlightened by the “discussion” between Reza Aslan and Sam Harris because of the incredible rudeness of Mr. A.  Even though Sam waited his turn to talk, Reza could not return the courtesy and kept interrupting.  By the end of the show, he was so enraged at not having gotten to say all he wanted, that he went really over the line.  “Who has a doctorate in Islamic studies here?  Not Mr Philosopher here who blames all Muslims for what a few extremists have done.”  (disclaimer: This is not a direct quote.)

Yours for rational thought and civil discourse,
Starfire

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Champion of Rational Thought and Civil Discourse

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Posted: 20 August 2010 08:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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There has been a mosque four blocks from Ground Zero (GZ) that predates the erection of the Twin Towers.  I’m not seeing what difference two blocks makes.  Plus it is two blocks cat-cornered from GZ - so one cannot see the new Islam center from GZ or vice versa.

The new location will be a community center with two floors out of thirteen being devoted to prayer rooms.  Not exactly a Mosque with spiral domes as most imagine.

The building being renovated for the muslim center is an abandoned Burlington Coat factory or warehouse.  Not exactly a sacred or holy ground Zero area.

There are christian churches right across the street from GZ.  So, the area is not zoned for non-religious purposes. 

Unless there is evidence the people who are opening up the new “mosque” are terrorists or affiliated in some way with terrorists, or otherwise criminals, then it is none of anyone else’s business, since this is private property.

The guy who will be the head dude at the new Muslim building was endorsed by the Bush administration to go around promoting peace amongst the sectarian religions.  So, not exactly a clone of Osama Bin Laden, what?

Identifying ALL muslims in the world - about a billion people - with the fanatical nutcases members of Al Qaeda is like assuming all christians are baptists or calvinists or Jehovah Witnesses or Catholic child-molesting priests.  Or assuming ALL atheists are Marxists who approve of Stalin’s murder by starvation of untold millions of kulaks in the 1930s.  IOW, stereotype much?

The small number of Muslims in America are in FAR more danger of physical harm from the much larger cohort of redneck yahoo tea-bagging repukelican white christians than the latter is in danger from any and all Muslims in general.

If atheists aren’t willing to go all out in support of freedom of religion for ALL, then they are stupid A-holes.  Who do atheists think will be second in line to have their freedom of religion suppressed after Muslims have been exempted from Constitutional protection of religious freedom?

Small minorities, like publicly professed atheists, have the most to lose if freedom of religion is not upheld as a Constitutionally guaranteed right for ALL.

Sam Harris does not speak for all atheists.  Please keep that in mind - at ALL times.  All humans, being fallible, eff up from time to time - some nearly all the time.

In this manufactured controversy, Harris is doing most harm than good to the cause of rational thought.

That’s my opinion.

[ Edited: 20 August 2010 08:26 AM by JGL57]
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Posted: 21 August 2010 07:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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JGL57,

I think you’re very well-intentioned but missing the point.  I’ll just paste part of my response from an argument that I was having with a liberal friend of mine (whose identity I’ve anonymized).  I’m a lawyer (and an atheist and a liberal), fyi.
——-

All sides of the debate agree on the First Amendment aspect, and I will be the first to defend the First Amendment right of Muslims to build mosques, proselytize, express their opinions, and so forth.  But that doesn’t answer the non-legal question that’s currently on the table of whether mainstream Islam deserves to be criticized in the cultural arena.  There is no cultural analogue to the legal principle of tolerance of religion, and that’s a good thing—creating such a doctrine would be a terrible idea.  That was very much an intentional feature of our constitutional framework.  Religion is not at all equivalent to race or ethnicity in deserving the kind of cultural respect that we’re talking about, because the rationales for protecting race and ethnicity do not apply to religion.  Furthermore, if we did attempt to apply such a level of respect to ideological belief (as many Americans do) it would be an extremely dangerous tendency because “religion” is in no way distinguishable from any other form of ideology.  There’s no test by which one can objectively distinguish the kind of ideological commitment of an extremist Muslim from a fanatical supply-side economist.  Criticizing a religion (even the moderate form of a religion) does not make one a bigot any more than if one criticized libertarianism, or Kantianism, or communism, or supply-side economics.  It’s critical to the health of society that these things be fully vulnerable to even the harshest criticism, and that the word “bigot” not be misused in this context.

I am very much opposed to barring Muslims from anything or “bullying” them.  Nothing is stopping them from going ahead and building their center other than their fear of being unpopular.  And this is exactly the currency that religion legitimately lives and dies by—popularity.  If Republicans or Tea Partiers even lay a finger on the gears of government to interfere with Muslims’ First Amendment rights, I will instantly hop over to the other side and help defend the Constitution.  But that’s not what’s happening.  Right now, offensive as it may be to some people’s sensibilities, we have a bunch of people (many, no doubt, with largely questionable motivations, but others not) making some criticisms about moderate Islam not having been sufficiently introspective, and their criticisms are not incorrect.

Again, the only thing keeping the GZM from being built is its backers’ fear of being unpopular.  This happens all the time in the public arena and we don’t make a big deal out of it.  If Madonna has a concert scheduled and then has an embarrassing public revelation, then the unpopularity resulting from that may cause her to have to cancel her concert—we don’t mobilize the forces of justice to protect her from her own unpopularity.  If the mosque backers suddenly have a funding problem, that’s a secondary effect of being substantially unpopular, and presumptively not an effect of some illegitimate form of pressure that Tea Partiers are applying.

I would also note that Bloomberg has probably tiptoed onto the Establishment Clause by his endorsement of the mosque.  If there were no GZM protests, I think it would be clear that a mayor’s endorsement of a mosque in his city would be an Establishment Clause problem.  I’m not sure that on the Establishment Clause, Bloomberg has been much better than Palin or Gingrich.  Do I need to bring up that Bloomberg caved in on the mohel herpes problem in NYC?  That’s two Establishment Clause strikes for Bloomberg as far as I’m concerned—he seems to me not so much a liberal as just a mayor who has a soft spot for monotheistic religions.

> The point is that what they are advocating is nonetheless itself offensive
> as it demands that a minority purposely treat itself to unfair,
> unequal treatment in order to placate the majority which hates it.

I think this is the key and it’s loaded with several words that have to be well-defined—“minority” and “unfair” in particular.  There are some groups that we protect as a cultural matter because of certain accepted rationales.  For example, there are excellent reasons that we culturally defend against racism, homophobia, and discrimination based on national origin, to give a few examples.  They tend to have certain things in common, like not being per se tied to any ideological commitments and often also having a component (or presumption, at least) of immutability.  Religion doesn’t fit this pattern at all.  Our treatment of religion as if it belonged in this group is not only unfounded, but actually very dangerous.  Religion is nothing more than an utterly mutable set of ideological commitments.  If we cannot criticize that harshly (including the people who tell us they adhere to those commitments), we open the door to all sorts of backwardness that we cannot defend ourselves against.  I think this is a far bigger concern than anything having to do with the kinds of concerns some Democrats are raising in the GZM debate—on one hand you have this very important principle and on the other hand you have some Muslims who are offended.

I think there is a flip-side for you as well as far as whom you’re pragmatically allying yourself with on this particular issue.  While your underlying motivations are noble, many (or even most) people who call themselves liberals on your side are motivated by a kneejerk desire to defend any religion from very harsh criticism.  Most people on your side are not using your language about protecting the underdog because he’s the underdog, but rather they talk about protecting this group because it’s classified as a religion (rather than another kind of ideology).  This is what one sees on, e.g., The Daily Show—a kneejerk defense of religious ideologies that I find very ironic coming from liberals.  Many of liberals’ battles exist only because of religious ideology—e.g., gay marriage, stem cell research, euthanasia, and several other things would be non-issues because there is essentially no nonreligious argument against them, but instead we have about 50% of people opposed and our political debates revolve around them.  Those kinds of liberals would just as readily defend Christianity and Judaism, with all of their doctrines.  I find that very disturbing—that kind of language from many liberals only reinforces my position about how important it is to shatter this ice.

You also asked whether moderate Muslims have responsibility for 9/11.  This is one of the big questions that people are asking rhetorically (implying a ‘no’ answer) in this debate.  It’s not that black and white.  The doctrines of martyrdom and jihad that underpin much of Islamic extremism are fundamental to even moderate Islam.  An extreme form of those same doctrines motivated 9/11.  These are some of the doctrines that Islam would be healthier if it were more introspective about.  The word “responsibility” is difficult, but I’d say they have a “responsibility” type of relationship that is something like what Wagner has to the Holocaust.  Not direct responsibility for certain (Wagner died 50 years before the Holocaust), but they’re uncomfortably close in the family tree.  I’ll uncomfortably listen to a Wagner record, but I fully understand when some people say they won’t.  I do feel quite a bit of empathy with those (like the Iranian-American woman, Neda Bolourchi) who lost a relative in 9/11 and are quite hostile to mosques.

[ Edited: 22 August 2010 01:52 AM by Reece]
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Posted: 21 August 2010 08:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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It annoys the crap out of me how Reza Aslan repeatedly and emphatically says “pro-FOUND-LY” when making points that are utterly silly and his third-rate educational background in no way entitles him to speak in that tone.  Aslan is a pseudoliberal charlatan.

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Posted: 21 August 2010 08:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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> Identifying ALL muslims in the world - about a billion people -
> with the fanatical nutcases members of Al Qaeda is like assuming
> all christians are baptists or calvinists or Jehovah Witnesses or
> Catholic child-molesting priests.  Or assuming ALL atheists are
> Marxists who approve of Stalin’s murder by starvation of untold
> millions of kulaks in the 1930s.  IOW, stereotype much?

This is an old American canard and it’s been thoroughly rebutted by Harris, Hitchens, et al.  Use the same common sense analysis of whether there is causality that you use in every other aspect of your life.

The link between Islamic extremism and Islam is not at all based on the fact that all of the 9/11 hijackers were Muslim.  The link is shared doctrines of martyrdom, jihad, etc. between Islamic extremism and Islam, to put it very simply.  The question is, what motivates Islamic extremists?  Frankly I think the fact that the term “Islamic extremism” has the word “Islam” in it, even when used by people like Aslan, is a big hint.

If you wanted to show that Stalin was motivated by atheism, you’d have to show the necessary links (1) between atheism and Marxism, and also (2) between Marxism and Stalin.  The overall link is nonexistent to ridiculously attenuated.

I don’t even want to get into Hitler but I will because that’s also lurking in the background in this canard.  As someone who’s studied a good deal of German culture and history, has lived in Germany, and speaks German, I’ll just point out that Hitler was a Roman Catholic who denounced atheism.  As everybody knows, Wehrmacht soldiers had the motto “Gott mit uns” (God is with us) on their belt buckles.  There is far more of a link between Martin Luther (a principled guy in some ways, but also one of the most vicious anti-Semites in history) and Hitler, or between Wagner (a Roman Catholic whom Nietzsche denounced for being incorrigibly Christian) and Hitler, than between atheism and Hitler.  The paranoid and insecure core of anti-Semitism that led to the Holocaust was pro-FOUND-LY Christian in origin.

Let’s look at a counterexample on the part of a religious person:

David Berkowitz (“the Son of Sam”) was Jewish.  But his crimes were not even remotely motivated by Judaism.  There is no doctrine of listening to dog spirits in Judaism, for example.  The fact that he was Jewish is incidental.  That’s why nobody has claimed that the Son of Sam was a Jewish extremist.

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Posted: 21 August 2010 10:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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Reece - 21 August 2010 11:44 AM

JGL57,

I think you’re very well-intentioned but missing the point.  I’ll just paste part of my response from an argument….

That was just PART of your argument?  Well, thanks for the kindness of not posting the whole thing.

Au contraire, I think I understand the point perfectly.  And I just wasted five minutes of my life reading your verbose post as I learned absolutely nothing new.

But perhaps the problem is really with me.  Perhaps my I.Q. is not high enough to follow your reasoning.  If so, I apologize for asseverating so strongly that you have no point.

The POINT is - do we have freedom of religion in the U.S. or not?

Yes.

Is there not already a mosque four blocks from GZ that has been there BEFORE the Twin Towers, with no particular problem?

Yes.

Then this is a non-issue that has been made an issue by Fox Republican Channel.

Does it do any one any good, especially atheists, to promote the fear-based agenda of Fox Republican Channel.

No.

Does the popularity level of muslims have anything to do with anything here?

No.

Have I made any case whatsoever that religion is some special case that deserves a pass that other classifications of humas do not?

No?

As I said, case closed.

And the fact that atheists view all religion and religions as wrong-headed is completely besides the point.

[ Edited: 21 August 2010 10:44 AM by JGL57]
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Posted: 21 August 2010 10:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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I won’t bother to answer each error of fact or logic in your post, I’ll just address two examples:

Reece - 21 August 2010 12:56 PM

...If you wanted to show that Stalin was motivated by atheism, you’d have to show the necessary links (1) between atheism and Marxism, and also (2) between Marxism and Stalin.  The overall link is nonexistent to ridiculously attenuated…

My point was that linking all one billion muslims to Al Qaeda is as illogical as linking all atheists to Stalin.  Perhaps illogical for different reasons, but just AS illogical.

The dumbasses who believe “all atheists are communists and support pogroms” are the same dumbasses who believe “all one billion muslims are Al Qaeda and want to kill all Americans”.

It would be similar to someone believing that since most if not nearly all white christians in the southern U.S. have historically been racists, then ALL white christians everywhere at all times are racists.

(I am an atheist and I don’t believe all atheists are murderous communists.  You understand that, right?)

Reece - 21 August 2010 12:56 PM

...I don’t even want to get into Hitler but I will because that’s also lurking in the background in this canard.  As someone who’s studied a good deal of German culture and history, has lived in Germany, and speaks German, I’ll just point out that Hitler was a Roman Catholic who denounced atheism.  ...

Living in Germany and speaking German, yet you believe Hitler was a Catholic?  That’s rich.

Hitler was a Catholic to the degree that I am a Southern Baptist.  E.g., even though I have been a publicly admitted atheist for more than 30 years and have certainly not participated in any “worship services” in that time, you could make the case that “technically” I am a Southern Baptist, since my name is still on the roster of the church I attended as a child and teenager.  Only a person with a perverse view or who had an agenda would try to make the case that I am NOW a Southern Baptist.

Or you with me so far?  Good.  Now to Hitler.

Hitler was raised as a Catholic.  He was baptized a Catholic, though I don’t believe he was confirmed.  Thus, he was never more than half a Catholic at best.

He was never excommunicated, thus he was a Catholic until his death?  I don’t think so - no more than I am still a Southern Baptist.  He was some sort of theosophist or pantheist at best, but basically his “religion” was the Aryan race - as he defined it.

Have you ever read Mein Kampf?  Where in it does Hitler admit to being a Catholic?  Nowhere.  Seems to me that would have been THE place to say so.  Or do you think Hitler was a secret Catholic the way Obama is a secret muslim?  LOL.

How many times did Hitler go to confession the last 30 years of his life?  How about none.  So then Hitler was just a BAD Catholic?  LOL.

If any atheist in general wants to be taken seriously then he or she should avoid the old “Hitler was a Catholic” canard.  It’s beyond asinine.

[ Edited: 21 August 2010 11:12 AM by JGL57]
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Posted: 21 August 2010 10:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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I’ll just address this point because I think it’s the crux.

> The POINT is - do we have freedom of religion in the U.S. or not?

The question isn’t whether we have freedom of religion but what its boundaries are.  And that’s not even a question—it’s well-settled what the boundaries are but you’re just not familiar with them.  The boundaries are that the government may not interfere with religion but it’s perfectly fine for people to harshly criticize religion in the cultural arena.

As you may know, we don’t just maximize all freedoms in some sort of wildly libertarian way (which is incoherent).  Typically, when we expand one freedom, it tends to impinge on another freedom.  For example, parents have “parental rights” over children, but Dawkins argues that children also have a right not to be indoctrinated because of the particular malleability of children’s minds that’s been experimentally demonstrated—it’s a serious question where to draw that line.  If one moves the line to the left then one steps on “parental rights,” and if one moves the line to the right then one steps on the child’s right not to be indoctrinated.

This mosque isn’t particularly important.  But it is crucially important that the cobwebs built up over centuries that have protected religious ideology from the sunlight in the cultural arena, be forcefully cleared away.

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Posted: 21 August 2010 10:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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JGL57,

I have nothing personal against you and I’m not even slightly interested in getting into an ad hominem exchange about who can slice an onion thinner, or even delving in depth into Hitler’s Christian upbringing in Austria.  That would be the kind of vitriol and nonsense that religious people use as a canard to give atheists a bad name.

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Posted: 21 August 2010 11:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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Reece - 21 August 2010 02:44 PM

I’ll just address this point because I think it’s the crux.

> The POINT is - do we have freedom of religion in the U.S. or not?

The question isn’t whether we have freedom of religion but what its boundaries are.  And that’s not even a question—it’s well-settled what the boundaries are but you’re just not familiar with them.  The boundaries are that the government may not interfere with religion but it’s perfectly fine for people to harshly criticize religion in the cultural arena.

As you may know, we don’t just maximize all freedoms in some sort of wildly libertarian way (which is incoherent).  Typically, when we expand one freedom, it tends to impinge on another freedom.  For example, parents have “parental rights” over children, but Dawkins argues that children also have a right not to be indoctrinated because of the particular malleability of children’s minds that’s been experimentally demonstrated—it’s a serious question where to draw that line.  If one moves the line to the left then one steps on “parental rights,” and if one moves the line to the right then one steps on the child’s right not to be indoctrinated.

This mosque isn’t particularly important.  But it is crucially important that the cobwebs built up over centuries that have protected religious ideology from the sunlight in the cultural arena, be forcefully cleared away.

No, again, all that would be besides the point.

No one here has said that religion in general or islam in particular should be exempt from criticism.  People in the U.S are free to publicly opine that they “don’t think the islamic center should be built near GZ for X reasons.” - just as anyone is free to opine “I don’t think there should be a catholic church directly across from GZ.”

As long as people stick to legal means to oppose islam in general, no problem.  However, there has been many people calling for the government to prevent the muslim center from being installed in the abandoned coat factory.  My free speech opinion is that that is crap.  There have been people who say that the coat factory is hallowed ground. My free speech opinion is that that is crap. There have been people who confuse one billion muslims with a fraction of a per cent of muslims who are murderers.  Again, I use my free speech to call BS.  There are people who want all of us non-muslims to assume when we meet a muslim that he is a terrorist unless he can prove otherwise - or they may not even be that liberal.  Again, I call BS.

There are three or four million muslims in the U.S. now.  Many of them are citizens.  If they were all terrorists or supported terrorism, then we would all be dead now.  Our 25,000 nuclear weapons wouldn’t save us, since we’d have to bomb ourselves to kill them.

Those who continue to fan the flames of fear of Muslims in general are, at best, the unknowing fellow travelers of Fox Republican Channel.

[ Edited: 21 August 2010 11:09 AM by JGL57]
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Posted: 21 August 2010 11:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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Reece - 21 August 2010 02:54 PM

JGL57,

I have nothing personal against you and I’m not even slightly interested in getting into an ad hominem exchange about who can slice an onion thinner, or even delving in depth into Hitler’s Christian upbringing in Austria.  That would be the kind of vitriol and nonsense that religious people use as a canard to give atheists a bad name.

If atheists stereotype all muslims as terrorists that would give them (the atheists) a bad name.

And rightfully so.

So don’t do it, and all is cool.

(But it is what Sam Harris does and I don’t think it helps the cause of atheism.  I think it just gives our enemies good ammunition to use against us.)

[ Edited: 21 August 2010 11:14 AM by JGL57]
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Posted: 21 August 2010 11:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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> However, there has been many people calling for the government to prevent the muslim center
> from being installed in the abandoned coat factory.  My free speech opinion is that that is
> crap. 

There were a few people who said that, and I completely agree with you.

> There have been people who say that the coat factory is hallowed ground. My free speech opinion
> is that that is crap.

I pretty much agree with you.

> There have been people who confuse one billion muslims with a fraction of a per cent of
> muslims who are murderers.  Again, I use my free speech to call BS.

Some do and some don’t.  I don’t think Sam Harris, for example, is confusing anybody with anybody else.  The problem is that moderate Islam and extremist Islam share several ideological principles, and moderate Muslims inherently endorse some of the motivation for extremist Islam.  Also, 9/11 is more or less besides the point.  There is a much broader form of terrorism that kills and oppresses more people by orders of magnitude—it comprises stoning women to death, indoctrination of children, violence motivated by religious tribalism, potentials for nuclear war (Pakistan/India, Israel/Iran, for example), backward legal codes including death penalties for apostasy, and the list goes on and on.  Trust me, if we have a religiously-motivated nuclear war we’ll forget all about 9/11—Ground Zero will be the least of our concerns.

> There are people who want all of us non-muslims to assume when we meet a muslim that he is a
> terrorist unless he can prove otherwise - or they may not even be that liberal.  Again, I
> call BS.

Who said that?

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Posted: 21 August 2010 12:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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Reece - 21 August 2010 03:15 PM

...> There are people who want all of us non-muslims to assume when we meet a muslim that he is a
> terrorist unless he can prove otherwise - or they may not even be that liberal.  Again, I
> call BS.

Who said that?

No one here has said that.  Millions of red necks believe it, however.

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Posted: 22 August 2010 01:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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I think it’s worth comparing this GZM scandal to the one over the Danish cartoons.  In that case, there was a conflict between what is the most basic freedom in civilized society (freedom of expression) and the unjustified sensitivities of a group of people (most Muslims).  Just as in the present case, the word “sensitivity” was used as the central justification on one side.  Furthermore, as in the present case, everybody agreed that newspapers and publishing houses have the legal right to print the cartoons.  The question revolved around whether we should nevertheless defer to the sensitivities of Muslims for non-legal reasons.  We capitulated.

Pay attention to the fact that most liberals flipped between the Danish cartoons and the GZM – earlier they cleaved to the importance of sensitivity, but today they advocate the supremacy of freedom.  The ugly fact is that the main reason we capitulated on the Danish cartoons was that most of us cowered from the death threats, not sensitivity per se – that’s disgraceful and un-American.  (Hollywood and New York are perfectly willing to offend Buddhists and Hindus, only because they don’t make a habit of physically threatening us.)

Let’s also look at how serious most of the pro-GZM liberals are about religious freedom.  Do Nicholas Kristof, Reza Aslan, et al. write self-righteous columns ad nauseam in the NY Times and Washington Post bemoaning the fact that if you’re atheist you don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of being elected for public office despite your qualifications?  Do they indignantly complain that it’s un-American to tar all atheists with the unjustified slur that they’re amoral?  We hear a deafening silence from most of the pro-GZM liberals on these important issues.

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Posted: 22 August 2010 02:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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Building Churches in Saudi Arabia

Nicholas Kristof and others continue to bring up the fact that Saudi doesn’t allow churches to be built there.  The fact that Christian evangelists are champing at the bit to evangelize in Saudi tells us a lot.  Let’s just think about that hypo—

Do we have any doubt that building churches in Saudi would be the most monumentally dumb thing we could possibly do in the War on Terrorism?  These centers of Christian proselytization would instantly become flashpoints for Muslim indignation that’s well rooted in the Koran.  To what end?  It’s not as if these churches would educate local Saudis about Locke or molecular biology.

What we should try to export to Saudi are things like universities that push the envelope of discourse, libraries and a sense of pride in Islam’s past (now ancient) love of science and learning, and web browsing anonymizing tools.

The fact that Saudi bans churches, although it’s not consistent with our freedoms (it is their country, after all), is a lucky break in the War on Terrorism.  If the Rev. Franklin Graham, with the moral support of Nicholas Kristof et al., were allowed to export churches to Saudi, he would instantly become a huge liability for the U.S. that we would have a nearly impossible time dealing with on our end.  The fact that the U.S. is building churches near Mecca would instantly rise to the very top of bin Laden’s grievance list.  And, again, to what end?  So we can spread yet another backward ideology in Saudi—do they need another one?

[ Edited: 22 August 2010 02:44 AM by Reece]
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