Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Don't Let the Terrorists Win

We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition. In this enlightened Age and in this Land of equal liberty it is our boast, that a man’s religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws. . . . – President George Washington, January 27, 1793.

America was founded on the principle of religious liberty and has become a sanctuary to millions who have fled religious persecution. The Statue of Liberty proudly bearing its torch in New York Harbor, we remain a symbol to the world of religious freedom for all. From our humble beginnings, we embodied a multiplicity of religious beliefs and divergent sects. The varied religious backgrounds of the original colonists helped to ensure that religious diversity, church-state separation, and the free exercise of religious worship would be a part of our national identity. Although the vast majority of American citizens are Christians, it is no accident that the Constitution makes no mention of Jesus Christ, contains no references to God, and discusses religion only in the context of prohibiting governmental intrusion. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” declares our Constitution, and “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” References to “our Creator” and “Nature’s God” in the Declaration of Independence were specifically formulated to apply to the followers of all religions, not just Christian ones. The men most important to this nation’s founding – Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Franklin, and Hamilton – each were products of the Enlightenment, skeptical of organized religion, and disdainful of religious fundamentalists.

It is thus with deep sadness that I have watched the vitriolic ignorance and bigotry unfolding against the proposed Islamic Center and mosque two blocks from where the World Trade Centers were decimated on 9/11. Intended as a symbol of the resilience of the American melting pot, the 15-story structure is to house an Islamic Community Center with a board comprised of members of different faiths. The center’s visionary and leader, Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, has worked for decades to promote understanding and tolerance among people of different faith traditions, and has done much to promote interfaith relations. Originally named the Cordoba House, according to The New York Times, after the city in Spain, where "Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived together centuries ago in the midst of religious foment," the project faces opposition from a variety of sources. There are the usual suspects – Sarah Palin, Pat Buchanan, Newt Gingrich, and other right-wing Republicans – who have repeatedly proved willing to exploit ignorance and fear. Most of their opposition is unabashedly on religious grounds, with little attempt made to disguise their collective disdain for Islam. More disturbing, however, is the public position of the Anti-Defamation League, which under Abraham Foxman has perhaps, finally, lost its soul.

Some opposition comes from the likes of extremists and blowhards, such as the former head of the Tea Party Express, Mark Williams, who referred to Allah as a “monkey God” (he later apologized), and Ed Rodgers, author of Islam and the Last Days, who hallucinates that President Obama is a Muslim who secretly supports Islam’s goal of world domination. Rodgers absurdly argues that those who support building a mosque near the site of Ground Zero are committing treason. As far as I can tell, Rodgers’ religious illiteracy, unfortunately, is shared by millions of Americans and this ignorance is exploited for political gain by the likes of Palin, Gingrich, and Tennessee’s lieutenant governor, Ron Ramsey, who has suggested that Muslim Americans do not have a constitutionally protected right to worship in the United States, because Islam, in his view, is a cult, not a religion.

That most of the opposition to the proposed Islamic Center is based on Islamophobia -- namely, hostility and fear of Muslims generally -- is confirmed by protests in other parts of the United States. In Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for example, hundreds of protesters, urged on by Ramsey and other Republican candidates, are fighting plans for a large Muslim center near a residential subdivision, not exactly the “sacred ground” of the 9/11 attacks. In Temecula, California, a local Tea Party group picketed Friday prayers at a mosque that plans to build a new worship center on a vacant lot nearby. In an attempt to offend the prayerful worshipers, some protestors brought dogs with them, because Islam considers dogs ritually unclean. And in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, some so-called “Christian” ministers have been leading a fight to prevent a mosque from opening in a former health food store that had been purchased by a Muslim doctor.

This does not sound like the America I know and love, the one that preaches acceptance of all religions and that respects the rights of its citizens to worship wherever they find spiritual fulfillment and sustenance. The America revealed in the comments and opposition to the mosques throughout the country is an America of intolerance and religious bigotry. To oppose the Cordoba House, or Park51 as it is now being called (from its address), because it would house an Islamic Community Center and a mosque two blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks is not only mean spirited and wrong, it’s un-American.

To disallow the Islamic Center solely on the grounds that it will house a mosque suggests unfairly and inaccurately that all Muslims are terrorists or covert supporters of terrorism; that Muslims are incapable of generosity, compassion, and universal love. If anyone opposing the center had evidence that the backers of the project are radical Muslims who support jihad against the West and wish to glorify 9/11, I will join their efforts to shut it down. I have instead heard only that it would be offensive to build a mosque near the “sacred ground” of the 9/11 attacks. By that logic, it would be offensive to allow a Christian church to stand near the memorial honoring the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing because Timothy McVeigh and his co-conspirators were self-proclaimed Christians.

The most shameful episodes of American history revolve around discrimination against groups who simply share the same race, religion or national origin – slavery, the Jim Crow South, the internment of Japanese-Americans. Since 9/11, many American Muslims have experienced discrimination and worse simply because they practice their faith. When no distinctions are made between moderate and radical religious practitioners, blame and derision are hurled upon an entire people. This is indecent, immoral, and contrary to American values, American justice, and the American way.

Abe Foxman of the ADL may be correct in declaring that family members of the 9/11 victims are entitled to irrational feelings, but promoting intolerance and caving in to popular sentiment does nothing to help us heal and it gravely betrays our values. The families of those who died on 9/11 deserve our sympathy and respect but, as the editors of The New York Times noted, “it would be a greater disservice to the memories of their loved ones to give into the very fear that the terrorists wanted to create and, thus, to abandon the principles of freedom and tolerance.” Victims’ families are entitled to their feelings, and I do not for a minute suggest how one should feel or grieve in their circumstances. But for the ADL to rationalize religious discrimination and intolerance by tying it to the pain felt by the victims’ families is shameful and inexcusable. Something is terribly wrong when the very organization that, historically, has battled discrimination of all kinds – from racist venom during the worst days of the Ku Klux Klan to more subtle forms of anti-Semitism advanced by university quota systems and the discriminatory policies of exclusive country clubs – tacitly supports prejudice against Muslims.

Even worse is the ADL’s short-sightedness. As Fareed Zakaria recently explained after returning a humanitarian award received five years ago from the ADL, “If there is going to be a reformist movement in Islam, it is going to emerge from places like the proposed institute. We should be encouraging groups like the one behind this project, not demonizing them. Were this mosque being built in a foreign city, chances are that the U.S. government would be funding it.” A two-year study of the relationship between American Muslims and terrorism, conducted by Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and the University of North Carolina, found that contemporary mosques act as a deterrent to the spread of militant Islam and terrorism, and that many leaders of American mosques put great effort into countering extremism by building youth programs, sponsoring anti-violence programs, and scrutinizing teachers and texts. The Islamic Community Center and mosque planned for 51 Park Place would include a 500-seat auditorium, a swimming pool, art exhibition spaces, bookstores, restaurants, and a range of programs modeled on the YMCA and the Jewish Community Center of Manhattan. As a broad-based attempt to give voice to moderate Islam, its proximity to Ground Zero is its strength – a symbol of American religious freedom to counter the intolerant extremism that victimized Americans on 9/11.

I would expect resistance to religious diversity and displays of intolerance in places like Saudi Arabia, where it is illegal even to build a one-room church. Part of what makes the United States great is that we are a nation that could welcome a mosque near the site of 9/11, a powerfully symbolic act that resonates inclusion and openness. To resist the planned center, which is dedicated to span the divide between Muslim and non-Muslim and to create a national model of moderate Islam, is not only un-American, it is counter-productive. We need to build bridges among faiths, not widen gaps.

In 1790, President Washington attempted to ease the anxieties of a Newport, Rhode Island, synagogue by declaring that even historically persecuted religious minorities were entitled to equal protection of the law. The United States, said Washington, “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.” We need to be reminded of our unique American history, for if bigotry and ignorance are allowed to prevail, the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 will have won the final battle.


  1. Mark - you are spot on! So it President Obama. It's just shameful that the the flames of intolerance and bigotry are being fanned so broadly and so many people are nodding without a second thought. Thanks for giving it all a second, third and fourth thought.

  2. Kathleen,

    Thank you for the comments. I am growing increasingly despondent over how the media, both political parties, and the majority of the population is dealing with this issue. It is also a little disengenuous for some to oppose a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero on the belief that Ground Zero is sacred ground, when, as Barbara O'Brien of Mahablog recently noted, "within a three-block radius of the area called Ground Zero there are at least two strip clubs plus a number of bars (one popular with lesbians). This morning through googling I found a lingerie and porn video shop about two blocks south of Ground Zero that a reviewer calls “grimy” and “sleazy.” Those establishments have existed in close proximity to Ground Zero lo these many years, and no one seemed to care." But that someone should build an Islamic Community Center devoted to building bridges and developing interfaith relations near Ground Zero -- no way, that is sacred ground! Strip clubs, bars, and porn shops are OK, but not a place of worship and fellowship for Muslim Americans!

  3. Mark.
    The strip clubs, bars, and porn shops did not launch an attack on the World Trade Center. Radical Muslim's did.

    I question the title of your article "Don't let the terrorist win."

    Building a Mosque in the vicinity of the World Trade site will be considered a major victory by the Muslim world. They do not listen to American newscasts as to why we allowed the mosque under our constitution. They read Muslim literature and listen to Muslim television which will surely declare this a victory. And perception equates reality.

    We in the USA will realize we are winners because we honor our constitution but that is not the way the Muslim world will see it. They will be sure they have won in a big way and the USA is weak. And weakness encourages further attacks. I know the constitution is on their side but common decency is not.

    I am sick and tired of everyone saying most Muslims do not approve of attacks on the USA because I simply do not believe this. If they did there would be more active condemnation of terrorism by the so-called moderates. Instead, it make front page news when a sole Muslim criticizes the attacks. Criticism of terror by mainstream Islam should be the norm not the exception. I think a large percentage of Muslims, even here in the USA, secretly rejoiced about the 9-11 attacks. Call me a cynic but that is my firm belief.

    What is to prevent the Muslims from changing the name of the center to The Shrine of the 19 Martyrs after it is built?

    I hope no union members in NY will agree to work on the project.

  4. Bill,

    I appreciate your comments and the emotional intensity behind them. Obviously, I do not agree with your stance or share your perception that all (or most) Muslims secretly rejoiced over 9/11. First, the victims of 9/11, both among those who worked in the Twin Towers and among the rescue workers, included Muslims. Second, the issue here is whether a well-intentioned group of Muslim Americans, wishing to promote interfaith peace and understanding, should be allowed to build a community center two blocks from Ground Zero. As many have described the site as "sacred ground," I am surprised that people are less offended by porn shops and strip clubs in the surrounding area than they are by a house of prayer and a community center.

    As I indicated in my essay, the group behind the Islamic Center, so far as I can tell, represents a peaceful, open, compassionate Islam, far removed from the extremists who attacked us. For the same reasons I don't believe that most Christians are hateful bigots simply because Timothy McVeigh and his co-conspirators were self-proclaimed Christians, I don't believe that most Muslims are filled with the extremism and hatred that infected the 19 men who attacked us.

    But the bottom line for me is the First Amendment and the founding principles of America, which if they mean anything at all, must apply equally to all Americans, Muslims included. To oppose the community center because the people behind it are Muslims is simple prejudice of the worst kind. And to oppose this project in particular is short-sighted. As Fareed Zakaria said, "We should be encouraging groups like the one behind this project, not demonizing them."

  5. Mark,

    Let’s go, for a moment, with the fantasy that Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf is a “visionary” who has promoted “understanding and tolerance among people of different faith traditions,” doing “much to promote interfaith relations.” There is still a practical and strategic reason to deny the building of this particular mosque and it fits in nicely with the liberal’s main concern in the War on Terror (my words – hey, I’m a traditionalist!), and that is that this mosque will be used to recruit more Islamists to the cause. If the accidental, but inevitable, killing of innocent Muslims in this war breeds more terrorists, then certainly a mosque that rises from the ashes of Ground Zero, the site of their greatest victory, will be the mother of all recruiting tools. Based on its name, the Cordoba House, the intention seems to be exactly that: a proclamation of conquest over the infidels. Silly? Well it would be to readers of this blog who learned that the proposed mosque was named after the city in Spain where “Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived together centuries ago in the midst of religious foment,” or to readers of the New York Times who learned that the Cordoba Mosque was a “homage to the city in Spain where Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived together centuries ago in the midst of religious foment” (once again, I beg you: step away from the Gray Lady!).

    For others, like historian Newt Gingrich and Google expert Sarah Palin, and “right-wing Republican” Joe Lieberman, there are reasons other than “vitriolic ignorance and bigotry” to oppose the mosque. The knowledge, for example, that within a mere 79 years of the death of the warrior prophet, his message of peace had been perverted by some really bad Muslims (Moors) who went to Cordoba, Spain and indulged in murderous butchery, rape, beheadings, pillaging, plundering and enslaving – doing everything they (the bad Muslims) do today except for flying Cordoba built airplanes into Cordoba built buildings. Then they razed the Church of St. Vincent and built a mosque. All in all, it was quite intolerant of them.

    The mayhem would have continued but for a (bad) Muslim accountant, who observed that all the killing was decimating what could be a great tax base. Instead of killing the infidels, tax them for the crime of worshipping false gods! While it’s technically true that “Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived together,” the Muslims ruled with an iron scimitar over the “dhimmi” (subservient peoples), and forbid the building of new churches and, oh yeah, forced thousands of Christians into slavery and slaughtered Jews whenever they got a scorpion up their butt. Imam Rauf tried to smooth things over by explaining that the “Cordoba Initiative” was not a celebration of the rape and pillage time period, but of the peaceful period when Christians and Jews knew their place.

    Today’s (bad) Muslims are quite proud of this conquest, as they are with other mosques built over Jewish, Christian and Hindu holy sites (try Googling “Hey, what happened to my cathedral? It was here a second ago and why is that guy sharpening his sword smiling?”). And each time that the (bad) Muslims knocked down a false place of worship, they believed (and still do) that it is forever Muslim land. In their twisted view of America, this is exactly how they feel about the Twin Towers: Ground Zero is now theirs and the natural next step is to build a mosque; not because it is needed – New York City is filled with mosques – but because it symbolizes their victory over the Great Satan.

    (continued . . .)

  6. The name of the mosque was a clue and the man behind it, Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, is another. Not being a reader of the NYT, I must rely on other sources and an internet search returned seven links on just the first page that provide plenty of reasons to be concerned, including his views on Hamas, his beliefs of who causes terrorism (go ahead, guess . . . yup), his ties to Iran, his embrace of Sharia Law, and the contradictions in what he tells the West and East (coming soon, a fatwā on all translators!).

    The imam, in fact, highlights the false hypothesis that has framed our discussions and policies since at least September 11, 2001: Islam is a religion, or more specifically, Islam is only a religion. In truth, Islam governs every aspect of a believer’s life, and this is not the view of a radical few. Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, a man who has fought (bad) Muslims since April 24, 1980, put it succinctly: “. . . Islam is not a religion, but a totalitarian way of life with a religious component. . . Islam is a legal system, a political system, a financial system, a dress code, a moral code, and a social structure, yet we protect it as a First Amendment issue.”

    Now before you call this patriot a fundamentalist-right-wing-extremist (and you’ll find plenty to justify that in your mind), ask yourself who has a greater knowledge, academic and in the field, of the Islamic threat? And if Lt. General Boykin is a fanatic, what does this make Stephen Suleyman Schwartz, a former Communist and liberal and now a conservative and Muslim and director of the the Center for Islamic Pluralism in Washington who writes of Imam Rauf’s ties with Muslim radicals, including Hamas, and asks, “Could anything appear more offensive and less considerate of American non-Muslims than erecting a large Islamic building close to Ground Zero?”

    What then do we make of Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), who makes the seldom made point, “until anti-Islamist Muslims wage the intellectual battle against Islamism within the Muslim consciousness, we will make no headway against ‘the narrative.’” Dr. Jasser is also clear on the symbolism of the proposed mosque: “Make no mistake, this Islamic center is not a spiritual statement but a global political one in the name of Islam.”

    There are many examples of respected “moderate” (whatever the hell that means) Muslims who are against the building of the mosque, and while some of them cite “religious grounds,” they can hardly be accused of being the “usual suspects” that display “vitriolic ignorance and bigotry,” and “exploit ignorance and fear.” In other words, it is possible to be both a rational human being and a non-liberal.

    Much of the concern, including Newt’s (by the way, do you know he has a web site? people can go there and find out exactly what he believes. what will they think of next?), stems from Imam Rauf’s embrace of Sharia Law, which is as antithetical to democracy as is communism. Yet, in 2009, Inman Rauf wrote an astoundingly stupid (or terrifying, depending on how many dullards buy into it) article suggesting there is no conflict. You come close to making the same charge when writing that the “Reference to ‘our Creator’ and ‘Nature’s God’ in the Declaration of Independence were specifically formulated to apply to the followers of all religions, not just Christian ones.” The concept that we are endowed by God with the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness is incompatible with a religion that embraces the idea of “forced submission.” In his support for Sharia Law, Imam Rauf finds common cause with Islamists.

    (continued . . .)

  7. And here is where things get muddy and where we slip and slide in attempts to be politically correct, lest a liberal slings the charge of “Islamophobia!” our way. The enemies of this country are not limited to the tens of thousands of gun toting, RPG launching, suicide belt wearing Jihadists or the millions who support their cause, directly or in spirit or in their silence. Our enemies also include those who would use our laws, freedom and inclusiveness to slowly and quietly infest our system with Sharia Law. It is happening in France and the United Kingdom and can happen here. We must fight the Islamists on any battlefield where Islam is viewed as a duty and not a choice; where Sharia Law is in place or advocated. Those who defend this mosque and its Sharia Law supporter, Imam Rauf, are exactly the “useful idiots” that help our enemies advance their cause.

    Rich R.

  8. P.S.

    Almost forgot: Congratulations on one year of blogging! 52 posts (and god knows how many “re-directs”) is a heck of an accomplishment. Keep it up.

    Rich R.

  9. Rich,

    First, thank you for the congratulatory note at the end. It is hard to believe that an entire year has past since I started this blog. Congratulations to you, as well, for sticking it out all year. I am sure it is difficult to repeatedly venture into the warm, compassionate waters of liberalism, when you are so used to the cold, dark waters found in the deep well of conservatism.

    Second, my apologies for inadvertently failing to attribute to the Gray Lady what should have been a quote, a careless error I have now corrected.

    As for your substantive comments, you simply paint with too broad a brush and fail to make necessary distinctions between “bad” and “good” Muslims. Certainly, there is an ugly side to Islam in the history books. There is an ugly side to Christianity, as well, which lays claim to the Crusades, the Inquisition, centuries of anti-Semitism and complicity in the Holocaust. But to define Christianity by the brutality, torture, and persecution it spearheaded during the Crusades and the Inquisition would be grotesquely unfair to most of the world’s Christians today. The same is true with attempting to equate all followers of Islam with the radical fanatics who conspired on 9/11.

    I have started to read “Understanding Islam: An Introduction to the Muslim World,” by Thomas Lippman, who spent four years as the Middle East correspondent for the Washington Post. In the introduction, Lippman notes, “In the fourteen centuries since Islam was established, it has often been a source of conflict, violence, and fanaticism, but it has also been a source of generosity, beauty, and inspiration. Its record does not compare unfavorably with that of Christianity. The performance of the Muslim Arabs when conquered Egypt in the seventh century, for example, is a model of benevolence compared to that of the Catholic Spaniards in Mexico and Peru.”

    Lippman points out that Islam is a very complex subject, one that cannot be easily compartmentalized: “The Koran – the Holy Book of God’s revelations that is the foundation of Muslim doctrine – does not teach that violence is to be shunned. On the contrary, it prescribes violence in defense of the faith and teaches that those who join the struggle are more likely to be admitted to Paradise that those who do not. But the Koran also ordains justice, charity, mercy, self-denial, and tolerance.” In this respect, the Koran is not completely dissimilar from the Christian Old Testament and the Hebrew Scriptures, in which stoning to death is deemed the proper punishment for such things as blasphemy (Leviticus 24:16); adultery (Deuteronomy 22: 23-24); for a woman who is not a virgin on her wedding night (Deuteronomy 22: 13-21); for worshipping other gods (Deuteronomy 17: 2-5; 13: 5-10); for disobeying parents (Deuteronomy 21: 18-21); for breaking the Sabbath (Numbers 15: 32-56); and for cursing the king (1 Kings 21: 10). If a non-Christian, or a non-Jew, were to look at our scriptures – and even listen to some of our fundamentalist preachers – he or she might be justified in concluding that Christians are a dangerous people out to destroy liberty and freedom (I sometimes fear that certain of our fundamentalist Christians are attempting to impose a form of Sharia Law in this country). But you and I know that Christianity and Judaism are far more advanced and nuanced religions than would be indicated by these scriptural verses. The same is true with Islam, which encompasses the beliefs of 1.2 billion people of every race, in countries as diverse as India, Mali, Malaysia, Turkey, Senegal, China, Nigeria, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Canada, and the United States. All are Muslims who share common religious beliefs but who vary widely in behavior. Most of them are not fanatics, revolutionaries, and extremists, although some are. My point is simply that we must always attempt to distinguish between them.


  10. Rich (cont'd):

    As Lippman writes, “Those who count themselves Muslims are not, in their daily lives, any more prone to violence or aggression than non-Muslims. They are farmers, factory hands, bureaucrats, airline pilots, bank clerks, soldiers, sewer cleaners, midwives, going about their business as best they can.” Not entirely different than Orthodox Jews and devout Christians, “Islam defines the purpose of their lives and sets the standards by which they conduct their personal and communal affairs. The world of Islam is uniquely God-centered.”

    As for Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, it is true that he has argued that Islamic principles support the fundamental values of a pluralistic, democratic society. Sharia, or Islamic law, is designed, in his view, to “protect and further life, religion, property, family and mental well-being.” He has suggested that these tenets closely parallel the U.S. Constitution’s precepts of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” He has drawn many other parallels between Islam and a free democratic society, which is not surprising, since he is attempting to help American Muslims reconcile their religious tenets with the “free and democratic society” of the United States. He recognizes that the Koran offers little guidance for Muslims in regard to Western cultural issues.

    That your attacks on the Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf are not justified is made even more apparent in the recent article in the Huffington Post, “’Ground Zero Mosque’ Imam Helped FBI with Counter-terrorism Efforts” (, which points out that the Imam assisted the FBI in easing tensions between federal officials and the Muslim-American community following 9/11, and according to Walter Isaacson of the Aspen Institute, the Imam “has consistently denounced radical Islam and terrorism, and promoted a moderate and tolerant Islam.” His efforts at promoting interfaith relations and understanding have been commended by several members of the Bush administration, whose State Department dispatched the Imam to the Arab and Muslim world on multiple occasions to help promote tolerance and religious diversity. Has he said some controversial things? Certainly. So has Glenn Beck and the Pope. But is he trying to undo the First Amendment and invoke Sharia Law on the United States? Here is where your argument becomes disconnected from reality. The day anyone attempts to impose Sharia Law on the United States is the day Rich R. and I together join forces with the ACLU. And we will win. That is the great thing about our constitutional democracy. The First Amendment is a wonderful thing.

  11. Mark,

    We do not stone people for blasphemy, adultery and worshipping Allah precisely because we are a Christian Nation. As the son of a preacher man, you are well aware that Christians are guided by the New Testament and the New Covenant, which did away with the barbarity you cite that is still practiced today in the name of Islam. The president made the same mistake in 2006, when he snidely commented that “Folks haven’t been reading their Bible.” The sources you cite are all from the Old Testament and there are indeed justifications a plenty for all types of violence, if you happen to be Jewish. The fact that the world does not face a Jewish Jihad is a testament to the Jewish people, who can read of God slaughtering men, women and children or enabling the Israelites to do the slaughtering, and not think that it is a commandment for them to do so today. It’s an ability not yet mastered in the 1400 years of the Islamic religion. So the Bible and the Koran are worlds apart, although they do share one similarity: the new overrides the old. For the Koran this means that if there are two conflicting passages then the one that occurred last trumps the earlier passage. When Mohammed expressed religious tolerance while in Mecca (and outnumbered) by stating, “Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion,” this was only temporary and superseded when Mohammed, during his Medina period when he had the power to behead and personally did so hundreds of times, stated, “. . . slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them, and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush.”

    Not all Muslims believe this interpretation of the Koran, but with 1.6 billion followers, even a small number means millions. And to be a “moderate” Muslim means picking and choosing, like at a salad bar, what injunctions of Mohammed to follow and which ones are just plain silly.

    By the way, just for giggles, would you consider Muhammad a good Muslim or a bad Muslim?

    Here’s an interesting mental exercise since you rattled off numerous countries popular with Muslims: Take a look at the countries that are 50 percent Muslim or more and ask which ones are compatible with our constitution? Wikipedia lists 47 such countries with the top ten in population being Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Sudan, Algeria and Afghanistan, with a total population of over one billion. Which of these countries proclaim in their constitution or charter a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, or anything similar?

    Odds and ends:

    The Crusades were a direct result of Muslim aggression.

    Timothy McVeigh was less a Christian than Michael Corleone. In fact, he was a self-professed agnostic who believed that science was his religion. And he was aided in his bombing by Middle Eastern terrorists (remember John Doe Number 2?). Jayna Davis (“The Third Terrorist”) has built such a solid case establishing this fact that I would, without hesitation, present it in a court of law. But think of the admission of desperation being made by those who repeatedly use this lie to prove an equivalence between “Christian” violence and Muslim violence. Well, for the sake of argument, I’ll see your McVeigh and throw in a couple of dead abortion doctors to boot and then raise you tens of thousands of headless Muslims, Christians, Jews and assorted heathens that have died under the sword of Islam since April 19, 1995.

    Creeping Sharia: Recently, a New Jersey judge refused to grant a wife a restraining order against her ex-husband who raped her. The judge ruled that the husband was acting in accordance to his Muslim beliefs. The husband’s IMAM TESTIFIED as to the duty, under Islamic Law, of the man’s wife to comply with his sexual demands. The ruling was overturned because the judge was mistaken in considering the husband’s religious beliefs.

    Rich R.

  12. Hey Dad,

    I've noticed that everyone has gone insane. They came out of the shadows this time, unable to suppress their arrogant, bigoted opinions. Fabulous. Such progress America is making. Terrific.



    "The Crusades were a direct result of Muslim aggression."
    So that justifies murder of woman and children who were unrelated to said "aggression". Great. And since the Jews were caught in the middle and murdered too, well hey, that's the Muslims fault, they made us so mad we just had to kill those Jews too. The world faced a Christian "Jihad" for centuries, at a much larger scale than the Muslim extremists of today. You think you are better, you think you rise above all evil and cruelty. There wasn't any "mercy" that the Bible speaks of then, there wasn't any during the Holocaust, and there isn't any being shone by you personally, or any of the people who agree with your beliefs. You refuse to understand that a majority of Muslims are peace seeking people just like you and me (though how you speak and what you believe doesn't encourage peace, it encourages intolerance, it encourages separations between humans). Most Muslims wouldn't consider the extremists to be Muslim at all, just like I don't think the Orthodox Jewish man who stabbed someone at a Gay rights parade to be truly Jewish, and you wouldn't consider Christians who bomb abortion clinics (I hope) to be truly Christian. We see there are different ways to go about things, that violence isn't the answer. You speak of Muslims like they are a separate species, but sorry to break it to you, they are humans just like us. No matter how they worship, no matter how they dress, all humans have deep seeded desires and wishes that very similar; desires for peace and happiness. Even the extremists, but they are so overcome by hate and fury, that they cannot see clearly, that they cannot see at all, and they appear to travel back in time and believe that murder and violence can achieve what they want. You shall never see differently of course, your world is construed with lies and blindness also. You add to one of the many people in America, in the world who will not let us make progress, who keep us held back by intolerance.


  13. Hannah,

    Say what you will about my ideas and views; I ask no quarter and will return none, but I pray you understand that not everyone on this planet has your same wish for peace. There are people, many more than you would guess, who have committed or are prepared to commit acts of such monstrous evil that it surpasses one’s ability to imagine. They include terrorists for sure, but also neighbors and cab drivers and maybe that cute guy in your class. I hope you never give the benefit of the doubt to anyone when your well-being hangs in the balance and I hope that you have armed yourself, in some manner or form, against the time you bump shoulders with one of these creatures. It's a hard concept to get your head around, that there are people fundamentally different from you, who are motivated by demented desires, but they exist. I tell my daughter that if she is ever confronted, to make her stand then and there; that I'd rather see her dead in a mall parking lot than to know I'll be seeing her dead somewhere else after the bad guy has had his fun (I also know her chances of survival are greater by fighting than pleading). It's not something you have to dwell on, but it must always be there - that voice in the back of your head that whispers, "Hmm, not right. . ." Don't let that voice be silenced for fear of being called a blank-ist or a blank-phobe. There is a difference between thinking the best of someone and counting on it. Live the first, but never risk your life on the second.

    By the way, my Crusades observation was an historical fact not necessarily an endorsement.

    Rich R.

  14. Hannah,

    Your comments are very astute and do a very good job of identifying the crux of the problem -- that there are many examples, historically and continuing to this day, of religious extremism battling religious moderation. It is true certainly of Muslims, but also as you duly noted, of Jews and Christians. In exercising your well-placed passion on this subject, however, you occasionally resort to the "your arrogant" or "your bigoted" line of attack, which is less effective than the substantive comments you made so well here. But keep on commenting -- I need the reinforcements.


    You stated that, unlike Jews, "who can read of God slaughtering men, women, and children . . . and not think that it is a commandment for them to do so today. It's an ability not yet mastered in the 1400 years of the Islamic religion." Here is the essence of our disagreement, and I believe, misunderstanding on your part. This is precisely the division between "moderate" Islam (for lack of a better term) and radical jihadist Islam. Not unlike theological debates between rational, sane Christians and fundamentalist Christians, it often comes down to disputes over scriptural interpretation and application. For example, in portions of the Koran, where Muslims are directed to defend their faith against heretics, the radical jihadists interpret this one way (violently) and the moderate movements within Islam do not. If you are correct that millions of Muslims are radical jihadists, don't we then want to promote and encourage, and help bring into our fold, the moderate elements within Islam among the remaining 1.5 billion Muslims in the world? And doesn't this include Imam Feisel Abdul Rauf and the American Muslims behind the Islamic Cultural Center in Lower Manhatten?

    Nothing you have said addresses Muslim Americans in particular, and I worry about us as a people alienating those with whom we should have no gripe. Moreoever, as Glenn Beck's friend Rev. Jim Wallis asked in a recent open letter:

    "1. Should we as Americans be able to worship and pray when and where we choose? Haven’t we fought for that?

    2. Are American Muslims … Americans?

    3. And, for those of us who are Christians (and I am an Evangelical Christian), are we obeying the commands of Jesus to love our neighbors? Aren’t Muslims our neighbors? So what might Jesus say to this controversy?"

    Food for thought.

  15. Irrespective what the liberals might think and blog, the perpetrators of 9/11 would be happy in the sense they have created their beachhead in their war on the American soil.Every moderate muslim's mosque is destined to be taken over by a wahabi funded sect, saudi reals remitted into US bank accounts, every moderate muslim is destined to loose his moderation.It is a question of how much you concede at a time, not whether you concede or not.

    Historically, those who took a firm stand delivered, those who vascillated helped the enemy by creating more doubts.Mercy is fine, but only when they deserve it.