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Contra Bulkeley Regarding Park51 Project

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Yet again we have a local leader, this time retired judge Harry Bulkeley, weighing in against the Park51 project in New York City.  Again, I have a response.  Read the editorial first, then my response below.

No one has claimed that Muslims don’t have the right to build a mosque, there or anywhere else.

Have you seen some of the signs being waved at the Tea Party protests against the Park51 project?  I’m pretty sure that a lot of those folks think that the best use for a mosque is as kindling.  They absolutely want to deny Imam Rauf & the Cordoba House the right to build their community center – by fear & intimidation, if not clearly unconstitutional legal force.

By the way, a piece of the plane that hit the south tower landed on that building, so it is Ground Zero.

OK … well, dust from the towers spread over the whole island of Manhattan & beyond.  Are we thus supposed to shut down all of New York City and preserve it as a museum piece???

If it is an effort to heal the wounds, then why isn’t it a multicultural, interfaith facility?

It will be a multicultural, interfaith facility.  Yes, the Park51 project is a Muslim community center (only part of which will be a mosque), but ALL faiths and ethnicities would be welcome there.  Its purpose is to be a bridge of understanding to the broader community, and obviously understanding of the Muslim faith and its diversity is something that many Americans seem to be lacking.

Perhaps the developers don’t intend it as a victory shrine, but can anyone doubt that it will be perceived and portrayed as such by our enemies?

Do we really care what the Taliban & Al Qaeda think?  Would portraying the Park51 community center as a triumphal monument to Islam be a recruitment tool for them?  I don’t think so.  Right now we’re handing Al Qaeda & the Taliban the best recruitment tool they could imagine – all the images of American anti-Muslim hate filling the airwaves right now.

Imam Rauf has been working for years as a strong voice for interfaith cooperation in the U.S. and democracy & women’s rights in the Muslim world.  After 9/11, Rauf was sent to the Middle East by the BUSH administration as an emissary of our interests.  What he represents is the polar opposite of what Al Qaeda & the Taliban represent, and Osama bin Laden & Mullah Omar would likely deny that Rauf is even a Muslim at all.

Does Eric Rudolph, the Olympic Park bomber, represent all Christians?  Does Fred Phelps, pastor of the Westboro Baptist Church, represent all Christians?  Does Terry Jones, the pastor in Gainesville who wants to burn Korans, represent all Christians?  No, of course not.  So quit lumping Imam Rauf & the Cordoba House in with Atta & the other mass-murdering 9/11 thugs.


Written by Matthew

August 29, 2010 at 11:43 am

Contra Bennett Regarding Park51 Project

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Jim Bennett, minister at the Rozetta Baptist Church & regular editorial commentator at the Review Atlas, is from what I can tell a truly decent & good human being.  Unfortunately he decided to weigh in on the whole “ground zero mosque” fiasco.  I really wish he hadn’t.  Here is the response that I gave to him, posted in the comments of his Review Atlas editorial.  I have added some links here so that my points may be clarified & expanded.  None of this will make much sense unless you read his editorial first.

The NRA convention was held LESS THAN 2 WEEKS after the Columbine shootings.  It has been almost 9 years since September 11, 2001.  Certainly one could make an argument regarding the scale of the respective events, but I still don’t think you’re making a valid comparison.

Muslims have been worshiping in the Pentagon for years, the prayer room they use a matter of feet from where Flight 77 crashed into the building.  The building that is being renovated for the Park51 project in New York is ALREADY IN USE for Muslim worship and has been for some time.  In December 2009, Imam Rauf’s wife appeared on Fox News & received glowing commendations for what they had planned.  That segment recognized that the project had broad support from community leaders, including Christian ministers & Jewish rabbis.

Imam Rauf is widely recognized for his condemnation of terrorism and his interfaith activities with Christians & Jews.  Yes, he has made some inflammatory statements, but actions speak louder than words and he & his wife have done a lot of good work.  They don’t deserve to be demonized by you & others like you.  Islamic charities and communications with Islamic countries are HEAVILY monitored by our intelligence services, and Rauf has NEVER been implicated in any wrongdoing.

Let’s also clarify that the Park51 project is going to be a community center WITH a mosque.  From Wikipedia: “Plans are for the facility to include a 500-seat auditorium, theater, performing arts center, fitness center, swimming pool, basketball court, childcare area, bookstore, culinary school, food court serving halal dishes, and prayer space for 1,000–2,000 Muslims.”  Ooooh, a BASKETBALL COURT.  A DAYCARE!!!  Oh my lord, the horror!!! (ROLLING EYES).  Yes people, Muslims work out, swim & play basketball.  Shockingly, they are human beings, and they do the things many other New Yorkers do.  Like many in this country they also pray, and one of the central requirements of Islam (the Five Pillars) is that one should pray five times per day.  Of course this Islamic center is going to have a prayer room – and a rather large one for such a large facility in one of the largest & most diverse cities on Earth.

Let’s clear up a few more facts, like the fact that more Muslims were victims of the 9/11 attacks than perpetrated it.  American Muslims serve in our armed forces loyally & have given their lives for their country.  All of our soldiers in Iraq & Afghanistan are fighting ALONGSIDE Muslims to DEFEND other Muslims, in the hope that we can start those countries down the path toward freedom & democracy.  Don’t you think that honoring those Muslims is “simple human decency”?  Instead you spit on their graves & their service to their country.

Essentially what you’re doing, Mr. Bennett, is to lump all Muslims together and to blame them for the 9/11 attacks.  This is both ignorant & entirely unfair.  Because you are a Christian, would it be right to blame you for the crimes of the Crusades?  The Inquisition?  The Salem witch trials?  The 30 Years War?  You would have quite a lot of blood on your hands by those standards.  You’re a Baptist minister, so do you hold the same opinions as Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church?  Get my point yet?

You are also fanning the flames of ignorance & hatred that PUT THE LIVES OF OUR SOLDIERS AT RISK.  This may surprise some of those commenting here, but Muslims can read.  They can watch TV & get on the internet.  They can see & hear all the ignorant and hateful things being said about them, all the crass generalizations being made about them by people like WAKEupAMERICA.  How do you think that affects our troops in harms way in Iraq & Afghanistan and other Islamic nations???  There’s a group of local National Guard in Egypt right now – our own sons & daughters.  Ignorance like this makes their job a hundred times more difficult.  It puts their lives in danger.

What I read here & from many other conservative pundits is a bunch of hand-waving & excuses that cover up the true underlying problem: intolerance of the “other”, hatred & fear of a “foreign” religion, and frequently racism.   I’m saddened to see you publicly wallow in that cesspool, Mr. Bennett.

Written by Matthew

August 23, 2010 at 2:02 am