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Obama Shows Balls on the Mosque Issue!

August 14th, 2010 No comments

I was ripped and torn to pieces on the Daily Kos the other day for daring to suggest that President Obama might not be fighting hard enough for progressive causes (among other reasons). I insisted that he runs scared from any right-wing talking-point that gets hurled his way.

But this morning I woke up to read that Obama actually stood up in the face of all the “secret Muslim” accusations that have been thrown his way and said this at a White House dinner:

As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country…That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable.

Hell yeah, Barack! Bring it!

Whether or not this was a political calculation to deflect progressive criticism in the wake of Robert Gibb’s recent comments, I don’t care. He knows damned well that half the country thinks he’s secretly a Muslim radical plotting to facilitate the takeover of America at the hands of Islamic terrorists. He knows that the right-wing media has been beating the “Mosques are terrorist training-facilities” drum for months and he just walked straight into the flames. Good for him.

Of course, I must temper my applause by pointing out that this is only rhetoric, and that I’m not going to start cheering wholeheartedly for Obama again unless I see some action. Appointing Elizabeth Warren would go a long way to restoring my lost Hope.

Nevertheless—credit where credit is due.

The Paranoid Delusions of Bryan Fischer

August 14th, 2010 No comments

The opposition to building a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero was bad enough, but now we’ve got a right-wing fearmonger calling for a ban on the construction of all mosques in the United States:

Permits should not be granted to build even one more mosque in the United States of America, let alone the monstrosity planned for Ground Zero. This is for one simple reason: each Islamic mosque is dedicated to the overthrow of the American government.

Much has already been said and written about Bryan Fischer’s anti-mosque screed this past week, but I can’t resist bringing my artillery to this fight. While most reasonable-minded conservatives would never go as far as Fischer, I’m afraid that reasonable-minded conservatives are a dying breed these days and that once one wingnut jumps off an ideological cliff the rest of the lemmings quickly follow. It’s important to push back as forcefully as possible against this kind of divisive, hateful, fear-driven nonsense or the next thing you know it’ll be considered “mainstream”.

So Mr. Fischer, what evidence do you have that every single Islamic mosque is dedicated to the overthrow of the American government?

Here is the strategy, in their own words, in the words of “An Explanatory Memorandum” circulated by the Muslim Brotherhood in 1991 which outlines “the General Strategic Goal” for the Islamic movement “in North America.”

Read it and shudder:

Muslims “must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions…It is a Muslim’s destiny to perform Jihad and work wherever he is and wherever he lands until the final hour comes, and there is no escape from that destiny…” (emphasis mine)

Um…seriously? That’s all you’ve got? This is going to be easier than I thought.

First of all, I read through the “Explanatory Memorandum” quoted here and was not surprised at all to find that this is by far the most questionable paragraph. The entire memorandum is basically just a proposed framework for how to go about establishing a thriving Islamic community in America. This is from the introduction:

The papers which are between your hands are not abundant extravagance, imaginations or hallucinations which passed in the mind of one of your brothers, but they are rather hopes, ambitions and challenges that I hope that you share some or most of which with me. I don’t claim their infallibility or absolute correctness, but they are an attempt which requires study, outlook, detailing and rooting from you. (emphasis mine)

Hardly a call-to-arms from a violent fundamentalist.

Here’s what the document had to say about the role of these mosques themselves:

Thus, the Islamic center would turn into a place for study, family, battalion, course, seminar, visit, sport, school, social club, women gathering, kindergarten for male and female youngsters, the office of the domestic political resolution, and the center for distributing our newspapers, magazines, books and our audio and visual tapes.

Sounds threatening, doesn’t it? Kindergartners! Audio and visual tapes! The only remotely questionable term is “battalion” but I’d say it’s a safe bet that if you look at the original Arabic word from which it was translated its meaning will be much more benign than “terrorist training facility”.

Of course the word that sets off most of the alarm-bells in conservative minds is “Jihad” but it too doesn’t mean what they think it means. “Jihad” literally means “struggle” and it can refer to a struggle with oneself or a struggle in war. It was first used by Muhammed while he and his followers were under assault in Medina, and is widely understood as a struggle to defend Islam—not to aggressively impose it on others.

But let’s just say for the sake of argument that Fischer is right and this “Explanatory Memorandum” really was calling for the violent overthrow of America. So what?

Let’s just say hypothetically that a group of right-wing Christians met in a Church every week to plot the overthrow of the U.S. Government. [Note: This may not actually be hypothetical at all] Should we therefore ban churches?

Last November, Fischer wrote this in a short piece called “The Difference Between Christian Churches and Mosques”:

American churches: places where generosity and self-sacrifice are nurtured and encouraged. American mosques: places where America’s enemies plot our destruction.

Uh huh. Yeah, that doesn’t sound like a gross oversimplification at all. Obviously there are absolutely no churches in the entire country where hateful rhetoric is preached. Obviously there are absolutely no mosques in the entire country where generosity and self-sacrifice are encouraged.

Seriously, are there any Muslims here who could invite Mr. Fischer to one of your mosques so he can see for himself? Obviously he thinks that all you do is sit around planning the next 9/11. Let him examine every inch of your mosque and see what he says when he doesn’t find the stock-piled weapons, dirty-bomb construction manuals, and viles full of anthrax.

What is Mr. Fischer so afraid of? Is he really so terrified of some kind of Muslim takeover of America that he wants to shred the First Amendment in order to deprive them of a place from which to plan their attack?

It’s actually a microcosm of the absurd Afghanistan strategy: drive the terrorists out so they have no safe-haven from which to plan an attack…except Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Somalia—oh, and Germany, England, France, etc. If they can’t plan their attacks from the local mosque they can just plan them from the fucking basement!

And if they do rise up and try to take over, it’s not like we’d be helpless to stop them. Don’t we have the strongest military that has ever existed on this planet? I’m pretty sure we could take them out rather quickly.

Bryan Fischer is a prime example of the dangerous way the American right operates today. He looks at the most right-wing position of the day—no mosque as Ground Zero—and pushes it a few steps further: no mosques anywhere in the U.S. He’s shifting the spectrum even further to the right, and we have to pull back hard.

So I’ll take the left-wing position of the day—let mosques be built wherever people want them—and push it a few steps further: build more mosques! And pay for them with government money! How about that? Keep building until there’s one mosque for every church! And force kids who go to one to every once in awhile go to the other as well. You know…in the name of tolerance and cross-cultural understanding.

Are right-wing heads exploding yet? Well, now you know how we feel.