Mon 16 Aug 2010
On top of inheriting two wars and the worst economic recession in the United States since the Great Depression, President Obama has been gifted something else: a chorus of sore losers fueled by rightwing media mouths. The Birthers carry on in the good ole boy tradition of the John Birchers, trying to find any way to get a Black man out of the White House. The Tea Party is hardly a group of patriots holding their fire until they see the whites (their eyes are set on the blacks to be sure), since their own bloodshot eyes are green with envy. And then there is the great Alaskan wasteland, Sarah Palin, the nit-twitter, Grizzly grinning and over bearing it, who for a mere 100 grand will demonstrate how utterly vapid she is:
• 9/11 mosque=act of fitna, “equivalent to bldg Serbian Orthodox church@Srebrenica killing fields where Muslims were slaughtered” – Raza&Fatah 3:34 PM Aug 14th via Twitter for BlackBerry®
• Mr. President, why are they so set on marking an area w/ mosque steps from what you described, in agreement with many, as “hallowed ground”? 3:06 PM Aug 14th via web
• Mr. President, did you encourage the mosque dvlprs to accept Gov. Paterson’s offer of land if they move away from hallowed ground @ GZero? 3:05 PM Aug 14th via web
• We all know that they have the right to do it, but should they? This is not above your pay grade. 3:04 PM Aug 14th via web
• Mr. President, should they or shouldn’t they build a Muslim mosque steps away from where radical Islamists killed 3000 people?Your position? 3:04 PM Aug 14th via web
Well at least Palin is adept at network-twitting the sore losers of the last election, of which she is the prime cheerleader. Let’s start with the “fitna,” an Arabic term that Palin no doubt saw trundled out in an op-ed piece. I suspect she is not aware that Fitna is also the somewhat ironic title of Islamophobe Geert Wilders’ controversial film. This is a term with various meanings, usually related to strife, sedition or even civil war between Muslims, not to attacks on non-Muslims. The original meaning was more refined, referring to the removal of dross in metal working. The 9/11 bombing was an act of terrorism, to be sure, but it hardly qualifies as “fitna.” In North Africa the term “fitna” is at times used negatively to refer to women as troublesome and dangerous, a rather apt description of Palin herself.
Palin and the other Islamophobic responders to the Cordoba Initiative paint the proposed Islamic community center as though any Muslim is “the enemy.” If the Taliban wanted to build a Taliban madrasa there, she would have a point, but this is a community center designed to promote Islam as a religion of peace, indeed the opposite of the kind preached and practiced by extremists like Bin Laden. By reducing the initiative to a “mosque” and then blabbering that basically all mosques, a la Peter King, are breeding grounds for terrorism, the true nature of the critique is exposed. We Americans now allow Catholics to build their churches next to Protestant churches without reliving the horrific religious wars of pre-nation-state Europe (although this was not always the case, as our country has a mixed record on religious liberty — just ask the Mormons in Joseph Smith’s day).
To the extent 9/11 is hallowed ground, it is so as a testimony to the evil of terrorist acts on innocent victims. It is no more the icon of the Islamic faith than the Crusades or Pogroms should be of the Christian faith. Nor is Hiroshima a monument to the best spirit of American democracy. When Muslims seek to reverse the negative image by presenting their faith as peaceful and patriotic, indeed as “moderate,” why should they be denied? I keep hearing that Muslims do not do enough to criticize the 9/11 act, although there has been overwhelming criticism from the very moment of the attack if anyone cares to look. But since when do we insist that the sins of extremists be on the heads of those who reject extremism? I have even heard some say that Muslims have never apologized for all the Christians they have killed throughout history. So should we visit the sins of some fathers on all the children? Should be there be a warning sign at the entrance of every Christian church: Note that Christians once started the Crusades and killed many Muslims and Jews in the process. Should every synagogue have a warning: There was this guy Joshua who went in and slaughtered all the Palestinians of the day because God said they were sinful.
Palin constantly talks about her own faith, but seldom seems to focus on all those passages where Jesus says we should forgive our enemies. I don’t twitter, but I would like to ask Palin the WWJD question. What would Jesus do? Would he side with the local community board and Mayor Bloomberg and support the building of a center promoting peace or would he shout and rant “Get the hell out of here, infidels.” Gosh, what would John the Baptist do or even the Apostle Paul? I know what the Lord Jehovah did to all those earlier Palestinians, but there must be a reason the New Testament is considered New and why Sarah does not have to circumcise her sons in order for them to show they belong to what she believes is the correct faith.
Then there is the pay grade. Of all people, Palin the magnet for speaker and media fees, is casting stones at Obama in a glass house. Here is the way democracy works. The winner of the presidential election gets to move into the White House (even if he is black) and gets paid accordingly. He earned his pay grade. The loser, or the lesser loser in this case, is free to go out and make as much money as she can, to continue to spout family values and not really come to terms with her Levi problem, to pretend she can still see the Soviets across the Bering Strait, and to be a Foxy news lady. But if she really did look like a hockey puck and not a former beauty queen, she would be out fishing at this moment. She is not idolized by bald-headed Republicans because she has brains, but because she looks hot.
But sore losers have a lot of company in a bad economy, in this case virtually the entire Republican Party. So they will go on blaming Obama for reminding us that we should not be intolerant and bigoted about religion, blaming him for not fixing the economy completely (so the rich can get even richer than when Reagan ran the show) and for daring to think that Americans should have decent health care and that if we do not go green on energy we will run out of energy, no matter how much oil can be taken out of Alaska. It may work for the next election cycle. Blame is an easy game to play, even when the stakes are high and especially when the method is low.
Daniel Martin Varisco
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