July 22, 2010

The Latest Anti-Muslim Freakout

Until now I’ve avoided writing about this whole “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy. Mainly because I really didn’t think it was much of a controversy. I knew that Pamela Geller was making a big fuss about it, but, let’s be honest here, Pamela Geller is either (a) a sociopath or (b) a very, very disturbed human being, someone so disturbed, someone who’s built up so many defense mechanisms, that she’s become completely oblivious to reality.

I didn’t think that many other Americans, even most of the racists over at Fox News, would stoop so low as to object to a mosque being built a couple blocks from Ground Zero. I mean, come on, I thought, people aren’t that ugly, are they?

Well the answer, it turns out, is that, yes, actually people are that ugly. Sarah Palin, for instance, recently Tweeted: “Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate [sic].” Many others have provided more verbose, although equally nonsensical, “refudiations.”

For instance, take the New York Post—please. The Post keeps warning that the would-be mosque’s imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf, might not be the nice, kindhearted man he seems. For example, did you know that Rauf has given money to the Free Gaza Movement? Yes, the Free Gaza Movement, the very group which organized that nefarious flotilla, you know, the one that tried to deliver humanitarian goods to Gaza, things like CAT scanners, wheelchairs, and crutches.

The Post quotes a woman whose husband was killed in 9/11 to explain what all this means: “I think it goes to show he is not the man he represents himself to be. We have two Imam Raufs. We have the anti-Israel, anti-democratic imam, and we have the smiling, soft-spoken moderate Muslim who says ‘Why can't we all get along?’”

On Monday, the Post reported that, in a recent radio interview, Rauf “refused to describe Hamas as a terror organization.” Never mind that, in the interview in question, he made it clear that he believes targeting civilians is wrong and that he even described himself as “a supporter of the state of Israel.” Never mind that Rauf sees himself as a peacemaker, a “bridge builder,” and as such probably realizes that making a blanket condemnation of Hamas, one which fails to recognize the group’s diverse and complex nature, would likely hurt his future chances to engage the group and encourage it to do the right thing.

Never mind all this. And never mind that Hamas has repeatedly stated that it’s willing to accept a two-state solution. Never mind that it’s even stated its willingness to recognize Israel. None of this is important. And how do I know it’s not important? Because the Post doesn’t think it’s important, that’s how.

As absurd as the New York Post is, it has nothing on the Weekly Standard. In a recent article there, Stephen Schwartz suggests that Rauf’s mosque is being funded by extremists. As evidence, Schwartz tells us that in 2003 two Iranian brothers had talked about building a mosque in lower Manhattan. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll refer to them as Brother 1 and Brother 2. Well it turns out that Brother 1 once served in the same nonprofit organization as Rauf. Furthermore: from 1983-1992, Brother 2 headed a different nonprofit. And furthermore: in 2009, the US government accused this second nonprofit of being a front for the Iranian government. All of which, of course, proves that terrorists are funding Rauf’s mosque, right?

What’s that, still not convinced? How about we put this argument into syllogistic form:

  1. Rauf once worked with Brother 1 in Nonprofit A.
  2. Seventeen years after Brother 1’s brother (Brother 2) stepped down from Nonprofit B, the US government accused Nonprofit B of being a front for the Iranian government.
  3. Therefore, Rauf’s would-be mosque is being funded by terrorists.

QED, right?

Schwartz offers a couple of other, equally convincing (hear the sarcasm oozing from my voice) arguments. For instance, he tells us that the man who bought the location for the would-be mosque is business partners with Amr Moussa’s nephew. Amr Moussa heads the Arab League and, according to Schwartz, “was the first major Arab leader to go to Gaza and affirm support for Hamas, in mid-June, after the recent blockade-running assault.” Another QED, right?

Leaving aside the tangential, in fact less than tangential, in fact non-existent, relationship between Rauf and Moussa, it should be noted that Moussa didn’t actually “affirm” his “support for Hamas.” What he did was go to Gaza and talk to some of Hamas’ leaders and encourage them to be reconciled with Fatah, something which would undoubtedly benefit Palestinians.

But since we’re talking about a Weekly Standard article and all, I suppose there’s no need to let facts get in our way.

(For more on this issue, I recommend this excellent article at Teenage Politics, as well as this hard-hitting piece by Robert Wright.)

(Oh, and I can’t leave out this great article by Juan Cole.)


Anonymous said...

I don't think the Muslims trying to build a mosque near ground zero intend it to be an insult or a hostile act. They certainly have the right to do so (1st Amendment). However, given the historical propensity of Muslims to destroy the holy sites of conquered people and put mosques in their places, it is understandable why some non-Muslims would see this as an insult. The only reason the building was available for purchase in the first place was that it was damaged in the 9/11 attacks. So the progression in the objectors' eyes is "Muslims damage a building, Muslims buy the land cheap because of the damage, Muslims put up a mosque". I understand their reasoning, but it is flawed. The reason I have no objection to someone putting up a mosque there is that the "Muslims" in that progression are two different groups of Muslims.

Anonymous said...

I do find the builder morally objectionable for supporting the "Free Gaza" movement and for equivocating on terrorism. "Oh, I oppose Charles Manson's murders of people, but I won't say he is a murderer". I also find your "wheelchairs and CAT scan machines" argument rather specious.

When a smuggler wants to test security, he tries to smuggle harmless items past security without getting searched. That way, if he fails to avoid search, he can pretend he wasn't doing anything wrong.

The Free Gaza Movement is about establishing a precedent that ships can go to Gaza unsearched. Starting with aid ships, then switching to SCUD missiles and other weapons by the tens and hundreds of tons once the Israelis stop searching. It is not about getting aid to Gaza, or they would simply have let the Israelis search the cargo and pass it on to Gaza.

Similarly, Israel stopped the ships to establish a precedent that ships going to Gaza will be searched for weapons.

Try skipping airport security when you aren't carrying anything they would confiscate. See how well that goes over.

"I tell you I am not carrying weapons, therefore you can't search me for weapons" doesn't work. Neither does, "Before I left home, my Mom searched me for weapons and she just told you on the phone that I don't have any. So, despite the fact that I could have picked some up after I left home, you can't search me."

P.S. Voluntarily letting a blockader search your ship and pass on the aid also has a big financial advantage, you don't forfeit your ship.

Anonymous said...

Hamas still has not agreed to recognize Israel unless Israel ceases to exist first.

"If Israel withdraws to the '67 borders, then we will establish a peace in stages." A piece here, a piece there... By a "peace in stages" they mean they will take over Israel in stages. Their charter makes it clear that anything other than total control over all of "Palestine", by which they include Israel, is a temporary measure to be followed by more war until they have it all.

"All we seek is to be given our land back, not to harm anybody."

So as long as the Jews bow down to them and become dhimmis (look it up). They will graciously not murder us, right away. Ask the Hindus in Pakistan how well being a religious minority in a Muslim country works out. Ask fast, between forcible expulsion, mass extermination (millions of Hindus murdered for the "crime" of not being Muslim), and forcible conversion (e.g., kill the men and boy children, rape the women and girls, and put them in involuntary marriages to Muslims) there are very few Hindus left in Pakistan.

"If Israel declares that it will give the Palestinian people a state and give them back all their rights, then we are ready to recognize them. " By "all their rights" he includes their "rights" to be masters of Israel, and force the Jews to live under Islamic law. Second class status for all Jews while Hamas whittles down the numbers like the Pakistanis did to the Hindus in Pakistan.

You once posted that the Hamas charter that calls for genocide against the Jews didn't really call for genocide because there is another part of the charter that says "Christians and Jews can live in peace under the shadow of Islam". Thanks, so it is basically, live with few rights under Islamic law, or be murdered right away. You think that the "bow down" is an alternative to the "be murdered" I think it is a progression. "bow down, live in peace for a while, get slowly wiped out by murder, expulsion and forcible conversion".

There are 48 Muslim majority countries in the world. Can you name the ones where women and minorities have equal legal rights? Is there even one? In any case, the odds are not good.

Don Emmerich said...

“It is not about getting aid to Gaza, or they would simply have let the Israelis search the cargo and pass it on to Gaza.”

But Israel HASN’T been allowing a sufficient amount of aid into Gaza. For instance, in March 2009, The Independent reported that Israel was preventing Gazans from receiving pasta, chickpeas, hearing aids, paper, school notebooks, cooking gas, freezer appliances, generators, and water pumps (Anne Penketh, “The pasta, paper and hearing aids that could threaten Israeli security,” 2 March 2009). In July 2009, the UN reported that Israel had banned “books, paper for textbooks, crayons, light bulbs, candles, matches, musical instruments, clothing, shoes, mattresses, bed sheets, blankets, tea, coffee, chocolate and nuts” (OPT: Commissioner-General’s speech at the Centre for International Relations, Warsaw, UN Relief and Works Agency, 2 July 2009).

The UN has also documented how Israel has restricted electricity and industrial fuel, which has prevented many of the Strip’s medical facilities from running at full capacity. Israel has also banned certain spare parts from entering Gaza, which has prevented Gazans from repairing numerous water and sanitation plants that were damaged during Cast Lead. And Israel has prevented cement from entering Gaza. Although Israeli officials have claimed that they ban cement from entering Gaza to prevent Hamas from building bunkers, UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness claims that UNRWA has previously “shown that we can get supplies in and ensure the integrity of the aid pipeline. We have shown that we can do that without Hamas stealing it or them building bunkers or using anything or trying to smuggle in weapons” (“Seizing ‘Freedom’,” Cross Talk, Russia Today, 2 June 2010).

So your argument fails. Given Israel’s record of preventing a sufficient amount of humanitarian aid from entering Gaza, the Free Gaza Movement had no reason to believe that Israel would have allowed the items on the flotilla into Gaza. In other words, there’s no reason to believe that the Free Gaza Movement’s ultimate goal is to provide Hamas with weapons.

Don Emmerich said...

Regarding your third post...

You realize, I hope, that you didn't make one single argument.

If at any point in the future you decide to make an argument, if you decide to reply to my arguments with arguments of your own -- arguments, you know, claims based on reason and evidence -- then I'll be happy to respond.