"They" Want to Take Over "Our" Country

Ground Zero Mosque Buffoonery Continued

The superficial battle lines have been drawn and are becoming set in narrative stone. Proponents say the First Amendment's free exercise clause is the only relevant issue and most protest reflects underlying anti-Muslim bigotry stirred up by demagogues. Opponents acknowledge the mosque is protected by the First Amendment but say the issue is about being sensitive to hallowed Ground Zero. There is also some discussion of what message allowing/protesting the community center/ mosque sends to Muslims world-wide, both average believers and radical jihadists. And the now inane point about whether two blocks in Manhattan qualifies as "at" or "near". [Note: all links are from before President Obama spoke about the issue.] But the bottom line is: "Yes they can, but should they?"

The real fight is over who is "they". The pro side says Americans who are moderate Muslims. The op side says stealth jihadis. I'm going hang my hat with the pro side. (shocker, I'm sure) So I will concentrate on examining the case of the ops. If you'd like to take on the pros, please do in the comments.

The Christian Broadcasting Network has a very short blog post that precisely captures the feelings behind the stated sensitivity to Ground Zero, Mega-Mosques Grow in Tennessee and Beyond:
There are currently no less than 10 major mosque projects being planned from coast-to-coast: from New York to Wisconsin to California and beyond. I recently paid a visit to one Tennessee town where locals are fighting plans to build a massive, multi-million dollar Islamic Center on 15.2 acres of land. Like at Ground Zero, major questions have been raised in TN, chief among them: where is the money coming from to fund this very expensive project? And what is the ideology of the mosque’s leaders, at least one of whom has openly supported Hamas?
The post includes an embedded video of the CBN on-air report, which Right Wing Watch characterized as "nothing more than a collection of baseless insinuations that funding for the development was coming from overseas and that Murfreesboro was being targeted by Muslims because it is such a strongly Christian community." The blog post's talking points:
  1. Mosques are a huge threat to the entire nation.
  2. The project is grotesquely large.
  3. The source of funds is unknown.
  4. The scary figurehead is demonized.
It really is amazing how the exact same talking points are used so frequently by conservatives.1 My rebuttal:
  1. 10 mosques spread out over the entire country. Every city larger than 10,000 people probably has 10 churches.
  2. Do you know how much new construction you can buy with a million dollars? Not much. Check out the price tags of the latest mega-churches. 15 acres is an oxgang, the amount of land that could be tilled by one ox each planting season. Again, not much. But it's irrelevant, most of it will remain as a lawn.
  3. Common conspiracy theory tactic.
  4. Common fear-mongering.
No Ground Zero MosqueGround Zero is a convenient canard, but anti-Muslim nativism is fueling the opposition. Unfortunately, it is just the latest wedge issue Republicans have found to activate their base by hammering "progressives" for their views that are "out of step with a center-right nation." There always have been and always will be a fringe that will respond to demagogues. What is unique is how many "mainstream" conservatives can easily slide into that role.

I caught a snippet of Sean Hannity 2 interviewing Rudy Giuliani and Florida Republican governor candidate Bill McCollum that actually entertained the notion that sharia law was coming to America. How was not discussed. McCollum started by saying sharia law is not currently the law of the land. (you do say!) Giuliani is now into his pundit golden years, so he can eagerly spout alarmist warnings, which of course he did. Then McCollum agreed and elaborated. This is where America is right now. Not only is McCollum an active candidate, but he's the current Attorney General! Sure, the GOP primary is Tuesday, but this wasn't a dog-whistle or in front of a small crowd. It was a national news channel and he's agreeing sharia law is a serious threat to the homeland - WTF!

creeping shariaLooking for articles about the proposed Tennessee mosque, a quick google blog search reveals how wide-spread the fear of Muslims is. One blog title stood out: Creeping Sharia. I like catchy sounding blog names, and in a few seconds I found out Green Bay will soon have its first mosque. [Insert pucker joke here] At least this post says how sharia will come to dominate America: zoning. As in zoning jihad. The post is just a reprint of the Green Bay Post Gazette, and the article has a classic quote:
Doug Cayer, who said he lives nearby, said he was concerned about Islamic followers turning radical and potentially disrupting the neighborhood. "I'm just dead set against this," he said. "I don't want something scary coming to my neighborhood."
It might be funny if there weren't so many Dougs out there. I'm sure the only problem the reporter had in picking a quote was limiting it to words that can appear in a family newspaper. Read the whole thing, it covers the entire debate, but from the mouths of regular people, not Newt Gingrich, Harry Reid, Sarah Palin and Nancy Pelosi.

I then found out creeping sharia isn't just a good name for a blog. Pam Geller, the nutjob that started this whole mess, has 301 posts in the category of "Creeping Sharia: American Dhimmitude". (Seems this dhimmitude is a scary word as well. Did you notice it's in italics? It's foreign!) Creeping sharia is a huge meme on the intertubes.

So now I know who "they" are - what about the "our"?

1 It's craven, but it works. A study has shown that even when people know what they're hearing is wrong, hearing it over and over again makes them more likely to believe it. (need to search for the reference.)

2 Seriously, I almost never watch Fox News (or MSNBC for that matter). Comedy Central recently got a HD channel and I clicked on Fox News HD as I was searching for the channel number.

List of more links and The Daily Show's latest entry, which is great, after the jump.

FAQ from the Cordoba Initiative (the proposed name for the community center was once Cordoba House, but it is now referred to as Park51). In regards to sources of funds, the project has not raised any money at all. The property has been owned for a couple of years by a real estate developer who is a member of Imam Rauf's congregation.

Daniel Larison, Palin, Gingrich and Anti-Jihadism, The American Conservative, July 22, 2010.

Hendrik Hertzberg, Zero Grounds, The New Yorker, August 16, 2010.

Ted Olson, whose wife died in a 9/11 plane and is a former Bush43 Solicitor General, takes the pro side quite easily.

Stephen M. Walt, What's at Stake in the Cordoba House Debate, ForeignPolicy.com, August 17, 2010.

Ali Soufan, an FBI official from 1997 to 2005 with lots of experience dealing with jihadis, The National Security Mosque (a great title, but Forbes uses "ground zero mosque" in the URL), Forbes.com, August 18, 2010.

Robert Reich, The Anatomy of Intolerance, RobertReich.org, August 20, 2010.

Dick Cavett, (yes, that Dick Cavett) Real Americans, Please Stand Up, New York Times Opinionator blog, August 20, 2010.

Larry Gelman, The Ground Zero Muslim Center: How Low Can We Go, Huffington Post, August 20, 2010.

Nicholas Kristof, Taking Bin Laden's Side, New York Times, August 22, 2010.

The irreplaceable Frank Rich, How Fox Betrayed Petraeus (love that title), New York Times, August 22, 2010. If you read just one column per week, it should be Frank Rich. He blends culture and politics seamlessly and provides dozens of links in each column. So you should definitely read him online. For instance, I added several links to this post after reading this article, and Rich linked to Battles Around Nation Over Proposed Mosques that I added to my first paragraph. It has some quotes that have to be repeated:
At one time, neighbors who did not want mosques in their backyards said their concerns were over traffic, parking and noise — the same reasons they might object to a church or a synagogue. But now the gloves are off. In all of the recent conflicts, opponents have said their problem is Islam itself. They quote passages from the Koran and argue that even the most Americanized Muslim secretly wants to replace the Constitution with Islamic Shariah law.
Recently, a small group of activists became alarmed about the mosque. Diana Serafin, a grandmother who lost her job in tech support this year, said she reached out to others she knew from attending Tea Party events and anti-immigration rallies. She said they read books by critics of Islam, including former Muslims like Walid Shoebat, Wafa Sultan and Manoucher Bakh. She also attended a meeting of the local chapter of ACT! for America, a Florida-based group that says its purpose is to defend Western civilization against Islam. “As a mother and a grandmother, I worry,” Ms. Serafin said. “I learned that in 20 years with the rate of the birth population, we will be overtaken by Islam, and their goal is to get people in Congress and the Supreme Court to see that Shariah is implemented. My children and grandchildren will have to live under that. I do believe everybody has a right to freedom of religion,” she said. “But Islam is not about a religion. It’s a political government, and it’s 100 percent against our Constitution.” Ms. Serafin was among an estimated 20 to 30 people who turned out to protest the mosque, including some who intentionally took dogs to offend those Muslims who consider dogs to be ritually unclean.
There are about 1,900 mosques in the United States, which run the gamut from makeshift prayer rooms in storefronts and houses to large buildings with adjoining community centers, according to a preliminary survey by Mr. Bagby, who conducted a mosque study 10 years ago and is now undertaking another. A two-year study by a group of academics on American Muslims and terrorism concluded that contemporary mosques are actually a deterrent to the spread of militant Islam and terrorism. The study was conducted by professors with Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy and the University of North Carolina. It disclosed that many mosque leaders had put significant effort into countering extremism by building youth programs, sponsoring antiviolence forums and scrutinizing teachers and texts. Radicalization of alienated Muslim youths is a real threat, Mr. Bagby said. “But the youth we worry about,” he said, “are not the youth that come to the mosque.”
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