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11.15  The long read:  The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]

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11.14 Backed by Ocasio-Cortez, Youth Climate Activists Arrested in Pelosi's Office Demanding Democrats Embrace 'Green New Deal'

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11.13 Interior department whistleblower: Ryan Zinke hollowed out the agency

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11.16 As 'Green New Deal' Demand Grows, Democrats Have Choice: Confront and Defeat Fossil Fuel Industry or Take Credit for 'Doomed' Planet [Two choices: Save life-on-Earth or help Republicans let it die?]

11.16 Trump’s latest interview shows a president who’s in way over his head

11.16 Why the political fight in Georgia is far from over

11.16 Florida judge sides with Democrats, giving thousands a second chance to fix their ballots

11.15 Democrats Won Big. Can They Go Bold, Too? [it's about suppressing the influence and leadership by Republican-like Democrats who counsel 'íncremental' (no) change, such as Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Shumer and Joe Biden]

11.15 Pentagon Officials Forced to Make Fewer Public Appearances to Avoid Provoking Trump [...by revealing Trump's huuuge ignorance]

11.15 REPUBLICANS USED A BILL ABOUT WOLVES TO AVOID A VOTE ON YEMEN WAR [if there are 'defense industry' profits to be made—including congress-critter insider-trading—and political 'donations' to be had, we mustn't stop killing innocent civilians!]

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11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]

11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]

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11.14 Israel and Hamas launch hundreds of attacks in Gaza clash

11.14 Mueller seeking more details on Nigel Farage, key Russia inquiry target says

11.13 Austin's Fix for Homelessness: Tiny Houses, and Lots of Neighbors

11.13 Portugal Dared to Cast Aside Austerity. It’s Having a Major Revival.

11.13 Caravan marks one month on the road: ‘We keep on going, laughing or crying’

11.13 Letter Shows Einstein’s Prescient Concerns About ‘Dark Times’ in Germany

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  Print view: Persecuting a Conciliator
VIEWPOINT:

Persecuting a Conciliator

by Sheldon Richman
Monday, 30 August 2010
Just when one thinks that politics can’t sink any deeper into the sewage, conservatives and Republicans come along to prove one wrong.

If a YMCA or a YMHA were planned for 51 Park Place in Lower Manhattan, two blocks from the Twin Towers’ former site, who would have noticed?

Instead, the equivalent of a Muslim Y (without the implied male exclusivity) is to be built there. What’s the big deal?

There can be only one answer: Consciously or not, a majority of Americans believe all American Muslims are associated with the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Although the U.S. government position is that the attacks were perpetrated not by Islam but rather by fanatics who warped the religion, the opposition to Cordoba House, now known as Park51, shows that most Americans don’t believe it. They hold all Muslims responsible. That’s disgraceful collective guilt based on religion.

Just when one thinks that politics can’t sink any deeper into the sewage, conservatives and Republicans come along to prove one wrong. Who cares what Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, and their ilk really think about the Islamic cultural center (not a mosque) located two vision-obstructed blocks from (not at) Ground Zero? What counts is that they are eager to exploit Americans’ ignorant fears for political advantage. Gingrich, ever the pseudo intellectual, suggests that Nazis would not be permitted to build a center near the Holocaust Museum. He hopes you’ll not realize that (1) the developers of Park51 aren’t Nazis or supporters of al-Qaeda, and (2) they own the property on which the center is to be built.

Fanatical Christians and Jews have killed many innocent people, believing they were doing God’s will. Reasonable people do not hold Christianity and Judaism culpable for those crimes. Why the double standard with Muslims? Several million Muslims live peacefully in the United States. What more needs to be said?

Feisal Abdul Rauf, director of the Park51 Islamic cultural center to be built in Lower Manhattan, is no bin Ladenite. He preaches love and reconciliation.

It takes only minutes on the Internet to learn there are different Muslim traditions. Feisal Abdul Rauf, director of Park51, is no bin Ladenite. As William Dalrymple writes, Rauf “is one of America’s leading thinkers of Sufism, the mystical form of Islam, which in terms of goals and outlook couldn’t be farther from the violent Wahhabism of the jihadists. His videos and sermons preach love ... and reconciliation.... But in the eyes of Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, he is an infidel-loving, grave-worshiping apostate; they no doubt regard him as a legitimate target for assassination.”

Moreover, Rauf’s mainstream credentials are indisputable. President Bush used to send him on goodwill missions to the Middle East. President Obama continues to so. Rauf was invited to speak at the memorial service for Daniel Pearl, the Jewish reporter for the Wall Street Journal whom jihadists brutally murdered. In his remarks, Rauf said, “We are here to assert the Islamic conviction of the moral equivalency of our Abrahamic faiths. If to be a Jew means to say with all one’s heart, mind, and soul... hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One, not only today am I a Jew, I have always been one, Mr. Pearl. If to be a Christian is to love the Lord our God with all of my heart, mind, and soul, and to love for my fellow human being what I love for myself, then not only am I a Christian, but I have always been one, Mr. Pearl.”

This hardly sounds like someone with sympathy for killers of the innocent. He is a conciliator, which makes the location near Ground Zero especially appropriate. We don’t have to agree with everything he says to understand that.

The ignorance displayed in the opposition to Rauf cannot be separated from the general American ignorance of U.S. foreign policy. History did not begin on 9/11. It was the culmination of six decades of violence against and oppression of Muslims in the Middle East, both inflicted and sponsored by American regimes, Republican and Democrat. Predictably, that record provoked a tiny minority to strike at innocent people nine years ago, including many Muslims. Thankfully, not all Muslims hold all Americans responsible for the U.S. government’s continuing aggression. What message does it send when Americans persecute rather than applaud conciliatory Muslims?

The way to prevent another 9/11 is to change U.S. foreign policy. The ugly reaction to Park51 shows that we have bin Laden exactly where he wants us.


Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation and editor of The Freeman magazine.



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This story was published on August 30, 2010.
 

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