Monday, June 28, 2010

The Mosque of Sorrow

Murfreesboro has become an epicenter for Islamophobia. This allows us to see close up just what kind of thinking goes into turning people against one another. The following is taken from a letter to the editor in today’s The Daily News Journal.

“When making decisions,” the author of this letter tells us, “we all have been taught to make decisions based on facts.” The implication is that there is nothing emotional or biased in her thinking. Her remarks are logical and hence in her mind irrefutable.

She begins with a fact: “911 did happen.” True, but the only way 9/11 would be relevant to the building of a new mosque in the Boro is if she could link M’boro Muslims to Al Qaeda. She can’t. The invocation of 9/11 is all about emotion, not fact.

“It is a fact how Muslim men treat their wives.” First, this is not a meaningful sentence, let alone a fact. It cannot be proven or disproven because it doesn’t say anything. It is as meaningless as “how Christian men treat their wives.” OK, how? Some Christian men honor their wives, others beat the crap out of them. The same can be said of Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, and secular men as well. If she wants us to believe that all married Muslim men in the Boro mistreat their wives, then say so and back it up with facts. She can’t because they don’t.

“It is a fact how Muslims are hostile toward anyone who is not a Muslim.” This is a better statement. It can be proven or disproven. If any of you who are not Muslims have a Muslim friend, you have just disproven her point. Of course there are some Muslims who despise nonMuslims and will have nothing to do with them, just as there are some Christians who feel the same way about Jews. Should I condemn all Christians because of the anti-Semites among them?

“We all know about their training centers.” True, but so what? We all know about Christian militias as well, but are we to assume all churches are militia camps?

“Do you think if we were in their country they would allow us to build a Baptist Church?” What is “their country”? Many of the people I know from the mosque were born in America, and most if not all of the rest are American citizens. The Imam’s kids are Texans, and Texas is, at least for the moment, still part of the United States of America. Yes, the chances of getting a permit to build a Baptist church in Saudi Arabia are nil, but since when do we Americans look to the Saudis for our moral standards?

Her solution? Let the people vote. Not all the people of course, only “[t]he people that have worked hard to build Murfreesboro for what it is today should have a right to deny this Islamic Center.” Poor grammar aside (Tennessee public education ranks 42nd in the nation), the author of this letter wants to limit voting rights only to those who will deny Muslims a place to worship in Murfreesboro! In other words the only people who can vote are those who will vote her way! Which makes her closing sentence all the more poignant: “Have we forgotten what America was built on?”

I think she has. And, sadly, she is not alone.


Donna said...

You stated your point well. For some reason the people with the least knowledge (like the lady you wrote about) seem to have the loudest voice. People should really learn about other religions before judging them so harshly.

Eyes of a Jew said...

It's amazing how often I feel embarrassed by the words and actions of other Americans.
Please extend to our Muslim friends
in Murfreesboro, the warm wishes of another Jew, who rejoices with them in their new house of worship and bids them peace.

Old Lady said...

What frightens me most sometimes, is the Christians wanting to make this a country of one religion.

Rabbi Rami said...

Can you imagine making this country a Christian Nation? We would be engaged in a 100-year war over which version of Christianity is the true one. The hate and violence so many Christians are willing to perpetrate on Muslims would pale to that they will muster to defeat other Christians.The history of Christianity has never been one of "love your neighbor," especially when your neighbor is a differently believing Christian.

Claire said...

The history of Christianity has never been one of "love your neighbor", especially when your neighbor is a differently believing Christian.

Did you think that the message of "love your neighbor" was for non-Christians? The main messages of each religion are for the adherents to remember and try to do. If they found these things easy, they'd belong to some other religion.

kat said...

If Americans are horrified by 9/11---of some men flying planes and killing innocent people---why are they not equally horrified by some men flying planes and killing innocent villagers in the border regions of Pakistan?----the U.S. drones have been killing innocent people for a while......or is it that when the U.S. terrorizes isn't "terrorism" but "collateral damage".....and this makes it OK?

D.R. Odekirk said...

I can't say that life is all warm and fuzzy over here - at least not all the time - but I enjoy riding the bus to work and back and seeing yarmulkes, keffiyehs, and headscarves passing in front of Catholic (French heritage) and Protestant (German heritage) churches. I am on assignment in Strasbourg, France. People aren't holding hands here yet but there is a sense of tolerance, of general comfort, of basic mutual respect that I do not feel in Little Rock. It gives me hope.

Rabbi Rami said...

This is for D.R.-- I was under the impression that headscarves were banned in France along with burqahs and nigabs. Fill us in.

D.R. Odekirk said...

While France has passed a law (2004) that bans ALL religious symbols (including large crosses) from public buildings (including classrooms), it is difficult to enforce and there is growing criticism. Most people I have met don't mind the headscarves but do not like the face covered. Imagine working in a bank and a client approaches you with a mask on! Anyway, the issue has not been completely settled. I see hundreds of headscarves each week in the streets, on the bus, in the stores but have not seen a single nigab or burqah here in Strasbourg. I hear they are more common in larger cities.

Also... Strasbourg may not be typical of France. Alsace has gone back and forth between Germany and France many, many times. It contains both Protestant and Catholic churches. It has a significant and well-established Jewish population. Maybe the Alsatians have become a more tolerant person. Maybe the relatively recent arrival of a significant Muslim population has been met with more tolerance so they responded with more tolerance. Not to say that there has not been any confrontations.

I still claim the situation here gives me hope.

Old Lady said...

I don't think any one religion is perfect in and of itself. I do find it interesting that the major religions and their varying sects all use the same written source on which their religion is based. So unless you are a Devil worshipper or a Druid the first 5 books of the bible are pretty standard. The "prophets" of each religion differ in their intrepretation.

All religions, even new age, reike, etc. encourage doing good. Unfortunately, some choose to reflect their political values through their religion.

I have many thoughts about intolerance, but will leave them for another time.

demosthenes said...

I want to thank you for this post. The more people who are willing to stand up to the irrational rhetoric of Zelenik the better. Zelenik shows that she either does not understand the Constitution, or she blatantly disregards it. Either way, she should not be allowed into the House of Representatives. I am glad there is a race forming with candidate Ben Leming. Ben Leming has spoken out on this topic already and is not afraid to tell the truth and stand up for the Constitution, even if it is unpopular.

dtedac said...

Rabbi Rami:
"Have we forgotten what America was built on?" Well, if she means freedom of religion, the right to assembly and many other rights, then the building of a place of worship of any religion is well within the parameters that "America was built on." Also, before we begin forming the Founding Fathers into the mold of modern Evangelical Christians, it would be important to point out that most of them believed in liberal religious ideals. That's what "America was built on." Sorry, the bad grammar really got on my last natural nerve.

. said...

Off topic I not being an American and all...I can say that I have sometimes resented the Muezzin's call to prayer at 5am in the morning, as an unwanted intrusion into my private space...I had this when I lived in jerusalem in maalot Dafna, and afterwards it followed me to South Africa, in Johannesburg, and I am glad there is not one within earshot in the part of Sydney that I now live in...I have nothing agaionst mosques, but I don't like the very loud call to prayer which violates the "rights" of non-Moslems to silence (same would go for church bells ued over zealously) its all about who controls reshut harabim the public space and what colour that takes on...see my latest posts whih have nothing to do with any of this...