Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Transparent Ground Zero Mosque

A vision of the Cordoba House

The religious take on this sort of thing presents itself clearly, I mean, the take I’m charged to have presents itself clearly, although civility will not let me embody that viewpoint wholeheartedly, so I will just talk about this here on a cultural level (I believe I will talk about it spiritually in my other blog).
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So what’s this now? An Islamic mosque, named Park 51 or the Cordoba House, is being built two blocks away from the World Trade Center, Ground Zero, the place where, on 9-11-2001, two commercial passenger jet airlines were hijacked by terrorists claiming to be adherents of Islam and steered into the Twin Towers, both of which imploded and collapsed, killing 3,000 people?

Perhaps at the forefront of general reactions to new development is that this is in bad taste. It seems an insult to the people who were tragically killed that day and is kind of a ballsy move on the part of Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, author and activist who works to bridge the gap between the West and Islam, as well as co-owner of the Park 51 property with Sharif El-Gamal who purchased it in July 2009 and was originally going to make a condominium until Rauf convinced him otherwise. By building the mosque, which will also have an auditorium, fitness center, swimming pool, childcare services, bookstore, amongst other stuff, Rauf and his partner’s are claiming to establish “a center for cultural learning” for people of all religions (the name “Cordoba” itself refers to a learning center in 8th to 11th century Spain that Christians, Jews and Muslims attended, but can also be a reference to the invasion of the Spanish Christian city of C√≥rdoba by Muslims in the 8th century). His stated goal doesn’t really seem to pacify concerns over the mosque’s location, especially in light of the fact that he reportedly has questionable connections to Islamic groups who have voiced anger against America in the past (he himself says that works towards nothing but peace and diplomacy), or the fact that he once said funding for the project will come from American Muslims but later said it will come from foreign Arab and Muslim nations. He could’ve built the mosque anywhere else without (understandable) protest, but chose this location, on which a piece of one of the crashed airplanes from 9/11 fell, to show that he wants to “push back against the extremists” and send “the opposite statement of what happened on 9/11”.

The feeling of this project being a deep national insult is indeed overwhelming. But however, a few other things come to mind:

If one urban black gang comes and shoots up your house, killing some of your family members, the rational reaction is not to suddenly believe all random groups of urban black people have no right to live in that very area. And I’m not saying that it won’t understandably be your reaction, I’m saying that it isn’t the one on which furthers thoughts and decisions should be based. The Muslims who are building Park51 aren’t automatically the same Muslims who flew the planes into the World Trade Buildings in 2001. Of course, I think, in this emotional and symbolic context, Abdul Rauf should be fully transparent and accountable with his funding, activities and personnel. If he is absolute about building the mosque here and expects it to thrive without violent attacks to bring it down, it cannot be with an indifference of the history of that particular spot in New York City, or even Manhattan alone. This project will certainly be an irrefutable and uncontestable insult if he decides to do whatever he wants without a strong attempt to gain the trust of the people who live there as well those who have had relatives and friends die in the 9-11 attacks.

Secondly, I have a bit of a problem with the idea that the relatives and friends of 9-11 victims suddenly have the authority to declare what is right and wrong for construction by any set of people in any given place. In the 17th century, The English hopped on their boats and came to America, which was already inhabited and cultivated by Native Americans. Indians were more than happy to do trade with the whites, and the whites in return destroyed their land, took their food supplies and burned down their houses. This kind of behavior lasted all the way up and after Andrew Jackson order the removal of Indians from their own land in the South in the 19th century, sending them through tribulations of death, starvation, disease and famine to the West.
The 8 or 9 Native Americans that are left today have to look at the buildings and temples constructed by European decendants on their own land everyday, and now the descendants are crying insult and indignation at this one mosque being built in the name of communication and community.
I mean, for Pete’s sakes……………there are White Supremacists bases IN AFRICA.
Houses for SUPREMACY of WHITES……….IN AFRICA!
A-F-R-I-C-A!!!!!!
What single human can possess this much testicular fortitude?!??????
At any rate, I’ve never seen people in the States protesting this, and not even a meteor the size of Saturn on a 500-mile an hour speed course towards Earth can match the magnitude of that insult.

And no, my second point does not contradict my first. I know that today’s white Americans, the descendants of the imperialistic Europeans, are not the same people as their ancestors. But with this being the case, what kind of real effort by today’s “Americans” have gone to giving the Native Americans back at least most of their land and opportunity to persevere? How many popular Native American actors or authors or politicians do you know? Can you even count on both hands how many of them you’ve even seen in the last decade?

At any rate, despite my reservations about Park51, I say that they have a right to build it. But also, that their operation should be fully transparent, as putting an Islamic mosque right next to a place where Muslim terrorists killed 3,000 people and telling people that they should mind their own business will surely accelerate an understandably violent reaction against them.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Arizona SB 1070

So, you may or may not have encountered the recent upsurge of controversy over Arizona Immigration Law, also known as:
-Arizona Senate Bill 1070
-Arizona SB 1070
or my personal “patriotic” fave –Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act

signed into the Legislature of the State of Arizona by Republican Governor Jan Brewer on April 23, 2010, as a reaction against the rapid sex and drug trafficking committed by Mexican gangs and criminals who cross over from Mexico into Arizona illegally. If you have not, here is a view of what went into legal effect on July 29th:

A. NO OFFICIAL OR AGENCY OF THIS STATE OR A COUNTY, CITY, TOWN OR OTHER POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THIS STATE MAY LIMIT OR RESTRICT THE ENFORCEMENT OF FEDERAL IMMIGRATION LAWS TO LESS THAN THE FULL EXTENT PERMITTED BY FEDERAL LAW.
B. FOR ANY LAWFUL CONTACT MADE BY A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL OR A LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY OF THIS STATE OR A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL OR A LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY OF A COUNTY, CITY, TOWN OR OTHER POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THIS STATE WHERE REASONABLE SUSPICION EXISTS THAT THE PERSON IS AN ALIEN WHO IS UNLAWFULLY PRESENT IN THE UNITED STATES, A REASONABLE ATTEMPT SHALL BE MADE, WHEN PRACTICABLE, TO DETERMINE THE IMMIGRATION STATUS OF THE PERSON, EXCEPT IF THE DETERMINATION MAY HINDER OR OBSTRUCT AN INVESTIGATION. ANY PERSON WHO IS ARRESTED SHALL HAVE THE PERSON'S IMMIGRATION STATUS DETERMINED BEFORE THE PERSON IS RELEASED.


I was a little confused about this Arizona Immigration Law; I read some of the bill, particularly the underlined part above, and I wasn’t sure if it meant that the police in Arizona are now obligated to check people they stop for previous crimes (running a red light, jaywalking) for the proper papers saying that they’re in America legally, or that meant the police were able to just look at someone who is Mexican and say “You know what, I’m pretty sure he/she has a nice ripe kilo of coke stuffed in his/her pocket, or is probably muling it up their ass or in their stomach. Reasonably suspicious enough for me. Lemme go check it out.” Sadly, but expectedly, it’s the latter.

According to polls conducted by Rasmussen Reports, a conservative public opinion polling firm, the majority of America is in favor of this law going into effect. It was a racist sentiment that had been brewing for a long time in that area, and the Republican steam had finally burst out of the teapot when the news that Robert Krentz, a rancher who lives 19 miles from the Mexican border was supposedly shot by a illegal Mexican immigrant on March 27th (they found a set of footprints that came from the Mexican border, and this is somehow enough to say that not just a Mexican, but an illegal one at that, did it).

This now begs the question of how Rasmussen was phrasing the questions in said polls, although they’re claimed can be backed by the fact that the bill received something like over $100,000 in donations for support. America is confused. It doesn’t know whether it wants to be a “melting pot” or have a solidified racial identity. I think this is because Repubs say they’re ok with the former but vigorously push for the latter. I guess the true questions they ask themselves is “Which will benefit us?” or “Since we don’t feel like trying to understand it, can we kick it out?”. Arizona Sheriff and long-time knucklehead Joe Arpaio says that the cops don’t just go around arresting anyone who “looks illegal”, and SB 1070 isn’t expressly racist, but what people are having problems with is the fact that it gives permission and license to the xenophobic temperament of narrow-minded policemen.

The cops down there use and express their experiences in having to keep criminal activity from illegal Mexican immigrants happening as the basis of this law being the justified move. So, the reaction to illegal Mexican immigrants causing crimes in Arizona is to make it lawful for cops to randomly pick up any ole’ Mexican they see on the street and ship them back to Mexico. Regardless of the fact that many of them also do the hard jobs for big corporations (construction, working in meat factories, etc.) that “naturalized” Americans (I guess) don’t want to do because they are too dignified.

Speaking of which, these American politicians and business owners are against foreigners physically being in our country without the proper paperwork (that it sometimes takes years to get while these people live in run-down, corrupt countries that poor and crime-ridden that they’re desperately trying to escape), but they have no problem outsourcing their labor to other countries. The labor it takes to make AT&T and however many other corporations run doesn’t require paperwork for legal country status, just teams of people from other poor countries toiling away at the menial tasks for cheap costs. Not to mention that many illegal immigrants get here because they are forced through sex trafficking. They are dragged here for sex with strangers, and the American response to that situation is to kick them back out?

Not all or even most illegal Mexican immigrants are criminals, and not all criminals are illegal immigrants. Not all illegal immigrants are Mexican or Hispanic at all, but you wouldn’t know this by the conservative media’s focus. This whole thing is absurd and a waste of money and attention, like virtually all conservative ventures are. As a matter of fact, I just came across an article describing the escape of three white dangerous murderers from prison who are heading to Mexico while the stupid police are putting all their focus on ridding Arizona of un-papered Mexicans! I can also tell you right now that there is no Christian basis for this in the least. Christ would be vomiting pure insults at the entire group who thinks it’s ok to boot foreigners out of God-created land that people think belongs to them. But don’t take my word for it, have a look at the people in Arizona fighting against this: