Home > Bit of politics > Easy answers to simple questions, #423

Easy answers to simple questions, #423

From the comments on Charlie Brooker’s excellent Guardian piece on the insane fuss over the not-a-mosque not-at-ground-zero:

How many Saudi’s would object to a Church being built in one of their cities if they were asked and polled? How many Americans object to a mosque? How many in Switzerland recently voted against minarets? Are they are all reactionary, sexist, homophobic, racist, xenophobic, nationalist, fascist, intolerant bigots?

Yes.

Well, except for the ‘sexist’ and ‘homophobic’ bits – while those are closely correlated with the other attributes listed, they aren’t directly relevant to the case in hand.

Bonus extra stupidity:

One never knows, there is a definite possibility that an Islamist atrocity may once again occur on UK soil and also an outside chance that a member of Charlie’s family is in the wrong place at the wrong time. I wonder if Charlie, or any of the others supporting this prospective mosque near the Ground Zero site, would have such a positive attitude to this proposed development, if this came to pass.

Yes I bloody would. Because I’m not an appalling, stupid bigot, I’m fully aware that moderate Sufis would have had absolutely nothing to do with such an attack, that Islamist extremists hate moderate Sufis even more than they hate America, and that the best way to combat the ideology that created Al Qaeda is to build bridges with moderate Islam.

Digressionally, Cordoba House would have been a good name for the mosque, given that the Andalusian caliphate was the most religiously tolerant government the European world had ever seen at that time (or indeed, at any point before the 19th century). It was replaced by the genocidal mania of the Spanish Inquisition – a welcome reminder that anyone claiming Islam is inherently less liberal than Christianity is deeply, deeply stupid.

  1. August 23, 2010 at 5:47 pm | #1

    That comment is even more stupid with its comments about Brooker's family, given that he's marrying someone from a Muslimm family.

  2. August 23, 2010 at 8:12 pm | #2

    the best way to combat the ideology that created Al Qaeda is to build bridges with moderate Islam

    That’s what appeasers always say .How about the absurd fuss Catholics make whenever Orange orders march down the wrong street ? Jeeez picky picky .This is the site of a mass murder committed by Muslims on Americans and a focus of National mourning .How can you not see that a celebration of the murderers cause next door is offensive ?
    There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the Name, Adolf or indeed the pencil moustache ,but they are amazingly uncommon in modern Germany .Inappropriate you see John.
    Bottom line ,you would defend defecating on war braves ( what’s the harm in that ?) if it offended someone you think ( in that braying public school way of yours) is "stupid" and thats all youi care about .They can put their Mosque somewhere else .

    Problem solved

  3. August 23, 2010 at 8:12 pm | #3

    war graves

  4. John B
    August 23, 2010 at 8:36 pm | #4

    No, the point is that the murderers' cause was being insane totalitarian cunts, not Islam in itself. If you think that building a moderate Sufi cultural centre somewhere near the site of an attack carried out by Wahabbi totalitarian nutjobs is equivalent to defecating on war graves, then you are a mad bigot.

    If – like far too many mosques in the UK – this was an actual mosque being funded by Saudi money to promote extreme Wahabbiism, then the bigots would have something starting to resemble a point. But Sufiism is closer to the CofE than it is to the nutters, and this one's being funded by the moderate, secular, democratic Malaysian government. Opposing it is like opposing the opening of a Quaker Meeting Hall in Leeds because Peter Sutcliffe said he was doing God's work.

    I don't believe in causing gratuitous offence to the families of murder victims. But the only reason to oppose this is sheer, insane fucking ignorance, which should be countered rather than indulged.

  5. Falco
    August 23, 2010 at 10:32 pm | #5

    "the Andalusian caliphate was the most religiously tolerant government the European world had ever seen at that time (or indeed, at any point before the 19th century)."

    Rome at various times? So far as I recall they didn't give a flying fuck who you worshiped as long as you didn't go around upsetting the balance of power.

    As to whether the thingy is a mosque or not, well its obviously not just one but it does include a place of worship so you're down to defintional arguments that stupid and angry people are unlikely to pay any attention to.

    No, it is of course not "At Ground Zero" but I cannot believe that the people developing it didn't consider before-hand that they were going to irritate an awful lot of people. Nothing wrong with doing that, (as in they should have every right to do so), but the cries of "We never thought this would piss people off" when they live in the land of "Elvis Lives!", rings a bit hollow.

    "anyone claiming Islam is inherently less liberal than Christianity is deeply, deeply stupid."

    Probably true though it would of course depend on your definition of "liberal" and involve far more theology than I'm familiar with to find out. However, the reason this particular idea gets so much traction is because of the totalitarian hells that so many Islamic states are today.

    One last thing: "this one’s being funded by the moderate, secular, democratic Malaysian government". Do go and tell this to the non-muslim / non-Malay minorities living in Malaysia. Sure it's no Saudi but its hardly a beacon of liberty either.

  6. John B
    August 23, 2010 at 10:47 pm | #6

    The Roman attitude to religion was "worship whoever you like as long as you accept that our gods are right too, and we can equate yours with ours". This didn't work out brilliantly for the Christians or the Jews. In Andalusia, the Muslim rulers were good at *actual* tolerance, ie tolerance of people who they properly disagreed with and thought were going to hell.

    On Malaysia, from when I was there this year, I don't think it's appreciably worse than Singapore – the authoritarianism is more "shit, we don't want to end up like Africa, let's have a stern government" than "stonings FTW, LOL!!!!". Reading the (uncensored) local press when I was there strongly implied somewhere that was a bit weird and communalist – like India – but not based on religious mentalism. And you can buy beer 24/7 in any convenience store, which puts it above the UK and Oz in "not appeasing religious twats through stupid bans on fun stuff" stakes…

  7. Falco
    August 23, 2010 at 11:04 pm | #7

    "This didn’t work out brilliantly for the Christians or the Jews"

    Shouting "You're a CUNT!" at authority figures probably doesn't go down well anywhere. I doubt there's any record of it but it sould be interesting to see how polytheists were treated in Al-Andalus as opposed to "children of Abraham / people of the book / type thingy".

    Re Malaysia; yes there is somethign of a free press but as far I understand it there is a great deal of tacit censorship, some subjects just aren't touched. Political power is very heavily concentrated in the Malay / Muslim lot, (much more than just on population lines). For religious mentalism they seem to focus on discrimination against those of other religions / ethnicities and have a nice sideline in sexual repression.

    As I said, Malaysia is no Saudi but that doesn't mean that it should be welcomed with open arms and no questions.

  8. Falco
    August 23, 2010 at 11:53 pm | #8

    ***UPDATE***

    Now I'm just confused to fuck:
    http://bigpeace.com/fgaffney/2010/08/19/a-p-gets-

  9. August 24, 2010 at 12:41 am | #9

    OK, so the guy lies that a Sufi institution for tolerance "wants to bring Sharia to America". Ad-hominem fallacy and all, that doesn't make me trust any of his other supposed facts…

  10. August 24, 2010 at 7:43 am | #10

    You think you discovered that the world does not really consist of only good and evil ? That the whole point of ignoring the siren Liberal calls for appeasement .
    The world is complicated so evil must be forcibly and unreasonably isolated ( as Bush did with some success) .If these Suffi Muslims are ,as you say , goodies , they will understand , reach out to Americans and make their not-very-Muslim not-very-close not-very-Mosque … a long way away . That is what the Church of England would do and you problem is what exactly ? .
    Outrage on quite so flimsy a pretext is so absurdly asymmetrically applied to middle America as to rouse suspicions that your agenda is not quite as it seems .

    The murderers were not insane .9.11 was greeted by young Muslims all over the world as a call to arms ( Do you recall the pictures of sophisticated wine drinking Tunisians celebrating with tears in their eyes ?).Parents of the 7.7. Bombers were staggered at their own children ( not unusually ) as were the relatives of those plotting to slaughter 3000 or so innocent Americans in 2005
    You on the other hand know the inner hearts of the Ground Zero Mosque builders.
    Sweet .

    PS Incidentally the Christian Normans of Sicily in the 12th century predated your Islamic paradise and fostered a similarly tolerant and open society .

  11. August 24, 2010 at 3:41 pm | #11

    Do you recall the pictures of sophisticated wine drinking Tunisians celebrating with tears in their eyes ?

    No, oddly enough. But I do recall my friends who were in Morocco at the time being told by everyone that they were so sorry, and that the terrorists didn't represent them.

    PS Incidentally the Christian Normans of Sicily in the 12th century predated your Islamic paradise and fostered a similarly tolerant and open society

    Erm, Al-Andalus was founded in the 8th century. But thanks for the Sicily reference, that's an interesting area of history that I previously knew nothing about.

  12. Jim
    August 25, 2010 at 7:29 pm | #12

    IF (and its a big IF) this Islamic 'centre' is being promoted purely to try and foster understanding of Islam in the USA, don't you think they're going about it in a rather inefficient manner?

    Can you really see the reverse happening? A nutjob load of Christians engineer a terrorist outrage in some Muslim city, the CoE decide to open a Christian outreach centre just a few hundred yards from where the incident took place, the locals kick up big style (flag/effigy burning mobs etc etc) and the CoE don't say 'Sorry, our mistake, we were being a bit insensitive. We'll use the money to fund some local projects to show our good intentions.'?

    Anyone genuinely seeking peace and understanding between cultures would have backed off ages ago. What is left is triumphalism, no less.

    I say let them have their planning permits, and try to get the thing built. Because you won't get one building firm to touch the contract with a barge pole.

    And if it was built, zone the locality as an area for gay and lesbian bars. All in the interests of peace and understanding between cultures of course.

  13. August 25, 2010 at 7:42 pm | #13

    The locals didn't kick up anything. Everyone involved with the decision in NYC, across the political and religious spectrum, was in favour (I agree that if at that point, the NYC community had said it wasn't appropriate, the sensible response from the funders would have been to reconsider their plans).

    However, it was only when motormouth national liars and crooks like Beck and Palin got involved, in a deliberate attempt to stir up religious and racial hatred, that the issue even became controversial.

    This Salon.com piece provides a good timeline of how lying far-right bastards turned the issue from one so uncontroversial that a conservative talk-show host said (in Dec 09) "I can't find many people who really have a problem with it; I like what you're trying to do" to the current shit-throwing-show.

    Should the planners back down now? I'm not convinced – that's basically saying "we will always give into far-right, racist lies on any subject ever. Please kick us in the arse some more, Mr Beck".

    Finally – there are plenty of gay bars and sex shops in the area already. The planners don't really mind, because they're moderate Sufis and not Wahabbiists, and they're aware *this is NYC*. They hate gays and lesbians less than the Christian far right nutters who're spearheading the opposition!

  14. Jim
    August 26, 2010 at 12:22 am | #14

    @John B
    According to recent polls, New Yorkers oppose the mosque/cultural centre/whatever by about 2 to 1. 60 something % to 20 something %. So to say 'everybody' involved with the decision was in favour is disegenuous. Maybe most of those in power – politicians, civil servants, 'community leaders' etc etc – were in favour, I don't know. The locals obviously aren't in favour, by a large majority.

    Ignoring whether the law/constitution allows it, do you think it should go ahead if two thirds of the LOCALS are opposed, on grounds of insensitivity?

    There are many things in life that are legal, but that doesn't mean one should do them. Opening a new gun shop in the centre of Whitehaven for example.

  15. August 26, 2010 at 12:25 am | #15

    The point is, the locals *were* in favour, before the national talking head liars turned the issue into a massive bigoted lie. Yes, the fact that they now say they aren't, because they're now basing their decision on bullshit, makes the best action for the centre less clear-cut. But I certainly don't blame the centre for not backing down – we know that the locals aren't *actually* opposed, they've just been conned by Fox and its allied wankers.

  16. Jim
    August 26, 2010 at 5:45 am | #16

    @John B
    Ah, the Evil Right Wing Press at work again. Its amazing what they can do.

    Let me get this straight. When the locals are in favour, thats legitimate democratic opinion, and we must take heed of it. When the locals are against, then they have been influenced by the ERWP and we can safely ignore their views because they don't count any more?

    I'm guessing you get to choose when public opinion can be ignored. How nice to be in such a position of omniscience.

  17. John B
    August 26, 2010 at 9:38 am | #17

    Read the Salon chronology. There were no local objections until loonies started lying about what was going to happen. Then, the national mood shaped the local mood (although New Yorkers are still noticeably less against than the US public overall).

    Also, your definition of 'we' is hopelessly confused. Let's try and get back to what's actually being debated here.

    The group has a legal right to build the centre. Only really, really mad people dispute that one. We're debating solely whether it should choose to exercise that right, or whether – in the interests of everyone getting along with each other – it should choose to back down and not exercise that right.

    (much in the same way that if a black person tries to buy a house in a white neighbourhood, and the locals start campaigning against 'nigger neighbours', he has a decision to make about whether to exercise his legal right to buy the house, or whether to back down and stay in the ghetto where he belongs in the interests of not getting uppity.)

    So yes, if I'm putting myself in the place of the directors of the group, then I "get to choose when public opinion can be ignored". Because that's exactly the decision facing them: whether it'd be in the long-term interests of moderate Islam worldwide, Muslims in the US, and interfaith relations in the US overall, to ignore the hysterical shrieking of idiots, build the damn thing, and have everyone come to accept it before long – or whether they'd do better to let the idiots win this time and spend the money on something else. A giant fucking statue of Glenn Beck with his head up his own arse, for example.

  18. Jim
    August 27, 2010 at 12:35 am | #18

    Perhaps there were few local objections in the early stages because few people actually knew what was happening. Most people don't follow the minutiae of planning applications, local newspapers etc. I would hazard a guess that very few people have changed their minds on this issue, its just that lots more have heard of it, and their views are now being heard.

    And yes, I agree the legal right to build is not in question. That isn't really the issue. Its the why that interests me. I repeat – if I was trying to extend the hand of friendship, and promote my religion as one of tolerance and peace, the last thing I'd want to do is stir up all this enmity. It would hardly further my aims would it? So I'd step back and try something else less controversial.

    The fact that the promoters of this project have not done this to my mind speaks volumes as to their true intentions.

    And to equate people campaigning against this mosque/cultural centre being located near the site of a Moslem inspired terrorist act with some KKK style racist hate campaign against black incomers is crass in the extreme.

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