An Argument Against Calling a Pot a Kettle

Before I begin this rant, remember that primaries are on Tuesday! Don’t forget to vote! And if you lean my way, live in Wisconsin and aren’t sure who to vote for, Fair Wisconsin Education Fund has put together a great list of LGBT-friendly politicians across Wisconsin! Check it out, and again, DON’T FORGET TO VOTE!

Twin Towers Burning

Twin Towers Burning on 9/11, courtesy of

Over the last week, I’ve had several conversations with members of my age group about 9/11. It’s amazing that it’s been nine years since my parents, glued to the radio, tried to explain the importance of hijacked planes and burning buildings to my baffled 13-year-old self. (I was home-schooled. No TV for me.) And most of my friends and I, discussing 9/11 in bars and between classes and during smoke breaks, have agreed: we’ve moved on. It’s a tragedy, and one we will never forget, but the world has continued to turn. Not all Muslims are terrorists. Airport security is still a bitch. We voted in a half-black man whose middle name is Hussein, for chrissake. We just want him to help us find a job.

Except midterm elections have appeared and, since the economy isn’t going to revive itself in the next 2 months, politicians and the media need something, anything else to talk about. Cue the “Terror Mosque.” Cue some guy in Florida holding “International Burn a Koran Day.” Cue the Tea Party Movement. Cue a 24-hour news cycle. Cue an over-flowing of intolerance. And here we are.

Now before I begin talking about the complete difference between the Park51 site, a debate with some actual merit, and an idiot with a handlebar mustache making Christians and Americans look intolerant and uneducated, let me acknowledge how much all this intolerance makes sense. Not logical sense, but in the sense of two wars draining our resources, a government and media that have scared the spit out of gullible Americans about terrorism, more failed terrorism attempts (think Times Square and the Underwear Bomb), and most of all, a failing economy. America is tired. America is scared. America just wants someone to blame, because honestly, we’re still not sure how we got here in the first place. Republicans can’t blame Bush, Democrats can’t yet fully turn on Obama, Independents are blaming everyone. So let’s blame the people that started this mess in the first place by disrupting our happy economy and lives and killing over 2,000 innocent people: Muslims.

Now I fully understand the inaccuracy of that last sentence. But put short and sweet, it makes sense, doesn’t it?

Now, on to the difference between Park51 and Pastor Terry Jones.

International Burn A Koran Day

International Burn A Koran Day sign, courtesy of the NYT

In case you’ve been living without technology, human contact, or any interest in America for the last few months, a man in Gainesville, FL with a ridiculous handlebar mustache proclaimed that “Islam is evil” and he has a right to burn the Koran because it’s “full of lies.” (I reserve the right to burn his pamphlets for the same reason.) The media picked it up and suddenly Mr. Jones caused a giant stir, causing even President Obama to call him off, and inciting riots in Afghanistan and Pakistan complete with burning effigies. Intolerance at it’s height.

But here’s the thing about Mr. Jones and his 50 fundamentalist parishioners. While they obviously need to learn about the Koran, it’s origins, and the common tie between Islam and Christianity, they’re well within their rights to burn the Islamic Holy Book, (assuming the city granted their burning permit, which it didn’t). If you can burn a flag, you can burn a Koran. They’re allowed free speech just like the rest of America. The End.

To me, they proved a point they weren’t trying to make. Namely, that just as Terry Jones doesn’t speak for all Christians, the members of Al-Qaeda don’t speak for all Muslims. The world mourned with us during 9/11. And that includes Middle Eastern countries.

Well, you’d think that would be the point. But looking to the Park51 site, it’s obvious that most people haven’t thought about it that way, though some, like those in Gainesville, have. Instead, somehow Terry Jones has become equated with a supposed mosque site by Ground Zero. Which really just makes the whole thing worse. It’s legitimate, at least in some ways, for people to worry about having a mosque so close to the site of a horrific tragedy caused by Islamic extremists. It becomes less legitimate when this worry is associated with people like Terry Jones. Now even those actually concerned with the feelings of the 9/11 survivors just look like, how to put this, intolerant blanking blanks. The two should NOT be compared!

Does that mean that every single person complaining about the Park51 site is just concerned about hurt feelings? Absolutely not. Many do think just like Terry Jones. Case in point: the site is not just a mosque, but part of an entire community center complete with a pool, and somehow that gets neglected a lot.

But it’s an important debate to have within our nation, and one long coming. Can we finally begin to put aside the suspicion, the fear, the us vs. them mentality, or are we going to make some of our citizens move their place of worship to a less unsettling arena? The answer remains to be seen. But I believe Park51, if built on the planned site, could give people a chance to see that building a mosque, along with a pool and community center, will not blow up New York City. Neither will it in any way endanger our right to pursue life, liberty and a thriving economy.

Instead it will provide construction jobs, give neighborhood kids a place to play and learn life skills, and offer some of our citizens a place to worship the God of Abraham in the manner they see fit. As they did in the World Trade Center and the Twin Towers. As is their right.

Disagree with me? Want to offer another opinion? Have better links than I do? Comment below!


5 thoughts on “An Argument Against Calling a Pot a Kettle

  1. Ryan

    I think it’s just terrible that a man who has given us such wonderful performances in Life of Brian and Monty Python has now become a focal point for bigoted zealotry in America. Given that he is British and prone to outlandish behavior, I have to wonder if this is not some elaborate prank involving spotted dick and a dead parrot or perhaps he doesn’t understand. Maybe he thinks Koran is the American word for Smores. I mean they call a car trunk the boot which makes no sense.

    Wait, this is a different Terry Jones? Oh well then nevermind. He has a right to burn whatever he likes and since I enjoy the same right, I wonder if we shouldn’t go all Joan d’Arc on his narrowminded hinder. Then again, it’s hard to get racist moron smell out of your clothes and there’s no sense wasting perfectly good firewood when you could be making Smores. Am I right?

    1. acabercrombie Post author

      Ryan, honey, you’re hilarious, but please read the comment guidelines and stay on track next time. Thanks!
      Though personally, I wouldn’t mind wasting some firewood on him myself πŸ˜›

      1. Ryan

        By staying on track, I presume you meant write something directly related to your basic analysis and I can do that.

        First, we don’t live in a world where everyone can have a Coke and a smile and we all sing in perfect harmony. Even in the 21st century we still have a thousand years and more of cultural, tribal passions and hatreds that will never, ever go away. Each generation seems to be more tempered view but there will always be those who cling to traditional thinking and they tend to be the loose cannons rolling around on everyone else’s deck.

        Hatred against Islam and everyone from the hard core to the most liberal follower of it will suffer equally because there are people who believe all Muslims are potential murderers and part of a religion that not only embraces senseless death and killing but actively promotes it, even rewards it. This simplistic perception colors every conversation on Islam and only more proactive elevation of thinking by getting more of the facts out there will curb this false perception.

        Second, this isn’t a simple question of real estate or building code, it’s tangled up in perception and emotion. The reality is that the city of New York decides what can and can’t be built and where it can or can’t be built and they signed off on this already; it’s a done deal. Unfortunately the perception which has become the reality is that this isn’t just up to some building commission. At this stage, all Americans want a say because it is not just New York’s Ground Zero, it’s America’s Ground Zero. The site of the tragedy has taken on national importance and the majority of Americans believe that this center and it’s mosque represent a terrorist touchdown dance on the graves of everyone who died on that day. To them, allowing this mosque to be built disrespects the memories of the dead and insults every American who lived through that day.

        Whether or not that is a valid position is a matter of perspective and it’s certainly not a legal reason not to build the thing but sometimes the greater consensus or good has to be considered. Ignoring that in the name of principle will not fly in this country. We love our freedoms especially the one about having and expressing opinions, particularly the more incendiary ones.

        Which leads me to my last point, this is all just a tempest in a teacup that would never have shown up on the public’s radar if the media hadn’t turned it into the 24hr news circus as they always do. In the quest for ratings, if it bleeds it leads, they keep pushing events forward whether it’s the book burnings or the rallies and getting everyone on the planet (including our president) to weigh in on something that shouldn’t have even made the local news (and with the mosque, most New Yorkers were completely unaware of this project till it became a national spectacle). If these people didn’t have the whole world watching, they would be far less likely to perform their little dog and pony shows.

        Would the Tea Party or Glen Beck or guys like Terry Jones even have the following or attention they do if it weren’t for the media constantly reporting on them? Of course not. More Americans know who won American Idol than who their congressional representatives are, but suddenly they’ve all heard of Terry Jones and Glenn Beck and want to condemn/support them despite neither of one of these men having any meaningful power or leadership position. No one elected them and they don’t speak on behalf of all Americans, yet the media has put them front and center as if this is what America is.

        On the plus side, these guys are the Paris Hiltons of politics (or perhaps the Sarah Palins) and someone else will come along to replace them in time when the public remembers that they don’t really care who runs things and Glee is on.

        Along that line, The Tea Party has all the earmarks of a fleeting, racist reaction to a black president and a bad economy (according to CBS they are 89% white, middle to upper class: 56% make more than 50K a year and 20% make more than 100K, 59% men, and 75% of them over the age of 45 and clearly do not represent average Americans on any meaningful level. As such, it has no legs and they will burn out like the fad that their party is even with the media keeping them in the spotlight because: A) The economy will get better and B) America will elect a different/new president thus negating their excuse to exist.

        In conclusion, everyone needs to have a Coke and a smile and chill the frack out for a tick. The media and hack wannabe “voices of reason” need to stop exploiting every issue that comes down the pike for the publicity (and money) and the public needs to start giving more of a damn AND having meaningful dialogue that isn’t fwding emails about how Obama is a Muslim.

        This center will actually accomplish that if only to a small degree and giving it a chance to exist is more important than humoring Americans who need to get over it and stop trying to punish people for wanting to have a place to worship and only want to show they aren’t all sociopaths. Muslims want to build a good life for themselves and their families, have as much faith, and love their kids just as much as everyone else.

        Even if that weren’t obvious, we are constitutionally obligated to let them worship where and how they choose. Freedom of religion is one of the reasons this country even exists, it is a core belief our founders knew was crucial in building this nation, and it’s what seperates us from places where the state tells you what to do, what to believe, and how to worship. I for one would rather put up with things I might not necessarily agree with, which is occasionally what having freedom is, than have a group of people or my government tell me that I don’t even have that right.

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