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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Park 51 Debate: Which Side are You On?

Protester's sign accuses Park 51 of having 'radical ties'
Muslim-Jewish relations program officer for the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding Walter Ruby on Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and Daisy Khan, the people behind the proposed Muslim community center at Park 51 in NYC -- more commonly referred to (falsely) as the "Ground Zero mosque." The link is mine.

In my testimony at the hearing [before the Manhattan Community Board], I said that since our organizations began cooperating three years ago, I have consistently found both Feisal and Khan to be unequivocally opposed to violence and terrorism and deeply committed to the American values of democracy and pluralism. These are values, Feisal argues in his book, "What's Right with Islam," that are intrinsic to Islam as well.

For this reason, our foundation has consistently supported Feisal's effort to create an Islamic community center in New York that will serve as a high-profile platform from which to articulate that vision of peaceful and pluralistic Islam to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Months ago, he and his wife told the president of our foundation, Rabbi Marc Schneier, that they hope to create a center for Muslim-Jewish dialogue at the Islamic community center in cooperation with our foundation and the larger Jewish community...

From what I have learned, when Feisal set out during the past few years to bring to fruition his decades-old dream of creating an Islamic community center with a strong interfaith component in New York City, he was never much concerned about where the center would be located. Yet, when a space large enough to fulfill his vision became available two blocks north of Ground Zero, he saw special significance in the site. He argued that the building of an Islamic community center there dedicated to non-violence and mutual understanding among faiths would represent a deeply felt gesture of compassion and healing by the Muslims of New York to the entire New York community, including those who lost loved ones on 9/11.

Ruby calls the couple "a model of tolerance."

Meanwhile, Little Green Footballs reports on those opposing Park 51. Long story short, these aren't good people. One of them, David Yerushalmi, wrote this [PDF]:

There is a reason the founding fathers did not give women or black slaves the right to vote. You might not agree or like the idea but this country’s founders, otherwise held in the highest esteem for their understanding of human nature and its affect on political society, certainly took it seriously. Why is that? Were they so flawed in their political reckonings that they manhandled the most important aspect of a free society - the vote? If the vote counts for so much in a free and liberal democracy as we "know" it today, why did they limit the vote so dramatically?

Yerushalmi calls blacks "the most murderous of peoples" and says that Muslims practice an "evil religion."

"David Yerushalmi, however, comes off looking almost sane next to another founding board member of [anti-Muslim blogger] Pamela Geller's American Freedom Defense Initiative, John Joseph Jay," we're told. "The Southern Poverty Law Center has a blog post about Jay's almost unbelievable anti-Muslim rants: Prime Islam-Basher Pam Geller Outdone by Colleague."

According to the Daily Kos, AFDI board member John Joseph Jay recently has posted a series of truly vicious anti-Muslim rants -- apparently without the benefit of a capital letter function on his computer.  "if islam kills non-believers as a matter of religious doctrine, then why should muslims expect to be free of retribution in the name of those islam kills?" he wrote. "why should muslims get a free pass? if it is right for muslims to kill non-believers, then why is it no less right for the rest of us to kill muslims?"

In another screed, the Daily Kos said Jay wrote: "there are, friends, no 'innocent' muslims. they obey. and they obey the dictates of the koran on jihad. and, they obey the commands of local clerics. in this, they have no choice. because, friends, there is no 'free will' in islam, one obeys  the dictates of allah."

Last month, Jay expanded on his advocacy of violence against Muslims to include people in positions of power. He commented on his blog about a magazine article regarding America’s "ruling class" as follows: "friends, if you wish to retain and preserve individual virtue, you are going to have to kill in order to do so. if we are to excise the ruling class, it will be with violence. they used violence to attain their privilege, they use it nakedly in the form of the s.i.e.u. [an apparent reference to the SEIU, the Service Employees International Union] and black panther thugs in elective politics to maintain it, they contemplate relocation camps to preserve it... buy guns. buy ammo. be jealous of your liberties. and understand, you are going to have to kill folks, your uncles, your sons and daughters, to preserve those liberties."

Now, keep in mind we're all supposed to be afraid that Rauf and Khan are radical extremist bent on instituting Sharia law. But the evidence points to those leading the opposition to Park 51 being the most extremist and radical ones here. Take away the votes from blacks and women, kill Muslims, liberals, blacks, and labor unionists? These are the people we're not supposed to be worried about?

It's time for people to ask themselves whose side they're on: the side of the models of tolerance or the side of almost inconceivable hatred?

Your call. Just make sure you can live with it.

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