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« Filtration | Main | Never calls, never writes »

Aug 08, 2010


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Andrew Brod

One of the most telling clauses in the NYT article is: "Diana Serafin, a grandmother who lost her job in tech support this year..."

Political scientists have documented again and again that economic insecurity leads to all manner of ugliness, including xenophobia. For example, concerns over illegal immigrants were a bit below the surface for a few years. But supposedly we're in a crisis here in 2010, amid a crappy economy, even though said crappy economy means there are fewer illegal immigrants than a few years ago.

More broadly, while conservatives would like us to believe that the anti-incumbent mood is due to anger over Obama's liberal policies, the mood is perfectly predicted by the crappy economy. If John McCain had won in 2008, liberals would be telling us just as triumphantly that the anti-incumbent mood was due to hatred of McCain's conservative policies. With an economy like this, it doesn't matter who's in office--that person is not going to be popular.

But back to the topic. A group of Muslim jihadists attacked us in 2001. American Muslims have lived mostly in peace since then. But now in 2010, a time of pervasive economic insecurity, suddenly we see protests against mosques.

It really is the economy, stupid.


@Andrew Brod "It really is the economy, stupid"
I guess the economy was the reason Islamic Jihadist murdered a group of peaceful medical personnel (including 6 non-Islamic Americans) doing charity work in Afghanistan.

Andrew Brod

John, do you really think that's what I said? Impressive powers of reading comprehension there.

Phil Melton

Let's say the Sons of Confederate Veterans decided they wanted to build a center in downtown Greensboro, across from the old Woolworth building. Say they wanted to do it to reach out, because they felt too much wrong information had been disseminated about the Confederacy. They just wanted to let people know that the Southern position in the Civil War was only partially about slavery. Now that slavery has been gone for so many years, they felt it was important to have a place to celebrate the heritage and the non-slavery related culture of the antebellum South. I have a pretty good idea what Brod and Cone's positions on such a building would be.

Ed Cone

If your pretty good idea is that my take would be the same as it is on mosques and Islamic cultural centers, then you are correct, although a CSV center a couple of blocks away would be a more accurate comparison.

John Tasker

Just for the record, the John of this bit is not me.


Melton is trying to show that folks who don't oppose the New York mosque are really operating from personal bias and prejudice, not principled belief, just as much as those who oppose the mosque. It's interesting that that claim can't be used to attack one side without admitting its role in the other side.

Ed Cone

I don't think that's what PM is saying, JC.

There's room for people to oppose projects out of principled belief, but the larger question is whether that opposition should can under the law to stop people from going through with what seem to be lawful projects.

I think not, and in fact I don't see it as a close call.


Not all adherents to the Islamic faith are jihadists just as not all adherents to Christianity members of the Christian Right. The mosque is not a monument to Jihad, it's a religious center.


Here's an interesting approach to the issue.

Michele Forrest

glenwoodobserver: Conservative Christians = jihadists responsible for September 11th?


Andrew Brod

Will Saletan notes that although the opponents of the Two-Blocks-From-Ground-Zero mosque claim to be concerned about its funding, its imam, etc., their actual comments reveal that their real objection is that it's a mosque.

Andrew Brod

I was talking about the Two-Blocks-From-Ground-Zero mosque with a fellow Jew who disagrees with me. He remembered a previous disagreement we'd had and said, "Yeah, but you supported the right of the neo-Nazis to march through Skokie." And he was right--I did. I support the Constitution even when it makes people uncomfortable, even when those made uncomfortable are 9/11 families or Holocaust survivors.


I'm not sure I get your point Michele, but mine is the lack of reason people have with lumping all Muslims in the Jihad bucket. It doesn't make sense. Yes, jihadists were the perpetrators of 9/1, but it wasn't like all Muslims got together to plot it. So, using 9/11 as a reason to deny people the exercise of their religious freedom is naive. I was not equating the Christian right with jihadists, but saying rather, that just because one is Christian doesn't doesn't mean they automatically should be lumped into the extreme aspects of their religion. In my mind, there is a difference between conservative christians (your words) and the Christian Right (my original words.)

Michele Forrest

1) Why did you use the Christian Right for your comparison to murdering Islamic jihadists? Why didn't you use some extremist group that claims Christianity and murders thousands of people and terrorizes and all that? (I'm trying to think of one. The Christian Right is definitely not it, though. Not in any way.) That was a deliberate comparison, and it's very revealing. I'm waiting to see if anyone else is going to point out just how wrong it is that you did that.

2) Define Christian Right.

Michele Forrest

"Yes, jihadists were the perpetrators of 9/1, but it wasn't like all Muslims got together to plot it.... I was not equating the Christian right with jihadists, but saying rather, that just because one is Christian doesn't doesn't mean they automatically should be lumped into the extreme aspects of their religion."

Yes, you were equating the Christian Right with jihadists. You can't back out of that now. They're your words, and you just confirmed it with the second comment. So, the Christian Right is the extreme among Christians like jihadists are the extremists among Muslims? Seriously? SERIOUSLY?

And no one else has anything to say about this? Wow. Wow, wow, wow. I'm disgusted. And angry.

sean coon

michele, muslims that actively practice jihad land on the far right spectrum of islam, which is a distinct minority of muslims.

not having skin in the formal christian game, i read the comment's point as not all christians fall in the far right arena. but if you want to push it, you know, the abortion doctor murdering element of christianity does exist.

while the comparison on that level wasn't the original point, it does hold true. or do you feel such murderers are justified in their actions?


Michele -

Perhaps a poor analogy, but you're reading too much into my words. I'm born and baptized Lutheran, a Christian religion, however that doesn't mean I adhere to the same beliefs as all people who say they are Christian. If you are Muslim, that doesn't mean you believe in the Jihad or supported the 9/11 massacre. I'll see if I can come up with a better analogy for you (although it will have to wait because I'm out the rest of the evening), but you are wrong about my intent with my original analogy and I think you are rushing to judgment. If you've ever read any of my posts here, I think you would surprise yourself that you think that your conclusion was my intent.

Michele Forrest

"In the U.S., violence directed toward abortion providers has killed at least eight people, including four doctors, two clinic employees, a security guard, and a clinic escort." [source]

The Christian Right is not the "abortion doctor murdering element of christianity."

There is the right, and the far right, and then there are extremists. I have friends who are conservative Muslims. I would call them right, with respect to the way they practice their faith, as compared to some other Muslim friends I know. One is far right. None of them are jihadists or terrorists. Jihadists and terrorists are extremists.

Keep trying...

Michele Forrest

"...you are wrong about my intent with my original analogy..."

If that wasn't your intent, then you shouldn't have written it. No further analogy is needed, if it's for my benefit.

Andrew Brod

FWIW, I think Michele is justified in feeling queasy about the reference to the Christian Right. Had the reference been to something like Christian Identity, I think her hackles wouldn't have been raised. As I understand it, "Christian Right" usually refers to the mainstream evangelical movement.

Andrew Brod

As an aside, however, it's hard to ignore the irony that Christian opponents of mosques often characterize the jihadist strain of Islam as being every bit as mainstream in Islam as Christian evangelicals are in Christianity.

sean coon

your definition of christian right, my definition and someone else's might vary a great deal, michele. it's a linguistic and experiential axiom. and, as a matter of fact, when you add "the right, the far right and extremists" as choices to and variants of the term "christian right," i'm in complete agreement with you.

but what was the quote of numbers of people murdered about? justification?

no matter how you slice it, the comment extreme elements of a religion being the vast minority to the great masses is a truism -- no matter your nomenclature.

Michele Forrest

AB: I agree with your first comment. I wasn't familiar with the term "Christian Identity," but I've heard about the groups within that. (Especially Aryan Nation.) Those people scare me. That is not about Jesus.

I'm not sure I agree with the second comment. The opponents I've talked to don't seem to think jihadism is mainstream. But maybe you're referring to things you've seen in the media? Still, is that representative?


Michele -

I'm disappointed that your throwing up such blinders to someone who already told you he made a poor analogy. I've come to expect different from you. Perhaps an offline conversation would be best. Any time.

Michele Forrest

@sean: No, the quote of numbers, to me, meant it was a handful of extreme people who did that, as opposed to the actual Christian Right, which is a huge group of people, who don't kill people. I'm in that group. I've yet to hear anyone support aborton-clinic killings.

And GO didn't say the extreme, he said the Christian Right. We're not extremists. I mean, that's nonsense.

Michele Forrest

GO, you called me a terrorist. Like I kill people in the name of Jesus. I take that really seriously. I joke around about a lot of stuff, but not that. I need a minute to get over it. I will, though...

Andrew Brod

Michele, to be clear: Opponents of the Two-Blocks-From-Ground-Zero mosque raise all sorts of specific objections, most importantly their concern for the feelings of those who lost loved ones on 9/11. That's why I referred to "Christian opponents of mosques" rather than "Christian opponents of the Two-Blocks-From-Ground-Zero mosque." I could have been clearer.

Opponents of other mosques around the country, such as the one in Tennessee, obviously can't use the same 9/11 argument, and so they tend to focus on the horrors of Islam ("they want to impose sharia law on us!"), and in doing so they conflate Islam with its jihadist elements.

Phil Melton

Demurrals notwithstanding, I think it's a pretty safe bet that an SCV center in close proximity to Woolworth's would be decried as insensitive and every bit of pressure possible brought to bear to stop it by the same people who are pleading for tolerance for the radical imam's mosque to be permitted.

For an opinion from actual moderate Muslims, and not the dissembling Feisal Abdul Rauf, here is a quote from a response to the Cordoba Initiative in the Ottawa Citizen by Raheel Raza and Tarek Fatah, who both sit on the board of the Muslim Canadian Congress.

“New York currently boasts at least 30 mosques so it’s not as if there is pressing need to find space for worshippers. The fact we Muslims know the idea behind the Ground Zero mosque is meant to be a deliberate provocation to thumb our noses at the infidel. The proposal has been made in bad faith and in Islamic parlance, such an act is referred to as “Fitna,” meaning “mischief-making” that is clearly forbidden in the Koran….

As for those teary-eyed, bleeding-heart liberals such as New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and much of the media, who are blind to the Islamist agenda in North America, we understand their goodwill.

Unfortunately for us, their stand is based on ignorance and guilt, and they will never in their lives have to face the tyranny of Islamism that targets, kills and maims Muslims worldwide, and is using liberalism itself to destroy liberal secular democratic societies from within.”

Ed Cone

Phil, I think there are two issues here: the right of people to speak their minds about the location of a mosque (or a hypothetical CSV facility, or whatever); and the right of people to stop others from building where they are legally allowed to build.

People have spoken their minds about the NYC project. Local authorities have cleared it nonetheless, and its backers seem set on moving forward with it, as is their legal right.

At this point, barring some change of heart by the folks behind the plan, what is it that you think should happen?


>>Why didn't you use some extremist group that claims Christianity and murders thousands of people and terrorizes and all that?

The IRA? And, don't forget those fine folks who brought you the Crusades.

All kinds of death and destruction have been launched by people who claimed they were doing God's work.

No comparison was made between terrorists and members of the Christian right. An analogy was drawn to illustrate the point that violent jihadists do not represent majority, mainstream, Muslims, just as conservative Christians do not represent majority, mainstream, Christians.

I am very likely the only one here who has actually lived in a Muslim country. Very real and serious cultural and political differences exist between our two worlds. Our interests collide as often as they converge. But, at the level of individuals, they respond to the same input as we do, in much the same ways. Islamic terrorism is rooted in the many failures of the governments of Muslim countries, not in anything inherent in Islam. If the MIddle East had been Christian all along, and saddled with the same kind of regimes, we'd be talking about Christian jihadists.

People need to remember that the threat posed by terrorism is miniscule compared with the threat we lived with for the duration of the Cold War.

Michele Forrest

GO: I vented to some fellow Christian right-ers, then went out and worked in my garden until it was too dark to see. That's always good for me. (We were created for the garden.) I'm sorry that I disappointed you. I am now calm, blinders off, ready to move on... :)

AB: "Opponents of other mosques around the country..."

Got it. Sorry, I misunderstood. I agree with you.

Ed: "People have spoken their minds about the NYC project. Local authorities have cleared it nonetheless, and its backers seem set on moving forward with it, as is their legal right."

Yep. So they get to move forward. Freedom of religion (and other legal rights) have to apply to everyone, or we will all lose them.

David Wharton

This looks interesting.

Jim Langer

Phil's link is very good. The first I have heard of "fitna", and the argument seems to have real merit. Raheel Raza, for example, is "a Board Member of and Director of Interfaith Affairs for the Muslim Canadian Congress, which was organized to provide a voice for Muslims supporting a "progressive, liberal, pluralistic, democratic, and secular society where everyone has the freedom of religion." (Wikipedia) So, she likes progressiveness and liberalism when it isn't of the bleeding heart variety, apparently.

Jim Langer

I gotta agree, anything like Aryan Nations or Mount Zion Lighthouse (Sudanese Christians that kills children accused of being witches) would be better than the generic "Christian Right". I may disagree with them, but I'll defend to the death their right to their religion and conscience. Just don't take evolution out of the schools.


So why have conservatives not been outraged by the mosque *in* the Pentagon? Surely that is closer to "ground zero" than 2.5 blocks away from WTC? Oh the false outrage.

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