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Mosques, Muslims and America in Darkness

By       Message William Rivers Pitt       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   3 comments

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Reprinted from Truthout


(Photo: Robert Huffstutter)

Things have come to a pretty pass when I'm the guy saying it would be really helpful if George W. Bush were still around. I'm saying it, and I mean it, because this country could really use his brand of wisdom right now.

Let me be clear: I despise the man. Loathe him. He was quite simply the worst president in all of American history; if a future president wants to outstrip his deplorable record, they will literally have to crash the Earth into the Sun to pull it off. He is a thief, a liar and a murderer, and I consider the fact that he has not been called to account for his serial crimes against the American people and the world to be a failure of leadership equal to Hitler's decision to open a second front. If George W. Bush were on fire in front of me, I would not piss on him to put him out.

But I'd really like to hear from him right about now. Whatever else he did wrong, Mr. Bush went out of his way during his eight years in office to tell us that we are not at war with Islam and Muslims, the "crusade" gaffe notwithstanding. His rhetoric regarding Islam and Muslims after 9/11 was uniformly conciliatory, couched as it was between his WMD fabrications and pro-war grandstanding, and as the leader of his party, he kept the lid on an explosion of virulent hatred against fellow citizens who prayed to Allah instead of Jesus or Yahweh. It was bad enough after 9/11, with many assaults on Muslims and mosques to go around, but it could have been far, far worse had Bush not spoken as he did.

Well, he's gone now, and the dogs are off the leash. The proposed construction of the Cordoba House two blocks from the World Trade Center site has given the far-right the opportunity to unveil the one flag they really salute: hatred, divisiveness and fear. For whatever reason, Mr. Bush has chosen to remain silent while his former minions drag the GOP and the country even further into darkness - his spokesman issued a "no comment" on Tuesday regarding the matter, in fact - so it falls to cooler heads to try and prevail. The problem is, my head isn't all that cool. I'm furious and disgusted over this situation, over the fact that once again, the far-right media establishment has successfully dragged us all to the edge of a cliff, over the fact that too many of us are wallowing in our worst selves.

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So let's get a few things straight.

First of all, the Cordoba House is not a "Ground Zero Mosque." It is a Muslim community center, it is two blocks away from the site, and in a neighborhood that already has a mosque...and a strip club, and a lot of other stuff that makes talk about "desecrating hallowed ground" sound like the nonsense that it is.

Oh, and by the by, a lot of the people quacking about "hallowed ground" are the same cretins who refused to pony up funding for 9/11 rescue workers who desperately need health care when the bill came before Congress. I'm pretty used to broadband Republican hypocrisy - the core of their power in politics, after all, is their utter and complete lack of shame - but this just sends me over the moon. Money for continuing the Bush-era tax cuts for rich people? Sure. Money for people who charged into the fire and dust and smoke on that day, who are now dying by inches because of their heroism? Not so much. And P.S., all Muslims are bad. Got that? It's the Republican way.

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As for the idea that the Cordoba House is going to be a nest of radicals, well, the Imam in charge of the project - Feisal Abdul Rauf - is as sensible and progressive and sane as anyone you know. For God's sake, Mr. Bush hired the man to help America try to treat with the Muslim world, and Rauf advised the FBI on counter-terrorism tasctics, which are a pretty interesting couple of line items on the resume of a so-called fanatic. I'd like to thank The Rude Pundit for putting together a collection of Imam Rauf's observations on women's rights, terrorism, and murder. Because he's a Muslim, too many people will immediately expect his views to be along the lines of those seventh-century lunatics who give Islam the bad name it enjoys.

Not so much:

Really, oh, sweet, imbecilic right-wingers? Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of the Cordoba Initiative, which dares to want cheap real estate in New York City in order to build a Muslim community center, is a radical? Really? Does anyone actually understand the meaning of "radical" anymore?

Here's what he's said over the last few years. Mullah Omar, he ain't:

"The issue of women's rights is more than an issue for women or about women. It involves everyone...The best of you are those who are best to their women. Consequently, the worst of men are those who are worst to their women."- From the Yemen Times, August 9, 2009, at a conference on advancing the cause of women in Islam.

Rauf believes in "showing those who resort to violence that it is counter to the very idea of Islam." - From the Khaleej Times (UAE), July 5, 2009.

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"Islam denounces suicide of any sort, especially suicide bombings that kill innocents. Even in a defensive war sanctioned by Islamic law, suicide is expressly forbidden." - From a June 2009 commentary by Rauf.

"The Quran expressly and unambiguously prohibits the coercion of faith because that violates a fundamental human right - the right to a free conscience. The Quran says in one place 'There shall be no compulsion in religion.' And in another it says, 'To you your beliefs and to me, mine.'"- Same as above.

"Rauf was one of the few Muslim leaders who appealed for calm and tolerance after the Regensburg speech." From the New Yorker, April 2, 2007, regarding Pope Benedict's 2006 lecture where he quoted a Muslim-hating Byzantine emperor. Riots ensued.

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William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know and The Greatest Sedition Is Silence.

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