Friday, July 30, 2010

About Cordoba House: Either we believe in tolerance and diversity or we don't (Hint: Religious bigots don't)


by Ken

I'm having trouble forcing myself to perform the necessary thought-gathering and source-dismembering to give you the now long-promised second part of my post on the Washington Post's "Top Secret America" series. In Part 1, you'll recall, I tried to explain why you absolutely have to read the WaPo series, but with it was promised the explanation of why you'd be absolutely nuts to read the WaPo series. Since it's giving me trouble, and since I find it hard to imagine anyone whose life is being put on hold during the delay, and especially at these pay rates, I've decided that rather than make myself crazy . . . okay, crazier, I'm just going to wait till it's ready to be written.

Meanwhile, as long as we're dealing with stuff that's obviously true but that an awful lot of people don't/won't want to deal with or acknowledge in any way, I'm grateful (once again!) to J Street for staking out an obviously correct position that is nevertheless not only not widely acknowledged in the American Jewish community but is often denounced. There are many regrettable things about the way so much of the American Jewish community, especially the traditional official organs, has taken on the role of lockstep defender of the increasingly vile and hateful Israeli far right, but perhaps the saddest is the delusion those people have taken on that they are somehow vindicated or bolstered by the support of the loathsome crackpots of the American far right, the political bloc I like to think of as Anti-Semites for Israel. Man, are they kidding themselves.

J Street has done a lot to relieve the discomfort of being Jewish in America, and being "spoken for" by those professional bigots and haters. No matter how they and their supporters on the anti-Semitic right try to obfuscate the issue of the Muslim cultural center (apparently not even including an actual place of worship) planned near the World Trade Center site, they are once again lying with every cell of their poisoned souls.

Just by way of reminder, the Cordoba Initiative website offers this description of the project:
Why the Cordoba House?

Cordoba House is a Muslim-led project which will build a world-class facility that promotes tolerance, reflecting the rich diversity of New York City. The center will be community-driven, serving as a platform for inter-community gatherings and cooperation at all levels, providing a space for all New Yorkers to enjoy.

This proposed project is about promoting integration, tolerance of difference and community cohesion through arts and culture. Cordoba House will provide a place where individuals, regardless of their backgrounds, will find a center of learning, art and culture; and most importantly, a center guided by Islamic values in their truest form - compassion, generosity, and respect for all.

The issue is a simple one for any fair-minded Jew, and of course for any fair-minded American. Of course, there are people who genuinely don't believe in either "tolerance" or "diversity." They believe in rigid orthodoxy -- their own poisonous orthodoxy, of course -- with no tolerance for any deviation therefrom. It's no wonder that they get the heebie-jeebies at the very idea of "promoting integration, tolerance of difference and community cohesion through arts and culture."

Statement on Cordoba House Controversy
Posted by: Amy Spitalnick | July 30th, 2010 1:40 pm

Today, J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami released the following statement:
The principle at stake in the Cordoba House controversy goes to the heart of American democracy and the value we place on freedom of religion. Should one religious group in this country be treated differently than another? We believe the answer is no.

As Mayor Bloomberg has said, proposing a church or a synagogue for that site would raise no questions. The Muslim community has an equal right to build a community center wherever it is legal to do so. We would hope the American Jewish community would be at the forefront of standing up for the freedom and equality of a religious minority looking to exercise its legal rights in the United States, rather than casting aspersions on its funders and giving in to the fear-mongerers and pandering politicians urging it to relocate.

What better ammunition to feed the Osama bin Ladens of the world and their claim of anti-Muslim bias in the United States as they seek to whip up global jihad than to hold this proposal for a Muslim religious center to a different and tougher standard than other religious institutions would be.

Thank you, J Street!

Interesting observation from a colleague: "Shameful that not a single House or Sen Dem from NY has spoken up against this kind of bigotry." I hadn't thought of that, but I agree absolutely.

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At 5:05 AM, Blogger Bula said...

Great post. When my Mother had cancer, before she died, our Muslim neighbor would visit her in the hospital. He was also the Imam of the local Mosque.

There are religious nuts of every faith. It's not the faith, it's the people.

At 7:33 AM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Absolutely, Bula. It's amazing how much religious nuts of different persuasions have in common!


At 12:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many other mosques exist in NYC and how vigorously were they opposed and protested? Very little to not at all, I'd bet.

What do I need to do to build a Jewish synagogue in Mecca? Can someone here help me understand the paperwork requirements to get a Catholic cathedral built in Medina?


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