The Lynch Mob Mentality Enters the “Mosque at Ground Zero” Controversy
But that mentality has always been present, from the aftermath of OKBomb to the aftermath of 9/11, when Muslims were harassed and threatened and even burned out by their neighbors and total strangers. And it continues with the NIMBY attitude towards Muslims who want to build mosques or community centers elsewhere in the country.
The idiots probably don’t even know that two mosques already operate near Ground Zero. One is led by a woman, a sheikha.
Masjid Manhattan, on Warren Street, four blocks from ground zero, was founded in 1970. Masjid al-Farah, formerly on Mercer Street, moved to its present location on West Broadway, about 12 blocks from ground zero, in 1985. Both mosques — essentially one-room operations — routinely turn people away for lack of space.
But of course, to right-wing New York bloggers like Pamela Geller, who spurred the protests, this is a chance for right-wing white Americans and Europeans to join forces to stop an “Islamic takeover.” She’s the American Brigitte Bardot of the anti-Muslim movement. (Yes, even la Bardot is a hater hanging with the likes of Jean-Marie Le Pen.) Married to Islamophobic writer Robert Spencer, Geller’s website Atlas Shrugs is widely read by extremists from South Africa to Serbia.
But I digress.
The black guy with the white skull cap is being confronted in this video during the course of a demonstration yesterday against the so-called mosque (Park 51/Cordoba House) being created several blocks from what residents once called “The Pit.” He is a union carpenter who works nearby at Ground Zero. In one article, he gave his name as Kenny. Some responders at HuffPo have alleged that he’s actually Dominican.
And he did not just wade in looking for trouble. He was walking to the side of the demonstration back to work. These wild-eyed idiots saw the white cap and thought it was a kufi, the prayer cap worn by devout male Muslims, but it is also worn by Africans, African immigrants and African Americans. Actually, the Under Armour skullcap (or knockoffs of the design) is one popularly worn by men of color, hip-hop artists like 50 Cent, and hip white kids, and has been for a few years. Guys wear it under their broad-brimmed hats, hoods, helmets, you name it. You could probably get one in a good shop in Harlem, Washington Heights, or The Bronx. But these ignorant mouth breathers would refuse to know that.
It takes the place, I think, of those stocking caps the brothers used to wear in the Fifties and Sixties to keep their conks longer; the stockings borrowed (or snatched) from their moms and sisters.
They were following him, flipping snide remarks about him voting for Obama, that the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) was a pig, getting all up in his face deliberately trying to pick a fight, and saying that the guy was a coward. It was a pretty volatile situation that could have ended up with the brother getting hurt–or much worse. As Glenn Greenwald said in Salon, this episode shows that the controversy about the culture center is not necessarily about ‘sacred’ or ‘hallowed’ ground or about the feelings of the survivors. It’s about the pure, unadulterated, naked expression of racism against Muslims or anyone who may look like a Muslim, just because a minority of Muslims brought down the World Trade Centers.
Don’t they know that Muslims also died at Ground Zero? Who weeps for them, or for the legal or illegal immigrants who worked at the food courts, as well as those who worked as clerks, janitors, operators, security officers, dishwashers and secretaries?
At about 25 seconds in, he quite astutely points out to the crowd that “All y’all dumb motherfuckers don’t even know my opinion on shit.”
Don’t start none, won’t be none.
But I’m in agreement: this episode really shows how racial profiling works and how people have allowed hate and anger to unhinge their better judgment, if they had any to begin with.
There are a lot of Muslims that look just like African Americans. There are a lot of African Americans that look like Muslims, but aren’t. Same with Latinos. Fact is, there is a shared history there. Some African slaves carried off to the New World were already Muslims or believed in a supreme being. Some of them had mixed African and Arab ancestry and were lighter-skinned. And hundreds of conquistadors and settlers from Spain and Portugal were the products of interracing with the Moors, the Muslim Arabs from Northern Africa that occupied the Iberian Peninsula until 1492. More or less, they interraced with the Native American population and created the criollo and the mestizo peoples whose descendants are in Mexico, Central America, and South America.
To state my views on the record, two floors of a thirteen-story cultural center with a swimming pool, a cooking school, a bookstore, a basketball court, and an auditorium, that is designated as spaces for prayer and possibly other secular activities does not constitute a hotbed of radicalism to me. The culture center is modeled on the idea that gave birth to the YWCA and Jewish community centers. This idiotic crusade against the cultural center is going all over the world, and could feed into the real terrorists’ agenda, namely the meme that America hates and wants to destroy Islam.
For those Muslims who don’t quite understand the culture of politics in the United States, if the Manhattan culture center is not built at its proposed location, it would mean a major setback, but not a total rejection of Islam.
But in interviews conducted mostly in the Arab world and in commentaries by newspapers throughout the Muslim world, many emphasized that the United States will be judged ultimately not on a building in Lower Manhattan but on whether it is able to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and leave Iraq and Afghanistan in peace.
“Is not exerting serious effort to implement pledges towards the Palestinian cause and state more useful with regard to showing the U.S. adherence to rights, freedom and justice?” Rajih Khouri wrote in the Aug. 19 issue of An-Nahar, a Lebanese daily.
The area where the cultural center will be located has been described as so economically depressed with boarded up businesses, that one might think that that residents would welcome such a project, rather than yet another strip joint.
While living in New York, I came across the old Burlington Coat Factory a few times while shopping and sightseeing; it had been vacant for years. It’s not only near Ground Zero, but near City Hall and Wall Street. I can well imagine that with the Recession on, that this may be part of a scheme to revitalize and rehabilitate and bring more money into the community. Because when the country is sick, New York gets the disease first because it is the economic capital of the nation.
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, painted as some sort of radical by the likes of Geller, Drudge and the protesters, has actually assisted the Bush Administration in outreach to American and immigrant Muslims, has gone on tours on behalf of the State Department to Muslim countries, and has included Sufi prayers and chants into his services. He and his wife Daisy Khan are considered a bit exhibitionist and a tad too cozy with the FBI, the State Department and the CIA for even the tastes of some Muslim Americans who are between the proverbial rock and a hard place.
Naturally, all this hatred is also directed at President Barack Obama as well. To be frank: Obama is a Christian. And yet as a child, he came to know what Islam was like while he was in Indonesia, before it really blew up into radical and moderate sects. This, even though Obama’s stepfather Lolo Soetoro was rather lukewarm when it came to religion, and that Obama’s religious instruction during these years was primarily Catholic (yes, he did attend a madrassa, but he was later transferred to a much more elite Catholic school, St. Francis of Assisi, a point the media has barely acknowledged). The fact remains that Obama was living in a predominantly, strongly Muslim country.
He was acculturated there as well. He came to learn Bahasa Indonesia, and it was enough to carry him forward. All this occurred when he was between the impressionable ages of 6 and 10. Indonesia can be a kind of magical place, and I am sure between all this, he was exposed to the country and its people, culture and mores. When he had a kind of father figure, and his white mother Ann was present for him, and when his half-sister Maya was born. And also when he was trying to fit in, brown as he was but not at all Asian and certainly not white.
I feel that Obama does respect Islam, just as anyone would respect a wonderful memory as a child, and looks back on it as an adult. Remember when Obama was photographed walking wistfully through his old neighborhood in Hawaii just before his grandmother died, and almost without the Secret Service? He cannot go back to those days, but he can remember those times.
Just like with Hawaii, Obama is not going to turn around and spit on that experience in Indonesia. I think that is also why he had to say that Muslims were allowed to build near Ground Zero or any other place in the United States. His heart was in the right place, but politics has no place for hearts at a crucial juncture. His backtracking did not possess the courage of what he felt at that Ramadan dinner.
The Indonesians are still waiting word when President Obama will come to the island nation after the visit was canceled twice, the second time after the BP oil spill. It may take some while.