Follow Ups

Follow up to the last post on Andy McCarthy’s “thought experiment,” from Thers:

But I think we could go a bit further along McCarthy’s lines. Suppose Saudi Arabia decided that the sensible way to respond to the attack on Mecca launched by maniacal American religious terrorists was to invade, say, Ecuador, trumping up a bunch of bullshit about vague terroristical connections and claiming that when their troops marched into Guayaquil, they’d be greeted with flowers and chocolate?

Because, like, if the Saudis did that, that would make them as astoundingly nutty as, say, Andy McCarthy.


At Outside the Beltway, Steven Taylor (the world’s only sane conservative) makes essentially the same argument I did about McCarthy’s “thought experiment.” But it’s the comment thread that fascinates me, in a dead-road-kill kind of way. The “mosque” opposers cannot honestly address what Taylor wrote, so they throw one red herring after another to turn the conversation into something that fits their predetermined talking points and allows them to cling to a victimized status. And permeating the discussion is the rightie belief that the First Amendment grants a right to not be disagreed with.

I think Frank Rich’s column today is pretty much spot on.

So virulent is the Islamophobic hysteria of the neocon and Fox News right — abetted by the useful idiocy of the Anti-Defamation League, Harry Reid and other cowed Democrats — that it has also rendered Gen. David Petraeus’s last-ditch counterinsurgency strategy for fighting the war inoperative. How do you win Muslim hearts and minds in Kandahar when you are calling Muslims every filthy name in the book in New York?

You’d think that American hawks invested in the Afghanistan “surge” would not act against their own professed interests. But they couldn’t stop themselves from placing cynical domestic politics over country. The ginned-up rage over the “ground zero mosque” was not motivated by a serious desire to protect America from the real threat of terrorists lurking at home and abroad — a threat this furor has in all likelihood exacerbated — but by the potential short-term rewards of winning votes by pandering to fear during an election season.

Steve M. has a quibble:

But, see, the cheerleaders for war on the right don’t really care about winning. They just care about fighting. They derive more benefit from having a permanent swarthy enemy than from defeating one.

They know that they never want to be rid of exotic-seeming enemies: they can blame the continued survival of these enemies on Democrats and liberals when the latter are in power, then, when they themselves wrest power from Democrats, they can use the exotic enemies to distract the public from their own failures of governance and transfers of ordinary citizens’ wealth to the rich. They sure as hell don’t want to be George H.W. Bush, declaring victory, going home, and then having no war to divert citizens’ attention from their own financial woes.

While I think those at the top of (and financially supporting) the rightie power pyramid probably are making exactly that calculation, once you go down a level or two it’s not so clear. I think that for people like Palin, Gingrich, Beck etc., it’s all about the next headline, the next rally, the next book contract, the next television appearance. It’s all about finding a fresh supply of red meat to throw at the followers, so they’ll keep following. But I don’t think they’ve thought out where any of this is going, beyond maybe a presidential nomination in 2012.

Dumbest argument against the “mosque” yet:

Of course Muslims died in the horror of 9/11 (but don’t forget that some of those Muslims were the ones who perpetrated the fiery mass murders), and they have the right to memorialize their loss.

But, many wonder, why two blocks away from Ground Zero? Why two blocks away from the nation’s greatest tragedy? Why $100 million? And from where is that huge sum of money coming?

AFTER ALL, representation of every ethnic, racial and religious group was lost in 9/11. Are they trying to build a huge Buddhist temple next to Ground Zero? Are Jews planning a huge synagogue two blocks away? Maybe we haven’t heard about Native American plans to build something near the site, or are unaware of nefarious plans by Sikhs and Hindus to erect a religious site nearby.

First, of course, Park 51 is not primarily being planned just to memorialize the Muslims who were killed on 9/11, but to help people get over blaming all Muslims for what happened on 9/11. And as we can see from the hysterical reaction, such a gesture is sorely needed. It would also be giving something nice to the neighborhood.

But as far as other religions go, there are already at least a couple of big synagogues within two blocks of “ground zero.” The Museum of the American Indian (nice place to visit if you’re ever in lower Manhattan) is at 1 Bowling Green, less than a ten-minute walk from “ground zero”, I would guess. The closest Buddhist temples are in Chinatown, although one of the local Pure Land congregations holds a lovely Obon floating candle ceremony on a pier near Ground Zero every September 11. I believe the closest Sikh temple is in Queens, so the Sikhs need to step it up. But why this is relevant to anything I do not know.

Why $100,000,000? Please. It’s Manhattan.

6 thoughts on “Follow Ups

  1. I realize that I’m just a DFH and a quibbler, but some might say “the nation’s greatest tragedy” was the thousands of young soldiers lost in Iraq fighting a war that didn’t need to happen. Or perhaps that monument to human-rights-violation Gitmo. Or go old-school and point to Gettysburg. But, hey, whatever.

    I’m afraid I have to agree with Steve M. But it’s not just about the fighting, it’s also about the being victimized and oppressed. Injustice is constantly being done TO them, but never ever BY them.

  2. I have an idea – let’s settle this through capitalism. We’ll have a fundraiser – two fundraisers actually. One team will be in favor of the center at its current location – the other team in favor of moving it to a more discreet location in Manhatten still capable of serving the Muslims in NYC. The two teams will be in competion to raise the $100 million for the center. Here’s the fun part. I suggest that the imam select a worthy and friendly cleric (a rabi) for the opposition.

    Let’s name the teams – If the ‘wacky wingnuts’ raise $100 million first, the imam will cheerfully move to a different location with the money raised by his foes. As a consolation prize, the imam gets to donate all the money raised by his team to a worthy charity. If the ‘merry muslims’ win, they stay at Park51 and the rabi gets to assign a worthy charity for the money raised by the ‘wacky wingnuts’.

    The wingnuts frequently claim they have nothing against Islam BUT it’s only the location they object to. Fine. The money they need to build the center is a drop in the bucket for the millions who object. Put your money where your mouth is if you’re not motivated by hate. Make a gift of the Islamic center – not TO the center – but finance the whole frickin’ thing if you understand freedom of religion and you are only concerned about the location. Or let those of us who believe in the imam help him build it as he envisions it and we will see if he can reach out to NYC and bridge the cultural divide. It’s a daunting and noble task and a contest to raise the money will bring it to reality that much sooner.

  3. Frank Rich today is pretty bad. The right reason for allowing Park51 to
    go ahead is that to do so conforms with religious liberty and our
    constitutional freedoms. But Rich argues that the absurd fuss that has
    been drummed up but the right-wing noise machine will hurt our campaign
    in Afghanistan. No doubt true, but seriously missing the point.

    • Nick — I don’t think you’re getting Frank’s point. He was pointing to the hypocrisy — the people who pushed us into the war and insisted it was a noble cause are he same ones pushing the hysteria over Park51.

  4. Rich also noted that this was a non-story until one of Murdoch’s rags made it into the controversy it has become. Rightwing propaganda.

  5. Maybe we should consider it a positive sign that the righties are experimenting with thought.. Isn’t the whole conservative movement formed by the attraction that there’s no thinking required. Any brain activity that exceeds parroting GOP talking points has got to be a plus.

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