The Out-of-Towners

[Update: The local NBC affiliate is reporting that the developers of the Islamic Center have told Gov. Paterson they don’t intend to change the location. Good for them.]

Eric Kleefeld documents that opposition to the so-called “ground zero mosque” intensifies the further away one goes from “ground zero.” But we knew that. See also Nate Silver.

I had a let’s-bang-heads-against-the-wall moment this morning when I found an editorial in the Joplin (Missouri) Globe written by some guy who lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He wrote of the builders of the Islamic Center: “These folks should not expect a neighborhood welcoming party.”

Excuse me? Where the bleep does somebody who lives in Tulsa Bleeping Oklahoma get off talking about the “neighbohood welcoming party”? Clue, dude: Manhattan ain’t your neighborhood.

What Happened to the Free and the Brave?

I keep waiting for another shoe to drop in the “ground zero mosque” flap. The word is that Gov. Paterson will meet with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and other Cordoba House backers to find another spot for the proposed Islamic Center. And as much as I don’t want the bullies to get their way, apparently other Muslims in the U.S. want the issue to go away asap before the mob gets even nastier.

There’s an old joke that America is the land of the brave because you’ve got to be brave to live here. I’m not seeing much bravery anywhere these days, though.

The Rev. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite writes,

The true of test of whether this country is really the “land of the free” is when we do or do not act like we are the “home of the brave.” It is not enough to carry copies of the Constitution and wave them at rallies. The U.S. Constitution lives or dies in the practice of its freedoms for all Americans. That means, all Americans, not just the ones with whom you agree, or with whom you may share a religious belief. We must protect these fundamental liberties especially when it is challenging to do so, or even appears threatening to some.

The Right is twisting itself into pretzels claiming that they support freedom but want to stop the building of the Islamic Center. In other words, now we’re only as free as an unhinged, frightened, bigoted mob allows us to be.

Sam Stein has a profile of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf that discusses the imam’s work with the FBI to counter terrorism and also some of his work, with Jews and Christians, to promote religious tolerance. If Americans can be persuaded that this man is a jihadist, then the right-wing noise machine could demonize anybody.

Update: Something I hadn’t thought of, but it could be a concern — Mosque Furor Endangers U.S. Troops

More on the 9/11 Families

[UPDATE: There is a report from Haaretz that “Sources in New York said on Monday that Muslim religious and business leaders will announce plans to abandon the project in the next few days.” Why Haaretz would have inside information on this matter I do not know, and I hope it isn’t true. I hate it when the bullies and thugs win.]

Josh Marshall, yesterday (emphasis added):

Also very worth noting is that none of the 9/11 Families groups who actually seem to be membership organizations made up of families of the victims seem to have taken positions on the mosque issue at all. I looked at the websites of several such organizations. And they each contain ‘about’ pages with some information about the organization, its membership and in most cases boards of directors. The website of Burlingame’s group, 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America, contains no such information. But it’s statement of purpose does give some sense of viewpoint: “The war against sharia is a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.”

Since almost three thousand people died as a result of the attacks, many thousands count as family members of the dead. And given that the public at large is at best divided over mosque question and likely on balance against it, it stands to figure that there’s a similar spectrum of opinion among these families. Yet I have not seen any clear evidence that as a group these people are against the Cordoba House project.

The website of Burlingame’s “organization,” “9/11 Families for a Safe and Strong America,” really does give no indication that anyone actually belongs to it. Maybe there is an organization, but it seems weird to me that there is no board of directors, no “about us” page, no place to sign up for membership. Some guy named Tim Sumner writes most of the blog posts, but we don’t know if he’s a member or an employee.

Compare/contrast with the “about us” page of Families of September 11. This organization, btw, is acting as an advocacy group for the many people who worked on “the pile” after the atrocity and are now suffering terrible health problems as a result. So this group is doing something useful and beneficial. They’re also still steering clear of the “ground zero mosque” issue.

So whether Burlingame even leads anything remotely resembling an “organization,” or whether her site is pure astroturf, is anyone’s guess. Really, someone should check this out, although I don’t even know where to begin. Would there be tax documentation somewhere?

See also: Hendrik Hertzberg, “Zero Grounds“; Daryl Lang, “Hallowed Ground.”