Saturday, August 28, 2010

Marxism, Mosques, and Mockery

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and the New York Islamic Cultural Center

Thomas Riggins

Spending six weeks in South Florida (Boca Raton) I thought I would be missing the action in NYC. Not the case. The "Ground Zero Mosque" flap is spreading throughout the land. The fact that the social center envisioned by some American Muslims is not a mosque (it is social center but also has a prayer room) nor is it to be located at ground zero doesn't seem to matter to the rabid opposition opposed to an Islamic center in lower Manhattan.

A Rasmussen poll released on August 23 claims 62% of those polled oppose the Islamic center. According to the New York Post (a paper subsidized by the ultra right billionaire Rubert Murdock) the pollsters reported that the opposition is based on the belief that the Islamic center is "a deliberate provocation that dishonors the memories of the 3000 [sic] people that died that day."

Marxists and other progressives understand that this is nonsense since the Islamic religion and Muslims in general are in no way responsible for the events of 9/11. We do know that right wing elements, including elements from the growing proto-fascist right, are using this issue for political purposes making a mockery of the constitutional rights of all Americans in the hopes of damaging the Obama administration and the Democratic congress.

Obama's comments were perfectly appropriate for a US President: all Americans have the right of religious freedom under the law and no group of right wing anti-American fanatics, tea baggers included, have a right to force their views on the rest of us.

The military has even stated that this anti-Islam agitation is hurting the war effort and threatening the lives of our troops. Ok, our troops should not be there in the first place and should be brought home immediately, but it shows the hypocrisy of the Dick Amorys, Newt Gingrichs, and John McCains and their ilk that they could care less about the troops in the field than a few extra votes from their crazed supporters.

Another mockery is the way The New York Post reports on this dispute: by twisting the facts and trying to stir up religious and ethnic hatred between Americans-- all to further Murdock's anti-working class political agenda. As evidence I offer the following headline From same issue of the NYP: "US worse than al Qaeda: imam" accompanied by a photo of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who is the imam associated with the Islamic center, being hosted by the US embassy in Bahrain last Sunday. He is described as the imam "who decried Muslim blood on US hands." The subtext is, of course, here is this anti-American Muslim fanatic being sent to the Muslim world by the Obama administration as a guest of the State Department for who knows what evil purposes being hidden from the American people and he wants to build HIS mosque at GROUND ZERO!!! Yikes! Call out the Minuet Men!

Let's look at the actual story written by Murdock's mouthpiece, one Jennifer Fermino, pretending to be a reporter for a publication pretending to be a newspaper. Here is the first sentence, it sets the tone: "The Islamic cleric who wants to build a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero once claimed in a jaw-dropping speech that the United States has killed more innocent civilians than al Qaeda."

Two points: 1. This would be "jaw-dropping" only to ignorant Yahoos who know nothing about the history of US foreign policy and the conduct of the US military. 2. The statement happens to be true. In just one war alone, the Vietnam War, the US killed more innocent civilians than all the terrorist organizations in the world have managed to kill. The same is true of the civilian deaths in Iraq. If Ms. Fermino is so ignorant as not to know that she at least has an excellent qualification to be a NYP "reporter."

Here is what Imam Rauf actually said in a speech he gave in 2005: "We tend to forget in the West [if we ever knew-tr], that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaeda has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims. You may remember that the US-led sanctions against Iraq led to the death of over half a million Iraqi children. This has been documented by the United Nations."

Ms Fermino calls these statements "incendiary" but does not reveal to us that they are also true, which happens to be the case.

Imam Rauf said the following as well, which is also true, and he should be congratulated for his courage: "What complicates the discussion intra-Islamically, is the fact that the West has not been cognizant and has not addressed the issue of its own contribution to much injustice in the Arab and Muslim world. It is a difficult subject to discuss with Western audiences [they are distracted by constantly dropping their jaws-tr] but it is one that must be pointed out and must be raised."

The NYP also says he used the N word in his speech (he used it in a context describing how people SHOULD NOT judge other people-- by skin color or gender) not as US military slang uses it to describe Arabs as
sand n's.

This whole story is biased and designed to discredit the imam for speaking the TRUTH! It is based on a audio tape that can be heard on the Ayn Randroid website AtlasShrugs. I wish Atlas would shrug all the Randroids, Ferminos and other crypto-fascists opposing religious freedom and stirring up ethnic and religious hatred off the backs of the American people.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ross Douthat on "The Marriage Ideal"

Thomas Riggins

The ultra-conservative Ross Douthat, an op ed columnist for The New York Times, has a piece in Monday's paper (8-9-2010 "The Marriage Ideal") which, as is usual with this ideological trend, distorts the issues involved in question of gay marriage.

His article appears sparked by Federal Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling last week "that laws defining marriage as a heterosexual union are unconstitutional, irrational and unjust. That they are irrational and unjust is obvious to any thinking person, their constitutionality will ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.

Douthat agrees that the usual arguments in defense of heterosexual marriage as the only form that should be legally recognized are wrong (I think he means invalid and unsound). These are those based on claims of naturalness, tradition, universality, etc. But Douthat points out that other cultures have different conceptions of the nature and purpose of marriage and none of the arguments heard by Judge Walker were convincing.

Since those opposed to gay marriage are NOT really defending "some universal, biologically inevitable institution" just what are they defending, Douthat asks? Luckily for the defenders of traditional marriage only, who obviously don't know what they are talking about and can only give wrong headed arguments to federal judges, Douthat DOES know and is going to enlighten all of us.

The heterosexual marriage ideal "holds up the commitment to lifelong fidelity and support by two sexually different human beings-- a commitment that involves mutual surrender, arguably, of their reproductive self-interest-- as a unique admirable kind of relationship."

Well this is a find and admirable ideal for some, but should it be the only legal marriage relationship under US and international law? Has an anti-divorce clause also been slipped in? And what about a person who is both physically and in gender consciousness a male and a person who is transsexual and a physical male but whose gender consciousness is female: are these two sexually different human beings allowed to marry under the heterosexual only rules? They are heterosexual afterall.

Douthat maintains that this heterosexual ideal, including the nuclear family, isn't claiming to be the only possible way for a marriage to be arranged but that it is "worthy of distinctive recognition and support." And who would not agree? As long as its recognition and support does not come at the expense of other people's marriage ideals and does not involve special rights and laws that discriminate against those alternatives.

Many cultures don't have this marriage ideal that Douthat puts forward: "It's a particularly Western understanding, derived from Jewish ["Thank G-d I was not born a woman"] and Christian beliefs ["Women is destined to live under the authority of man" St. Thomas] about the order of creation ["Neither was man created for the woman; but the woman for the man"--St. Paul], and supplemented by later ideals about romantic love [the passive woman on the pedestal], the rights of children [let's deny them citizenship under the 14th Amendment if their parents lack papers], and the equality of the sexes [this last bit is laughable considering the majority of the heterosexual marriage only crowd are chauvinists in extremo.]"

Well at least we see where the heterosexual marriage only crowd is coming from in Douthat's construction. It's basically an attempt to force a particular religious interpretation of marriage on everybody else. Extremely un-American to say the least.

Douthat fears that this noble ideal of the meaning of marriage, which only exists in the fantasy world of ultra-conservatives, may be lost to newer "post-modern" ways of thinking. If this happens we will be "giving up one of the great ideas of Western civilization"-- patriarchal, repressive bourgeois marriage as one of the "great ideas" of the West! Barf. If you want to know the real meaning of this great ideal read about marriage in Simone de Beauvoir's still great book THE SECOND SEX.

Douthat thinks there must be a distinction made between gay marriage and his ideal form: "But based on Judge Walker's logic-- which suggests that any such distinction is bigoted and un-American-- I don't think a society that declares gay marriage to be a fundamental right will be capable of even entertaining this idea." Speed the Day.