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Islamophobia’s Coming-Out Party

The planned mosque near ground zero has been attacked by those who seem to think American values don’t apply to Muslim Americans.

The planned Cordoba Community Center, to be built not at ground zero but two blocks away from where the World Trade Center once stood, has brought American Islamophobes out into the open, aided by a sensationalizing media which persistently refers to the community centre as the “ground zero mosque.” But the controversy has also encouraged many public figures to stand up for basic American values and demonstrate their courage in the face of both demagoguery and foolishness.

While the proximity of the planned community centre (yes, a mosque will be incorporated into this large structure) to ground zero provides a convenient handle for Islamophobes, this is hardly an isolated incident. Mosque building projects are also under attack in Murfreesboro, Tenn., Temecula, Calif., and Sheboygan, Wis. These projects have drawn fire from Republican politicians, Tea Party activists, and (probably) fundamentalist ministers. According to New York Times reporter Laurie Goodstein, “In all of the recent conflicts, opponents have said their problem is Islam itself.”

Thus the New York conflict takes place within a much broader context, making attempts by some of the opponents of the community centre to differentiate themselves from the bigots ring somewhat false, especially when they are joined in their opposition by the likes of Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich. While not every opponent of the community centre is a bigot, they have nonetheless chosen a side in a larger contest over American values.

I have been unable to find similar large-scale opposition to planned mosques in Canada. In Oakdale, Ont., Edmonton, and Halifax, mosque building has moved forward without substantial protest. This is, after all, the country in which one of our favourite TV shows is Little Mosque on the Prairie, a wholesome sitcom exhibiting the good yet quirky relations between small-town neighbours. Yet, it would be a mistake to think that Canada can ever be immune from the virulent propaganda that often flourishes to our south.

There are those in Canada who seem to get more incensed by a few hundred niquab-wearing women than they do by those who don balaclavas for hockey riots in Montreal or conflicts with G20 security. My own cursory survey of letter writers to the Globe and Mail and the Montreal Gazette indicates that more than a handful of them are infected with the same virus of intolerance as many of our southern neighbours. One writer argued that the New York mosque would constitute a “one finger salute” to the 9-11 dead, while a second said he would only support the mosque project “providing they build a synagogue in Saudi Arabia.” Yet, despite such expressions of Canadian intolerance, I believe we are still spared much of the vitriol of the American right.

More problematic opposition to the Cordoba Community Center has come from the centrist anti-Defamation League, a Jewish organization prominently identified with the struggle for human rights. Abraham Foxman, its Executive Director, is very aware of the American constitution and its promise of the freedom of religion. Therefore, while he acknowledged the “right” of Muslims to build on their chosen site, he calls upon them to recognize the “rights” of the still grieving families of the 9-11 victims, even though he well knows that those families are divided on the project. Foxman’s line has been taken up by New York Governor David Paterson, who has offered to find an alternative piece of state land for the new building.

The “moderate” Patterson-Foxman position amounts to tolerance by city blocks. If two blocks from ground zero is deemed too close, would three, four, or 11 be enough to satisfy a constituency that somehow ties a community centre built by moderate American Muslims to al-Qaeda? I fear that such “moderation” makes Foxman and Patterson allies of some of the most intolerant forces in American life.

But there are also those who are standing up for America’s enduring values. The distinguished journalist and commentator Fareed Zakaria felt forced to return his 2005 First Amendment Award, including its $10,000 honorarium, to the ADL, following this betrayal of the organization’s dedication to constitutional rights. Perhaps the most eloquent voice raised in defence of the Cordoba Community Center and the freedom of religion, was that of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who said:

Let us not forget that Muslims were murdered on 9-11 and that our Muslim neighbours grieved with us as New Yorkers and as Americans. We would betray our values and play into our enemies’ hands if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else. In fact, to cave to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists, and we should not stand for that.

We should all hope that such voices of sanity will triumph in the United States and will influence debates in this country too.

It is contrary to both Canadian and American values and interests to conflate all Muslims with Islamist radicalism and terrorism. The rights of our Muslim neighbours are equal, in every respect, to those of Christians, Jews, Hindus, and others. Only Osama bin Laden and his ilk will gain from marginalizing and discriminating against our fellow citizens. Islamophobia is a danger to us all.

By: Stephen Scheinberg (Emeritus Professor of History, Concordia University; Co-chair, Canadian Friends of Peace Now.).

Originally taken from (http://www.themarknews.com/articles/2041-islamophobia-s-coming-out-party).

Canadian Party Leader Debate

October 10, 2008 Leave a comment

Yeah yeah I’m always late on this stuff. Sorry, work and school and laziness =)

Excuses for the win. Anywho, I watched. LAST WEEK. Not on YouTube 🙂

It was a great debate. Very informative, and… I think Jack Layton did a really good job. I loved how Stephen Harper initiated the attack on the Liberal campaign and Stephane Dion; then all of a sudden the other four party leaders completely blasted Harper and the Conservatives for their failure of a government for the past two years. I believe they were right on.

Another thing I believe is that the Conservatives are more and more like the Republicans of the States. Harper and the Conservatives as of yet do not understand the Carbon Tax. I actually got the Liberal campaign booklet and read everything on the Carbon Tax, through every detail and what Dion says was spot on. Although in my last post on the election I said the Carbon Tax was quite useless; I have seen the light! It is a great method to punish those who are to hurt our environment and give back to the people as another benefit. I hope the Conservatives understand this.

Now, another thing I need to add is that… WOW! I am so surprised about Elizabeth May and her Green Party’s platform. It’s quite amazing I must say. I thought as a special interest party environment and a few other things were all the Green Party had, but to my constant undisputed belief; the Green Party had a lot to offer the average Canadian and Elizabeth May fought on par with all the other party leaders. If I had a second party to vote for other than the NDP, it would be the Green Party all the way.

I found the Bloc Quebecois leader Gille Duceppe quite… How should I say, useless? Although he was right about many things, he just seemed like he was unnecessary on the debate table. Though I found him to say that he would never become Prime Minister an admirable thing. At least he knows where he stands and does not act as if he could topple over all other parties with what there is available to the Bloc at this moment.

Now, Harper just got attacked throughout the debate. Of course he is the current government and that is to be expected; but in such an incredulous amount? That I don’t think so. I think Harper and the Conservatives deserved every attack aimed at them. Canada has fallen into deficit and dropped out of one of the best Kyoto protocols and even entered Afghanistan and the Conservatives had the nerve to cut funds to the arts! The arts a major thing to the Canadian people, and the defence or “repair” of Afghanistan was not an interest Canada was so strong to pursue. Canada to many Canadians, myself included has faced away from it’s peaceful presence in the world.

The Conservatives have offered no plan for the next government and  the people are completely lost about the Conservatives. I am appalled to see many die-hard Conservatives tell me that they’re just voting on what the last government was about. I believe Harper should understand what responsibilities he really has. Just because  you cut 95, 000 jobs and created 100, 000 is nothing to be proud of. The 95, 000 lost were high paying, good jobs to raise a family on and live a good life. The 100, 000 are labour jobs by working at minimum wage. Harper relied on this so much during the debate, and I was so greatly angered by him just praying on this argument. I don’t think he knows exactly what it’s like to lose a good job and try to find one on par with the last. Another thing is that the new offenders act by Harper is disgusting. Fourteen year olds should NOT spend life in prison with adults. That is conflicting of the rights of a child.

Only one big thought on the Liberals. I like their campaign a lot; and pragmatically, they have fed off very well from the other parties to improve themselves for today’s day and age. But Stephane Dion as the leader is something I do not like. Yes, he is strong in French, but during the debate I could not fully make out whatever he was saying. I think if he wants to see himself as Prime Minister, he needs to improve on his English language skills and better communication with his ideas as I don’t think he can speak of them so well as he should. This might be mean, but guys, this is a candidate for the highest position in our country.

Hehehe… Time to comment on my NDP! Jack Layton! I think he might just cut being a good Prime Minister. It seems over the years he has his platform well memorized and it is very beneficial to the average Canadian. His attacks on the Conservatives were very well done. Why? Because he backed it up with what the NDP would do in exchange. I love the health care plan to get more doctors. It is something stolen  from Cuba, but then again, if it worked in Cuba, then surely of course, it would work in Canada. The CMA is greatly diminishing potential doctors and it is time to get those oldies to realize that public healthcare is the way to go. Private healthcare is not in the interest of Canada.

The debate was very good, and I wish it was longer. Eight questions were not enough. Especially when immigration was not tackled at all; I think this is a major issue that should have been questioned.