Tag Archives: bigotry

Criminalizing Love in Small Town NY

19 Feb

Jamestown City Council President Greg Rabb has been instrumental in turning the Chautauqua County city known as the birthplace of Lucille Ball into a same sex marriage destination.  When Rabb first proposed the idea in 2012, he was threatened. (More here). 

But it’s been quite the little bonanza for the city, and Mr. Rabb penned this letter to the local paper

To The Reader’s Forum:

Marriage equality went into effect almost two and a half years ago. During that time it has been my pleasure as a City Marriage Officer to perform sometimes as many as 10 same-sex marriages per week. Couples have come to Jamestown from as many as 20 different states and every continent in the world. My goal was to make Jamestown a same-sex marriage destination and we have succeeded.

Couples stay in hotels, eat at restaurants, and reserve local venues for receptions including the Lucy-Desi Museum. Doing what is right has been good for business without the city having to spend a dime on promotion but relying on word of mouth.

Every couple has remarked to me how friendly everyone in Jamestown has been and how warmly they have been received resorting in referrals to their friends to get married in Jamestown by an openly gay city councilman.

In addition, we have been fighting poverty by waiving my fee and asking the couples to donate to St. Susan’s Center, our local soup kitchen, providing hundreds of meals each week to Jamestown residents in need. The couples have been very generous writing checks in 100, 200, and 300 dollar amountsall out of state money. I drop hundreds of dollars off to St. Susan’s each week without them having to do anything other than continuing their good work.

I knew marriage equality was the right thing to do and thanks to everyone in Jamestown and beyond it has turned out to be a good thing as well.

I bring this up not to brag about my work but to celebrate this community and the wonderful loving gay and lesbian couples it has been my pleasure to bring together in marriage celebrating their love.

Happy New Year!

Gregory Rabb

Jamestown

President, Jamestown City Council

Everybody wins, right? 

Here’s how one resident responded

In order to justify his own personal crusade, he claims, “Doing what is right has been good for business without the city having to spend a dime.” But does that really justify imposing his own personal deviant views on an entire community? Same sex marriage is unfortunately legal in New York State, but Rabb doesn’t stop there; instead, he wants to make our community a magnet for homosexuality.

Frankly, this is offensive, as well as an abuse of office. Again, who authorized our Council President to pursue this goal? Nobody. And it’s questionable whether his self-appointed social experiment is really reaping any economic benefits to the city and surrounding area.

But even if there were financial benefits shouldn’t there be some discussion as to whether we want to pursue this route to economic gain? In Lakewood, there’s discussion as to whether an adult porn shop should be granted permission to do business. No doubt one argument in favor of the porno store is that it helps grow the local business economy, but an argument against it would be the many negative social consequences, such as its potential harmful effects on families, youth, etc. Rabb seems to bypass all discussion in his crusade by using his office to promote Jamestown as a gay marriage headquarters. He says he’s “doing good” and “doing what is right.” Says whom? What’s next, an annual Jamestown gay pride parade with drag queens and transgenders celebrating their perversity? Wouldn’t that generate revenue? Or how about opening up a few gay bathhouses? Surely these would attract more people to Jamestown and boost local businesses.

No thank you. Greg Rabb’s vision for Jamestown is to make it into a gaudy, cheap and tawdry Pottersville. And that’s not “A Wonderful Life.”

Pastor Jeff Short

Jamestown

And another one

When a nation founded on God’s principles and greatly blessed by Him turns to brazen rebellion, we know what happens. Old Testament history and prophets’ writings record the glaring example of Israel.

Billy Graham recently said “Self-centered indulgence, pride, and a lack of shame over sin are now emblems of the American lifestyle. Our society strives to avoid the possibility of offending anyone – except God.”

Ruth Graham once remarked, “If God doesn’t punish America, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah” (see Matthew 11:20-24). Sodom and Gomorrah were prideful, materialistic, and “gave themselves over to sexual immorality and pursued unnatural lust” – becoming a byword through the ages for homosexuality. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with a fiery cataclysm; they were never rebuilt. See Genesis 19, Ezekiel 16:49-50, 2 Peter 2:6, Jude 7.

Extensive research, including by the GLMA, continues finding that homosexuals – even in “gay-friendly” countries like Holland – have much higher rates of disease, drug and alcohol abuse, mood/anxiety disorders, battering, and suicide than heterosexuals.

Recent Dutch research found that even gay men with a steady partner averaged 8 sexual partners per year. 40% of homosexual men have a history of major depression, compared to 3% for men overall.

Yet such living is celebrated and called good? “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20).

God’s Word is clear about homosexuality (Romans 1:26-28, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 1 Timothy 1:9-11, Jude 7), and Jesus gave the eternal definition of marriage in Matthew 19:1-12.

But many American leaders today have the “Jehoiakim attitude.” This wicked Jewish monarch rejected, cut in pieces, and burned the Word of God.

When a town elects leaders that rebel against God to the point that “same-sex marriage” is proudly extolled, and it becomes a “same-sex marriage destination,” that town has invited God’s judgment. If you think Jamestown has problems now, just watch.

God is saying to the people of Jamestown today, “Wake up and repent, for you have welcomed a Trojan horse!”

Randall S. Braley

Jamestown

Remember that hatred, ignorance, and bigotry is ubiquitous. People will wrap a warm blanket of scripture around their hatred, implying moral certitude. What this shows is that people who are completely unaffected by others’ love want to criminalize it nonetheless. 

How sad for us. 

Casual Anti-Semitism

29 Dec

Someone alerted me to this Twitter status, posted by someone with whom I had argued several months ago. I looked to see if anyone following him had anything to say about it, and no one did – neither positive nor negative.

On what planet is this sort of thing acceptable? Why do people just let this go?

 

The Lasting Erosion of Paladino’s Credibility #nygov

2 Aug

It’s always best to release horribly embarrassing, awful news on Friday afternoon. Especially in the summertime. If Bass Pro blows up in everyone’s face on that particular Friday, it’s a trifecta of win.

So it was that Carl Paladino took advantage of the busy Bass Pro Friday to call givesies-backsies on a pledge he made on TV just a day earlier. Appearing on NY1 (the NYC version of YNN) on Wednesday evening, Thursday’s news cycle was lousy with news of Paladino’s pledge not to be a “spoiler” should he lose the Republican primary to Rick Lazio.

“If we don’t win the Republican primary we’re going to be gone at that point, because we’re not going to be a spoiler to someone running against Andrew Cuomo and taking him down,’’ Paladino says in an interview on “Inside City Hall.” “Andrew Cuomo is the poster child for everything that the people don’t want in government anymore.”

It’s as if Paladino suddenly became a reasonable political player, pledging party/ideological unity should his efforts fail in September.

So, on Friday afternoon, he news-dumped his givesies-backsies:

I am so confident of victory in the New York Republican Primary that I spoke hastily this week on “Inside City Hall” and said I would be gone if I did not win the Republican Primary. Many in the Tea Party movement and more of my supporters expressed extreme displeasure immediately. They want me to carry the fight for reform into the Fall with the Taxpayers Line. I owe it to them and our State to examine the circumstances after the GOP primary, when I believe this issue will be moot.

The fight for reform is bigger than any party. It is tragic that the New York State Conservative Party violated their birthright by designating a liberal Republican, so the formation of the Taxpayers line is required. Therefore I will preserve all my options until after the Primary.

Paladino’s entire campaign now is marked by lying for a downstate audience, bestiality, racism, and anti-Muslim bigotry. There was once a time when Paladino was at least respected locally as a no-nonsense guy who was unafraid to speak his mind about issues affecting Buffalo, and what he said usually made a tremendous amount of sense. He was once seen as the only guy who would unabashedly take on entrenched interests like the teachers’ unions or local professional obstructionists (fka “preservationists”).

But since deciding to spend his money on a quixotic statewide campaign, and switching his political allegiance from the Democratic Party to the tea party movement, he has become not just some no-nonsense, tough-talking Republican political actor. He has instead become a shrill, angry, and hateful little man with a shallow platform featuring violent rhetoric. The unhinged demagoguing of the Cordoba House/Park51 Community Center/Mosque that will be located a few blocks from Ground Zero and the already-extant Masjid Manhattan is the icing on the hatecake.

Paladino’s real estate holdings will remain lucrative for the foreseeable future thanks to his extensive governmental contracts. He’ll therefore have plenty of money to make noise, and the local media will pay attention in the hopes that he’ll say something crazy – not a tall order. But as far as being a voice for economic progress in WNY, he’ll be judged more by his deeds, because as evidenced by this whole third party spoiler nonsense, he’s lost a tremendous amount of credibility.

Feelings.

20 Jul

Brian responds disapprovingly to my post about the anti-Muslim bigotry that seems to be more important to Rick Lazio and Carl Paladino than the Bill of Rights to the Constitution. He says that the Cordoba House “can” be built, but disagrees over whether it “should”.

Pundit starts with a fabulous quote from lightning rod Sarah Palin, and continues with a list of “bigot” politicians. Choosing to start a discussion with a list of the hot-button politicians who support (or refudiate) something is an excellent tactic for missing the point. It gets everyone riled up (39 comments and counting), instantly dividing everyone into camps who can safely retreat to their talking points and name calling, but never gets to the heart of issue. Lazio! Palin! Paladino! Horse Sex! Please. Labeling everyone who opposes the building a Islamic prayer center at that site a bigot or hater of the Constitution is just lazy. Let’s see if we can all take a breath for a second.

Commenting about politics and politicians is what I do. I don’t really care if Joey the longshoreman shows up to the public hearing to rail against Muslims. I do care when people angling to be the leader of all New Yorkers do so. The heart of the issue is the fact that there are, in this day and age, politicians who still feel comfortable exploiting ethnic, racial, or religious differences for political gain. I call it bigotry because if not that, it’s just opportunistic cynicism. Finally, I didn’t mention horse sex, and I didn’t “label everyone who opposes the building … a bigot or hater of the Constitution.” So, who’s calling whom lazy?

Can Imam Feisel Abdul Rauf and his Sufi organization (a very very different form of Islam from even mainstream Islam, much less the hate-filled brand practiced by Al Qaeda and jihadist groups in Pakistan) build a mosque/cultural center two blocks from Ground Zero? Of course it can. But should it? That’s a different question.

In America we focus on the Can and not the Should. The Constitution and (specifically) the Bill of Rights provide us a sturdy six sided box of protections. Within the box, you are free to do as you choose. You can say what you want, be what religion you want, get what job you want, and build what you want, on your own land, within building codes. But why must we thrash about in the box, with no regard for others, as violently as possible? Some say we are our most American when we constantly test the limits of the box. Perhaps, but not the parts we should be most proud of. Let me argue for a bit of temperance, empathy, and taste.

Realizing that Brian isn’t your typical mouth-breathing right-winger, I’ll exclude him from my observation that right-wingers are the first to mock political correctness as bleeding heart liberalism run amok. I don’t understand the objection to what amounts to an Islamic YMCA. As I pointed out in my post, there are myriad religious structures and organizations within a few blocks of what used to be the World Trade Center site. Manhattan isn’t a place that enjoys Buffalo’s sprawl – where you can just get Benderson to cut down some cornfields and build you a brand-new plaza.

If the organization wanted a location in lower Manhattan, which is shaped like an arrowhead, it’s somewhat unavoidable that it will be near the World Trade Center. How many blocks would be acceptable, Brian? If two blocks is too much, would four blocks do? Five? Six? What arbitrary and capricious line shall we draw in terms of not trampling on people’s feelings?

Furthermore, while Brian admits that the Islamic group that wants to build this project isn’t even remotely close to the ideology of the expansionist al Qaeda terrorists who committed 9/11, he backhandedly equates them by stating that it would be better to succumb to ignorance, and choose a different spot out of a concern for others’ feelings. Since when did people’s feelings trump Constitutional freedoms, anyway? Apart from the fact that these people pray to a different God, in a different way, in a different direction, read a different book, and follow different religious rules, what possible objection is there to this?

If we’re talking about showing due respect to 9/11, then I answer (1) Muslims died in 9/11 – why is their faith excluded from any discussion of that tragedy, except as scapegoats? (2) There are several strip clubs within a couple of blocks of 9/11. Shall we close those, too? Is the World Trade Center site to become a downtown Vatican City? Purity cleansing New York’s density and diversity?

What is in bad taste about just another building in a city full of buildings? An Islamic cultural center in a city full of Muslims?

Simply because it is legal and allowable to do something, doesn’t mean it is sensitive to do so. In a civilized society we should be able to empathize with the whole and not just concentrate on what I am able to do now. Placing a symbol of the motivating force behind a terrible act of violence at the scene of that violence is legal, but distasteful. Protestants should not build a new church (even a Unitarian Universalist one) at the site of the Bloody Sunday Massacre in Northern Ireland, or on top of the ex-home of a killed abortion provider. The Japanese should not put it’s consulate near Pearl Harbor. Confederate flags should not be flown near sites of lynchings of African-Americans in the South. This project’s organizer’s tin ear is Constitutional, but unfortunate. Someday it would be wonderful if the Carnegie Center for Peace wanted to establish a center for communion and understanding in Baghdad . . . but maybe it shouldn’t be in Abu Ghraib. Such decisions, while not legally binding, show a sensitivity this project lacks.

You see this as a religious provocation. In all of your examples, it represents rubbing one’s nose in. Why didn’t you include a neo-Nazi rally at Auschwitz, or al Qaeda opening up a murder stand in Battery Park City?

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that there are probably tens of thousands of Muslims who live or work within walking distance of this Cordoba House – the group that is proposing to build a cultural center / YMCA two blocks from what used to be the World Trade Center. Do they insult the sanctity of the World Trade Center site by having the constitutional audacity of living their lives nearby? You treat this as if al Qaeda was proposing to build a monument of grenades in the shape of an extended middle finger on the site of the World Trade Center mass murder. Yet you already acknowledged that this group is nothing at all like al Qaeda, except that they all call themselves Muslims.

I protest this development not out of bigotry, and the whole Islamic faith is not a scapegoat here. The 19 hijackers were Arab, but this is not a protest against an Arab cultural center. The 19 hijackers were men, but there is not a protest against the men’s portion of the health club. This is not the cudgel of ignorance seeking a target. Let’s be honest here – could President Bush even spell “jihad” before 9/11? The Islamic faith is the sticking point because the 19 hijackers not only self-identified as Muslim, but they used that faith as sole justification of their horrific actions. They did not attack for money, race, or politics, particularly (though the line between faith and politics is not at all clear in orthodox Islam). Simply calling all terrorists crazy, or extremists, and sticking one’s head in the sand, out of a misguided sense of acceptance or understanding, to ignore that basic truth does a disservice to our understanding of history, and removes a key relevant fact from the story of what happened at Ground Zero to all victims of all faiths. The brand of Islam that motivated the hijackers may bear little resemblance to the Sufi version of the Cordoba House organizers. But a whitewash serves no one. This is why an Islamic Cultural Center stirs such emotion, when other projects would not.

One could argue that the 19 hijackers attacked out of a retarded bastardization of the Muslim faith – one where all Jews and Christians must be eliminated to make way for the next Caliphate. That’s not religion, that’s political. And protest as much as you want, but by making this plea for “empathy” you do equate the Cordoba House with al Qaeda solely because the former is a Muslim human enrichment organization, and the latter is a Muslim terrorist organization.

You don’t link the thread between:

I protest this development not out of bigotry, and the whole Islamic faith is not a scapegoat here … The brand of Islam that motivated the hijackers may bear little resemblance to the Sufi version of the Cordoba House organizers. But a whitewash serves no one. This is why an Islamic Cultural Center stirs such emotion, when other projects would not.

and this:

The Islamic faith is the sticking point because the 19 hijackers not only self-identified as Muslim, but they used that faith as sole justification of their horrific actions.

In other words, even though you’re enlightened enough to realize that the Cordoba House isn’t even remotely the same thing as al Qaeda, and even though all Muslims shouldn’t be relegated to second-class citizen status thanks to al Qaeda, in this particular instance you’re going to lump them all together and make them second-class citizens because people more ignorant than you will be offended, their feelings hurt.

Maybe – just maybe – it’s time for people who aren’t ignorant to stand up for not being ignorant. Maybe it’s time to explain to our less informed brethren that no, not all Muslims are terrorists and Islam didn’t attack the US on 9/11 (neither did Saddam Hussein), but al Qaeda did. And al Qaeda isn’t Cordoba House, regardless of which direction they pray in, or how many times per day.

I protest this development out of a sense of the liberal (small “l”) ideals of tolerance, empathy to the victims and families, decency, and taste. I’m sure there are many Muslims in downtown Manhattan in need of this center. Those Muslims are not to blame, from their faith alone, for 9/11. They did nothing wrong. But that doesn’t mean the new center has to be two blocks from Ground Zero. Build it somewhere else.

There is nothing indecent or distasteful about a religious organization in a dense and diverse city choosing a location for a non-confrontational, non-terroristic cultural/sports facility in that city’s financial district. Part of the beauty of New York and New Yorkers is that they all live side-by-side, not really giving a crap whether so-and-so is Muslim or Jewish or Christian, because the city welcomes everyone from everywhere.

To oppose this project because of the organizers’ faith is to equate them with al Qaeda, your protestations to the contrary notwithstanding. When ignorant politicians rile up the ignorant to score political points, I’m not being lazy. What’s lazy is to argue that we should succumb to the prejudices of the ignorant, rather than making the effort to educate and inform them.

Here’s a video that was produced to inflame the passions and feelings of the ignorant. It includes the line that this “13-story mosque” “on Ground Zero” and that “that mosque is a monument to their victory, and an invitation to war”. It’s got 244 thousand views, and was featured by Andrew Breitbart.

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Now tell me that this isn’t about ignorance and bigotry.

When Bigotry Trumps the Constitution

19 Jul

Under the Establishment Clause, if a government bans the construction of a mosque – it’s really not any more a mosque than the YMCA or YWCA or the JCC are churches or temples – at 51 Park Place because of its supposed proximity to the World Trade Center site in New York City, then there can be no religious structures or monuments of any kind within that same radius. (That means you, St Paul’s & St. Nicholas! Bye-bye, Y! And other Y!) That prohibition, however, would be violative of the Free Exercise clause.

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Therefore, Rick Lazio and Carl Paladino think that anti-Muslim bigotry is more important than the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Put another way, to Rick Lazio and Carl Paladino, being a bigot is more important than being an American. It’s good to know that an unemployed woman from Wasilla, Alaska knows what’s best for Manhattan. Refudiate!