Tag Archives: Park51

60 Minutes On the Park51 Project

27 Sep

Not many stories about Park51 include interviews with both Pamela Geller and Imam Rauf, but 60 Minutes’ does.  It’s well worth the almost 13 minutes.

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A Modest Proposal

21 Sep

Dear Opponents of the Ground Zero Mosque,

Even in sleepy Buffalo, we keep up on national events. We’ve been following the fight against Park 51, the new Islamic Community Center a couple blocks from the World Trade Center, and I have to say we’re disappointed.

First, that whole Islamophobia thing is undeserved and unbecoming. Not only is this America, but you’re New York City, historic home and welcomer of immigrants. Religious groups have the right to build centers of worship on private land in this country. That’s the way it should be. Yes, we get the whole sacred site issue. But fear-mongering and hatred are never right, and you’re better than that.

But secondly, and most importantly, we’re disappointed because you’re so bad at stopping this development. Eminent domain and politically inspired fundraising investigations (when Park51 has only raised $10,000, after all) are ham-handed and beneath you. Far be it for us to opine, but we’ve mastered the art of development impediment in Buffalo, and trample on private property rights for reasons far more shallow than a national tragedy. We have some tips for you – the sledgehammer you are using is not nearly passive aggressive enough to be successful.

Remember, in 2010, fear is bigotry, and pleas for temperance, consideration, and understanding are invalid. But architectural outrage and offense over foundations unbuilt to the curb is the highest form of political discourse.

So try this instead. You don’t have to do them in this order, but we’ve found these usually work:

Add the Burlington Coat factory to the National Register of Historic Places: But it’s just a Burlington Coat Factory, you say? That building was built in the 1850’s. We add everything from then to the register. We call it “pre-Civil War” or “Canal-era.” I’m sure you can come up with a name. And don’t worry about the local Landmark Preservation Commission voting not to protect it. The State of New York makes the call on NRHP packages, and they’ll approve anything. You should see the stuff in Buffalo that makes the list. This isn’t all Teddy Roosevelt’s Inauguration site, let me tell you.

Say the Park51 mosque does not follow an urban development plan: We have tons of plans in Buffalo, and don’t follow any of them. I’m sure you can dust off a Port Authority plan from the 1980’s that says that block should be [insert restrictive use here], and a community center is not in keeping with the intended highest and best use blah blah blah. You get the idea.

Demand a Community Benefits Agreement: Normally these are done when there is a significant outlay of public money. But considering this center will be used to foster inter-faith dialogue and heal the wounds of 9/11, I’m sure you can say such a public high profile building requires that the community see some tangible financial benefit. LEED certification, all union workers, and a living wage for all employees is a good place to start. I’m sure when the building cost balloons to $30 million, and a living wage for the janitors living in Lower Manhattan is found to be north of $100K a year, the Park51 backers will have second thoughts.

Complain about traffic: This one may be tougher for you, since no one in their right mind drives in that neighborhood anyway. But require a traffic study, and demand the Park51 owners show that bringing 1000 people to the center will not increase traffic anywhere in a three block radius. Impossible, you say? That’s the point. Which reminds us . . .

Gripe about parking: If there is no parking, demand it. If there is parking, decry it. They can’t win. We love this one.

Appeal to the Zoning Board: But its already within zoning guidelines? Demand special conditions. Our zoning board specifies the hours of operation of businesses before granting permission. I’m sensing midnight to 5am. See: Traffic, above.

Ask the Lenape Indian Tribe to declare that address as sovereign land: No, I’m not kidding. Don’t worry, they can just claim that one spot, not the whole island again. I know, right? Can you believe it? Yeah, really. I know, I get it. Hmmmm.

But seriously, you should try it.

Say the design sucks: It is very important during this portion of the process that you say you fully support Park51, you just don’t want to throw up every time you look at the building.  I mean, look at that. You have a lot of potential here. The modern nature of the design clearly does not fit into the historic character of the surrounding neighborhood. The opaque outer skin, with Middle-Eastern inspired grill work underneath, is a mismatch of styles that completely fails to inspire. The historic structures to either side are painted cream, not grey, as shown in the artist’s rendering – it would be obvious how jarringly the colors clash if the correct hues were used. The unformly horizontal shape is lifeless, and reminds me more of the monolith from 2001 than a center for learning and healing. And we haven’t even yet mentioned how this construction does not comply with the MillionTreesNYC initiative. I’m sure when you add the required greenery in front (on the sidewalk only – still build to the curb, of course), the entire front facade will have to be rethought. If we can do it in Buffalo for unglazed exterior finishes, you can do it for this abomination.

When in doubt, sue: Just pick one of the issues above, and seek an injunction. Cases need not have merit to succeed at this tactic – investors will often pull out just because the suit is filed in the first place. A couple years of property taxes paid by stymied developers, while the site remains on the tax rolls, should help do the trick. 

Some combination of those methods have proven successful here for the last fifty years. If we think of any more, we’ll be sure to drop a line. Good Luck!

Yours truly, from Canada,

The City of No Illusions

Paladino: No Abortion Even for Rape/Incest

15 Sep
CNN

Image via Wikipedia

This afternoon, CNN’s Rick Sanchez interviewed Carl Paladino.  The media here locally are so enamored of Paladino and rely on access to him that in 6 months, they haven’t asked him as many pointed & tough questions as Sanchez did in one CNN segment.

Among the news broken, Paladino doesn’t consider Islam to really be a religion, but an “ideology”, and he opposes abortion under any circumstances, even going so far as mandating that a rape or incest victim bring the baby to term.

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Not Like This

14 Sep

It’s Primary Day in New York State. Soon we’ll know how far to the Right the GOP has tacked in yet another state. The results, in other states until now, have been extreme. I’m a Republican, and even Conservative once in a while, and I want my party to win elections and policy debates. But I don’t want to win like this.

I’d like John Beohner to be the new Speaker of the House come November (and if you want any legislation passed between Nov 2010 and Nov 2012, you should too, but that’s another article for another time). But I don’t want to elect 50 Tea Partiers to make it happen.

I want to retake the US Senate as well. But we should do it with seven Scott Brown’s, not seven Sharron Angle’s.

I want the Islamic Community Center at Park51 to consider other buildings sites, that weren’t hit by aircraft debris in the 9/11 attacks. But I don’t want Muslim taxi drivers slashed, existing mosques to be intimidated, and property at mosque construction sites around the country to be attacked to make it happen. 

The country needs to have a discussion about Islam in America, nine year late. There has been no rise in this country of extremist Islamic-related violence, such as honor killings and female genital mutilation. There have been no open street riots of young Muslim men, as in France and other parts of Europe. Yes, there have been several attempted high profile terrorist attacks, but no more lately than in the last 20 years. There has been no new information that American Muslims are unable to integrate in our ethnic tossed salad. And yet, Islamophobes and their motivated apologist adversaries are waging a screaming match at the fringes out of touch with reality. But which responsible national figure can speak? President Obama can try, and should, but will be ignored (at best) or derided (not quite the worst) by the 58% of Americans who mistakenly believe he himself is secretly Muslim, or at least not Christian. How can you start an open and honest discussion when so many think you’re hiding something. But what Republican figure can speak? Guiliani? I don’t know.

The Republican Party is a rudderless ship. I do not believe Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are the leaders of my party. But that argument is harder and harder to make when the stage is bare. Nature famously abhors a vacuum. If Mitch McConnell or John McCain (or . . . . who?) doesn’t step forward to lead this party, then Palin runs it by default.

George W. Bush looks like Winston Churchill compared to the quality of leadership we have now. Ahh, the good old days, when Bush could barely speak, but also made it clear the United States was at war with Al Qaeda, not the entire Muslim faith, and certainly not the average Muslim American citizen, working a job and sending his kids to school like everyone else. President Obama says that we are not at war with Islam. True, but unhelpful. The better question is, how much of Islam is at war with us? Its a question no politician openly asks or answers.

Instead, Rush and Beck and Palin (and doubly unfortunate, Gingrich too) deliberately misinform, and are exceedingly unhelpful in the process of people of reasonable intent trying to make a good faith effort to solve delicate problems. There is no adult to tell them to shut up. So they prattle on.

Imagine if the Park51/Ground Zero Mosque debate had gone something like this:

A middle-of-the-road Imam (which means probably too conservative and Pro-Arab for the average American, but certainly not a threat or danger or deserving of mistrust) wishes to build a community center near Ground Zero. While a naturalized American citizen, he misreads popular culture, and the effect this will have. The building touches a delicate, sensitive nerve. Maybe not a nerve everyone is proud of, but nerve none the less. Where could this have gone?

We won’t know, because it has descended into screaming matches, protests, rallies, and a race to the bottom in the Republican gubernatorial primary.

A leader would recognize the legitimate issue beneath the raw nerves and affronted feelings. That issue: what is sacred? How did New York City decide one patch of ground was sacred (the site of the two towers), and other ground was not? Whether this question was assumed, misunderstood, glossed over, debated, or not considered at all, it was at least not adequately answered. Imam Rauf, among others, has noted the strip clubs and OTB parlors nearby, and asks how a house of prayer can be any worse. Good point, but it doesn’t change the fact that many NYers want to have a debate now, after nine years of rebuilding and not when the strip club reopened, about what is sacred. They are the general public – they get a do-over. Now, what to do about it?

A leader would find a compromise. Mine? Form a commission of victim’s families, religious leaders of all faiths, local community leaders, and the National Park Service. Have them discuss (or re-discuss) what is the sacred ground of the 9/11 attack. Just the WTC? Any building hit by parts of a plane? Any building with human remains? How small? The Park Service is there to professionally lead the discussion, since they have experience caring for sacred sites across the US. The others are there to make the decision. Once a site is deemed sacred, they decide what to do about it. Kick out the current tenants, strip clubs and betting parlors first? If they could “clean up” Times Square in the interest of tourism alone, they can figure out a way to do this. Grandfather existing businesses in? Write new zoning laws? Open the door wide again to any legitimate business, reflecting the reality of a busy lower Manhattan? That would be up the commission to decide. But whatever the decision, the community would finally have the conversation that obviously has been simmering and waiting to happen. I am normally not a fan of busy-body citizen boards and endless public hearings. But if Buffalo can discuss Canalside for ten years, and then start over from the drawing board to chat all over again, then an issue this big deserves time it hasn’t had.

Will this happen? Of course not. The rudderless ship of my party does not have the imagination, political capital, or courage to do it. The Democrats would never give up their righteous indignation or self-identified moral high ground to have such a discussion. The fringes will argue until the issue fades after the November election, and die with a whimper when there isn’t enough money to build Park51 anyway.

NY Progressive Bloggers’ Statement Re: Park51 / Cordoba House

11 Sep

New York State Progressive Bloggers’ Joint Statement Regarding Park51 / Cordoba House

September 11th, 2010

“Ultimately, America’s answer to the intolerant man is diversity, the very diversity which our heritage of religious freedom has inspired.”

– Robert F. Kennedy, U.S. Senator from New York, 1965-1968

We, the undersigned, are progressive bloggers from across New York State.  We write, report, and opine about the politics, culture, and economies of our diverse communities.  Since the 17th Century, New York State has been a gateway to the New World for people from all over the world – of every color, nation, and creed. Openness, tolerance, and diversity are what made New York great.  The movement of people, ideas, and commerce westward to America’s frontier was made possible by all New Yorkers.

The rights guaranteed to us as citizens of New York and the United States are blind to religion or race.  We, the undersigned, extend our hands in friendship to Muslim New Yorkers – who, like people of any faith, share our common hopes and dreams for themselves and their children.

In 2001, violent extremists indiscriminately murdered and injured thousands of innocent New Yorkers, including hundreds of Muslims.  Those extremists committed their crime in the name of Islam, perverting it into a message of hatred and fear.  We remember starkly the pain of this attack, and have overwhelming compassion for its victims and survivors.

But we cannot allow a hateful act to engender new hate.  American values, principles, and rights should not be jettisoned because they are claimed by, or owed to, a particular faith whose name was horribly abused. We New York State bloggers believe it is our duty to stand up for the values that make America great – that our laws and Constitution apply equally to all – Muslim and Christian; Jew and Gentile; believers and non-believers.

We, therefore, support and defend the right of Muslim New Yorkers to build a community center on privately owned land in Lower Manhattan.

Signed,

Phillip Anderson (The Albany Project), Alan Bedenko (BuffaloPundit/WNYMedia.net), Rich Boatti (The Albany Project), Michael Bouldin (The Daily Gotham), Adama D. Brown (GlowDemocrats), Ezra Ford (Jefferson Democrat), Brian Keeler (The Albany Project), Cynthia Kouril (Firedoglake), Elana Levin, David Michaelson (The Daily Gotham), Mark Odien (WNYMedia.net), Liza Sabater (CultureKitchen), Chris Smith (WNYMedia.net), Andrew C. White (The Albany Project)

The Back-to-School Five-Posts-in-One Sale

8 Sep

A few articles for you to take a look at and consider:

1. Chris Collins is a plucky, stubborn sort who likes to “run government like a business that tells everyone to go fuck themselves and take me to court if you don’t like it.”  The Buffalo News scores his head-butting so far.  I suspect that the Collins administration acts as a sort of real-life example of what a Paladino governorship might look like.  A lot of tough, obnoxious talk – a lot of demonization of enemies both real and imagined – efforts to change things through confrontation and litigation, rather than compromise – and in the end, not very much really ends up changing.  We’d not be changing the game – just the way we play it.

2. NYPA is to keep in WNY more money from energy generated in WNY. This is a good thing. Specifically, the proceeds of NYPA’s sale of unused hydro power would go into a fund to help economic development in Erie and Niagara Counties.  Predictably, there is disagreement as to how much money we’re really talking about.  The consensus seems to be that it’s “a lot”.

3.  In Artvoice, Bruce Fisher wonders why it is that the Buffalo Niagara Partnership – what passes for our local “chamber of commerce” and is charged with, among other things, attracting businesses to this region – talks about how badly it sucks here with such regularity.  His conclusion:

If neutral outside observers praise our cultural, architectural, and landscape fabric, and also praise our cost-effectiveness, and note that there is positive economic growth even as our population shrinks, and that there could be more if we clean up our water, then why is the messaging from our business community so relentlessly negative?

The answer, simply, is that there are two economies here. There is real economy of the producer, the consumer, the merchant, and the much-maligned public sector; the latter, all told, constitutes about one-fifth of the workforce and the payroll. That’s the economy that seems to work positively.

And then there is the economy of those in the business world here who live by the big public project—the bankers and their various support personnel, the engineering and construction firms, and about 3,000 workers (out of a regional workforce of over 550,000) whose leading voices tell this community that massive, disruptive change is needed, or else, as the Partnership’s bow-tied leader recently said, we should all move to Florida, which is the home of America’s most enormous object lesson in what happens when you turn the economy over to real-estate developers and bankers.

I don’t agree with everything Fisher says in his piece, nor with his breakdown of, essentially “good” and “bad” development in Buffalo, and I think he’s ignoring the pervasive and disproportionately strong influence that the big-money foundations have in this community and what gets done here, but it’s a thought-provoking piece, nonetheless.

4. While the commander of American forces in Afghanistan practically begs some asshat in Florida to not hold “burn a Koran day” on September 11th because it’s sort of pissing off the 100% Muslim population of American-occupied Afghanistan, Feisel Abdul Rauf writes in the New York Times in defense of the Park51 community center planned for a site a few blocks away from New York’s World Trade Center site.  The protestations against Park51 stink like an anti-Muslim Kristallnacht more and more each day.

5. The New York Times conducts an “analysis” into Carl Paladino’s status as a big-time Albany insider who likes to play a game of make-believe about being an apolitical tea party activist rich guy.  Seems similar to the analysis done by writers at WNYMedia.net back in March and April.

Losing the Narrative, Always

29 Aug

I don’t understand how or why normal people cede the narrative on cultural issues to the cynical-hysterical ultra-right. I’m thinking specifically about the Park51 non-Ground Zero non-mosque, but it happens all the time. The right wing noise machine starts out with its daily talking points, Drudge, Fox News, which then morphs to talk radio and occasionally blogs. By the time the day is over, many people repeat the lies as fact, and they become the basis of the debate. All normal people are left to do is to try and rebut the lies, but the damage has already been done – the narrative has been set.

That’s why we’re busy rebutting the notion that this is an evil victory mosque set up by an extreme terrorist sympathizing imam who is taking money from al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and other Muslim terrorist groups that don’t get along at all. It’s why the Republicans who are demagoguing this nontroversy frame it as not so much a question of religious freedom, but one of feelings. Oh, sure it’s legal and they can’t be legally stopped, they argue. But that’s hallowed ground, near the Amish Market deli, the OTB, and the topless bar. That place is sacred! – it’s two blocks from Ground Zero, around the corner from two extant mosques in the neighborhood. It’s not that all Muslims are terrorists, but all the 9/11 terrorists were Muslim!

It’s a load of reverse-political-correctness bullshit. Hell, Carl Paladino – the forwarder of horse porn and emails containing the word “nigger” – the guy who idiotically calls the Governor a “drug addict” – the guy who wants to herd the poor and unemployed into decommissioned penitentiaries – the tea partier who wants to create a nouveau New Deal make-work program – the guy who (also) called Shelly Silver the anti-Christ – the guy who thinks the poors are so dirty that the state should teach them hygiene – the family values bullshit artist who has cheated on his wife, and fathered a child she didn’t give birth to – the candidate who wants to turn “three men in a room” to one man in a room – the guy who likened health care reform to 9/11 (I thought 9/11 was too sacred to sully or politicize).

Aside: Just look at that list – it says a lot that an admitted madman (see Beale, Howard) who has said, done, and advocated the things listed above in just four or five months is gaining traction in the Republican primary race. Then again, Lazio is MIA.

I’m sick and tired of the center-left being on the defensive from the get-go on these types of nontroversies, and it makes me quite depressed about the state of our republic that this kind of bullshit can happen so easily, and with such formulaic regularity. Whatever we’re doing isn’t working.

Meanwhile, a New York cabbie with 15 years’ experience named Ahmed Sharif was slashed by alleged drunken douchebag/asshole/slasher Michael Enright of Brewster, NY. Sharif had answered “yes” when Enright asked him if he was Muslim. It may have been alcohol-fueled, but it was also fueled by hatred and fear. That hatred and fear, in turn, was fueled by vicious demagogues like Carl Paladino, Pamela Geller, and other fascists like the little peasant on WBEN at 9am.

It Must Be August #Paladino #NYGov #Park51

23 Aug

Late last week, this happened:

Paladino has criticized New York’s rich menu of social service benefits, which he says encourages illegal immigrants and needy people to live in the state. He has promised a 20 percent reduction in the state budget and a 10 percent income tax cut if elected.

Asked at the meeting how he would achieve those savings, Paladino laid out several plans that included converting underused state prisons into centers that would house welfare recipients. There, they would do work for the state — “military service, in some cases park service, in other cases public works service,” he said — while prison guards would be retrained to work as counselors.

“Instead of handing out the welfare checks, we’ll teach people how to earn their check. We’ll teach them personal hygiene … the personal things they don’t get when they come from dysfunctional homes,” Paladino said.

…and this:

Paladino told The Associated Press the dormitory living would be voluntary, not mandatory, and would give welfare recipients an opportunity to take public, state-sponsored jobs far from home.

“These are beautiful properties with basketball courts, bathroom facilities, toilet facilities. Many young people would love to get the hell out of cities,” Paladino he said.

He also defended his hygiene remarks, saying he had trained inner-city troops in the Army and knows their needs.

“You have to teach them basic things — taking care of themselves, physical fitness. In their dysfunctional environment, they never learned these things,” he said

Under normal circumstances, a traditional candidate for governor of the state of New York would have been long ago disqualified from serving, and his campaign would be in tatters. But because Paladino is a self-funded millionaire, the resources are available to him to say and do utterly ridiculous things and continue to plow ahead.

Like when he called Governor Paterson a “drug addict“, Paladino will neither apologize nor walk back his outrageous and offensive mouthshits. He will instead double down on them, patting himself on the back for not being “politically correct”. Regrettably, literally hundreds of people around the state will be pleased by his defamatory “tough talk”.

The Paladino campaign has succeeded in gaining attention and some traction in the polls, but in so doing Carl has made headlines for sheer idiocy. Whether it was sending out racist & pornographic emails, calling the Governor a “drug addict”, trying to out-pogrom Rick Lazio on the Park51 community center in lower Manhattan, and now this – labor camps for the poors.

And I don’t throw around the term “pogrom” loosely.

A protest against the Park51 project (and Sharia law, and Islam in general) was held in lower Manhattan yesterday, and during it, an African-American carpenter who works on the Ground Zero construction project had the misfortune of walking by the protest wearing a white shirt and white do-rag. Some in the energized crowd mistook him for a Muslim, and he came within inches of being an assault & battery victim.

When people like Carl Paladino, who are unmistakably but inexplicably taken seriously as political candidates say that the Park51 center is a “monument to those who attacked our country” on 9/11, that’s calling every single Muslim a terrorist.

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When you put together the entire equation of what’s happening in that video, including the background lies and hatemongering that have whipped that crowd into that frenzy, this is no different from a contemporary anti-Muslim pogrom. It’s not about 9/11 or insulting the memories of those who perished on that day. Contrary to the bigots’ assertions, this isn’t some “victory mosque” or a coded project to force Americans to submit to Sharia Law. This is, quite frankly, what leads to a Kristallnacht or crosses burning on a lawn. That’s not to say that there are honest people who are genuinely offended by the idea of a mosque. But when you have a frenzied mob aggressively accost an innocent passerby because they think (incorrectly) that he’s Muslim, that goes far beyond the pale.

When Carl goes on about jamming the poors into a decommissioned jail so’s they can get their work on in various parts of the state as a sort of nouveau Civilian Conservation Corps, you have a bunch of interesting stuff going on.

Usually, tea party Republican candidates don’t tout modern-day versions of New Deal government jobs. We can make Carl’s CCC stand for “Carl’s Camps of Couth”. The notion that poor people, or people on government assistance can’t keep themselves clean is offensive on its face and needs no further comment. But, like Carl’s platform plank where he would require welfare recipients to be residents of New York State for a year before receiving benefits, he is uninformed about the law. A residency requirement is not legal. Carl’s assumption that welfare queens sit around having kids all day while smellily watching Maury is based on a pre-1996 vision of government assistance.

It’s a shame that these are the issues we’re discussing when it comes to New York and its dysfunctional government. The word for all of this is “laughingstock“.

Required Reading

22 Aug

There were two articles written in the past 14 days which should be required reading for anyone who wants to have an honest discussion about “financial reform” as proposed by President Obama and passed by Congress or about Park51, aka the “Ground Zero Mosque”.

Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone has provided some of the best analysis and coverage of the financial reform bill and the epic collapse of our financial system in 2008.  He writes in an accessible and biting way that simplifies the issue without dumbing it down.  For instance, his article from April titled, “The Great American Bubble Machine” is required reading for understanding the financial crisis.

The former Buffalo resident and the original editor of the once great Buffalo Beast, has written an article which should have every Obama supporter crying into their Hope T-shirts.

Over a long year of feverish lobbying and brutally intense backroom negotiations, a group of D.C. insiders fought over a single question: Just how much of the truth about the financial crisis should we share with the public? Do we admit that control over the economy in the past dec­ade was ceded to a small group of rapacious criminals who to this day are engaged in a mind-­numbing campaign of theft on a global scale? Or do we pretend that, minus a few bumps in the road that have mostly been smoothed out, the clean-hands capitalism of Adam Smith still rules the day in America? In other words, do people need to know the real version, in all its majestic whorebotchery, or can we get away with some bullshit cover story?

In passing Dodd-Frank, they went with the cover story.

The involvement of the Obama Administration in the construction of that cover story narrative is depressing.

As for the issue of the Park51 story that has become the central Republican created bullshit distraction issue of the election season, Frank Rich of the New York Times pretty much shuts down the dummies with this brilliant Op-Ed.

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?

Also, a couple of required viewing videos from the week that was…

Jon Stewart also destroys right wing talking points on Park51

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The following video is not political in any way, it’s just awesome.  Cee-Lo Green is back…if you’re at work or around kids, I suggest headphones.  The song is excellent, but profane.

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The Park 51 Nontroversy Is Now the Singular Gubernatorial Campaign “Issue”

20 Aug

I just watched Rick Lazio tell me on the teevee how horribly awful a “Ground Zero Mosque” (it’s neither) is, and what an affront to American Americanness and feeling feelingness a Muslim-run equivalent of a YMCA in a densely populated lower Manhattan would be.

Lazio has zero traction, and less money, so it was fascinating to see that this ad was “paid for by the NYS Conservative Party”.

We have a state that’s $9 billion in the hole, a horribly dysfunctional governmental structure, skyrocketing spending and costs, layer upon redundant layer of governments, authorities, and special taxing districts, unfunded mandates hurting counties, school cutbacks, and myriad other big, serious issues that concern serious people throughout New York.

But Rick Lazio and Carl Paladino want to talk about the Muslim hordes riding roughshod through ‘Murrka, vying to be the xenophobic, paranoiac King Richard to defeat the Saracens.

Both of them should be ashamed of themselves, and I’m sincerely interested to see how this new Republican campaign strategy of quite literally demonizing religious and ethnic minorities. Except Cubans.

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Terrorist-sympathizing Imam? Seriously? They’re not just going to lie about this project, they’re going to libel Rauf? I know Tom “I love cats and gardening” Bauerle will stoop to endlessly repeating – almost in a loop – a call a 9/11 victim made just as one of the Towers fell that morning. Bauerle is perfectly ok exploiting a man’s death to libel an entire religion. But why is Rick Lazio, the ostensible “serious” Republican candidate for New York State Governor using images from 9/11 to sell his campaign? If New Yorkers have had “enough”, why would he deliberately evoke the memories of the greatest tragedy to befall New York to win a campaign against a fellow New Yorker? Does Lazio think that the regular, hardworking Muslims who live, work, and pray in Manhattan destroyed those towers?

Obviously, the Republicans don’t want (or deserve) a single vote from Muslim New Yorkers. To them, Muslim New Yorkers don’t count. They are disposable. Lazio and Paladino would not deign to represent them should they ever be elected.

Because 9/11 wasn’t perpetrated by a Muslim stockbroker, banker, lawyer, doctor, shopkeeper, waiter, restaurant owner, or straphanger who prays in lower Manhattan every day, several times a day. Yet that is who is being libeled and demonized by the Republicans not just in New York, but nationwide.

After 9/11, the country was not only unified as seldom before, but the Bush Administration continuously made it clear that the US was not at war with Islam or Muslims – just against the terrorists who perpetrated these crimes and promote violent expansionist Jihadism. That has now changed, and the Republicans do now perceive the US to be at war with Islam – including those who pray to Allah and were born in this country, love this country, pay their taxes, and attend their kids’ soccer games.

That must be why the Bush Administration retained the services of that “terrorist sympathizing” Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf to promote interfaith peace and understanding.

Every day the Republican Party and its leadership becomes, quite frankly, more and more fascistic. To base an entire campaign for Governor on hating an entire religion is a very ugly thing indeed. It’s a thin line between that and advocating for Muslims’ expulsion from America and exclusion from American life.

UPDATE: From Rob in comments:

‘In 2003, Imam Rauf [the imam behind the Cordoba House project] was invited to speak at a memorial service for Daniel Pearl, the journalist murdered by Islamist terrorists in Pakistan. The service was held at B’nai Jeshurun, a prominent synagogue in Manhattan, and in the audience was Judea Pearl, Daniel Pearl’s father. In his remarks, Rauf identified absolutely with Pearl, and identified himself absolutely with the ethical tradition of Judaism. “I am a Jew,” he said.

“We are here to assert the Islamic conviction of the moral equivalency of our Abrahamic
faiths. If to be a Jew means to say with all one’s heart, mind and soul Shma` Yisrael, Adonai Elohenu Adonai Ahad; hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One, not only today I am a Jew, I have always been one, Mr. Pearl.” ’

Here.

This guy definitely shouldn’t build an Islamic cultural center 3 blocks from the WTC site, if it would hurt someone’s feelings.