Tuesday, August 17, 2010

If the Polls are Correct

by Dee Newman

If the polls are correct that 70 percent of the American public oppose the construction of a Islamic Community Center and place of worship on private property two city blocks away from the northeast corner of the World Trade Center site, then, it would appear, the terrorists have won.

This is the United States of America! This nation was founded on the principle that all religious faiths are welcome in this country without fear of government discrimination or the tyranny of the majority.

Those who planned and implemented the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, did not and do not believe in religious freedom. If we allow their gross distortion of their religious convictions and predatory actions to lead us astray, to force us to forsake our basic principles and ideals, then we will become as they are.

I refuse to believe the polls. I refuse to believe that the majority of the people of this country are stupid (as in ignorant), fearful religious bigots who are easily exploited and manipulated by shameless, fear mongering political extremists. For if the polls are correct then we have already become the enemy of our values.

May the God of our religious faiths have mercy on our self-righteous souls.

11 comments:

Phil Fratesi said...

Dee,
I agree with you. I was about to write "whole heartedly agree" but I paused to reflect for a moment on the small bit of disconnect that I was feeling. It is this....
I definitely agree that the Islamic Center should be built and celebrated and used for the educational, cultural and religious center for which it is intended. I will definitely visit it when it is completed. I had the privilege to hear Maggie Kahn (founder and primary promoter of the Center) speak last month at a Fellowship in Prayer conference and she was truly inspirational. I am convinced that the addition of this Center to NYC and our nation will be a blessing to us all.
However, and here is the disconnect, I have a friend who does not see it this way. And, he is neither stupid, ignorant, or a religious bigot. I suppose one might argue that his views have been exploited and manipulated by right wing extremists. And, he might even agree. However, he would strongly argue that that exploitation and manipulation is not the basis of his disagreement. I won't argue his case here but I encourage all to seek out a friend or colleague who might oppose this Center and to truly listen to the values and the core beliefs that have led them to their position.
I firmly believe that this is the only way that the difficult road ahead will be peacefully and fruitfully traveled.
And, of course, in the meantime, speak forcefully for the construction of the Center and the values it can represent.
Finally, back to my agreement with you. You speak truth when you say that we will be "defeated" when we abandon our values of religious freedom.
Keep speakin' your truth, brother. I know you will.
Peace,
Phil

Dee Newman said...

Thanks Phil,

As always your insights are well taken. I truly believe we must reach out to one another with compassion and understanding even to those whose rhetoric and oratory continue to persuade a fearful and psychologically damaged electorate to abandon their values. Perhaps, the majority are more represented by those who are still suffering from the lost of a love one and/or the tragedy of that horrific day.

Admittedly, name calling does not unite us. It alienates and separates us. However, I did not speak before I carefully listened to what I was hearing and considered its consequences. As you well know, for me to remain silent would have been impossible. My hope is that my words may provoke thoughtful responses from other folks like yourself.

Love you, Dee

mythopolis said...

Seems to me that it is not uncommon in some religious beliefs to practice doctrines that imply that "If God is on our side, then your side must be wrong." Wars have often included elimination of contrary religious beliefs. Whose God is the real God, becomes a thing to resolve in battles of many kinds. There are more ecumenical, encompassing, and inclusive ways to contemplate the meaning of God, but many can't seem to think outside their own little theological box.

The nation was founded upon many noble and encompassing principles, but it has often taken many decades for these to become real practiced values. Equal rights, abolishment of slavery, the right to vote, being a few more recent examples. Just because it is an avowed and sworn right in the Constitution doesn't make it necessarily a fact of life.

The struggle to make the founding principles real goes on. We have a long way to go yet. God help us all!!!

Dee Newman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dee Newman said...

Dan, well said. Though the concept of God has never really made any sense to me, I was reared in a small community where everyone use to worship together no matter what religious faith they had accepted as the "true path" towards every-lasting-life – the Norris Religious Fellowship.

As I reflect, I suppose the same ecumenical environment that help me to understand and respect others struggles toward enlightenment, may have made me less tolerant of the cruel, oppressive and exploitive actions of those who seem bent on having it their way or no way.

As always, I find your perspective insightful.

Love, Dee

Anonymous said...

I agree to the fullest. I want to add that our people are actually mad at our president for what he said about the right to build the Islamic Center. First of all he never said He agrees or disagrees, he stated the law as we the people wrote it and the ignorant people dove off their couch in the trailer park and started accusing all Muslim/Islamic believers of being terrorists. I have friends that are Muslim, Christian, Athiest,and Agnostic, but I never judge them for their beliefs or non-beliefs and would never refuse them help and love based on such. In every race creed and religion there are undesireable people, but does that make the entire race, creed, or religion bad, no is doesn't , it make that particular individual an asshole. I say let them have their freedom of religion and don't deny them rights due to the actions of others. What if i told everyone the things I have done in my past? Would everyone hate my children and my wife based on what I have done as an individual? I seriously hope not and I pray for anyone that judges anyone else before looking at themselves and their actions throughout life. God Bless you all. Sean Busby

Dee Newman said...

Sean,

Thank you for you clear and incisive perceptions.

The irrational attacks on Muslims in general by the Republican leadership is not only deeply disturbing with regard to our Constitution, it also poses a profound threat to our national security. To identify all Muslims with terrorists is nuts. It is as if the GOP is trying to incite all Muslims to join the Jihad. I wonder what motive they would have to do that?

I hope all is well with you. We need to hang out sometime.

Love ya buddy, Dee

douglas said...

Dee-Your statistic of 70% being against building the Center is different than the question: Do they have the right to build the Center? If nineteen renegade Boy Scouts had wiped out the Twin Towers in the name of Boy Scouts of America and a few years later the Boy Scouts of America had proposed building a Center nearby, I suspect most Americans would not think it very wise (and might consider it a slap in the face.) But they would also mostly agree that they had the right to build it.
However, if the Boy Scouts of America proposed building the Center as an apology for what some of their members had done, Americans might look at it differently. I don't think the Muslims are offering it as an apology.
My opinion:They have the right to build it , of course, but why aggravate their fellow Americans?
By the way, what church was that again? Sounds communistic to me.

mythopolis said...

Douglas, with all due respect, I've read through your comment several times trying to figure it out. So far though, I still don't get it.

Dee Newman said...

Douglas,

Good to hear from you. Perhaps, you should re-read what I had to say. I did not ask a question. I made a statement of fact and a conclusion based on that fact . . . Fact – The United States was founded on the principle that all religious faiths are welcome in this country without fear of government discrimination or the tyranny of the majority. Conclusion – if the polls are correct and the majority (70%) of Americans want to deny religious freedom to any group for any reason then we have already become the enemy of our values and the terrorist have won.

Peggy said...

Dee,
Thank you for expressing my feelings so clearly and strongly.
I continue to be amazed that no one has made the following point: We have constitutional and other legal protections guaranteeing the right to freedom of religion (and, while we're at it, freedom of speech) simply because it's so natural to want to prevent others from doing things that offend us. We wouldn't need these protections if it were easy to be tolerant. I, for one, have great trouble tolerating Nazis, white supremacists, and their ilk. And, yes, I'd like to outlaw them. Prevent them from saying the hateful things they say. Keep them from recruiting others.
But, of course, I can't. The price of my own freedom is that I grant the same freedom to others -- no matter how much I despise what they stand for.
Of course, this current brouhaha operates on many levels. On the one hand, all of us, I think, were horrified by the 9/11 attacks. Many of us are nervous about radical Islamists actively recruiting young people who are searching for something certain to believe in.
On the other hand, the proposed Islamic center at the center of the controversy is not planned for Ground Zero, but for two blocks away. (So, if two blocks isn't far enough, how far IS far enough?) And, on a pragmatic level, aren't we simply reinforcing the message of those who hate us and who insist that we're anit-Muslim by our behavior?
And then, finally, there's that pesky matter of freedom of religion. You either believe in it -- in which case, you have to concede the right of Muslims to build that new center in Manhattan (although you don't have to LIKE it). Or you don't believe in it -- in which case, you should maybe consider moving to a country where religious intolerance is acceptable. Now, let me think: Where might THAT be? Oh yeah, like Iran. Etc.
Anyhow, thanks again for standing on principle rather than speaking out for the easy, popular view! That's why you've always been one of my heroes.
Hugs,
Peggy