(You might want to read this whole thing, because there's a great video at the end…)
If you haven’t heard, a so-called Christian “Reverend” named Terry Jones plans to hold a Koran burning this coming Saturday in Gainesville, Florida, to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed 3,000 of our fellow Americans.
Right wingers are either silent or, in a few cases, actually praising this disgusting display, and a number are defending this action as an example of his right to “free expression.”
Also, over the last several weeks, right wingers all over the country have been tied up in knots over the prospect that someone may build an Islamic Cultural Center on a lot not too far from the spot where the World Trade Center once stood. They have characterized such a building as a “slap in the face” and blamed the ENTIRE RELIGION for the actions of the people who hijacked those planes, knocked down those buildings and killed all of those people.
I have a few questions for those on the far right;
Does the United States believe in freedom of religion, or doesn’t it?
Let me start out by saying, I am not an atheist, but I find most religion to be silly. I also think that, while some people seem to be helped by religion, religious fervor also has the potential to do a whole lot of damage to society. I happen to believe that religion works best for people when it is kept in the personal realm, and held close to the vest. No two people believe exactly the same thing, and while they like to think they worship the same God, in reality, if you were to ask all so-called “believers” for a description of their deity, you’ll rarely get the same answer twice. Besides, if you allow God to run the show, whose God do you choose, really?
When it comes to freedom, the only line should be, when does it affect everyone else’s freedom to do what they like? If someone wants to believe that God is a caring father, a benevolent dictator or an incompetent boob, it shouldn’t matter. If someone wants to believe that a warrior from the Seventh Century was a prophet of some kind, and that his "word" will get them to a better place when they die, as long as that belief doesn’t hurt anyone else, let them be. If someone wants to believe that we came here on spaceships trillions of years ago, and that we have little aliens living inside of us, as long as they don’t interfere with anyone else’s beliefs, who the hell are we to tell them they can't believe that if they want?
All religion is silly on its face, when you bother to look at it from the outside. Fully 87% of Americans at last count adhere to some sort of religious belief that has something to do with an invisible man in the sky who loves us all completely, but who will punish us with millions of years of torture for violating a few arbitrary rules during their short life here. And a significant number of those people believe the Talmud, the Bible, the Book of Mormon, Dianetics and/or the Koran are infallible history books, and swear by every detail – oh, except for the details they find inconvenient. But that’s another story, isn’t it?
But the above is just my opinion. And that’s the point; religious belief can't be proved or disproved. (Hear that atheists?) No matter how I feel about anyone else’s personal religion, I will defend to the death their right to believe in whatever stupid shit they choose to believe. Even if I think that what someone believes is profoundly stupid, as an American I owe them a duty to protect and defend their right to such silliness. EVERYONE has the right to believe whatever they want to believe, to wear whatever clothing they wish to wear, to read whatever they want to read, and to worship whatever they wish to worship, up to the point where it starts negatively affecting others.
Muslims have every right to build a cultural center on any private land they choose. Period. And to blame all Muslims for the actions of a few (who may not even have been Muslim; after all, all we have is their word…) is the ultimate in disrespect for religious freedom. You can’t possibly call yourself a “patriot” and then decry someone else’s chosen religious beliefs.
If we are to blame all Muslims for the terrorist attacks, how far are we prepared to take that concept?
Islam didn’t kill those people on September 11, 2001, anymore than Christianity killed 168 people in Oklahoma City six years earlier. If you are going to tar Islam itself with those deaths, then you had better do the same with the Catholic Church for molesting all of those children over many years, as well.
In other words, folks, how far are we prepared to take this idea? Almost all child molesters are heterosexual white men; should we deny all white men the right to be teachers or sports coaches? For that matter, should we put all white men under 24-hour surveillance, since pretty much all serial killers have been white men? And since a growing number of murders are being committed by people who are later found to have read books by Fox News commentators; should we start burning those books, along with the Koran?
It's called bigotry, folks. And while bigots certainly have the right to be bigots, the rest of us have the right to call you on it. Which brings up the next question;
Why do right wingers think rights stop at the end of the sentence?
There's a strange phenomenon among those on the far right. Dr. Laura alluded to it when she decided to end her radio show after so many years, and she claimed the reason for doing so was to reclaim her First Amendment rights. The woman said the n-word 11 times to a black caller and, in the process she offended a number of people, including advertisers, who began pulling ads from her program.
For some reason, right wingers seem to think that if they say something, their right to free speech somehow entitles them to wrap said speech in a bubble.
Yes, of course Reverend Jones has the right to burn the Koran.
Yes, of course Dr. Laura has the right to say the word n****r.
Yes, those who object to the placement of an Islamic Cultural Center several blocks from where the World Trade Center once stood have the right to object.
But the way free speech works is, everyone else has the right to call Rev. Jones a disgusting bigot and decry his defamation of an entire religion for the acts of a few. Advertisers have a right to withdraw their support for Dr. Laura's radio program if they decide she's projecting the wrong image for their product, and listeners and others have the right to call her out on her racism and bigotry for her actions. And the rest of us get to point out that the "Mosque at Ground Zero" is not a mosque, that it's actually a number of blocks from where the WTC once stood, that it is being built by a man who condemned the terrorists, and that the opponents of the building who object the loudest are using anti-Islamic bigotry to promote their cause.
See, free speech means everyone gets to speak. It doesn't mean you get to speak without taking responsibility for what you say. Understand now?
Why do right wingers hate the troops?
It’s bad enough the last right wing president sent troops into two wars without proper equipment, and that services were provided by crony contractors who ended up doing more damage than the Iraqi insurgents in many cases. But if you want to understand just how little the far right cares about the troops, look at their stance on torture, Guantanamo Bay prison, and these latest incidents with the Cultural Center and Koran burning.
Do they even get that, when we torture "them," it gives "them" implicit permission to torture our people when they’re captured? We are in a war with people who are lower than pond scum; when we cede the moral high ground to them, we lower ourselves to pond scum. Is that what the United States is about? When did "We, the People" become "we, the pond scum"?
We are not at war with a country over land masses and civil rights. We are at war with an ad hoc group of people who are attacking us because of our policies. Terrorists RECRUIT new people based on their contention that WE HATE MUSLIMS. Yet, we don’t really hate Muslims; at least most of us don’t. But when stories are plastered all over the news that show (mostly white, fat a
nd stupid) Americans protesting the building of a mosque because it’s several blocks from where 2.700 people (including a number of Muslims) died from a terrorist attack, what is anyone supposed to think? When it’s plastered all over the news that some right wing bigot “Christian” PREACHER is planning to burn the Koran to commemorate the terrorist attacks nine years ago, and his rhetoric castigates ISLAM ITSELF as being culpable for the attacks, what are they supposed to think?
I know it’s tantamount to blasphemy to suggest that people on the far right are rooting for another terrorist attack, but one has to wonder, given current events. In any case, if you support the troops, you can’t give the enemy a greater ability to recruit. And since my son is among those who has served in Afghanistan and may deploy there again (my fingers are crossed), I take it a little extra personally when the right wing in this country puts him in even greater danger by helping the enemy with their recruiting.
We should be embracing our Islamic friends, not spitting on them. Muslims in American are just as much a part of the fabric of this country as anyone else.
The 19 men who committed those terrorist acts 9 years ago didn’t do so because they were Muslim; they did so because they were assholes.
Speaking of assholes, check out this video… It's funny because it reflects the mentality of the people it satirizes.