Monday, July 19, 2010

Propaganda May Rage, But It Still Isn't Truth

We live in an information age where it is possible for many impressionable people to believe that,if they see something on the internet, then it must be true. But there still needs to be both an intellectual and a moral filter present in human perception to separate lies from truths, and fiction from fact.

In the case of the current media frenzy concerning the planned construction of an Islamic worship and community center in the neighborhood of the September 11th, 2001 militant attack on New York City, propagandists from the radical political Right are doing everything possible to stir up a climate of fear, anger, and even hatred, directed not only at the Cordoba Initiative but at MAS, and by extension, the collective Muslim community of New York City and America.

The planned facility, even though it is certainly not on the location where the aircraft struck the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, is being vilified as an "Islamic supremacist" mosque and an insult to the sensitivities of 9-11 victims' families. Despite the reality of the Cordoba Initiative's clear history of anti-radicalism and positive interfaith bridge-building, Imam Faisal Abdur-Rauf and his wife, Sister Daisy Khan, are vilified as stealth Jihadis bent on the propagation of "Radical Islam" and the desecration of the September 11, 2001 memorial location.

And on a personal note, one such propagandist, armed with little more than her own rage and propensity for hatred of Al-Islam, has characterized me as participating in a "hate-fest against Jews" simply because I attended a rally calling for an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza.(Note: U.N. Secretary General Bak Ki-Moon and Nobel Peace Prize winners Desmond Tutu and Mareid Corrigan Maguire, among countless others, have takes the same position against the Israeli blockade of Gaza and the illegal occupation of Palestinian land. Are they Jew-haters, too)?

Yes, there are those who oppose the right of Muslims to establish places of worship in America, despite the total lack of evidence that these mosques, or their organizers, promote violence or intolerance. Muslims, like other people in America, should respect the law, and challenge any and all people who violate it, whether they are Muslim or not. But the same law that we should respect and obey also guarantees religious freedom, and provides for the presumption of innocence until parties are proven guilty.

The drumbeat of attacks and slander against us is not a substitute for truth and reason-two qualities that both define the best of the American historical tradition and illuminate the unsavory conduct of those who violate this tradition for their own political purposes.

Being a Muslim is not a crime, and neither is it an indication of collusion with criminals. We do have a right to assert our freedom to build Islamic houses of worship, as the Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, stated on the website of the Cordoba Initiative.

On the other had, some Tea Party leaders seethe with anger when others characterize them as being racist, yet they say precious little to repudiate the hateful public remarks that have clearly been made by prominent members of their movement.

We will not engage in name-calling or provocative verbal counter-attacks against those attack us. We will continue to believe in faith over fear, and in the basic decency of the people of the United States. And, deep within my heart, I am certain that the Lord of the Worlds will guide, and protect, all people who seek to do good, even if those people are excoriated by those with other motives in their hearts.


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