Saturday, August 07, 2010

Every Inch of America is Consecrated Ground

The New York Times has an excellent report on nationwide protests against mosque construction, in such hallowed American locations like Sheboygon, Wisconsin (hi, Joe!) and Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Of course, the opposition to the New York City mosque that has breached the Muslim-site-exclusion-zone-of-indeterminate-radius could not possibly stem from similar motivations. It is a principled defense of the legitimate pain of 9/11 victims.

(Same ban rules apply to NF, CC, and Joe. Oh, and we'll say Superdestroyer too -- I've been meaning to do that for awhile anyway. I'll decide when -- and if -- I feel like lifting those.).

Zakaria Returns His Check

When the ADL first decided to come out in opposition to the proposed mosque/community center being built near the WTC site, Jon Chait declared that it was "such a fundamental violation of the ADL's principles that the group is no longer supportable."

This weekend, Fareed Zakaria became one of the highest profile figures to turn those words into action, electing to return an award and honorarium received from the ADL in 2005. He said that he can no longer in conscience accept either given the dramatic breach the ADL has just initiated with its own founding motives.

And you know what? He's right.

Abe Foxman responds here, and it remains clear that he doesn't get it. As I noted the other day, Foxman continues to believe he is the real victim here -- that he was just misunderstood, that folks today can't grasp "nuance". What I see is that Mr. Foxman believes that Muslims have an obligation to not have a community within some indeterminate radius in southern Manhattan, because other Muslims committing a terrorist atrocity nearby. They have an obligation to restrict their own rights, to limit their freedom of worship, because of the "feelings" of others. Even though we feel sympathy for the victims, insofar as their feelings manifest in the form of blind, unguided anger towards Muslims qua Muslims, they do not deserve the backing of a organization that putatively defends religious liberty.

So, good for Zakaria. And while I highly doubt that the ADL will be admitting their mistake any time soon, here is to hoping. They were wrong on this -- wrong on the deepest, most fundamental level -- and I believe it is a mortal wound to their credibility.

Oh, Joe and N. Friedman are both banned from commenting on this thread. I will delete comments from you sight unseen. Any other commenters are welcome.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Tennessee Sense

The Tennessee primaries are done, and after a year in which we've seen candidates like Sharron Angle nominated and incumbents like Bob Inglis (R-SC) knocked off for insufficient crazy, it's nice to see that at least one state seems to have (miracles of miracles!) made sensible choices.

Surprising nobody, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) handily turned back a primary challenge from former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton, winning by over a 55 point margin. Herenton had once again tried to race-bait his way to victory in this majority-Black district, and once again the voters showed that they weren't having it.

On the Republican side of things, the nominee for Governor is Bill Haslam, the mayor of Knoxville and the only one of the three major GOP candidates in that race not to go all-in on the crazy (Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey had argued that Islam was "cult" that should be deprived of protection on the First Amendment, and Rep. Zack Wamp had floated seceding from America).

So, good for Volunteer State voters on both sides of the aisle. I salute you.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Palin Endorses Murphy, Ehrlich Breathes Sigh of Relief

Sarah Palin has endorsed long shot challenger Brian Murphy in the Maryland Republican gubernatorial primary.

Former Governor Robert Ehrlich is the overwhelming favorite in that race, and I doubt this endorsement will cause him too much trouble in the primary. And with all due respect to Governor Palin's star power (though if it can't win you Kansas, what can it do?) I have to think that a Palin endorsement would be a 200 lbs anvil that incumbent Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley would hang around Ehrlich's neck in the general. This race may be tight, but Maryland remains one of the most liberal and well-educated states in the nation. This is not real America Palin territory.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Prop. 8 Reversed

The opinion is here, I'm reading it now.

Huge win for equal rights. It won't be the last stroke in the battle by any means. But tonight, we can celebrate.

Nearly Half of All GOPers Doubt Obama Was Born in the US

CNN provides a staggering new poll indicating that a full 41% of Republicans harbor serious doubts about whether President Obama was born in the United States. Only 19% of Independents and 15% of Democrats believe that Obama "probably" or "definitely" was born in another country.

It truly amazes me just how deeply entrenched birtherism is inside the modern conservative movement. Rush Limbaugh is, of course, only the latest to fall into the fever swamp.

Meanwhile, in not entirely unrelated news, vanquished Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC) recounts his meeting with the tea partiers. It starts with folks telling him how Social Security numbers indicate how people are (literally) owned by banks, and goes downhill from there (with the usual pitstops in old school anti-Semitic conspiracy-mongering).

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Today in Mosquedom

A ton of news cropped up regarding the WTC mosque/community center. This post will be about half-substantive, half-roundup.

First, I can't think of a better place to start than Mayor Bloomberg's stellar speech on the subject. It really hits home that the question here is one of our deepest commitments to religious liberty.
“Let us not forget that Muslims were among those murdered on 9/11, and that our Muslim neighbors grieved with us as New Yorkers and as Americans. We would betray our values and play into our enemies’ hands if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else. In fact, to cave to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists, and we should not stand for that.

“For that reason, I believe that this is an important test of the separation of church and state as we may see in our lifetimes, as important a test. And it is critically important that we get it right.

“On Sept. 11, 2001, thousands of first responders heroically rushed to the scene and saved tens of thousands of lives. More than 400 of those first responders did not make it out alive. In rushing into those burning buildings, not one of them asked, ‘What God do you pray to?’ (Bloomberg’s voice cracks here a little as he gets choked up.) ‘What beliefs do you hold?’

“The attack was an act of war, and our first responders defended not only our city, but our country and our constitution. We do not honor their lives by denying the very constitutional rights they died protecting. We honor their lives by defending those rights and the freedoms that the terrorists attacked.

Damn the fuck straight.

Meanwhile, I wish I could give a cookie to the AJC for not opposing the building of the mosque, but you know what? I can't. This is such an open and shut case that the mealy-mouthed, ham-handed decision by which the AJC -- after agonizing deliberation -- deigned to give its approval is worth nothing to me. This passive-aggressive "questions have been raised" formulation, wherein any Muslim in the public sphere must carry a punch card indicating the last time they condemned Osama bin Laden, is incredibly pernicious and must be countered at all costs. I bow to no one in opposing radical extremists of all stripes and denominations -- Islamic ones included -- but Muslims don't have an a priori obligation to show themselves to be peace-loving. Like all other persons, we ought to assume they fully buy into the panoply of human rights protections and human values until they, personally, show themselves otherwise. The burden is on those making the allegation that this group is aligned with Islamic radicals. It is a burden they cannot meet.

Of course, that pales in comparison to the contempt I feel for Abe Foxman right now, and the tragic little tears he's crying about how everyone is ganging up on the poor ADL and not recognizing for its "nuance" ... ugh. Gag me. That was decidedly not the lesson Foxman needed to learn. The lesson he needed to learn is that pissing away decades of credibility opposing religious bigotry is going to meet with backlash. As it should.

That being said, I'm not sure the ADL's position on this is fairly traceable to its position on Israel. In fact, I think Beinart misunderstands the proper role the ADL should take with regards to Israel, for the ADL is not a domestic Israeli human rights organization. To be sure, it should oppose religious discrimination anywhere and everywhere, including in Israel. But the ADL, as an international organization, is properly concerned with the way that anti-Israel animus in the global community both inspires and is inspired by anti-Jewish sentiment. I reject the notion that the fact that Israel is a place where Jews have power completely obviates any and all discussion of anti-Semitism in the context of Israel.

The far-right ACLJ has announced it is filing a legal challenge seeking to reverse the decision of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission declining to designate the site a "landmark", thus allowing the mosque to proceed. The suit must be for show, because I can't imagine even the ACLJ believes it will win an "abuse of discretion" argument, and effectively their suit can be summarized as haling the NYCLPC into court for not deciding to violate the Constitution (Cf. Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520 (1993)).

Finally, the backers of the have publicly thanked their Jewish backers. You're welcome, but honestly? Just doing my duty as an American.

Monday, August 02, 2010

No Worries

The last time Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) faced a race-baiting challenger in his majority-Black African-American district, he thrashed Nikki Tinker by a 60 point margin. I promised at the time that I wouldn't worry that the voters of the 9th District of Tennessee would fall for such naked appeals to prejudice. This time around, Cohen drew a decidedly tougher challenge in Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton, who also is trying to race-bait his way to victory.

Fortunately for my promise, I still don't need to worry -- Cohen appears to be cruising to victory, and by now has to be considered firmly entrenched in the district. And that's a good thing: Cohen is an excellent Congressman who deserves a long and successful career in Washington.

I Bring a Knife, You Pull a Gun

I generally like my laptop, but one thing that it hates is wireless internet. After two years of struggle, I finally effectively ceded the issue upon moving into my Virginia apartment, connecting to the internet via a direct landline.

But upon moving to my new place in Chicago (which I love), I foolishly decided to break that ceasefire, and attempt to set up a new wireless network. Oooh, the laptop didn't like that, and it retaliated by destroying the ability to connect even through a landline.

Wireless internet remains at the laptop's discretion, which is why I'm able to post this message from the airport. But things are not looking peachy right now.