Hurt Feelings and the “Ground Zero Mosque”

Here is the order of events producing this bizarre “controversy.”

2009: A Muslim organization having arranged to purchase an abandoned Burlington Coat factory on Park Place in Lower Manhattan plans to build a 13-story Islamic community center. It will feature a culinary school, conference hall, basketball court, swimming pool, and place of worship among other things and while principally servicing the Muslim community be open to all. It is to be called the Cordoba House, an apparent allusion to Muslim Spain in which Islam flourished alongside Christianity and Judaism from the eighth century up to the “Reconquest.”

In its mission statement the group says the center “will be dedicated to pluralism, service, arts and culture, education and empowerment, appreciation for our city and a deep respect for our planet. [It] will join New York to the world, offering a welcoming community center with multiple points of entry. With world-class facilities, a global scope and strong local roots, [the center] will offer a friendly and accessible platform for conversations across our identities.”

It will be four big city blocks away from where the World Trade Center once stood (“Ground Zero”). But since there are already about eight mosques in Manhattan, and a significant Muslim population in that highly diverse section of New York City, there is nothing remarkable about the group’s application to tear down the old factory building and construct the center.

The key organizer, Kuwait-born Feisal Abdul Rauf, is an imam of the Sufi school of Islam, generally described as “moderate” and mystical. He holds a degree in physics from Columbia University, had been hired by the FBI to conduct sensitivity training among their agents, and had worked with the U.S. State Department. He has met New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg, who strongly supports the plan for the center.

In December 2009 the New York Times runs an article on the project. It is generally positive, citing two Jewish leaders and the mother of a 9-11 victim in support. In the same month conservative commentator Laura Ingraham, guest-hosting FOX News’ The O’Reilly Factor, interviews Rauf’s wife, Daisy Khan. The interview is as Salon’s Justin Elliot later notes “remarkable for its cordiality.” “I can’t find many people who really have a problem with [the project], declares Ingraham. “I like what you’re trying to do.”

On May 6, 2010, after a public hearing in which New Yorkers express strong feelings pro and con, the New York City community board committee unanimously votes to approve the project. Enter Pamela Geller, who maintains a blog called Atlas Shrugs. She has written a book about Barack Obama in which she alleges his real father was Malcolm X. She leads an apparently tiny wacko group called Stop the Islamization of America. Seeing the opportunity to have her moment in the sun (and she is soon interviewed by FOX News and CNN), she lashes out at Cordoba House. She declares on her blog, “this is not about religious liberty. No one has suggested abridging the First Amendment to stop the mosque, and to oppose the Ground Zero mosque is not to oppose the First Amendment. There are hundreds of mosques in New York, thousands in America. This is not a religious issue. This is an issue of national dignity and respect for those who were murdered at that site in the name of Islam.” She begins to organize a protest at the Park Place site.

Soon New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser references Geller’s group, falsely describing it as a “human rights group.” This brings the movement against the “Ground Zero mosque” out of the blogosphere and into the mainstream press. She sensationalizes the issue, falsely reporting that the center is to open on Sept. 11, 2011. A “controversy” erupts.

On July 16 Sarah Palin weighs in. Addressing not Muslims specifically but “Peaceful New Yorkers,” Sarah Palin twitters: “ pls refudiate [sic] the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real.” She adds two days later (after amending “refudiate” to “refute”), “Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts…” Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich expresses outrage in multiple statements over the next month: “There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia.” “It’s not about religion,” he insists, “and is clearly an aggressive act that is offensive.” He says the center will be a symbol of Muslim “triumphalism,” and that building the mosque near the site of the 9/11 attacks “would be like putting a Nazi sign next to the Holocaust Museum.”

He writes, “‘Cordoba House’ is a deliberately insulting term. It refers to Cordoba, Spain–the capital of Muslim conquerors, who symbolized their victory over the Christian Spaniards by transforming a church there into the world’s third-largest mosque complex… every Islamist in the world recognizes Cordoba as a symbol of Islamic conquest.” In response to this absurd allegation the center organizers change the name to “Park51.”

(Gingrich who postures as an historian and scholar might have noted the Visigothic church was purchased by the conquering emir after 718 and that the Arabs during their rule in Spain pursued a policy of far greater religious tolerance than the Christians had before them. They allowed churches and synagogues to operate freely. When the Christians regained power, they expelled all Jews and Muslims, or forced them to convert, and conducted the Spanish Inquisition.)

Republican politicians smelling blood and opportunity continue to lash out. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty says, “I think it’s inappropriate… From a patriotic standpoint, it’s hallowed ground, it’s sacred ground, and we should respect that. We shouldn’t have images or activities that degrade or disrespect that in any way.” Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee asks on his FOX program August 4, “Even if the Muslims have the right to build it, don’t they do more to serve the public interest by exercising the responsible judgment to not build it?” “The fact that someone has the right to do something doesn’t necessarily make it the right thing to do,” echoed Ohio Rep. John Boehner.

Former Massachusetts Mitt Romney’s spokesman adds: “Governor Romney opposes the construction of the mosque at Ground Zero. The wishes of the families of the deceased and the potential for extremists to use the mosque for global recruiting and propaganda compel rejection of this site.”

On August 13 President Obama hosts representatives of the Muslim community at the White House. “As a citizen,” he tells them, “and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable.”

A Republican running for Congress in Maryland, Andrew Harris, denounces the statement: “He is thinking like a lawyer and not an American, making declarations without America’s best interest in mind.” Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., also responds immediately: “President Obama is wrong. It is insensitive and uncaring for the Muslim community to build a mosque in the shadow of ground zero.”

Bob Schieffer, CBS News’ chief Washington correspondent observes that Obama’s attention to the mosque issue “elevates it to a national issue. Clearly, Republicans are trying to take every advantage of this they can… every single Democratic candidate now running for office is going to be asked about it.”

Democratic Party leaders quickly distance themselves from the president’s remarks. “The First Amendment protects freedom of religion,” says a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid adding that the senator “respects that but thinks that the mosque should be built someplace else.”

Obama himself, startled by the response to his comments, has to elaborate almost immediately. “I was not commenting, and I will not comment,” he says, “on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding. That’s what our country is about.”

A CNN poll published in August 11 shows 68% of Americans opposed to the center, and a FOX poll published August 13 shows that 61% of U.S. residents support the legal right to construct Park 51 but 64% don’t want the Muslim group to construct it. This becomes the mandatory position of all politicians: they’ve got a right to do it, but they shouldn’t. It would not be politically wise to suggest a general ban on mosques or Islamic community centers. But everyone has to say, this particular project is wrong because it shows insensitivity to the feelings of “Americans” particularly family members of the 9-11 victims. Justin Quinn, who maintains the U.S. Conservative Politics Blog for example, justifies his disapproval by suggesting the building will hurt “thousands of people who continue to mourn the loss of loved ones who were turned to dust in the attacks.”

But there is another issue as well. New York gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio, Gingrich, and Quinn all call for an investigation of the center’s funding, suggesting that some of it might come from “Islamic terrorists.” Lazio speaks ominously about the “the questionable backers of the Cordoba Mosque at Ground Zero” and calls for a public investigation. Quinn says, “let’s at least find out where the money is coming from to pay for this thing.” Soon House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is on board the program, although, alarmed at the backlash from Obama’s remarks, she suggests the “anti-mosque” movement should also be investigated.

By innuendo they assert that Rauf is linked to international terrorism. That seems unlikely since he’s been hired by the FBI since 2001 to offer sensitivity training to agents and has also just been asked by the State Department recently to tour the Middle East to “foster greater understanding” about the U.S. and its Muslims. The charge seems based solely on the fact that in a June 2010 interview with Aaron Klein of New York’s WABC Radio, he declined to say whether he agreed with the listing of Hamas as a “terrorist organization.”

He’d simply replied: “I’m not a politician. I try to avoid the issues. The issue of terrorism is a very complex question…. I’m a bridge builder. I define my work as a bridge builder. I do not want to be placed, nor do I accept to be placed in a position of being put in a position where I am the target of one side or another.”

(I see nothing damning here. Hamas, initially promoted by Israel as an alternative to secular Palestinian nationalism, has resisted Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. It maintained long-term ceasefires with Israel ended due to Israeli action. It won a fair election in 2006. The U.S. State Department has considered it a “terrorist organization” since at least 1994 but the European Union only added it to its blacklist in 2003 under U.S. pressure. Many people including former President Jimmy Carter have asked that it be removed from that list, which is highly political and arbitrary and under no meaningful Congressional oversight. A U.S. Appeals Court recently ruled that the State Department must review its decision to list the People’s Mujahadeen Organization of Iran as “terrorist.” These things are very political, and no one should demand that Rauf endorse the listing. Certainly not those opposed to “Big Government” and its expectations of passive obedience from the citizenry.)

There are also wild accusations (aside from Gingrich’s cited above) that the center is designed to rub 9-11 in our noses. “The mosque at Ground Zero,” Quinn insists, “is being pursued to prove a simple political point — that Islamic fundamentalists can knock our buildings down, murder our citizens and then use our own laws against us so they can laugh in our faces.”

There are also hateful, provocative comments. Tea Party Express leader and “radio personality” Mark Williams blogs his followers: “The monument would consist of a Mosque for the worship of the terrorists’ monkey-god (repeat: ‘the terrorists’ monkey-god.” if you feel that fits a description of Allah then that is your own deep-seated emotional baggage not mine, talk to the terrorists who use Allah as their excuse and the Muslims who apologize for and rationalize them) and a ‘cultural center’ to propagandize for the extermination of all things not approved by their cult. It is a project of American Society for Muslim Advancement and the Cordoba Initiative, essentially the same group of apologists (but under 2 different names) for terrorists and the animals who use it as a terrorist ideology. They cloak their evil with new age gibberish that suggests Islam is just misunderstood.”

Even though this fascist has been expelled from the “mainstream” National Tea Party Federation for his racist comments about the NAACP, he and they speak for a significant number in spewing out their anti-Muslim vitriol. Hasn’t the widely loved Billy Graham’s son Franklin called Islam the “religion of the Devil?”


Thus by mid-August a modest project by a mainstream U.S. Muslim group backed by the New York City mayor and unanimously approved by the New York City community committee has been transformed into a general attack on Muslim rights in this country. The scary thing is that disapproval is so widespread, bipartisan, and driven by irrational fear if not hatred.

What does this tell us about this country? It tells us that nine years after 9-11 (and nice centuries after the First Crusade), Islamophobia is rampant and politically useful. Even though U.S. troops are supposedly fighting to help Muslims in two countries and both Bush and Obama have officially (for whatever reasons) emphasized that the U.S. is not against Islam, Islam is a religion of peace, we value our Muslim citizens, etc. the “us vs. them” mentality remains strong.

The prevalent argument against the center–that it may hurt people’s feelings–is an argument that people should be hurt by the mere existence of an Islamic site near “Ground Zero.” That they should feel hurt at the site of a Muslim establishment as they walk around Lower Manhattan, associating it with the 9-11 hijackers. That they should conflate Mohamed Atta and Rauf, or that at least if they do, their feelings should be respected. Of course Rauf’s hope is to counter precisely such feels by encouraging understanding and dialogue.

The fact in any case is that according to an August 10 Marist poll only 31% of Manhattan residents oppose the center! And only a slim majority of New York City residents find fault with it—that due no doubt to this faux “controversy”!

What about the feelings of U.S. Muslims, including those who had family members perish in the 9-11 bombing? They read about the plans of the “Dove World Outreach Center” in Gainesville, Florida—a “New Testament church, based on the Bible”—to promote an “International Burn a Quran Day” this September 11. They read about anti-mosque campaigns in Murfreesboro, Tennessee; Temecula, California; Sheboygan, Wisconsin. The Tea Party movement and mainstream politicians enthusiastically embrace the anti-mosque lynchmob.

I imagine there are some hurt feelings among people unfairly associated with terrorism just because a handful of Saudis attacked the U.S. nine years ago. To be told “this sacred ground–our American ground” so we don’t want your Muslim center here “degrading” and “disrespecting” it (Pawlenty’s terms) is to be told you’re not really a full citizen and your religion (as opposed to, say, Catholicism) isn’t an American one. It must be insulting and frustrating at least.

The notion that “they attacked us”–that the whole Muslim world attacked “us”–is so preposterous that only the simplest minds can believe it and the most devious exploit their ignorance for political gain. The U.S. has attacked Muslim countries, or intervened to impose regime change, repeatedly in the post-war period. Since 1967 it has provided nearly unconditional support to Israel, inevitably endorsing or accepting its grotesque mistreatment of the Palestinians. It cruelly maintained sanctions against Iraq throughout the 1990s, resulting in at least half a million children’s deaths. It provides massive aid to hated dictators like Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak.

U.S. forces have killed hundreds of thousands of civilians in its latest attack on Iraq, based entirely on lies that only resonated among the people because they were shell-shocked by 9-11 and willing to believe a secularist like Saddam was deeply involved. It maintains an increasingly unpopular occupation of Afghanistan and by its drone attacks on Pakistan has thoroughly alienated the Pakistani people. It is natural for Muslims globally to see themselves under U.S. attack. That a few have responded with terrorist attacks is unsurprising; the CIA calls it “blowback.” It is also natural for most, like Rauf, to want to respond to all this defensively with peaceful education and dialogue.

The problem isn’t limited to the U.S. Other western countries are also manifesting Islamophobia, placing Muslims on the defensive. In March 2005 the French parliament voted to ban Islamic head scarves in public schools. This has forced French Muslim schoolgirls to choose between following rules set down in the Qur’an and receiving public education. In 2005 the Danish right-wing newspaper Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten “invited members of the Danish editorial cartoonists union to draw Muhammad as they see him.” Since Muslim teaching forbids depiction of the prophet, and since it was assumed many cartoons would depict him a terrorist, this was a deliberate provocation. In December 2009 Swiss voters voted in a referendum to ban further construction of minarets in the country. (There are only four.)

There are a lot of hurt feelings about violent attacks, and Muslims in Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere frankly have more cause for them than the people of New York City. The loss of 2976 people in New York on 9-11 was tragic. But more than that number of civilians were killed by U.S. bombing between October 2001 and March 2002, and the ongoing bombing has caused Afghans initially willing to cooperate with US/NATO to explode in indignation. Members of Parliament walk out, the streets of Kabul fill with anti-U.S. demonstrators, not because they’re Muslim, but because their sense of outrage that most non-Muslims in the world share, is provoked by arrogant imperialism.

The loss of life in Iraq, the displacement of millions, the massive increase in children born with deformities or suffering from leukemia due to US use of depleted uranium and agent orange, has been catastrophic. And aside from hurt feelings resulting from these wars, there are lots of hurt feelings over discrimination, experienced throughout the western world.

The controversy over the Islamic center and the results of the opinion polls suggest that neither the politicians nor pundits nor people in general understand any of this, and so seem hell-bent on generating more Muslim resentment. Nothing good can come out of that. But good could come out of Park51. Non-believer that I am, I hope the imam and his group stand strong and refuse to be intimidated by demagogues and fools.

Gary Leupp is a Professor of History at Tufts University, and author of numerous works on Japanese history. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Gary.

19 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. hayate said on August 20th, 2010 at 9:36am #

    This bigoted hype about the Cordoba House shows what zionist control of the media has done to american perceptions of different religions outside Judeo-Christianity. The Jewish zionist who own and run the american media have steadfastly blitzed americans with bigoted propaganda against Muslims and Arabs, and have worked hard to reinforce and expand the already existing latent xenophobia america is famous for. Once these ziofascists get the issue hyped before the public, their pet quislings in the government then add their xenophobic bs to the racist stew.

    The first step to stopping this crap is getting rid of the zionists.

  2. MichaelKenny said on August 20th, 2010 at 12:21pm #

    A small point. Saying that “French Muslim schoolgirls” are being forced to choose between following rules set down in the Qur’an and receiving public education simply reveals an almost routine level of American ignorance about Europe. First of all, Europeans are not very strong on religious observance, so there are as few practicing Muslims here as there are practicing Christians or Jews or Hindus or anyone else, which is to say very few indeed. The number of girls actually affected was very small and some of them were probably being forced to wear scarfs by foreign-born parents or neighbourhood gangs. The law gives them an excuse to take off the scarf. Equally, the “public education point” is absurd in European terms. Here, all education, both public and private, is subsidised and the cost to parents is essentially the same. Thus, Muslim groups are perfectly free to set up private, state-subsidised schools, in which the scarf ban will not apply. They can, of course, also send their children to the Catholic schools, which have no such ban and are actually required by law in France to accept non-Catholic students and dispense them from religious education in return for their subsidies. Since the Catholic schools are considered better than the state schools, and few of the children come from practicing Catholic families anyway, there are already plenty of (theoretically) ” Muslim” children in the Catholic schools already.
    All this ballyhoo over the mosque is simply turning the US into an even bigger laughing stock than it is already.

  3. MylesH said on August 20th, 2010 at 12:39pm #

    Having a place of religious tolerance near the 9-11 site does not reflect American values. They should put in another Starbucks, like the one right by ground zero. Now that’s Americana!

  4. teafoe2 said on August 20th, 2010 at 1:48pm #

    hmm: wonder what happened to the “comment” of mine that MK seems to be commenting on? Or is he on the wrong thread?

    BTW it is Kenny who is turning himself into a laughing stock, by his naked display of his religious and ethnic chauvinism.

  5. Deadbeat said on August 20th, 2010 at 5:23pm #

    Leupp writes …

    What does this tell us about this country? It tells us that nine years after 9-11 (and nice centuries after the First Crusade), Islamophobia is rampant and politically useful. Even though U.S. troops are supposedly fighting to help Muslims in two countries and both Bush and Obama have officially (for whatever reasons) emphasized that the U.S. is not against Islam, Islam is a religion of peace, we value our Muslim citizens, etc. the “us vs. them” mentality remains strong.

    My question is why Leupp lacks the courage to call out racist Zionism and being part of the U.S. cultural landscape and has been so for greater than 40 years especially starting with its influence of the U.S. political economy, the Congress, the Presidency, and the media.

    Well before 9-11, the Zionist controlled media labeled Middle Easterners “terrorists”. I grew up hearing this shit. Newt Gingrich has long been in the pocket of Jewish Zionists. So why doesn’t Leupp call a spade a spade.

    In other words Jewish Zionists has long laid the foundation of this racist hate in the U.S. and you didn’t hear a peep from Chomskyites, the Left nor Liberals. Now that this Mosque has become a national “embarrassment” you get all this piety from folks who kept silent for decades and permitted Zionism to grow its tentacles and power.

    If Leupp wants to really deal with “Islamophobia” he better write some articles that seriously confronts American Zionism.

  6. BartFargo said on August 20th, 2010 at 8:53pm #

    MKenny, all your contortions to explain away the effects of the French schoolgirl headscarves ban can’t erase the fact that the French government loves to use Islamophobia as a distraction from domestic conundrums and corruption (and among their base, it works!), nor that the Islamic panic has also evidently swept the populace of Switzerland. Many Europeans aren’t any more tolerant than their American counterparts, nevertheless your post fits your pattern of acting like Euros are always born with better pots to p*** in.

  7. teafoe2 said on August 20th, 2010 at 9:02pm #

    Thank you again, BF. BTW I hope my earlier spelling error hasn’t got you pushed out of shape, I just couldn’t resist:)

  8. John Andrews said on August 21st, 2010 at 12:01am #

    I too am a non-believer… in ALL religion, and whilst I respect Mr Leupp’s modest support for the rights of Islam, I respect the rights of the ordinary individual far more.

    The ‘deliberate provocation’ by a Danish cartoonist did not justify the rioting that ensued any more than the ‘provocation’ for Iran’s ridiculous fatwa on Salmon Rushdie for writing a pretentious unreadable book. If we allowed Islam to behave this way every time it felt ‘provoked’ it wouldn’t be very long before women were forbidden from working for a living and people were having their hands cut off whilst others were being be-headed for public amusement.

    Islam itself is no more dangerous or ridiculous than any other religion – it’s the freaks that control it that are the problem.

  9. Mulga Mumblebrain said on August 21st, 2010 at 9:59am #

    Geller is a Zionist Jew, a propagandist for the settlers’ who infest occupied Palestinian land and a fanatic Arab and Moslem hater. In an article in today’s ‘The Guardian’, the well-trained ‘journalist’ mentions Geller’s unsavoury connections,including the ‘English Defence League’ of Moslem-haters who proudly display their promoters Star of David flag at their hate-fests, and whose organisation’s name apes the Kahanist ‘Jewish Defence League’, but never finds the nerve to mention her Jewishness. One wonders why?
    Behind almost every anti-Arab, anti-Moslem moral panic and hate campaign it is simplicity itself to find a Jewish Zionist hand, or that of one of their loyal Sabbat Goy stooges. Yet this relentless campaign by Zionist Jews to promote hatred and religious war is never mentioned by the mainstream propaganda apparatus. Similarly much of the Sinophobia, that is relentlessly growing in intensity and ubiquity in the propaganda system, has Zionist fingerprints all over it. This is unsurprising as China’s rise represents Zionism’s greatest nightmare.Having gained control of the Western media,politics and business through Jewish money power, and having established Israel as a nuclear-armed bolt-hole from which to run global rackets in blood diamonds,organ trafficking, drug dealing and sex slavery, and more ‘legitimate’ rackets like pornography and the financial malfeasance of Wall Street, Zionists clearly imagine that they have reached their predetermined place as the planet’s de facto rulers. The US and its mock ‘President’ are in their pocket, follow orders slavishly and unleash their military brutality to achieve Zionist ambitions. The only thing that could ruin this happy state of affairs is the rise of a non-Western, therefore non -Zionist controlled, state to global dominance.Hence subverting China is Zionism’s greatest priority, and the insistent vilification of China in the Zionist controlled Western media a sure sign of things to come.

  10. teafoe2 said on August 21st, 2010 at 11:11am #

    Mulga, I wondered where you were:)

    US/Nato military presence in Af/Pak, and Iraq-style dismemberment of Pakistan make sense as getting in position to begin splitting off chunks of PRC, beginning with Eastern Turkestan aka PRC’s “New Province”, Xinjiang. Tibet would be next.

    Of course the indigenous populations of both regions have legitimate grievances about their treatment by the PLA, PRC, CCP and Han Chinese in general. But from a global perspective any weakening of China adds momentum to the drive to establish an expanded Eretz Yisroel as the new metropole of the Empire.


  11. Rehmat said on August 21st, 2010 at 6:17pm #

    His (Bush) rhetoric regarding Islam and Muslims after 9/11 was uniformly conciliatory, couched as it was between his WMD fabrications and pro-war grandstanding, and as the leader of his party, he kept the lid on an explosion of virulent hatred against fellow citizens who prayed to Allah instead of Jesus or Yahweh. It was bad enough after 9/11, with many assaults on Muslims and mosques to go around, but it could have been far, far worse had Bush not spoken as he did.

    Well, he’s gone now, and the dogs are off the leash. The proposed construction of the Cordoba House two blocks from the World Trade Center site has given the far-right the opportunity to unveil the one flag they really salute: hatred, divisiveness and fear. For whatever reason, Mr. Bush has chosen to remain silent while his former minions drag the GOP and the country even further into darkness – his spokesman issued a “no comment” on Tuesday regarding the matter, in fact – so it falls to cooler heads to try and prevail. The problem is, my head isn’t all that cool. I’m furious and disgusted over this situation, over the fact that once again, the far-right media establishment has successfully dragged us all to the edge of a cliff, over the fact that too many of us are wallowing in our worst selves.

    So let’s get a few things straight.

    First of all, the Cordoba House is not a “Ground Zero Mosque.” It is a Muslim community center, it is two blocks away from the site, and in a neighborhood that already has a mosque…and a strip club, and a lot of other stuff that makes talk about “desecrating hallowed ground” sound like the nonsense that it is.

    As for the idea that the Cordoba House is going to be a nest of radicals, well, the Imam in charge of the project – Feisal Abdul Rauf – is as sensible and progressive and sane as anyone you know. For God’s sake, Mr. Bush hired the man to help America try to treat with the Muslim world, and Rauf advised the FBI on counter-terrorism tasctics, which are a pretty interesting couple of line items on the resume of a so-called fanatic. I’d like to thank The Rude Pundit for putting together a collection of Imam Rauf’s observations on women’s rights, terrorism, and murder. Because he’s a Muslim, too many people will immediately expect his views to be along the lines of those seventh-century lunatics who give Islam the bad name it enjoys……..

  12. mary said on August 22nd, 2010 at 3:07pm #

    I have no idea what the received opinion on Olbermann is in the US but to a foreigner, this seemed a fair statement of the facts. The Islamophobes and their zionist friends here in the UK are working overtime on the mosque too.

  13. hayate said on August 22nd, 2010 at 5:47pm #


    I did not listen to the whole obermann commentary, but he was behaving decently in what I saw. Obermann is hit and miss. He is quite good on some things, I imagine those things of little importance to zionism, inc. On others, he has promoted the propaganda as the rest of the israeli occupied media, such as his off hand description of Chavez as a dictator in one show. Some controversial things he will ignore, such as the israeli attack on the Gaza convoy. He didn’t say squat about it initially, and this was noted by people looking at the comments in the western media about this attack. He may have said something intelligent later, but his initial silence damned him in a lot of eyes. It was important to counter the zionist propaganda in real time, not days/weeks/months later when the damage has already been done and nobody cares any more, they’ve being inundated with propaganda covering up new zionist atrocities.

  14. mary said on August 23rd, 2010 at 12:57am #

    Thanks Hayate. That was useful to know.

    This from Mairead Maguire who was on the flotilla. The response will be a template letter from a company to which the BBC has outsourced its complaints department called Capita. They employ another called Tempero to manage their website and comment moderation. We live in an Orwellian and fascist state.

    2lst August, 2010
    Open Letter to the Panorama BBC Team

    Dear BBC Panorama Team

    I write to you regarding your programme of 16th August, 2010, about The Freedom Flotilla and particularly the killings of unarmed civilians by Israeli Navy Seals on the ship MV “Mavi Marmara’, on 3lst May, 2010.

    I have been campaigning for the rights of Palestinians for over ten years. I have visited Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories many times. I was part of the Freedom Flotilla in May on the MV ‘Rachel Corrie’, my third journey on a Free Gaza boat. I am deeply disappointed at the misrepresentation, lack of truth, and bias displayed by your programme.

    This programme had an opportunity to inform and educate the public about the background to the flotilla, the motives of the passengers and crew on board the MV ‘Mavi Marmara’, who (like all of us on the boats trying to get to Gaza) were concerned for the suffering of the people of Gaza. Over 650 people – from all faiths and none, – from over 40 countries, representing the human family and uniting in nonviolent resistance to break a cruel siege (collective punishment is illegal under International Law) to bring hope and support to the people of Gaza. Before leaving their various ports, as part of the undertaking, all passengers made pledges of nonviolence, all people, and cargoes were searched, and all undertook to go in a spirit of peace to resist (as is our moral right and duty) the breaking of Human Rights and International Law by Israel through its siege of Gaza and occupation of Palestine.

    This journey of courage and call for justice by people on board the MV ‘Mavi Marmara’ and the flotilla represented the conscience of the world. The boats carried no arms, and were no threat to Israel, but what they did carry were voices of dissent from every corner of the world, (including Jews) saying to Israel ‘no more sieges, occupations, wars and threats of violence’, we refuse to be silent in the face of your ethnic cleansing and persecution of the Palestinian people.

    Our motives were honourable, we did it for the children of Gaza, knowing that in the end, truth and justice will prevail.

    Sadly, the Panorama programme did not see the true significance of this historic journey and missed an opportunity for the media to fulfil its responsibility to ‘tell the truth and nothing but the truth’. They choose instead to try to demonize the passengers on the MV ‘Mavi Marmara’ from the word go by trying to make them out as violent terrorists. They choose to collude with the Israeli propaganda of lies and manipulation of facts thus trying to turn the victims into aggressors.

    The fact that Israeli commandos started shooting from the Zodiac assault boats and the helicopters from the word go was not stated. The audio and video footage used (provided by Israeli military intelligence) was proven to be doctored, and the IDF have admitted this.

    Your programme showed audio containing what was purported to be anti-semitic remarks issued over the radio by members on the flotilla, and you showed a clip of a percussion grenade exploding in one of the Israeli Zodiac assault boats. These things never happened. There is so much commentary in this documentary that is inaccurate that it does a grave disservice to investigative journalism and the BBC.

    But the real people hurt by this programme, are the families of the 9 unarmed passengers who were assassinated in this unprovoked, illegal, massacre by the Israeli navy seals. So too the more than 40 unarmed people who were injured on the illegal military assault in International waters, whose only crime was to care about Gaza and its people. …

    I would like to ask the BBC Panorama Team, ‘What do you intend to do to redress the injustice you have done to the good names of all those who were killed, and injured, and their families on board the MV ‘Mavi Marmara’ on 3lst May, 2010? ‘

    I await your response.

    Mairead Maguire
    Nobel Peace Laureate (

  15. Mulga Mumblebrain said on August 23rd, 2010 at 1:21am #

    It’s funny,is it not,how one determined, intensely supremacist, group, operating as a sort of tribal ‘religious’ mafia,over centuries, can gain control over countries, all in broad-daylight, turn respected institutions like the BBC into private fiefdoms and the vilest,most debased, liars and propagandists for their Masters’ racism and thuggery, suborn the entire political class through ‘donations’, and ruthlessly steer the world towards religious war, yet to even mention this reality is strictly forbidden? The fault lies not just with the Judeofascists (and I definitely do not lump all Jews into this category, as one could not burden all Germans with responsibility for the crimes of the Nazis, or all Americans for the crimes of their rulers)and the utter corruption of money-based capitalist politics in the West, but also in the moral insanity and cowardice of Western non-Judaic elites. That no-one at the ZBC concerned with the vile travesty of the Panorama propaganda orgy,or the mundane,inescapable and relentless bias of every ZBC broadcast concerning Israel, has had the basic decency to resign and denounce the whole sordid mess, speaks volumes for the character of those concerned. Of course speaking out would end their mainstream careers, but that is like being released from a pact with the Devil. When one has sunk so low,morally and ethically, as to peddle the lie of the ‘anti-semitic’ broadcasts from the Mavi Marmara, weeks after they were conclusively shown to be fabrications, signals that the producers of this rubbish are,in my opinion, really wicked people, complicit after the act in cold-blooded murder.

  16. mary said on August 23rd, 2010 at 3:29am #

    I agree with Deadbeat above and there is some chickening out on 9/11 too.
    Everything flowed from that, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the war on terror worldwide.

    The vitriol and the most terrible evil spewed out over the Arab and Muslim world depended on blind belief, mostly because of existing prejudice, that 9/11 was down to Muslims. We know dozens of reasons why that is not so, especially Tower 7. That pretext is simply promoted here by not even questioning it.

    And I am not too impressed with Rauf either. Oh yes – Sufi. Happy to work with the FBI? The concept of the centre sounds fine but with Bloomberg’s support, and other leading NY Jews, this is a straw man to get the bile flowing and that war on Islam really boiling (Iran next?). These vile urges last because there are no checks in an ignorant, heavily propagandised society. We should know in this fascist island that is called the United Kingdom.

  17. kalidas said on August 23rd, 2010 at 4:33pm #

    It started, perhaps ironically, with Kosovo.

    NATO, instead of celebrating 50 years of never having fired a shot by patting each other on the back and then disbanding, instead unleashed the precursor to invasion and occupation of Iraq ect. Their ass saving raison d’etre, the hideous “humanitarian intervention” blasphemy. This with virtually universal media support world wide.

  18. Rhisiart Gwilym said on August 24th, 2010 at 6:31am #

    Pretty near faultless wise commentary here, Gary.

    Except, that is, for one half-liner which seems to suggest that you too still buy the official ’19 Islamic kamikazes directed by OBL from a cave in Afghanistan’ kids-cartoon-level nonsense about who actually did 9/11.

    The truly astonishing level of brainless islamophobia rampaging around the US right now gets one of its main-drives from that official 9/11 conspiracy nonsense.

    But if enough USAmericans — particularly high-profile humane intellectuals such as you — would bite this ultimately-painful bullet (which just a few of your compatriots have had the extraordinary courage and self-discipline to do already), and face the fact that the real-world, sane, peer-reviewed, evidence-based case is now pretty well unanswerable that 9/11 was an inside job by a small clique of powerful USAmericans, a classic false-flag scam, then a lot of the West’s anti-islam drive would evaporate right there.

    If only a critical mass of honest, courageous USAmericans would do their (genuinely) patriotic duty and look honestly at the real evidence, then that classic war-justifying Big Lie would be nailed at last. Seems to me that that critical mass can’t be far away now. Come on Gary, and all you other honest waverers: look at the hard evidence. Face it. It was some of your own ‘leaders’, not Arab jihadis, who did it.

    Which means that all that poisonous, faux-patriotic anti-islam bilge which you’ve surveyed briefly in this piece, Gary, runs right out of steam, as soon as that fact is faced and admitted widely in the US.

    Which means in its turn that much of the propaganda ‘legitimation’ of the genocidally-murderous and hugely-destructive Western state-terrorism against the common citizens of the South West Eurasian oil-rich states would suddenly lose one of its main justifying lies.

    Who knows: such a great unmasking — together with the continuing steady collapse of US imperial power — might even save a few million more lives of the people of that suffering region, who as things stand now are still greatly at risk from the utterly criminal geo-realpolitik of USukisnato, and the vile drive towards even more war to try to grab control of the petro-resources and their transit routes.

  19. Mulga Mumblebrain said on August 25th, 2010 at 3:24am #

    Rhisiart, the Islamophobia raging throughout the West isn’t ‘brainless’.It has a brain, a motivating force and a central nervous system of propagandising that has ‘Made in Israel’ written all over it.Every Islamophobic diatribe can swiftly be traced to a Rightwing Zionist Jew or one of their Sabbat Goy underlings. This hatemongering is done openly,defiantly and proudly,and any who dare criticise it,even decent Jews,are instantly silenced, vilified and intimidated with cries of ‘anti-semite’ invariably coming from the vilest type of Rightwing racist (pardon the redundancy)