Traverse City Record-Eagle


Mosque at Ground Zero

Cathy Stripe LesterWho's more fun, a swashbuckling actor in some pirate fantasy, or a droning history teacher? Well, that's a no-brainer. Unfortunately, though, when it comes to conducting our national affairs, too many of my fellow Americans seem to think it's still about playing pirates. This is true a lot of the time, but when an issue like the "Ground Zero Mosque" comes up, you see it with precision eyeglasses.

It's like going to a horror movie — in real life Boris Karloff was a quiet, bookish, gentle man who liked children, but reality be hanged, it's more fun believing in Frankenstein.

Even liberals are saying it's "insensitive" to build a religious center a few blocks away from Ground Zero. (At least a few people have looked at a map, and noticed that it wouldn’t be “at” Ground Zero.) So we're supposed to feed some sort of national hysteria about Muslims, in order to make us feel good about believing a fantasy instead of the truth? And a fantasy is supposed to make us safer?

Yeah, fantasy. We've had nine years to learn the facts about Muslims. In that time we could have earned a Bachelor's Degree, a Master's and a PhD, yet there are still people who think all Muslims hate us, and that the Sufis who want to build the Park 51 Community Center (not a Mosque) are the same as the fanatical Wahhabis who manned the planes on 9/11.

That's about as sensible as saying that Martin Luther was the same as the Pope. Both Christians, ho-hum, so why bother with the fine distinctions? I don't need to tell you that line wouldn't get you an A from your Sunday School teacher.

So who are these Sufis who want their Community Center? The Sufis have been called the Hippies of Islam, a combination of New Age Mysticism, Johnny Appleseed and the Beatles. They preach love and tolerance. The poet Rumi, who's been in vogue lately, and who wrote about love, humanity and God, was a Sufi. The Sufis go in for music and dancing (which the Taliban outlawed).

When I was in England I saw a performance on the BBC by some Sufi pop musicians who had catchy lyrics like, "Anyone who thinks religion is about hate and killing doesn't know God." Well, maybe not quite as catchy as the Beatles, but still, isn't that the sort of Muslim we want to encourage?

I should add that the Taliban hate the Sufis. The Sufis are way too tolerant, too full of brotherhood and good will, too peaceful for the Taliban. Recently, the Taliban have bombed Sufi Mosques and targeted Sufi leaders in Pakistan. If we deny the Sufis an honorable place in our country, we're as good as helping the Taliban.

Not only do most Americans not recognize the difference between Sufis and extremists, we can't seem to accept the fact that many Muslims WANT to fight terrorism.

Are you ready for a something counter-intuitive but true? According to a study which came out in Jan. 2010, Muslim youth who are affiliated with Mosques are LESS likely to turn towards terrorism.

There are a number of reasons for that, but the biggest ones are that Mosques provide a sense of community to young Muslims, and that local Muslim leaders have been speaking out against violence for a long time. Far from "breeding terrorism," American mosques (I'm not talking about mosques in Pakistan) have been trying to stave off extremism. It would be nice if they got a bit of credit for it.

The Muslims who do become extremists are more likely to feel alienated and be influenced by the sort of "teachers" who conduct classes in backstairs rooms, and/or by the Internet. What a shocker, the Internet is more of a breeding ground for terrorists than your average Mosque is?!? Down with the Intern—! Er, wait a minute…

Actually, Muslim leaders around the world have been quietly combating extremism for years. There's a genuine throwdown going on between the moderates and the firebrands, but you wouldn't know it from the U.S. media. Face it, swashbuckling-firebrand-type Mullahs look HEAPS better on TV, so those are the ones we get to see.

I was amazed when King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia fired some ultra-conservative leaders, including the chief of the Religious Police. This is unheard-of in Saudi, where the religious leaders have been pulling the Royals' strings since the founding of the country. It was big, big, BIG news in the Arab world. And our media? Oh, it's more fun hyperventilating over Lindsay Lohan.

And, yes, it actually takes a few ounces of mental effort to tell the moderate Muslims from the jihadists. But you know, when it comes to building a nation where folk of all religions feel equal, and equally valued, AND equally patriotic, we may want to take our brains out for a little brisk, invigorating walk.

When the Park 51 Community Center was approved, it was pointed out that it would go a long way towards healing wounds and building bridges between Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities. Are we now saying that Muslims aren't ALLOWED to try to prevent terrorism, heal wounds and build bridges?

The State Department doesn't agree. They've already sent Imam Feisal Rauf, the leader of the proposed Park 51 Community Center, to the Middle East twice, to build bridges and promote good will towards America. George Bush sent him the first time, in his "hearts and minds" campaign, and the Imam has been scheduled to go again on August 19. (This was arranged months before the "Obama Mosque" controversy.) He's going to Bahrain, Qatar and Abu Dhabi — three countries that are American allies, where the leaders are hard at work combating extremism.

The Imam is going to be sending the message that the USA respects Islam. Do we really want the fun of shooting ourselves in the foot by undermining that message? OK, load… aim…

The Imam wants a safer America, but what makes us safer? Hatred of another religious group (who also lost people in the World Trade Center)? Or reconciliation with a group that also wants to stave off extremists?

I think Isaiah knew. The lion cannot lie down with the lamb unless they approach each other with love and peace in their hearts.

We have it within our power to make friends with Muslim Americans, and with Muslims in other countries. If we're willing to give up our lives for our country, why aren't we willing to give up the horror-movie fun of ignorance and hatred?

  • paula jo

    What you don’t hear about is the Greek Orthodox Church they are trying to build in the same Neighborhood,running into one roadblock after another from the NYC Government,Guess if their Faith took part in terrorism and preached Jihad from the Church,Obama would back them too.

  • Gene

    Dear Ms. Stripe Lester,

    I was taking my brain for a walk around the block and asked myself this silly ignorant prejudiced question; how are these poor hippy penniless misunderstood Muslim Americans going to pay for a $100 million center?

    Kumbaya, Peace and Love,

  • Gene

    Dear Ms. Stripe Lester, Letter 2,

    Had a thought while walking my brain. That new design for the World Trade Center Tower by the brilliant Berlin architect has a very special top on the building. In the vicinity of the 103rd floor, in the area where sensitive persons may fear going any higher because of past history on that site, the architect has designed a sculptural appendage jutting high into the sky. Some have criticized this as homage to the twisted ruins of the original building and the tremendous human carnage. Some have even said it is a victory symbol for the IslamoFascist Terrorists. I was wondering if in order to quell the national hysteria about Muslims, and specifically of the IsmamoFascist Terrorist variety, what you would think if we dedicated this twisted ruin portion atop the building to this sect of penniless hippie misunderstood Muslims. They could build the new communilty center atop the new World Trade Center, at the very pinnacle of the building incorporating the twisted sculptural effect. Maybe Mr. Obama could even fund it. It would surly attract positive attention to their sect. They could even recruit and train new sect members there. If it would stop the ignorance and hatred, I would be for it. How about you?

    More Kumbya, Peace and Love.

  • Ed Hahnenberg

    Cathy … Only the most bigoted would want Muslims to be deprived of building mosques anywhere in the U.S. However, many Americans feel the proximity of the Ground Zero mosque to GZ is the issue. While your reasoned analysis of the issue may be correct, this is more than a legal question. The sensitivity of the issue may very well trump its constitutionality.

  • Cathy Stripe Lester

    If anyone’s interested in checking out that study about Muslim Youth and Mosques, it was done by the U. of N. Carolina and Duke University, and the link is:

  • Ellen Koenig

    If the Sufis; who you say ” have been called the Hippies of Islam, a combination of New Age Mysticism, Johnny Appleseed and the Beatles who preach love and tolerance”; continue to insist on building at that site despite learning how much pain and sorrow it will cause their neighbors, I have a hard time understanding how anyone could say the Sufis have love and peace in their hearts and are only want to heal wounds and build bridges.

    The proposed $100 million Islamic cultural center and mosque stirs complicated emotions and should be built elsewhere, where there is no possible association with New York’s ground zero. Anyone with an ounce of real compassion will tell you the same thing.

  • Monique Brownson

    Amendment I
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    It’s a local issue, local zoning, and private property rights issue.

  • Gene

    If anyone is interested in checking out that . . whoaaa . . . I retract everything have said. . . Now I learn it is a common Islamic practice to build a mosque atop the ruins of a Christian church . . as a symbol of conquest. Think of it!! Maybe we need to learn more about these Muslims. And I swear on a stack of Christian Bibles that I didn’t see the following Michael Ramirez cartoon until after I wrote my letter 1 and letter 2 to Ms. Stripes.

  • Kelly

    Good for you Cathy! There is so much fear, doubt and misdirection going on in our country that it is refreshing to hear a like-minded, fact based view.

  • Diana

    Did you know that this peace loving Imam that wants this thing built in N.Y. wrote a book which has the Arabic title
    of ” How To Conquer America for Islam”?. Did you know that this peace loving Imam will not denounce Hamas? Did you know this peace loving Imam says “America asked for it on 9/11″, Did you know this peace loving Imam wants the U.S. to be Sharia law compliant?, Did you know that this peace loving Imam believes in putting up these mosques where there has been a great Muslim victory to celebrate? And of course you know that this peace loving Imam doesn’t care one bit about the hurt and pain of any 9/11 family. Just try to put up a Christian church on that sight or a Synagogue and see what happens. The very liberals that want to bend over backwards for people who hate our guts and let them stick a finger in our eye. Will not tolerate a cross, nativity scene, prayer or even someone saying Merry Christmas!!! America is gone, what we love and cherrish is being taken right out from under us.
    And if we dare say anything about it we are called racist and religious fanatics trying to force our views on everybody else. The only religion I see forcing anything on anybody these days is Islam.

  • Terry Munofo

    You won’t print what I really wanna say to all these people that spew their rhetorical non-sense. So, I will just say – Build the Center/Mosque, attend it, and learn something about Muslim Culture besides what you ignorantly think you know from the post-9/11American media. Do you really think Osama Bin Laden masterminded 9/11 or that he represents the majority of Muslims? You people opposed to the First Amendment are blind! Go bomb some more Muslim countries and build your Christian churches, and instill Western culture into them… Hypocrites!

  • Cheryl

    Sorry, Gene. Not all that significant a point. Check your history of the early Christian Church in Europe. They co-opted every sacred site of every religion they came across – grove, well, stone – wherever the locals had felt a holy vibe going on. So not unusual for another religion to follow the same plan.
    But it doesn’t follow that’s what’s going on here.
    Do you feel that the destruction of the WTC can be considered a victory in the Muslim wolrd? Sure it was a horrendous sight, and a hurtful thing, but the aftermath has caused so much pain and suffering and death amongst the Muslim peoples of the middle east, that I’d say it’s a pretty piss-poor symbol of “conquest”.

  • Cheryl

    Amen, Monique.

  • James

    I am disappointed in the Record-Eagle for printing this. You, they, don’t deserve the space or time to think about it.

  • Cathy Stripe Lester

    Paula Jo, I’m really sorry to hear the Greek Orthodox Church is running into roadblocks. However, I don’t think preaching jihad from the pulpit would help them. That’s NOT what Imam Feisal is doing. He’s trying to stop the jihadis, and THAT’s why Obama is backing him.

  • Cathy Stripe Lester

    Gene, I said they were a bit like the Beatles, who aren’t exactly penniless. And there are a lot of them, so their mites add up. Are you suggesting Imam Feisal is taking money from Al-Qaeda to finance the Community Center? I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t take a toothpick from any source linked to Al-Qaeda. Nor would Al-Qaeda offer it to him in the first place. As I said, the Muslim extremists can’t stand the Sufis. As a matter of fact they think Sufis are heretics!

    I don’t know that the Sufis “recruit and train” anyone. They’re mystics, so new people tend to join when the spirit impels them to.

    Yeah, that’s a funny cartoon. What gets me is that when Obama first started campaigning, people were criticizing him for being under the influence of his pastor, the Rev. Wright. It was only after the GOP lost traction on that smear that they decided they needed a worse smear and decided to tell everyone Obama was a Muslim. I mean, they should make up their mind, eh?

    And where do you get that biz about building mosques on top of the ruins of churches as a symbol of conquest? Not from the link I put up! The Muslims converted a lot of churches to mosques, but they also left a lot of churches standing. When the Christians re-conquered some places they did the exact same thing.

  • Cathy Stripe Lester

    To Ed and Ellen,
    I can feel for people who still have raw emotions over the Ground Zero site. However, people who’ve actually gone there say you can’t see the old Burlington Coat Factory building, which is where the Community Center would be, from Ground Zero. So how far is far enough? Four blocks? Ten blocks? Murfreesboro? Timbuktoo?

    When the Park 51 Community Center was first approved, even conservatives thought it was a great community-building idea, and nobody thought it was “insensitive”. Then a few demogogues decided to make it a political issue and the hysteria started. We should be soothing hysteria, not encouraging it.

    Ed, I don’t know how old you are, but do you remember when Black people weren’t welcome in some White churches? There was a sort of hysteria in those days, the idea that Blacks would be moving into White neighborhoods and raping white girls en masse. Some White preachers went along with that hysteria, but my respect went to the ones who calmed people’s irrational fears and extended the hand of brotherhood to those of another race.

    I agree, it’s an emotional issue. Can’t we encourage positive emotions rather than negative ones? A sense that a lot of Muslims are ON OUR SIDE is not only the truth, it should do a lot to make people feel better. And it’s the Christian thing to do.

  • Carl Rea

    Interesting but you might want to visit this web site: jihadwatch. Rauf will not condem Hamas. Why is he even here?

  • Ed Hahnenberg

    Cathy…I remember that as a teacher, I spent a day with John Howard Griffith, author of “Black Like Me,” and he related a story about how when he changed the color of his skin to black, he had to plan his stops in Atlanta because blacks were not allowed to use white public restrooms. I was in Mississippi in the 60s in the very town where racial murders had just occurred. The world I grew up in as a teacher in that decade was very different than today. I do have to disagree with Diana about the book she purportedly cites. The Imam she refers to wrote several bridge-building books…one entitled “What’s Right With Islam: Is What’s Right With America,” which glosses over points of contention between the religions, but the objective of the book is obviously to make readers realize that killing each other because of our differences is something that is contrary to every religion’s teachings.

    However, during an interview on New York WABC radio in June 2010, Abdul Rauf declined to say whether he agreed with the U.S. State Department’s designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization. I don’t think he, like the President, can have it both ways. Either he condemns, by name, Muslim extremism or he will always be looked upon with suspicion.

  • Sharon

    I think Miss Koenig & Cheryl speak for the majority of Americans concerning the building of this Mosque near Ground Zero. It’s disrespectful to the families of the 9/11 tragedy period!

    And, Cathy, how can you dismiss this Iman character as being peace loving and applaud his tax-paid visits to 3 more Middle East countries to promote “good will” towards America when he spoke 11 days after 9/11 and professed that America was as much to blame for the attack as Al Quida!! This guy is as shady as ex Illinois governor Blago.

    If the Sufi’s are so “peace & love baby” and they are indeed the backers of this Mosque, than let them show their love and compassion by building their Mosque away from Ground Zero as requested by the 9/11 families! We were attacked by their fellow Muslims, let them show us some respect and prove to us that they are “peace & love!”

  • Cathy Stripe Lester

    Ed, thank you so much for being informed of the peaceful nature of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s writings. Although you oppose his Community Center, you have the courage to be honest about him.

    Mr. Obama is very smart not to press Imam Feisal over “denouncing Hamas as terrorists.” Just as Americans have an unbreakable emotional bond with Israel, people in the Middle East have an emotional bond with the people of Palestine. In their world, Hamas are “Freedom Fighters.” Imam Feisal might well personally disapprove of Hamas’s tactics, but if he “denounced Hamas” he would immediately lose all his street cred in the Arab world.

    If he lost his street cred he’d be pretty much useless at winning hearts and minds for the USA. If we can win minds it will help us negotiate a lasting peace. If we win a lasting peace Hamas will cease to be a threat. It’s like playing chess; some retreats can actually be advances.

  • Cathy Stripe Lester

    Diana, a book like the one you say simply isn’t Imam Feisal’s style. If you don’t want to belive me, listen to Ed, who researches such things, and does it honest.

    How many liberals do you know personally? I know lots of them, and they all tolerate crosses, prayers, etc., and wish each other MERRY CHRISTMAS! A lot of us even wear crosses and say prayers, oh my!

    There are actually two Christian churches near Ground Zero already. I looked up the Greek Orthodox church of St. Nicholas that Paula Jo mentionied, and it seems there are legal/security issues that are tying it up. Plus the authorities are being incredibly disorganized about it all. But there’s no objection to a church per se.

  • Cathy Stripe Lester

    Carl, I’m acquainted with jihadwatch. Sadly, they have a bad reputation among legitimate historians. “Misinformation” is one of the kinder comments on them.

    Even a conservative thinker like Dinesh D’Souza (and no, that name is not Muslim) has said you can’t rely on the so-called “facts” promulgated by jihadwatch. Of course, jihadwatch immediately tried to demonize D’Souza — sad, considering he worked for Ronald Reagan and wrote a book called “The Virtue of Prosperity: Finding Values in an Age of Techno Affluence.”

  • Gene

    Well, Ms. Lester, you and Hamas and Obama may back this mosque proposal, but I remain unconvinced. I played your pirate game and wrote tongue in cheek proposals, and absorbed all the happy talk I possibly could. It comes back to the reality that we are engaged in a war with a wily enemy. There should be no moral equivalence of Christians building churches or the United States ‘chickens coming home to roost.’ I agree with Sharon, who above suggests the actions to gain respect have to come from the Muslims. You and CAIR can explain all you want the variations within their faith and their intents. If AP will forgive me, the GZM is, as Sarah Palin says, a stab in the heart of America. Americans are on the side of good and we have nothing for which to apologize or accommodate. In your Muslim studies you surely have heard the ‘strong horse’ theory of Arab reasoning. The GZM is more symbolic to the other side than it is to our side. We need to reestablish the strong horse approach of President Bush, and not meekly accept the Trojan horse being presented to President Obama. This is a war of survival, if this current administration recognizes it or not.

  • Myosote

    We can take a real idea about religious progresses only when we have a clear vision about their roots. All Religions have one common aspect in themselves and that is “the whisper of an invisible matter in the ears of some one visible! “, then that visible man (here we call it The Prophet of that Religion) would publish his interpretation in a formation of celestial signs and his followers would perform those interpretations. Time goes and it takes longer time from the first day the prophet published the ideas, so the interpretations drive more mysterious, bit to bit some ones would appear & claim that they’ve found the real means of what that Invisible matter whispered in the ears of their Prophet so other ideas must be merged in what they say. Some ones would appear and they want to force people to the Paradise or would express their dissatisfaction about those who block the way of paradise (like the tragedy of September 11 that in it an interpretation of Quran vote to killing of thousands people) even if Muslims tell the September 11 was a harsh interpretation of Quran they can’t clean the taint remained, because as history showed these truculence can repeat again, but we should point this important matter that if we don’t allow building a cultural Islamic Center which it claims to spread clement Islam even near to the place of September 11 events or thousands miles away from it, we have helped making or growing a military presidio to teach terrorism while we didn’t know that. That is why president Obama decided to accept letting this cultural-Islamic center near the memorial of 11 September events.

  • John

    I feel sorry for Gene, his reality seems dominated by conflict, fear and distrust. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a bunker under his house. Need it be pointed out that every religion can be linked to violence? That they all have inter warring sects? (hello n.Ireland) it is certainly true that we are at war with certain wily elements of Islam (just our latest enemy) but what possible gain can there be in simultaneously alienating the WHOLE Muslim world by indiscriminately labeling them all terrorists; and shredding one of our most sacred freedoms: that of religion?? There are some great points in this article that most of the commenters readily discard in favor of blind fear. You can’t tout the constitution only when it suits you. I have to think that the actual amercan hating extremists giggle with vindication to watch us so readily discard the very values that we say make them hate us. You know, the whole freedom thing. After all, which is greater: freedom or security? That is the choice here.

    What about “turning the other cheek”? The lion and lamb (America the lamb…)? This might be a good time to demonstrate those Christian values we so often brag about. I could swear that there is something about forgiveness in that bible of yours. I must be unaware of the clause that exempts Muslims.

  • Cathy Stripe Lester

    Myosote, thank you for reminding us that God speaks in a “still small voice” but that over hundreds of years people can force different shrill, harsh interpretations of that original message.

    Thank you also for pointing out that Muslims were harmed by the September 11 attacks, because now there are too many people who think the taint of violence is on all Muslims, whether they supported the attacks or not — and MOST did not. And I agree that if we oppose the clement element of Islam we’re strengthening the militaristic extremists.

  • Cathy Stripe Lester

    John, I had been going to answer Gene but you did it better than I could have. Thanks!

  • Gene

    Yeah I know, ‘most conflicts involve religion, yaha, yadh.. ” So what.

    And what do you mean, . .”that Bible of yours.”

    Do not you have a Bible?

  • Gene

    So John,

    I have told you a hundred million times, don’t exaggerate, And I doubt you really feel sorry for me. So by your logic, if we oppose the GZM we might alienate the WHOLE Muslim world?

    And you and Ms. Lester are going to sign a slip that swears on a stack of Bibles, that no extreme group, i.e. IslamoFascist Muslims who are devoted to killing us, will be aided by the presence of the GZM? Of course, you and Ms. Lester have not sworn on the Bible to protect and uphold the Constitution of the United States.

    And since, I am in trouble with your censor or ‘Moderator’ I may not ever see this message again. Geez, I just had a horrible thought; Ms. Lester is probably the Moderator!

    You see, I do this not to try to convince you of anything, but to present a different view to readers who may not be exposed to things outside the mainstream media.

  • John

    ( deep breath )


    To your first reply: When I say “that bible of yours” it was rhetorical mostly, I had also by that time, shifted to addressing all commenters on you’re side. I assume anyone making those arguments is a christian. Stats are on my side. To answer your question: No I do not have a bible. Well, I “have” one, and have even read it, but I don’t subscribe. I agree with Thomas Paine. And while religion doesn’t cause ALL conflict, it certainly does plenty. When you think, like I do, that all institutionalized religion is inherently flawed (maybe even destructive or evil) you see the so called GZM to be as ridiculous as the Vatican and visa versa.

    To your second reply: you haven’t told me anything a hundred million times, this is our first exchange. Anyway… It’s not your opposition to the “GZM” that makes me think you want to alienate the entire Muslim world it is you statements like (but not limited to) “You and CAIR can explain all you want the variations within their faith and their intents.” it is obvious that you care little as to who our enemy actually is. Kill em all and let god sort em out is an ironic philosophy considering that it’s exactly the way said enemy thinks about you and I. I guess if you cant beat em, join em. Right?

    Considering that me swearing on a stack of bibles is equal to swearing on a stack of newspapers, I don’t see what satisfaction you could gain from it. But I’d gladly do it anyway. But that doesn’t change the fact that no one can guarantee your safety from anything without locking you away in a vault. And for the record, I find the constitution more important than the bible.

    Question: why call it the GZM anyway? You do know that it’s NOT on ground zero right? It’s 2 blocks away. How many blocks would make it just another NYC mosque? 4? 6? There are thousands of Muslims milling about on those streets every day regardless. This whole uproar is just a straw man; Hollow and irrational outrage, just more noise from an angry and scared population.

    ( exhale )

  • Cathy Stripe Lester

    Just for the record I’m a Quaker. We prefer to “affirm” rather than “swear.” However, I’d be happy to affirm that anything which strengthens moderate Muslims is denying aid and comfort to the extremist Muslims that want to kill us.

    No way am I well-enough organized to be the moderator, so you can rest easy on that one!

  • Adam

    The construction of an Islamic Center near Ground Zero is a beacon to the world, signaling that we won’t allow anything, not even the most grievous terrorist attack in the history of our country, to tear us apart; we won’t let the pundits and demigods on television use hate for their own cynical political gain; and we won’t be brought to infringe upon the rights of American citizens to pray in their way, even though it might not be our own. If anything, there is no better place for an Islamic center than near Ground Zero. It celebrates our religious diversity and emphasizes the fact that in America, we value all traditions and cultures, including Islam. Those who claim its construction to be insensitive are conflating two completely disparate entities, as Imam Feisal Rauf has absolutely nothing in common with those who were behind the 9/11 attacks.

  • Gene

    Just for the record I’m a Protestant. Our preachers even swear – in the sermon. That “God D- – America” by Obama’s Rev. Wright and that other famous Anti-American, Barry Lynn are members of the U.C.C., just like me. I an not proud of that, but just want to show John-the-breather that I am an open and tolerant type of guy. I was a little taken a back by John-the-breather telling my what I did and thought and what I would say, but even further taken a back by Ms. Lester seconding his view of me.

    Ms. Lester throws out some left-wing study on Muslim boys and terrorism, is only too eager to accept the word of that Imam that he is not a radical nut-case, and is eager to label anyone who is against the mosque as intolerant. I think she used the term GMZ a day or so before the Associated Press had their navel gazing session and decided to use a name more politically correct. Also in the days since she wrote this liberal-Demo talking point, this issue is not dying down, but gathering steam in opinion against the mosque. People realize these Muslims should not build a triumphal arch at the scene of the attack on America.

  • Gene

    Gee Adam,
    I hope everyone likes you.
    I do.

  • Gene

    Where do you get your information on Imam Rauf?

  • CanadaLynx

    Hey Gene, I agree Cathy is a leftie but did you see how Ron Paul ripped into the mosque ccritics? Take a look at his website, it’s fun reading.
    I particularly like how he says those demagogues just want to stoke the fire of hatred of Islam so they can keep on having wars in the Middle East. For anyone who can remember the last 10 years, Ron Paul hits all the nails on the head!

  • Gene

    I’m down to brass tacks. No thanks on the nails.

  • Gene

    Hey John-the-breather,

    We now have one of your “actual amercan hating extremists” who just tried to cut the throat of a Muslim cab driver in NYC. And guess what, the guy is liberal. Works for a liberal institute. He is for building the mosque. One of your guys is a Muslim hater. Read about it in the NYCrimes if interested;

  • javed

    Dear Kathy hope you are fine there, i am so happy you are still remember me, i dont know why peoples scared islamizam islam meaning of peace, as a muslims , 1st i tell you i am simple muslim, i dont like some 1 kill the other religion, over religion islam not allow, i tell you every 1 pls read Quran, God (Allah) not say Ah (ha) Muslim Allah say Ah (Hay) Human..God speak Human All Human is Equal, Allah say in Quran how you mange your life, Kathy Quran is Words of Allah (God), kathy now youlook your peoples Ppl without maarige live, new baby born who is my father, human sexsual is common, Main Quran Object is Humanaties , Allah say how you manage your life how so tell me how you know or learn Quran how muslims Define we are true or not true, so Mosque is main way, now mosque will build near wtc and some ppls scar ..tell me You go Past time before 15 or 20 years not any thing from islam not any objection, tell me who create Taliban who Call Osama , you go past time when russia was enter Afganistan then USA And PAkistan Create Both this, pls dont be scared before million muslims live USA And now this time Million peoples live i dont think Muslims Involve WTC, Its Totly Drama BUSH and Israil INVOLVE WTC Matter,

  • Cathy Stripe Lester

    Yeah Gene, that one’s a puzzler. I bet the shrinks are going to be working on him for years and years.

  • jeff4

    its truly a simple answer. This is america, the home of religious freedom. Let them build their mosque, church, synagogue, peace pipe tepee, wherever they want if they own the property. right on cathy stripe lester. As a side note I saw an interesting quote/bumper sticker the other day. “The original illegal immigrants – White Men in Boats from Europe.”

  • Gene

    . . . but just don’t mention creation in a school, . . right Jeff4 ? You are a hoot. . . Regarding your “home of religious freedom,” comments, and the bad white man, etc., etc. etc.

    Oh by the way Jeff4, ever heard of zoning laws? These local laws are some of the most restrictive in the history of restrictive government. The IslamoFascists in this case, have the local zoning board on their side. They have cleared that hurdle without any apparent discrimination or blowback. What we are talking about is public opinion at this point.

  • Cathy Stripe Lester

    Thanks for your comments, Javed. I know Americans/ life style disturbs many Muslims but thanks for reminding us that Muslims have lived in this country for a long time — the first big influx came 70 or 80 years ago, and in all that time Muslims have been peaceful, law-abiding citizens. It was only when people from outside attacked us that Americans started to be scared of Muslims.

  • Cathy Stripe Lester

    Gene, The local zoning board has already designated the whole area as OK for religious establishments. There are Christian churches in the area — two actually within sight of Ground Zero — as well as synagogues and other mosques. Refusing the community center would actually be against the zoning regulations already in place.

    …and what does creation in school have to do with anything…??

  • Cathy Stripe Lester

    Thanks, Jeff4. My son has a poster showing four Indians with rifles, and the caption, “Fighting for Homeland Security since 1492.”

    Just a bit of Irony, Gene. Like, shouldn’t we all remember that our pasts are a checkerboard of good, bad and questionable? We can try to maximize the good and minimize the bad, but we shouldn’t gloss over things that make us uncomfortable. A country that forgets that gets big-headed and doesn’t always see exactly where it’s going.

  • Jane

    For all the people who are against the mosque and saying that it should be built elsewhere b/c it causes pain to all the 9/11 victims. Remember that many Muslims were victims too. Many people are saying that this isn’t racism or bigotry it’s just plain insensitive. Well that is pretty much contradictive b/c a mosque (in this case it’s not even a mosque, but a community center) is a representation of Islam. Islam=/=terrorism. So how is it insensitive? So this pretty much is about racism and hate. In the so called hallowed ground, there are 10 churches, and 3 synagogues and 1 mosque that is 4 blocks away. Why shouldn’t this community center be built? How is it insensitive? America needs to learn to be tolerant. We need to be an example to other countries, it’s in our Constitution. It’s a shame that this is even an issue. Muslims wanted to build a mosque in Staten Island too, and even that became a big deal. This goes to show that this isn’t about ground zero, this is about hate to Islam.

  • Gene

    As Dan Aykroyd used to say on SNL, “Jane, you ignorant ____.”

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist. This of course is not about hate. This is not about constitutional or property rights. It is not about religious rights. It is all about symbolism. Symbolism to both sides. I happen to come down on the side of America. I really find it ironic to see the left to go to such contortions to use arguments of constitutional or property rights and religious freedom. They never have before. Only when it is against what 60-70% Americans believe, will they stoop this low.

  • jeff4

    Cathy – I have the “LET ME TEACH YOU ABOUT DEMOCRACY” poster where the bomber is dropping bombs with that lettering on it …

  • jeff4

    Gene – the constitution trumps public opinion.

  • Gene

    Jeff4, ever heard of zoning laws? I have gone through this with you before. This has got NOTHING TO DO WITH THE CONSTITUTION. Get it? You libs prove once again you have no understanding of the Constitution. Obama only obscures the issue when he throws of the word. Either he is trying to get ahead with fools like you, or he is ignorant. You pick. If he is so smart as to have taught law, he should know. Mostly, I think it is playing to his fool base and Muslims. Once again, . . Land use decisions like this mosque case are the responsibility of the local government. Thank God we do not have the federal government involved. Well, directly involved. The Supreme Court has upheld zoning laws and the right for locals to enforce them. It is at the local level these issues are addressed. Zoning laws are probably some of the most repressive elements of our free society, and don’t get me started. They take their authority generally from trying to protect the health, safety and welfare, but easily venture into light, air, intensity of use, traffic impacts, and even get to quality and color decisions. All local and all legal. It is the reason the Morman Church usually gets stopped from building a steeple with Gabriel on top. Neighbors object. In this case the neighbors have evidently not objected, and the zoning is okay with the local zoning authority. The ones with the land use decision. NOTHING TO DO WITH THE CONSTITUTION. Other than that zoning laws are legal. Through local zoning laws they have the consitutional right to build on this site. Nobody is disputing that.

    The IslamoFascists in this case, have the local zoning board on their side. They have cleared that hurdle without any apparent discrimination or blowback. What we are talking about is public opinion at this point. In my opinion, the IslamoFascists want to build an In-Your-Face Monument to 911. You apparently disagree with them being IslamoFascists. You apparently want to bend over backwards to make sure their religion is respected. You apparently are on the other side of public opinion of 60-70% of the American people.

    We are talking about symbolism on both sides, and public opinion.

  • jeff4

    During times of war, hatred becomes quite respectable even though it has to masquerade often under the guise of patriotism.

    ~Howard Thurman

  • Cathy Stripe Lester

    Thanks, Jane. I agree that it’s about a phobia. There was a guy on TV saying Islam isn’t actually a religion. Now THAT’S ignorant.

  • Cathy Stripe Lester

    Gene, I’m sorry. but is IS about hate. If Muslims suffered because of 9-11, why do Americans not want to accept that? Why does our country find it so hard to tell one type of Muslim from another? It’s because they don’t like Muslims as a whole, and they don’t WANT to believe there are moderate Muslims as well as fanatics.

    Hey, I don’t know where you get your ideas of liberals from, but it isn’t from knowing them personally. Did you know the ACLU has gone to bat for Christians who wanted to wear crosses at school? The ACLU!!! I bet that wasn’t reported by Fox news…

    As for property rights, it’s the liberals who are fighting municipalities who want to use “eminent domain” to grab people’s homes and develop the properties so the municipality gets a bigger tax base.

  • Valerie Pinto

    When we want to invade other countries and change their form of government, we first have to demonise and/or patronise them. As in personal life, this requires a false view of those we abuse, allowing no room for facts or reason. Thus we diminish ourselves.

    It has been good to read the facts and reasoning above.

    I hope the Islamic Centre is built.

  • Gene

    When the left runs out of ideas based on philosophy, experience, history and reason, they fall back to the only thing they have FEELINGSS, and charge their opponents as. . . racists, haters, et. al . . .

    Hey, how come only conservatives can be racists, haters, et al ?

  • Cathy Stripe Lester

    Er, Gene…
    I’ve tried to talk about history. I’ve tried to reason with you (and got told that reason wasn’t the point, I wasn’t sensitive enough to people’s feelings). I’ve talked about philosophy. In previous blogs, I’ve told about my experience in the Middle East, and dealing at first hand with Muslims…

    It’s you and other conservatives who ignore what I or anyone else says about philosophy, history, etc., etc., and fall back on “It’s a matter of gut feelings.”

    Did I ever say only conservatives can be racists, haters, etc.? Sadly, on this issue there are people who are making money out of firing up other people to hate. I won’t name names, but doesn’t the money angle make you suspicious?

    You mentioned the zoning board. Do you see the difference between “getting the zoning board on their side” and “complying with the zoning laws in the first place”? The Community Center complied with the zoning laws from Day One. They don’t have to bend anyone’s will on that issue.

  • Cathy Stripe Lester

    Thanks, Valerie, I hope it gets built too, and serves the purpose it was originally intended for: to be a Center where people of all religions can come together and meet in good will to ease the trauma of the horrors of the past.

  • Gene

    EEERrrr Ms. Lester,

    I was responding to being called a hater and an Islamophobe.

  • Maryam Taghipourq

    However I believe religion is something individual and however I believe all religious centers and schools (of any religion), actually just try to exaggerate differences to prove just they, themselves, (not others) are right but THANK YOU for your tries to decrease these gaps and convincing people it is possible to live peacefully.

  • Gene

    I do hope the people that cut off poor Danny Pearl’s head
    read this and are convinced to live peacefully ever after. Amen.

  • Gene

    Rest in peace, Danny Pearl.

    And I do hope the people that daily conspire to kill Israeli and American citizens
    read this and are convinced to live peacefully ever after.

  • jeff4

    why is this issue out of the news now? i’m too lazy to google. is it a go or a no?

  • Gene

    Go back to sleep buddy. This war on terrorism unfortunately may be going on for a while yet. The U. S. is still protecting your hide. Will get back to you as soon as ImamObama decides otherwise.

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