Burning the Koran / Ground Zero Mosque

September 13, 2010

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I just feel that I have to make one more comment, well several actually. If someone owns a book and wants to burn it, they have every right to do so. If someone can buy a property and establish a place of worship, they have every right to do so. If they are doing something to make a statement and annoy other people, that is their right, at least in the United States. These decisions just make them jerks.

I am personally glad that the Koran burning did not happen. I also hope that it never does. Back in the 1950, when zealots took books from schools and public libraries to burn, that was a crime of theft and destruction of public property. When they go out and buy copies of the Koran to burn, that is just bad taste and poor economic choices.

As far as the Mosque goes, I tried to do a little research. There is very little hard data for the religious demographics of Manhattan or for that matter, the number and location of Mosques. Based on a Columbia University study, and Google Maps (neither professes to be a good source), there are roughly 102,000 Muslims in Manhattan with 17 Mosques. There are roughly 1,029,000 Christians in Manhattan with 173 churches. That seems to be parity. The existing Mosques and Churches are pretty evenly spread around the island, with only 1 Mosque on the southern tip, but 26 churches in the same area.

As far as parity goes, are we claiming that only Christians who work in the financial district deserve easy access to their places of worship? This would seem rather presumptuous. Is it bad taste to open one that close to ground zero? I don’t think so since there is one even closer according to Google Maps. Is it rude to make it a 13 store building and name it Cordoba House (referencing the first major victory of Islamic conquest in Spain)? To me, this starts pushing to towards jerkdom, regardless of how reasonable and calm the good Imam sounds on CNN.

We have to remember, we are in the United States, and that means anyone can act like a jerk any time they want as long as they do not actually harm anyone. This is not true for other countries. For example, in Canada, you can be put in prison for hate speech if you quote the Bible against homosexuality (interestingly, quoting the Koran for the same purpose has not resulted in prison yet, but give them time). In Saudi Arabia, bringing a Bible into the country can result in prison time, and opening a Christian church is forbidden (except in military bases for foreign armies and at foreign schools).

I feel very fortunate to live in the Unites States, where anyone can stand on a corner and expose all of their prejudices for the entertainment of the all who will listen.

International Burn The Koran Day

September 10, 2010

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[Editor’s note: The Angry Squirrel’s column was originally scheduled for this weekend.  However, he has already been forced the rewrite once because of the fluid nature of this situation, so his article is running today to ensure the timeliness of his writing.  Fiction Friday will occur on Sunday this week.  A new recurring character will be introduced.]

It’s times like these that I always have to remind myself of the five percent doctrine – that no matter what five percent of the population will always be crazy and it is an untreatable disease. Saturday is the ninth anniversary of the attacks on September 11th and dubbed by Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center as International Burn The Koran Day. After much time publicizing the event and recent media attention and backlash from many, the wacko Jones decided to back off and cancel his event. Obviously he was looking for a graceful exit and thanks to figures like the former half term Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin earlier in the day helping him link in his mind a correlation between the community center to be built not even within view of ground zero and his little stunt, he found that out in stating he would was cancelling the event because they had promised to move the center if he cancelled his burning of the Qur’an. Granted, now once the truth be told he had no such agreement, he now is back to praying about the event and it is suspended until he can sort things out.

The gist of it to me seems that the Iman in Florida got him a meeting with the people in NYC about the center and possibly moving it, and he took that to mean they were going to move it, or more likely the case he went ahead and used that as the reason for him to have a further backtrack towards doing the event again since the truth would come out immediately after his announcement. Obviously in my opinion he was like a deer caught in headlights now with all the pressure against him and wanted his way out.

Then again if there was really a ploy from the Iman in Florida and the parties in NYC to get him to cancel it by promising him what he wanted –  which I don’t believe to be the case – I really could not blame them one bit. After all you’ll tell the guy with the gun pointed at you what you think he wants to hear so maybe he’ll lay down his gun and spare you. So even if it was all a ploy on their part, who cares.

But have no fear Pastor Jones, your movement has truly gone national at least – as many supporters of his cause on Facebook and many others across the country have vowed to burn the holy book of the Islamic faith on Saturday. And best of all for Jones an even nuttier Pastor who has a small congregation of hate preaching individuals is taking up the cause, and luckily for Jones and unluckily or the country as a whole these guys don’t know how to back down off of anything.

The Reverend Fred Phelps and his merry band of misfits are taking up the cause now. Here are some excerpts from interviews this evening from the Church’s usual spokesperson, Phelps’ daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper. In talking about Jones cancelling his event she said, “The false prophet Terry Jones caved – like all false prophets do, and like we told you he would.” She the continues to talk about how everything as usual for them will everyone else’s fault and will not be their own, “While you sissy brats browbeat and jockey with the false prophet Terry Jones–pretending like the lives of those soldiers are your political and personal pawns–we will tell you the truth. The blood of the dead soldiers is dripping off the hands of General Petraeus. The blaspheming talking heads (politicians, talk show hosts, false prophets, arrogant Pentagon-perverts) of this nation of proud sinners have put the bulls-eye of God on the backs of these soldiers. Burning the Quran could not possibly imperil your soldiers any more than you have.” Then she goes on about Muslims as well in the interview stating, “It’s time to talk to the false religious systems of the world–we’ll start with the perverted Muslims and their pedophile prophet Muhammad! We will burn your Quran on 9/11/10. To tell the world that the Muslims are the servants of God — and they will bring the final affliction to Israel and the Jews according to the promises of God.”

Now I grew up in Topeka and am quite familiar with Phelps and his clan well before they became an international sensation. They really don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of them and hate everyone under the sun that doesn’t belong to their church. They won’t back down like Jones has seemed to have done so we as a nation and mainly our soldiers abroad will have to pay the consequence for the actions. The blood will be on the radical Christians hands this time around for inciting a worldwide riot of response from their actions.

Man I wonder why whenever I heard Phelps and Jones on the news today I kept having the voice of Bobby Boucher’s mother from the movie The Waterboy going over and over in my head saying “Islam is the Devil.”

Like I said though it will not just be the Phelps’ taking up Jones’ cause now and he may choose to continue to do so himself as well with his original event. Although major media outlets have vowed not to cover images of the actual events that are to take place, it is the modern age of “journalism” and the videos will be up and they’ll spread like wildfire and cause the radicals on the other side to have many International Burn and American days.

That last point is what my main focus of this column this month was going to be (until the recent changes in the event changed how I was going to write this), which is why should outsiders not view Americans or Christians by their worst elements, when Americans and Christians want to judge Muslims by their worst elements.