Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Taking "I am my own worst enemy" to a whole new level....

God is ingenious in the methods he uses to put us in our place...to teach us...to correct us.  I came upon a stunning example of this while surfing around the web this weekend....the story of Pawel and Ola...two former Polish skinheads

"I was a nationalist 100 percent. Back then when we were skinheads it was all about white power and I believed Poland was only for Poles. That Jews were the biggest plague and the worst evil of this world. At least in Poland it was thought this way as at the time anything that was bad was the fault of the Jews..." Pawell said.

Pawell and other skinhead thugs "patrolled" the streets of Warsaw putting Jews in their place....even beating the crap out of them when the circumstances were right. 

So imagine Pawell's surprise when he found out that the face in the mirror...the one who looked back at him all smug and haughty....beaming with white supremacist pride....was the face of a Jew.  Yep....Pawell was a Jew....one of many whose families hid their Jewish heritage after WWII.  He found out he was his own worst enemy...literally.  He was the enemy.  He was a Jew.  And he hated Jews.  

"The mirror was a big problem. I couldn't look at myself. I saw a Jew. I hated the person in the mirror then I grew accustomed to it, came to terms with it somehow.

Can I just say....ROFLMAO....!!! 

The joke was on you Pawell.  Oh...and on Ola too because she, too, is Jewish.  And their kids are Jewish. 

It took a while but Ola and Pawell finally recovered from the shock and have embraced their Jewish heritage.  They are very active in the synagogue.

God certainly has a way of getting his point across....

Monday, September 27, 2010

And yet another face….

Recently I started to post about some of the faces of the people who were profoundly affected by 9-11.  And in this post, I am going to talk about yet another face. The face of hate.  The face of intolerance.  Alive and well 60 years after the Japanese Internment Camps…. 

Televangelist Pat Robertson said the following about Muslims on his television program: “They want to coexist until they can control, dominate, and then, if need be, destroy.”

“The Japanese race is an enemy race and while many second and third generation Japanese born on United States soil possessed of U.S. citizenship have become “Americanized” the racial strains are undiluted. It then follows that along the vital Pacific Coast over 112,000 potential enemies, of Japanese extraction, are at large today. There are indications that these were organized and ready for concerted action at a favorable opportunity. The very fact that no sabotage has taken place to date is a disturbing and confirming indication that such action will be taken...” — DeWitt’s Final Report: Japanese Evacuation from the West Coast, 1942, and the government’s brief to the Supreme Court defending Ex. Order 9066.

                                                                                                                                                 Go Home 911             

 Political commentators have repeatedly pointed fingers at Muslims in America. William S. Lind, with the Free Congress Foundation, said: “There is no such thing as a peaceful Islam... Islamics [sic] cannot fit into an America in which the first loyalty is to the American Constitution. They should be encouraged to leave. They are a fifth column in this country.”

Syndicated columnist Ann Coulter said America “should invade their [Muslim] countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.” Coulter also called for the “mass deportation of Muslims.”



“I am for the immediate removal of every Japanese on the West Coast to a point deep in the interior. Let ’em be pinched, hurt, hungry, and dead up against it. Let us have no patience with anyone whose veins carry his blood. Personally, I hate the Japanese and that goes for all of them.” — Columnist Henry McLemore, Sacramento Union, Jan. 30, 1942.

When that idea was raised on a radio show after the World Trade Center attacks, Kim Ima says, U.S Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., chairman of the House Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee, defended the 1942 incarceration of Japanese Americans. "Some (Japanese Americans) probably were intent on doing harm to us," Coble claimed, "just as some of these Arab Americans are probably intent on doing harm to us."

“We are so considerate of the minute constitutional rights and even of the political feelings and influence of people whom we have every reason to anticipate with preventive action!... The Japanese in California should be under armed guard to the last man and woman and to hell with habeas corpus until the danger is over...”
— Westbrook Pegler, February 15, 1942.

Kirsanow raised the possibility of internment, for camps for the mass detention of Arab Americans, at a Commission hearing in Detroit on July 19. He did not condemn this idea, but raised it as a serious and reasonable possibility in the event of future terrorist attacks against the United States. He also stated that if the perpetrators of any such attack ‘come from the same ethnic group that attacked the World Trade Center, you can forget about civil rights,’ and that ‘not too many people will be crying in their beer if there are more detentions, more stops, more profiling; there will be a groundswell of public opinion to banish civil rights.’” — Reference made to remarks by Commissioner Peter Kirsanow of the United States Commission on Human Rights at a Commission hearing in Detroit, Michigan on July 19, 2002.

From these circumstances has been forced that whatever the personal exceptions, Japanese loyalty is primarily to Japan... It is a principle that persons of Japanese blood who are loyal to Japan... It is a principle that persons of Japanese blood who are loyal to the U.S. and its ideals can show that loyalty by recognizing necessity. This is a fight for survival. In this fighting we cannot pussyfoot. We have to be tough, even if civil rights do take a beating for a time.” SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE February 21, 1942  “Facts Force America to Stop Pussyfooting”

“If I see someone [who] comes in that’s got a diaper on his head and a fan belt wrapped around the diaper on his head, that guy needs to be pulled over,” said Congressman Cooksey, a Republican member from Louisiana who sits on the International Relations Subcommittee for the Middle East and South Asia.

“Their racial characteristics are such that we cannot understand or trust even Citizen Japanese.” — Henry L. Stinson, Secretary of War, l942.

Los Angeles, CA: Sign in the elevator at the Hall of Records says, “Kill all towel heads.”  September 13.01

Friday, September 24, 2010

26 Marbles…..


I think I mentioned the website Face to Face in a previous post. It gives a thumbnail view of the real life experiences of both Muslims in America post 9-11 and Japanese Americans post Pearl Harbor. There are striking similarities. 

One of several stories that captured my attention…and where I got the idea for the title of this post….was about Tora Saito. His family was shipped off to a detention camp called Topaz when he was about six years old.  He talks about a visit he made many years later:

Well, I went back to Topaz. It’s been a lifelong desire of mine to go back to see where I spent my childhood. And I found our block. I found building 10. We were in block 4, building 10, apartments C and D. I was standing in front of where our building used to be and the only remains of our building was the framework of our front porch. And I stood in front of the front porch and something told me to dig at the lower right hand corner of our front porch. So I took a stick and I dug down, and about six or eight inches down below the surface, I found about 26 marbles that I had left behind as a kid under the porch. I would hide them there for safe keeping, but in the rush of leaving, we left at 3 o’clock in the morning, so we left, we only brought what we could carry, and we left a lot of things behind and that was one of the things I left behind.

He talks about feeling like a foreigner in the country where he was born….here…in the United States.

For the first time I was called a Jap. I was playing outside on the street with my brother and somebody called me a Jap and I didn’t know what a Jap was, I didn’t know what it meant. I asked my mother and my mother was ashamed and reluctant to tell me what it meant. She just kind of ignored it, but I knew it wasn’t a complimentary term because it was said with anger and hostility. At first I couldn’t understand what we had done wrong. But we just knew that people were angry at us. We didn’t know why and so we had to protect ourselves from that. So we didn’t feel safe in public anymore.


And Jihad Turk….after 9-11…was angry. 

Not only was I angry at the people for what they did, but I was also angry because they did it in the name of Islam which to me was such a warped understanding of what I knew to be Islam and what I had studied for so many years. I felt very angry at them for having usurped such a moral religion for such an immoral purpose.

And he talks about jihad

Well, growing up my dad always told me the meaning of it, which is very different than what you hear in the news today. And it was actually something that I felt quite proud of because it gave me something to aspire towards. Jihad means to struggle, it’s the struggle within yourself to do what is right, so whenever you are tempted to do something wrong, it’s that inner struggle to do what is right. So I’ve always felt proud that I was engaged in this, or tried to engage in this inner struggle to do what’s right and to overcome any inclinations I would have to do anything wrong. 



And Muhammed El Nasla joined the army to prove everyone wrong. 

The way I’m proving my loyalty is by joining the Army. A lot of people are proving their loyalty by giving up their civil rights. There may be people that still believe that I’m a terrorist. That I’m a camel-jockey. And I’m just here to prove them wrong.



Kiyo Sato-Viacrucis couldn’t believe something like this could happen in the United States…

You know until the very last minute I said this can’t happen, this is unconstitutional and something will happen, that’s the thought. Somebody will come running down the railroad tracks, like the movies, and say this is unconstitutional, you can all go home. When that train started to move I just collapsed. I just cried and cried and cried.


Ruth Okimoto believes it could happen again….

Under certain circumstances I think what happened to the Japanese Americans can happen to any group. We see part of that jingoism and patriotism today. And it could happen again. It’s true that if you don’t remember the past, that things will happen again and you’ll repeat the mistakes of the past. And I think the Japanese Americans almost have a duty to step forward and make sure that it doesn’t happen to another ethnic group.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

God is just as much in your enemy as in your closest friend…..

We’ve been busy.  We went away this weekend…back to Uniontown to a church thing at the United Christian Temple, the church our friends Susan and Galen Winebrenner pastor.  We were blessed by the fellowship and the message.  They are wonderful people. 

But I’ve fallen a bit behind in the series I was writing…

This morning while surfing about willy nilly on the web, I came upon a rather odd yoga blog…I happened upon a writing about friendship by Paramhansa Yogananda From Clarity Magazine - Winter, 2006. 

It kind of fits with what I’m writing about….by making us think about who is (or who should be) our friend.  Copy and paste of several excerpts below…

Extend the boundaries of your friendship-
True friendship is broad and inclusive. Family love is merely one of the first lessons in the Divine Teacher’s “Course in Friendliness,” intended to prepare your heart for an all-inclusive love. Extend the boundaries of your love to include your neighbors, your community, your country, and all countries.
Consider no one a stranger. Feel that the life-blood of God is circulating in the veins of all races. We are Americans or Hindus for just a few years, but we are God’s children forever. The soul cannot be confined within man-made boundaries.

The antidote to all hatred-
There are people you see each day for whom you feel no sympathy. Learn to adapt to them, and to love them. Always practice loving those who do not love you, feeling for those who do not feel for you, and being generous to those who are generous only to themselves.
To be a true friend to all, you must learn to see that God is just as much in your enemy as in your closest friend. Constant contact with the Infinite in meditation will fill you with divine love, which alone enables you to love your enemies.
The heart’s love is the antidote all hatred. If someone is broadcasting hatred to you and you are tuned to that hatred, you will receive it, but if you are tuned to love, the hateful vibrations will not touch you.
You need not fawn on your enemy, but silently be of service to him whenever he is in need. If humility and apologies on your part bring out your enemy’s good qualities, by all means apologize.
The person who can do this will have attained a certain spiritual development, for it takes character to be able to apologize graciously and sincerely. Do not, however, encourage a wrong doer by being humble and apologetic.

And the really, really hard part…..

To be a true friend to all, you must learn to see that God is just as much in your enemy as in your closest friend. Constant contact with the Infinite in meditation will fill you with divine love, which alone enables you to love your enemies.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Some of those faces…




In my last post I mentioned Mr. Tsugio Ito. The Stories of Transformation series says the following:  

He grew up in Hiroshima, Japan. When an atomic bomb was dropped on August 6, 1945, he was playing in his school playground. His older brother who attended a different school was immediately killed. In 1998, Mr. Ito’s son, Kazushige, came to New York City to work in the offices of Fuji Bank in the World Trade Center. The office was on a high floor of the South Tower, and on September 11, 2001, Kazushige was killed. In 2007, a group of students from Kazushige’s high school came to the U.S. and brought strands of origami cranes. Mr. Ito says that the events of September 11th  reconfirm his belief that we should all work to prevent violent tragedies and seek global peace.

Wow. I don't know about Mr. Ito's spiritual views. It is unlikely that he is a Christian since Wikipedia says that only two to three percent of the total population of Japan is Christian. But I think the kind of forgiveness he demonstrates is available from only one source. Perhaps he knows Christ on a deeper level than many who claim him as Lord and Savior. 

The mention of Hiroshima sparked something in my thoughts...the similarities between the experiences of the Japanese during World War II and the Muslims caught in the aftermath of 9-11.  I came upon a website that focused on that exact theme. 

The website is called Face to Face and it gives an up close and personal look at some of the experiences of these two ethnic groups....very different in many ways, yet they share the unique experience of becoming the enemy mainly because they looked like "the enemy." 

I must not have paid much attention in history class.  Even though I was vaguely aware the Japanese had been detained,  I really knew very little about the travesty.  These people were rounded up, put on trains and shipped to what President Roosevelt referred to as concentration camps.

On Feb. 19, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, giving the military the ability to create military areas and exclude any persons from those areas at its discretion. These excluded people would be given accommodations provided by the military.

On March 2, the military designated the western halves of California, Oregon, and Washington, and the southern part of Arizona as military zones. Japanese-Americans were ordered to leave these areas, and Roosevelt soon signed an act allowing the military to forcibly remove those who refused to leave. (Truman Library)

The federal government created the War Relocation Authority, which oversaw the removal of 120,000 Japanese-Americans from military areas over the next 18 months. The Japanese were taken to 10 internment camps in remote areas in eastern California, northern Arizona, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Arkansas. (PBS)

“The government made no charges against them, nor could they appeal their incarceration,” according to Our Documents, a Web site of the National Archives. “All lost personal liberties; most lost homes and property as well.”

They weren't killed outright but...

Life in the camps was hard. Internees had only been allowed to bring with then a few possessions. In many cases they had been given just 48 hours to evacuate their homes. Consequently they were easy prey for fortune hunters who offered them far less than the market prices for the goods they could not take with them.

They were housed in barracks and had to use communal areas for washing, laundry and eating. It was an emotional time for all. "I remember the soldiers marching us to the Army tank and I looked at their rifles and I was just terrified because I could see this long knife at the end . . . I thought I was imagining it as an adult much later . . . I thought it couldn't have been bayonets because we were just little kids."  from "Children of the Camps"

Some internees died from inadequate medical care and the high level of emotional stress they suffered. Those taken to camps in desert areas had to cope with extremes of temperature.

The camps were guarded by military personnel and those who disobeyed the rules, or who were deemed to be troublesome were sent to the Tule Lake facility located in the California Rocky Mountains. In 1943 those who refused to take the loyalty oath were sent to Tula Lake and the camp was renamed a segregation centre.

Did this really happen in America?

Next post...a few of those faces from the Face to Face website.  It's sort of like putting a face with a name.  Or perhaps more to the point…putting a face on the “enemy” and in doing so, we find out that he is not the enemy afterall….

Monday, September 13, 2010

Other 9-11 Families and Organizations

Spurred on by the AOL News article about Lee Ielpi....the first article I clicked on yesterday morning...I "leafed through" many links, articles and websites as I embarked on a fascinating cyber journey of hope.  The original article provided a snapshot of Ielpi's loss...his grief and his resolve to make the world a better place.  He, and many others I read about in my web travels, refused to let hate define them...to let hate fester in their hearts and sully the memory of their loved ones.  They vowed to make the world a better place.

I read about these people with a sort of dropped jaw amazement....convinced I would never....could never.....react the way they are reacting.   The evil perpetrated on 9/11 certainly seems to defy the "steps to forgiveness"  I wrote about recently.  Where does that kind of forgiveness come from? 

As a Christian...as a believer in the "light that lights every many that comes into the world, " I know....in theory...where it comes from.  But somehow...sitting here on my couch....imagining in my mind's eye how I might feel if I had lost one of my children in the fall of the Towers....if one of them were among the thousands of people who are missing...who were simply vaporized that day, I cannot imagine the least bit of interest in making the world a better place.  To want to " bless those who persecuted me and mine?"

Not. Likely.

But that is exactly what many of these families are doing.  Amazing. 

Like the leaven in the dough the Bible talks about, they are slowing changing the world by living out the kind of other centered love that Jesus talked about....loving their enemies and "being the change they want to see in the world." 

I visited Mr. Ielpi's blog, The Persistence of Memory....which linked to the organizations he helped to birth…. the September 11th Families Association and the Tribute World Trade Center Visitors Center.

One of the resources available at the Tribute site is an educational series on 9-11 called Stories of Transformation. It encompasses many aspects of the tragedy.  It describes the events of the day...and the aftermath from the perspective of about ten different people. One...the principal of a high school right across the street from the Towers.  She lost her sister that day...and eventually went on to not only move back to the school but to also found a school in Afghanistan...that educates BOTH boys and girls. She sees education as a way to change the world.

It looks at the tragedy through the eyes of a 9-11 widow with young children who refused to get caught up in the mission of the terrorists....to spread hate.  She, along with another woman widowed on 9-11, formed an organization to help widows in Afghanistan. They provide help and assistance in the form of grants for education for these women in a locked down country where there are no civil rights or opportunities. 

There are other stories, too....of a survivor....a female police officer, a Japanese man who lost his brother in the bombing of Hiroshima...and his son in the Twin Towers.  I will write more about him in an upcoming post. 

These resources are very well done...with short videos and information that help to "put a face" on a few of the people who were profoundly affected by the events of 9-11.

More to come…..

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11 Father: 'I Don't Understand All of This Hate'

Wow...this story had me sitting here in the dark this morning....crying. WWJD about all this 9/11 stuff?  What would he say about the burning of the Qu'ran and about the mosque and the demonstrations planned today to protest both sides of the debate...those for the mosque and those against the mosque.  His reaction would probably be similar to this guy who carried his firefighter son out of the rubble of 9/11....several months later.  This story is truly touching, convicting,  and inspiring.

9/11 Father: 'I Don't Understand All of This Hate'

Deborah Hastings

AOL News

(Sept. 9) -- Of all the things he carries in his heart -- grief, pain, longing and loss -- Lee Ielpi refuses to carry hate.
He carried the body of his firefighter son, 29-year-old Jonathan Ielpi, from the choking, twisted rubble of the World Trade Center. That was burden enough for the father of four grown children who gave 26 years of his life to the Fire Department of New York.
Nine years later, he has no time for the rhetoric of a small Florida pastor who said he would burn copies of the "evil" Quran, Islam's holy book, on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The pastor, Terry Jones, announced Thursday afternoon that he was calling off the plans but later said he might reconsider the cancellation.

Retired New York City firefighter Lee Ielpi World Trade Center 911

Mark Lennihan, AP

Retired New York City firefighter Lee Ielpi, seen here in December 2001 at the site of the World Trade Center in New York, volunteered in the recovery effort and helped carry his son Jonathan's remains from the site.

"I don't understand all of this hate," Ielpi, 66, told AOL News. "I'm not sure where these things come from. What's it going to do except promote hate?"

He pleads for tolerance. Especially on Saturday.

"It should be a special day to remember these people," he says. "You know how many people are still missing? Where they've found nothing (of them)? One thousand, one hundred and twenty-five."

Tribute WTC Visitor Center, which Ielpi helped found while city planners argued over a memorial site at ground zero, issued a public statement earlier this week saying it would be "disrespectful" to protest a planned Islamic center two blocks away. Both sides of the project have called for demonstrations Saturday.

Ielpi will be at the 16-acre graveyard where he helped dig his son from the ashes, watching the annual memorial, listening to its somber reading of the names of more than 2,700 -- firefighters, paramedics, office workers, busboys, janitors, financial executives, airline pilots, passengers and flight attendants -- who perished when two hijacked jetliners slammed into the twin towers.

How to Help: Network for Good's 9/11 Relief

"People ask constantly, 'What's it like?' And I have a very simple answer: It's been nine years since I've seen my son."

Jonathan Ielpi was a husband and father of two young sons when he died in the towers. His father rushed to the wreckage and started to dig. So did Jonathan's brother, Brendan, just four months on the job as a firefighter in Brooklyn.

Days turned into weeks, but the Ielpi men kept digging. They helped carry out many bodies, and pieces of bodies, but none belonged to Jonathan.

The family had a funeral without his remains. Still, father and son kept dragging themselves to the steaming site. Every day, for hours and hours, they shoveled and pulled and heaved.

Firefighters have a code: No one is left behind. Every firefighter gets carried out by his comrades.

It was winter when rescuers finally found Ielpi's first-born. They called Lee Ielpi at home on Long Island. On a cold December morning, Lee and Brendan helped carry the stretcher that bore what was left of Jonathan. By their sides were Jonathan's colleagues from Engine 288 in Queens.

"We were blessed," Ielpi says. "We were blessed that we got to carry him out."

Brendan Ielpi is still fighting fires in Brooklyn. Jonathan's boys are now 18 and 12. Their mother has remarried. She has trouble talking about Jonathan's death, Ielpi says. Andrew, the eldest, has trouble talking about his father's death. Austin, the youngest, has no real memories of his dad. He was 3 years old on Sept. 11, 2001.

"It's hard for all the children who've grown up without a mom or dad," he says. "There is no rest. There is zero rest for the families."

Asked how he copes with what he carries in his heart, Ielpi breaks down. "I don't know," he says. "I'm able to talk about it, every day."

At Tribute WTC, next to ground zero, Ielpi gives guided tours of the site, and of the visitor's center that contains artifacts including Jonathan's battered yellow "turncoat" with his last name stenciled on the back. He has become an activist for the families left behind.

The organization he helped establish provides education tutorials on its website for teaching children the lessons of 9/11. Lessons that include what it's like to suffer loss and how to continue living when it may seem easier to succumb to anger or despair.

"Tomorrow can be a better day," Ielpi says. "I can't bring my son back. I wish to God that I could. But maybe I can make a better day for my grandkids. That's what we're trying to do."

I’ve been reading some of the links that popped up in google when I typed the name Lee Ielpi into the search bar….about  Tribute World Trade Center, an organization he helped found.  And the September 11’th Families Association.  He is the president of the board of directors.  Their motto is:

Commemorate the past.  Educate in the present.  Unite in the future. 

I also happened upon his blog….The Persistence of Memory; Shaping Our Future.  I will probably write about some of this over the course of the next few days….

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Don’t know, don’t care to know….

When Emily was a little kid…she would often tell me things she knew would evoke a swift, strong reaction….like….oh….let’s see..…..

Mom…Beth is painting her name on the side of the van with purple nail polish….


I got an F on my spelling test…


I lost my new ($25) sweatshirt….

Then, after she got the reaction she was going for, she would add…”just joking you.”  Since things like the spelling test and the lost sweatshirt actually did, on occasion, occur, it was not hard to get an immediate reaction out of me. 

But alas…she was “just joking me”

So before you read the following excerpt, please know that it is from The Onion…gotta’ love The Onion and THEY ARE JUST JOKING YOU. It is satire…a parody.  It is a fictional news story.  Sad, though, how many times fiction mirrors truth.

SALINA, KS—Local man Scott Gentries told reporters Wednesday that his deliberately limited grasp of Islamic history and culture was still more than sufficient to shape his views of the entire Muslim world.

Gentries, 48, said he had absolutely no interest in exposing himself to further knowledge of Islamic civilization or putting his sweeping opinions into a broader context of any kind, and confirmed he was "perfectly happy" to make a handful of emotionally charged words the basis of his mistrust toward all members of the world's second-largest religion.

"I learned all that really matters about the Muslim faith on 9/11," Gentries said in reference to the terrorist attacks on the United States undertaken by 19 of Islam's approximately 1.6 billion practitioners. "What more do I need to know to stigmatize Muslims everywhere as inherently violent radicals?"


Sometimes it seems that Islam’s most vocal detractors don’t give two diddles about actually reading and learning about Islam.  They know all they need to know.  I’ve read this sentiment in comments far and wide on the internet.  In response to the mosque controversy…and just in general conversations about Muslims.  They ALL want to kill us.  Even the ones…especially the ones…who are putting on a smiley face to fool us…like the guy from Fort Hood.  Beneath the seemingly friendly facade beats the heart of a jihadist. 

And back to The Onion’s (just joking you) article….

"All Muslims are at war with America, and I will resist any attempt to challenge that assertion with potentially illuminating facts," said Gentries, who threatened to leave the room if presented with the number of Muslims who live peacefully in the United States, serve in the country's armed forces, or were victims themselves of the 9/11 attacks. "Period."

And what about our own homegrown terrorists? Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols come to mind. And what about the long history of terrorist acts that have been committed in this country…perpetrated by…..us. I saw a bumper sticker that summed it up.…

”Do you know what the Indians called terrorists?

“White people”

Illustrated by the following picture….

                          HS by Native Americans

So let’s just call a spade a spade here…the Indians got screwed….royally.

Did Americans ever commit acts of terrorism against other nations?  I guess your answer might depend on your paradigm. For instance, during the hey days of the African Slave Trade….it would depend on whether you were the one doing the trading…or the one being traded. I’m pretty sure…the slaves in the belly of those deplorable ships thought an act of terrorism had been perpetrated against them.

And let’s not even get started on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The point of this post is not to bash America.  In the words of Lee Greenwood…I’m proud to be an American. It is the greatest nation in the world….but to ignore very violent acts of terrorism committed by some of our forefathers…to whitewash history…sweep it under the rug…shrug it off with a “that was then, this is now” attitude is just not right.

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

And I have obviously digressed…and even taken the time to illustrate the digression.  So let me get down off my soap box and get back to the gist of this post. 

The results of a recent CBS News poll showed that 24 percent of those surveyed have a favorable impression of Islam. 39 percent have an unfavorable opinion and many...37 percent...don't have an opinion.

I’m wondering how many of those who hold an unfavorable view really know that much more about Islam than the 37 percent who say they don’t have an opinion.  How many are like the fictional Scott Gentries in the tongue in cheek article from The Onion?

"Don't know, don't care to know??"

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Burning Qu’rans?

There was a link this morning on my AOL start page about a Gainesville, Florida pastor and his small nondenominational church who plan to burn Qu'rans on the anniversary of 9/11.  The event just happens to coincide with a big college football game there.  He wants to send a clear message to the world...Sharia law is not welcome in America.
He wants to send a clear message?
Oh yeah...they are sending a clear message alright and it is not a new message for the small church.  According to the The Gainesville Sun, about a year ago, the church started posting signs declaring that "Islam is of the Devil. In the spring, Dove World protested against the current mayor’s mayoral campaign because he is gay, and in June members staged a "no homo mayor" protest at City Hall.

In a recent sermon.....
Jones expressed his disgust at Trinity United Methodist, the church a few streets away that will host an interfaith prayer service on Sept. 10.
Calling Dan Johnson, Trinity's senior minister, and the church's congregation "lily-livered, yellow-bellied Christians," he said it was unfathomable that a group of Christians would rally with Muslims, Hindus and Jews to speak out against a Christian church.
"Our nation is in ruin spiritually," he said.
and more from the newspaper article....
Evan Kohlmann, who tracks militant websites for the New York-based firm Flashpoint Global Partners, said a suicide bomber has threatened to drive a truck into the church and that others have talked about burning down the building.

Kohlmann said the anti-Islam rhetoric in the debate over the so-called "ground zero mosque" and Jones' Quran burning is being used as propaganda for al-Qaida and other extremists, and he urged Jones to back off.

......what do you think burning a Quran is going to do?" Kohlmann said. "It may not be in Gainesville. It may not be in Tallahassee. It may not be in Florida. But a price will be a paid for this."
From the AOL Surge Desk article, written by David Knowles….
Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of American forces fighting in Afghanistan said "It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort," Petraeus told The Wall Street Journal. "It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems. Not just here, but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community."
The gist of the message Jones wants to send to the world…Sharia law is not welcome in the United States.  He cites “warnings from European countries” that “if you give Muslim’s an inch…they will demand a mile.” 
This guy is obviously a kook…and he obviously..to me anyway…does not represent a religion based on the teachings of Jesus.  My opinion…Jesus would be more likely to show up at the Methodist church with the other "lily-livered, yellow-bellied Christians" than at “Dove World.”  I cannot conjure up the mental picture of Jesus stoking the fire and tossing in the first Qu’ran. 
What I find alarming is that these same sentiments..admittedly toned down a bit…are being expressed all over the place.  I’ve read them on conservative websites…on Facebook…and in the comments section of so many of the articles and blog posts I’ve visited lately.  This fear of Muslims…this disdain…this lumping them all in the same basket as the jihadists. So many conservatives and Christians seem to have this idea that the innermost desire of all Muslims is to “kill the infidel.” That’s….well….that’s ridiculous.  
And it appears to be a deep seated, etched in stone sentiment.  Many Americans have no desire to understand Muslims.  A recent tongue in cheek article on The Onion website took a satirical look at the phenomena…which I will talk about in my next post.  Gotta’ get to work. After a three day weekend…that’s tough to do…   

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What about the families?

One of the articles I came across while reading about the Ground Zero Mosque was from Newsweek and it told the tale of two moms..who both lost their sons....both firefighters on 9-11. 

They have almost everything in common, including the tragedy that defines their lives. Both women were born in the Bronx and educated in Catholic schools. They married and raised kids of their own in the boroughs that circle Manhattan; as parents, they—like most of us—fought too much and counted blessings too little.

On September 11, 2001, Sally Regenhard and Adele Welty each lost one brave and handsome son—firefighters both—in the conflagration at the World Trade Center. Welty’s son Timmy, 34, was recovered only partially and in pieces—a fact that she, a 74-year-old grandmother, still cannot bring herself to recall without her chin trembling like a child’s. Christian Regenhard, 28, simply evaporated; not a cell of him was ever found. “ ‘He is unaccounted for,’?” Regenhard remembers a gruff old firefighter saying when she finally reached the firehouse by phone that Tuesday night. She mimics his tough Brooklyn accent—“fawr”—and as she does, her face crumples in grief. “Unaccounted for?” she remembers asking. “That’s something they say in war.”

I cannot imagine the pain these mothers feel.  My kids are young adults....20, 18 and 17. They are not little kids anymore.  They aren't the needy little people who used to hang on my legs and make endless demands for my time and attention. The apron strings loosen progressively as they grow and mature. BUT....they will always be my babies....even when they have babies of their own. Parents...especially moms...understand what I am talking about.  So I can empathize with these two moms, even though, without experiencing something as horrific as they have lived through, I can only imagine the sorrow, anger, heartache, rage these women must feel.  And they both have different views on the mosque/civic center near Ground Zero.

Welty supports it. She believes the mosque and community center will give a face and voice to moderate, peaceful, ordinary Muslims and so stand against the forces of terrorism and fundamentalism. “If we manage to get it built and can avoid violence in the process, the world can see that we are a towering nation, that we believe in and practice freedom of religion.”

Regenhard opposes it. It’s too soon, she says. It’s too close to Ground Zero, and it doesn’t take into account the sensitivities of people like her, whose loved ones, she believes, may still be scattered even beyond the 16-acre area where the towers once stood. If the people behind the mosque really desired peace, as they say they do, they would move it somewhere else out of respect for the sanctity of that place. “You never change hearts and minds by shoving your religion on someone else.”

This article probably impacted me more than any other article I've read about the mosque. It painted a real life face on the still grieving families of the victims of 9/11....and two mothers in particular...who lost their "babies" when the Towers fell.

Former Solicitor General under George W. Bush, Ted Olson lost his wife on 9-11. She was a passenger on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. He is in favor of building the mosque.  Complete article is HERE.

Another Newsweek article I happened upon discusses how the opposition to the mosque is being used as a recruiting tool for the Taliban.  They use it as further proof that America is "anti-Islamic." 

“By preventing this mosque from being built, America is doing us a big favor,” Taliban operative Zabihullah tells NEWSWEEK. (Like many Afghans, he uses a single name.) “It’s providing us with more recruits, donations, and popular support.”

The backlash against the project has drawn the heaviest e-mail response ever on jihadi Web sites, Zabihullah claims—far bigger even than France’s ban on burqas earlier this year. (That was big, he recalls: “We received many e-mails asking for advice on how Muslims should react to the hijab ban, and how they can punish France.”) This time the target is America itself. “We are getting even more messages of support and solidarity on the mosque issue and questions about how to fight back against this outrage.”

Now that's a different spin on the commonly held belief by opponents that the building of the mosque will increase the acts of terrorism against the US.

And another article worth reading talks about a 2003 memorial service for Daniel Pearl, the journalist murdered by Islamic terrorists in Pakistan where Imam Rauf...the guy behind the mosque.... was invited to speak. He denounced the crime and the terrorists who committed it. The full text of the talk he gave is available on line. It is very inspiring...

More in my next post(s)...including the info I found on the number of Muslim casualties on 9-11 and a few other odds and ends thoughts about some of the articles I've been reading....