Friday, October 8, 2010

The Imam, the Mosque and Hallowed Ground

Even though I’ve droned on about this topic for quite a while now…since before the anniversary of 9-11 took me off on a rabbit trail….I still have a few things to post about the Imam, the Mosque and the Hallowed Ground where the Twin Towers stood.  This post is mainly about the Imam…Feisal Abdul Rauf that is one of the key figures at the center of the controversy. 

Keith and I watched the recent episode of 60 Minutes about the mosque.  It featured the real estate developer, Mr. El-Gamal, who is a Muslim, son of a Catholic mother and an Egyptian father….married to a Christian.  Talk about interfaith….this family is the epitome of interfaith.  He was very personable, likeable and convincing.  The Imam, not as much. 

In the clips I've seen,  he is soft spoken, monotone almost, the opposite of the developer who is quite the gregarious sort of guy. But he is an Imam, not an entertainer….and claims to be a man of peace.  And there is no proof he is anything but a man of peace.  Only speculation. 

There have only been a few comments, dredged up out of context, used to “prove” that he is pro Islamic to the point of being anti American.  I am sure many…many…have tried to dig deep into his background, his sermons, speeches and writings for statements much more incriminating than the ones that have been publicized. He has been in the public eye…in public service… for thirty years.  He was involved with the Bush administration as an envoy…a go between….a bridge between the Muslim world and the United States.  He is involved with the Obama administration.  In the clip I saw on 60 Minutes, he soundly denounced terrorism. 

Following are a few of the incriminating remarks gleaned from several sources.  I imagine his words, spoken and written, were scrutinized to way back when all the way to the present.    I wonder how you and I would fare if our words for the past three decades were mined for proof of a preconceived hypothesis…..

What are some of his controversial quotes?
“The Islamic method of waging war is not to kill innocent civilians. But it was Christians in World War II who bombed civilians in Dresden and Hiroshima, neither of which were military targets.” (Quoted in Sydney Morning Herald, 2004)

“We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaida has on its hands of innocent non Muslims.” (Speech in Australia, 2005)
And from an earlier 60 Minutes episode that aired not too long after 9-11
ED BRADLEY, CBS: (Voiceover) And throughout the Muslim world, there is also strong opposition to America's foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East because of its support of Israel and economic sanctions against Iraq.
Imam ABDUL RAUF: It is a reaction against the policies of the US government, politically, where we espouse principles of democracy and human rights and where we ally ourselves with oppressive regimes in many of these countries.
BRADLEY: Are--are--are you in any way suggesting that we in the United States deserved what happened?
Imam ABDUL RAUF: I wouldn't say that the United States deserved what happened, but the United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.
BRADLEY: OK. You say that we're an accessory?
Imam ABDUL RAUF: Because we have been an accessory to a lot of--of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, it--in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA. 
Note that when assigning guilt to the United States…he says “we.”  WE have been an accessory to a lot of—of innocent lives dying in the world.  He lumps himself in as an American.  I lump myself into the American....and being an American I bear some of the responsibility for the acts of my country, both good and bad.  Because, yes....America has indeed done things that are bad....

He mentions Hiroshima. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are blights on the reputation of a country that bills itself as a “Christian” nation.  Like the bumper sticker declares….when Jesus said to love your enemies, I’m pretty sure he meant, don’t kill them.  That would include using weapons of mass destruction...atomic bombs....on densely populated cities….cities filled with civilians.  Doesn’t the United States stand alone as the only country that's used weapons of mass destruction against civilians? Is the Iman simply calling a spade a spade in his comments about the actions of the United States?

The “oh that” attitude many Christians….many Americans… display toward events like the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is disgraceful.  Perhaps there was no other answer…although I have read articles that state otherwise…something I plan to take a closer look into someday. Perhaps we were between a rock and a hard place and the bombings were the only way to end the war and stop Japan….but let’s acknowledge it for the travesty that it was.  The United States has spilled innocent blood.  

And in my next post I'll take a look at the context of some of those remarks....similar remarks made by other Americans...and the flip side of the coin....quotes that are clearly anti terrorist and pro American.....

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