Last week, film “critic” Roger Ebert wrote a punchy little article for the Chicago Sun-Times entitled, “Ten things I know about the mosque“. The piece listed in dreary detail the litany of the left regarding the advantages of having a non-mosque not located at Ground Zero, and the bigotry of all who would oppose such a thing.
1. America missed a golden opportunity to showcase its Constitutional freedoms. The instinctive response of Americans should have been the same as President Obama’s: Muslims have every right to build there. Where one religion can build a church, so can all religions.
1. Roger Ebert is an idiot. Most anti-mosque reaction has been precisely in defense of the right to build, with the follow-up of “…But I wish they would show some sensitivity and choose not to.” Even Presdient Obama, while supporting the right to build it, called into question the wisdom of doing so. While there is no constitutional right to be free from stupidity and insensitivity, there is likewise no right to protect one from the consequences of being stupid or insensitive.
2. The First Amendment comes down to this: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” It does not come down to: “The First Amendment gives me the right to repeat the N-word 11 times on the radio to an inoffensive black woman, and when you attack me for saying it, you are in violation of my First Amendment rights.”
2. Roger Ebert is disingenuous. He deliberately implies that Dr. Laura suddenly hurled racial invective at a hapless caller–this is called taking things out of context. He then castigates her for taking full responsibility for what she said, responsibility which included quitting her show. What this has to do with the non-mosque not at Ground Zero, I don’t know.
3. The choice of location shows flawed judgment on the part of its imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf. He undoubtedly knows that now, and I expect his project to be relocated. The imam would be prudent to chose another location, because the far right wing has seized on the issue as an occasion for fanning hatred against Muslims…
3. Roger Ebert is willfully naive if he expects the mosque to be relocated at all, or at least without many cries of racism and islamophobia.
4. One buried motive for the attacks on Park51 is exploitation of the insane belief of 20% of Americans that President Obama is a Muslim. Zealots like Glenn Beck, with his almost daily insinuations about the Muslim grandfather Obama never knew and the father he met only once, are encouraging this mistaken belief.
4. Roger Ebert is a conspiracy theorist. Roger, if you word the poll questions correctly, you can get at least 20% of Americans to say they believe in anything. Heck, it wasn’t all that long ago that 42% of Democrats believed that President Bush was behind the attacks of September 11, 2001.
5. The Bill of Rights has a parallel with pregnancy. You can’t be a little pregnant, and you can’t be a little free. Nor can you serve yourself from it cafeteria style.
5. Roger Ebert is a hypocrite. So you’re good with the people’s right to keep and bear arms, Roger?
6. Somewhere on the Right is an anonymous genius at creating memes. Sarah Palin floats a suspicious number of them: Death Panels, Ground Zero Mosque, 9/11 Mosque, Terror Babies. Her tweets are mine fields of coded words; for her, “patriot” is defined as, “those who agree with me.” When she says “Americans,” it is not inclusive…
6. Roger Ebert channels Maureen Dowd. He finds “buried motives” and “coded words” lurking behind innocuous expressions. No-one has actually defined these codes yet, but our betters can hear it hanging in the air just out of earshot, just like MoDo’s famous, “you lie… boy.”
7. Many Americans and a great many politicians have either never taken a civics class or disagree with what they should have learned there. The major opinion sources in America that seem to devote the most attention to the Bill of Rights are Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, all distorting it as an everyday practice. Bill O’Reilly, to his credit, doesn’t indulge in this.
7. Roger Ebert is a blowhard. Roger, I sure would love for you to give some examples of Fox News, Limbaugh, or Beck distorting the Bill of Rights. Until you do, I’m going to presume that this paragraph was just a gratuitous piece of puffery.
8. A meme is infecting our society that Muslims are terrorists and hate America; they are the enemy. It is a cliche to say, “the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful,” but is true. When Muslim nations are bombed by America, can those nations be expected to applaud? In Iran after 9/11 there were candlelight marches in sympathy with the United States.
8. Roger Ebert has a selective memory. I guess he forgot about all those people dancing with joy in the streets on 9/11. I’ll make this as simple as possible. Muslim terrorists are the enemy; they hate America and the freedom it stands for; that freedom is completely antithetical to what they believe.
And yes, the vast majority of Muslims probably are peaceful. But when your “small minority” of violent jihadists numbers in the millions, and has proved its bona fides all over the world, I think it’s fair to classify that very large minority as “the enemy.”
9. I find hope in the words of two American strippers interviewed by the Wall Street Journal. Cassandra, who works at New York Dolls, just around the corner from the proposed community center, said she worried that calls to prayer might wake up the neighbors. The WSJ writes: “But when she was told that the organizers aren’t planning loudspeakers, she said she didn’t have a problem with the project: ‘I don’t know what the big deal is. It’s freedom of religion, you know?'”
Chris works in the Pussycat Lounge, even closer to the site. When the airplanes struck the World Trade Center, Chris became a Red Cross volunteer working with survivors. The WSJ writes she “sat on a barstool in a tiny, shiny red dress and defended Park51. ‘They’re not building a mosque in the World Trade Center. It’s all good. You have your synagogues and your churches. And you have a mosque…'”
Cassandra and Chris reflect American values more instinctively and correctly on this issue, let it be said, than Sarah Palin, Howard Dean, Newt Gingrich, Harry Reid and Rudy Giuliani, who should know better.
9. Roger Ebert is a movie critic. Only a movie critic would dare to pull in the “stripper with a heart of gold” meme. Two strippers, in fact. And if anyone on the Right had ventured to suggest that one set of American values was more correct than another, s/he would have been pilloried high and low in the dinosaur media.
10. I wonder how many Americans realize the community center is not intended for Ground Zero. What will be constructed there includes a 55,000 square foot retail mall. This mall will be deep enough to connect with subway lines — deep enough, that is, to theoretically be embedded in the ashes of some of the 9/11 victims.
10. Roger Ebert is an idiot. (Sorry, I just can’t distill it down any more.) Oh Roger, of course it was intended for Ground Zero. Even the Wall Street Journal understands that:
“When Khan’s organization found a vacant property on Park Place, the former site of a Burlington Coat Factory that had been damaged by airplane debris on September 11, 2001, the potent symbolism of the site also became a compelling rationale for the project.”
And yes, there is a mosque included. I also wonder how the families of victims of 9/11 feel about this non-mosque not at Ground Zero mingling with the ashes of their loved ones? I guess you’d better not trumpet that one too loudly, or you’ll get more reactions from the racists like Rudy Giuliani, Rima Fakih, Akbar Ahmed, and Abdul Cader Asmal.
What the heck, maybe the whole of Roger’s list is all just liberal code words for “redneck Islamophobic bigots”.