Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

11 things you should hear this September 11th

[1] I donated to the Cordoba Initiative to commemorate 9/11. The Cordoba Initiative is behind the Park 51 Islamic Community Center that is being built near Ground Zero. I donated money to the Cordoba initiative for myriad reasons (donate here). Several investigative pieces have recently been written (here, here, and here) about the funding sources for the anti-mosque campaign. Needless to say, their coffers are overflowing and it donned on me that a big part of the anti-mosque campaign's success and visibility is their deep pockets. There have been ridiculous and absurd pot-shots leveled against the Cordoba project because of their supposed financial support from Saudi terrorist groups. I wanted to make a tangible, and monetary, statement to all the doubters and anti-mosque proponents that there are Christian white boys from California who are funding this project. There are Christian white surfer boys who say 'no' to the bigotry of equating Islam with 19 murderers and their murderous intent which we saw played out nine years ago. Islam isn't terrorism-inclined and the 19 terrorists were acting in contradiction to the tenets of their faith when they killed themselves and others on September 11,2001. After I decided to donate to the Cordoba Initiative, I saw that Michael Moore had the same idea. Read Moore's much-more-eloquently-stated reasoning for supporting the project and donate away (pay special attention to his promise to match donations):
I am opposed to the building of the "mosque" two blocks from Ground Zero.

I want it built on Ground Zero.

Why? Because I believe in an America that protects those who are the victims of hate and prejudice. I believe in an America that says you have the right to worship whatever God you have, wherever you want to worship. And I believe in an America that says to the world that we are a loving and generous people and if a bunch of murderers steal your religion from you and use it as their excuse to kill 3,000 souls, then I want to help you get your religion back. And I want to put it at the spot where it was stolen from you.
Friends, we all have a responsibility NOW to make sure that Muslim community center gets built. Once again, 70% of the country (the same number that initially supported the Iraq War) is on the wrong side and want the "mosque" moved. Enormous pressure has been put on the Imam to stop his project. We have to turn this thing around. Are we going to let the bullies and thugs win another one? Aren't you fed up by now? When would be a good time to take our country back from the haters?
I say right now. Let's each of us make a statement by donating to the building of this community center! It's a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization and you can donate a dollar or ten dollars (or more) right now through a secure pay pal account by clicking here. I will personally match the first $10,000 raised (forward your PayPal receipt to If each one of you reading this blog/email donated just a couple of dollars, that would give the center over $6 million, more than what Donald Trump has offered to buy the Imam out. C'mon everyone, let's pitch in and help those who are being debased for simply wanting to do something good. We could all make a huge statement of love on this solemn day.

[2] A NYC Firefighter speaks about 9/11:

and Rudy, a NY medical first responder speaks about 9/11:

[3] On Sarah Palin's twitter, she stated that burning the Quran: "is an insensitive and unnecessary provocation -- much like building a mosque at Ground Zero." So burning a Quran is equivalent to wanting to read the Quran in Manhattan? Shut up, Sarah.

[4] The NY Times editorial today picked up on another instance of the association made between burning a Quran and building a mosque:
It was bad enough to see a fringe figure acting out for cable news and Web sites, but it was deeply disturbing to hear John Boehner, the Republican leader in the House, equate Mr. Jones’s antics with the Muslim center.

In both cases, he told ABC News, “Just because you have a right to do something in America does not mean it is the right thing to do.” The Constitution does, indeed, protect both, but they are not morally equivalent. In New York City, a group of Muslims is trying to build something. Mr. Jones and his supporters are trying to tear down more than two centuries of religious tolerance.
[5] Robert Fisk comments on the aftermath of 9/11. Monsters were created, people were tortured, hundreds of thousands are left dead, 'collateral damage' became the sickest euphemism of all, God is used routinely as a justification for crimes of war, and we haven't learned a damn thing nine years later. This is the most sobering and honest piece I have read this 9/11/2010 about the legacy of 9/11. I can't excerpt any of this, you just had to read it all.

[6] "God commands justice, the doing of good, and giving to others; and God forbids all shameful deeds, injustice, and oppression. God instructs you so that you may be mindful." Qur'an 16:90

[7] Across America today, we are seeing an increase in fear and suspicion of people of Muslim faith. Rev. Deborah Lindsay reflects on the urgent need for understanding and peace-making, and she says a true Christian message is one of respect and understanding for all people of all faiths and traditions. After all, we are ALL created in the image of God.

Excerpt from sermon video from Sunday, August 29, worship service, First Community Church, Columbus, OH, with Rev. Deborah C. Lindsay preaching (WELL worth the 10 minutes):

[8] Photos from anti-mosque demonstration held today at Ground Zero. Worst T-Shirt EVER can be seen in these photos, it reads: "Waterboarding Instructor."

[9] The faithful, Nichols Kristof, covers the rising Islamaphobia in the United States in his column, Is This America?:
For a glimpse of how venomous and debased the discourse about Islam has become, consider a blog post in The New Republic this month. Written by Martin Peretz, the magazine’s editor in chief, it asserted: “Frankly, Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims.”

Mr. Peretz added: “I wonder whether I need honor these people and pretend that they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment, which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse.”

Thus a prominent American commentator, in a magazine long associated with tolerance, ponders whether Muslims should be afforded constitutional freedoms. Is it possible to imagine the same kind of casual slur tossed off about blacks or Jews? How do America’s nearly seven million American Muslims feel when their faith is denounced as barbaric?

This is one of those times that test our values, a bit like the shameful interning of Japanese-Americans during World War II, or the disgraceful refusal to accept Jewish refugees from Nazi Europe.

[10] "If you do judge, judge between them justly. God loves the just."
Quran: 5:42

[11] And finally, the most important thing to take away from 9/11/2010, in addition to donating to the Cordoba Initiative of course, is:
The daily interruption of hatred is a job for all of us.
Last week, in a Queens Dunkin’ Donuts, one of us walked in on a woman who berated the Bangladeshi American staff for five minutes over the supposed wrongness of her coffee. She proceeded to call the server ugly, take a breath—clearly considering her next line for maximum impact—and declare, “You’re all a bunch of terrorists.”

But there was an important lesson for us all in that exchange. A mild, “There’s no need for that” was enough to disrupt the woman’s rant. Maybe that woman won’t change her attitude, but there were a dozen adults and four children there—and they might. The scene said everything: A few loud voices are spewing hate, but unless the rest of us stand up and counter it they will set the tone for us all.
But the real problem is that everyday Americans keep silent about too much of this. America is a land of individual freedom. Now more than ever we need to exercise our freedom of speech, rather than huddling in fear and fascination at the group-think that can so quickly take over our country. We don’t need Bush or Obama to give us a moral compass. This isn’t just about challenging the most extreme versions of Islamaphobia. It’s also about responding when neighbors argue that the Cordoba House should be moved for sensitivity’s sake; challenging colleagues who “ask” whether Obama is secretly Muslim; and questioning popular representations of Muslims even when you’re just watching TV with family. It’s hard to confront bigotry, whether it comes from your uncle or a stranger. Your blood pressure goes up and your heart races. But if we lead with love and acceptance, we will always know the right thing to say, and we will set an example for someone else.

Amen, and amen.


sharon said...

thank you for this post. i have shared it on my facebook page for my eight hundred and some "friends" to read. i hope at least a few of them do.

Samuel Nichols said...

Thanks, Sharon. Good to know who some of the readers are out there. How did you come across this blog, just out of curiosity? I will check out your blog.

sharon said...

hi! i don't actually remember how i found your blog, but i do a lot of activism around palestine (and have spent some time there) and have a lot of friends who are part of the activist community - so it may have been a random link from someone i follow on twitter (or elsewhere). my blogger blogs are not very interesting, but i use livejournal for more "real" blogging, which sometimes is political and sometimes is just personal. i'm dearanxiety there (and most places). nice to meet you!

Cat said...

Nice moves, Sam. This is a great post. A friend from my CPT delegation recommended it. It's certainly been passed around! Hope you're well.

Samuel Nichols said...

@sharon - nice to meet you too, hope to see you around here again
@cat - thanks for the comment. I was happier with this post than most ;) glad you liked it