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Author Topic: Who Are We?  (Read 14008 times)
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« on: August 07, 2010, 11:03:20 AM »

I caught a show on TV last night, and just now, came across an article, both of which brought that question to mind.  
That question, Who Are We? and the questions:

Who do we want to be? Who do we want our children to become?  

What does it take, what would it take to convert our talk into walk?
And just how bad does it have to get, in whatever situation, to get us to step out of our relatively comfortable, relatively safe little worlds to take a stand and assert via our actions,  “ Uh, Uh. NOT in my backyard, oh no you don’t!”

I don’t have any answers, not about you, not about myself and not even any sanctimonious (or not) shoulds or shouldn’ts.  I only have questions.  And I have the realization, as many of the older KFs may have, that many many times, no matter what we might think or hope we would do in a particular situation, we really can’t ever know with any kind of certainty until we are put right smack dab in the middle of it.  We can't really know what we will actually do or just who we are or are not-- until we're there.

For me, the following excerpt from the show I saw last night, the article I happened on when perusing the news this morning, and a book that fascinates and scares me and that I open and read bits and pieces of every once in awhile, are wonderfully thought-provoking and important.  Check ‘em out if you feel like it.

From the pretty amazing TV series,  Primetime: What Would You Do?,
The August 6th segment on Would You Stop Muslim Discrimination?  
The segment is just under ten minutes long.  Have a look, and then try to think of how you might react, if you were "there".

(Note: The guy behind the bakery counter and the woman ostensibly attempting to get service from him are actors.  It is only the customers who are the “real” people).

This Isn’t the America I Love

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

« Last Edit: August 08, 2010, 09:40:26 AM by Jill » Logged
« Reply To This #1 on: August 07, 2010, 11:51:43 AM »

I posted the Not in Our Town video, and about the Not In Our Town website and movement, maybe a year or two ago here, when someone posted at KF with a couple of what seemed to me to be blatantly anti-semitic remarks which didn’t appear to generate much of a response or create much of a stir here.  Both the video and the website/movement seem, in these times, to be still so instructive, still so sadly timely that I decided I’d go ahead and post them again here for anyone who might not have seen them before and who might be interested.

The Not In Our Town Movement’s Website

« Last Edit: August 07, 2010, 12:04:11 PM by Jill » Logged
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« Reply To This #2 on: August 07, 2010, 02:33:07 PM »

Build the Ground Zero Mosque
I believe we should promote Muslim moderates right here in America. And why I'm returning an award to the ADL.

by Fareed Zakaria, August 6, 2010

Ever since 9/11, liberals and conservatives have agreed that the lasting solution to the problem of Islamic terror is to prevail in the battle of ideas and to discredit radical Islam, the ideology that motivates young men to kill and be killed. Victory in the war on terror will be won when a moderate, mainstream version of Islam—one that is compatible with modernity—fully triumphs over the world view of Osama bin Laden.

As the conservative Middle Eastern expert Daniel Pipes put it, “The U.S. role [in this struggle] is less to offer its own views than to help those Muslims with compatible views, especially on such issues as relations with non-Muslims, modernization, and the rights of women and minorities.” To that end, early in its tenure the Bush administration began a serious effort to seek out and support moderate Islam. Since then, Washington has funded mosques, schools, institutes, and community centers that are trying to modernize Islam around the world. Except, apparently, in New York City.

The debate over whether an Islamic center should be built a few blocks from the World Trade Center has ignored a fundamental point. If there is going to be a reformist movement in Islam, it is going to emerge from places like the proposed institute. We should be encouraging groups like the one behind this project, not demonizing them. Were this mosque being built in a foreign city, chances are that the U.S. government would be funding it.

The man spearheading the center, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, is a moderate Muslim clergyman. He has said one or two things about American foreign policy that strike me as overly critical —but it’s stuff you could read on The Huffington Post any day. On Islam, his main subject, Rauf’s views are clear: he routinely denounces all terrorism—as he did again last week, publicly. He speaks of the need for Muslims to live peacefully with all other religions. He emphasizes the commonalities among all faiths. He advocates equal rights for women, and argues against laws that in any way punish non-Muslims. His last book, What’s Right With Islam Is What’s Right With America, argues that the United States is actually the ideal Islamic society because it encourages diversity and promotes freedom for individuals and for all religions. His vision of Islam is bin Laden’s nightmare.

Rauf often makes his arguments using interpretations of the Quran and other texts. Now, I am not a religious person, and this method strikes me as convoluted and Jesuitical. But for the vast majority of believing Muslims, only an argument that is compatible with their faith is going to sway them. The Somali-born “ex-Muslim” writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s advice to Muslims is to convert to Christianity. That may create buzz, but it is unlikely to have any effect on the 1.2 billion devout Muslims in the world.

The much larger issue that this center raises is, of course, of freedom of religion in America. Much has been written about this, and I would only urge people to read Michael Bloomberg’s speech on the subject last week. Bloomberg’s eloquent, brave, and carefully reasoned address should become required reading in every civics classroom in America. It probably will.

Bloomberg’s speech stands in stark contrast to the bizarre decision of the Anti-Defamation League to publicly side with those urging that the center be moved. The ADL’s mission statement says it seeks “to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens.” But Abraham Foxman, the head of the ADL, explained that we must all respect the feelings of the 9/11 families, even if they are prejudiced feelings. “Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted,” he said. First, the 9/11 families have mixed views on this mosque. There were, after all, dozens of Muslims killed at the World Trade Center [my emphasis]. Do their feelings count? But more important, does Foxman believe that bigotry is OK if people think they’re victims? Does the anguish of Palestinians, then, entitle them to be anti-Semitic?

Five years ago, the ADL honored me with its Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize. I was thrilled to get the award from an organization that I had long admired. But I cannot in good conscience keep it anymore. I have returned both the handsome plaque and the $10,000 honorarium that came with it. I urge the ADL to reverse its decision. Admitting an error is a small price to pay to regain a reputation.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2010, 02:35:31 PM by Kay » Logged
« Reply To This #3 on: August 15, 2010, 09:42:55 AM »

You can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot please all of the people all of the time.***

About the proposed construction of an Islamic Community Center and mosque a couple of blocks away from what, before September 11, 2001, had been the site of the twin towers of the World Trade Center,”  President Obama said:

"… Recently, attention has been focused on the construction of mosques in certain communities -- particularly New York. Now, we must all recognize and respect the sensitivities surrounding the development of Lower Manhattan. The 9/11 attacks were a deeply traumatic event for our country. And the pain and the experience of suffering by those who lost loved ones is just unimaginable. So I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. And Ground Zero is, indeed, hallowed ground.

    But let me be clear. As a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are. The writ of the Founders must endure….”

*** This quote, modified from the actual observation by Abraham Lincoln, where he used the word, “fool” instead of “please,” I’m including to make a point.  Unfortunately, and really sadly to many of us, it’s starting to feel like our president can hardly please any of the people any of the time, anymore.

In this instance, although I do have some sense of what a complicated and emotion-laden issue this is, I agree with the stand he decided, finally, that he needed to take and verbalize.  This troubling issue reminds me of a time when I was in law school when the big news was that the American Nazi Party wanted to and had received a permit allowing them to march through the streets of Skokie, Illinois, the home, apparently, of a substantial population of Holocaust survivors.  

At the time, I couldn’t help imagining how painful it would be to those survivors to have these “people” flaunt themselves and (what, for me was) their sicko beliefs in front of them, in front of the whole world.  It took me a fair amount of time and reflection to arrive at a conclusion, the same one I’ve come to in this case, that the American Constitution must apply to everyone here, and not just to the people we like or can identify with, if it’s going to have any real value, (and, for me), any real beauty and hope, at all.  But, this, still, is really really a tough one, and I’m not coming even close to suggesting that it isn’t.  People, even here, are going to disagree, and guess what, they/you get to.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2010, 09:47:15 AM by Jill » Logged
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« Reply To This #4 on: August 15, 2010, 10:11:24 AM »

the American Constitution must apply to everyone here, and not just to the people we like or can identify with, if it’s going to have any real value

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« Reply To This #5 on: August 15, 2010, 11:00:25 AM »

Strange mind, this one.  

For whatever reason, while I was finishing off that last post about Obama’s remarks on the building of the Islamic Community Center near Ground Zero, I found that a young woman by the name of Keshia Thomas came to mind.  I couldn’t believe I remembered her name.  

Anyway, I googled her, and it turned out that the incident when I’d learned about her had actually taken place fourteen years ago.  She was the young African American high school student who flung herself over a KKK supporter when Anti-Klan protestors started beating on him at a rally.,,20141729,00.html

I was so affected by the story that I'd saved the Life magazine where I first saw it, and, of course, I used it every opportunity I could find when I was teaching.  When I just now saw the time frame of the incident on the Internet, I went poring through my old magazines, hoping I would still have it. Following, except for the first photo which I got off the Internet, are some pictures from that Life, August, 1996 article that I just took so I could show you.

: Unrelated, or maybe not all that unrelated at all, when you think about it, when I was just posting, I had the TV on, mostly, apparently, for background noise.  My ears perked up, though, when I heard the name, Greg Mortenson, mentioned.  The moderator of, I think it was, Face the Nation, (the show that follows CBS Sunday Morning on CBS), said that next week their guest would be Greg Mortenson, who will be talking about the advice he's been giving to the American military....

* DSC06639.JPG (36.46 KB, 300x400 - viewed 372 times.)

* LifeSpreadKT.jpg (455.72 KB, 640x474 - viewed 201 times.)

* KeshiaThw:KKK.jpg (367.69 KB, 640x480 - viewed 211 times.)

* LifeMag 8-96.jpg (401.98 KB, 480x640 - viewed 225 times.)
« Last Edit: August 15, 2010, 06:07:31 PM by Jill » Logged
« Reply To This #6 on: August 21, 2010, 12:19:24 PM »

For me, this was a particularly interesting article, so I decided to post it and excerpt just a few of its parts.  Really, though, if you have any interest in the subject at all, you should go to the link and read the entire thing.  And after that, you might want to read a whole bunch of articles and opinions on the subject and written from a diversity of perspectives, so that you will be able to arrive at your own “truth” about what has been going on.  It feels important.

Reviving Us-Versus-Them Politics
“… The animosity toward Muslims is worse today than it was after 9/11 when President Bush worked hard to limit the blame to Al Qaeda and not spread collective guilt throughout the Muslim world….

… A new poll from the Pew Research Center finds that nearly one in five Americans (18 percent) says Obama is a Muslim, up from 11 percent in March 2009….

… campaign attempts to portray Obama as “the other” and a stranger in our midst weren’t enough to derail voters from electing Obama, but those negative sentiments have since taken hold in the context of economic anxiety and Obama’s activist approach to government. “The first black president is upending the old order,” …. “and to people who feel threatened by Obama, it’s comforting to see him as the other. It’s a category baked into the American culture—us and them….”

Check out the slideshow of Mosques in America: Faith and Anger, where I got the image I’m posting, below.

I have seen too, too many faces of self-described freedom-of-religion-espousing, patriotic Americans contorted with the same kind of ugliness and vile that I've seen in photographs, from the '60's, of the faces of supposedly loving, church-going white southern mothers who were threateningly surrounding little black girls who were all dressed up in their Sunday School finest, and who were trying simply to go to school.  The intensity of the antipathy and fear that has been stirred up in all of the current protesters, who purportedly are just trying to protect the sensitivities of the families of victims of 9-11, well, it really scares me, and it makes me inexpressibly sad and worried about just what seems to be happening in this country of mine that I love.

* 1281398954409.jpg (334.86 KB, 630x420 - viewed 193 times.)
« Last Edit: August 21, 2010, 12:35:39 PM by Jill » Logged
« Reply To This #7 on: August 21, 2010, 07:50:20 PM »

What’s wrong with this picture?
Several hours after I posted in this thread about an article I’d seen via Google News, I was actually reading one of those old-fashioned newspaper things and came across this article.  The resolution that the Islamic Cultural Center in Fresno, California, felt compelled to reach, which resolution I highlighted in the third paragraph, below, well, you might guess that even though I could understand it, I didn’t like it that they had to reach that resolution-- at all.

Muslims fear backlash as festival falls near Sept. 11
Citing a growing atmosphere of distrust, especially since the issue of the Islamic center near Ground Zero erupted, some plan to tone down celebrations of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan.
“For nearly a decade, the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno has held a carnival on the Saturday following the end of Ramadan, during a festival that has been called the Muslim equivalent of Christmas. With pony rides, carnival attractions, games and Middle Eastern food, it's a popular event for the community's children.

This year, the center's leaders had a sense of foreboding when they noticed the date on which the carnival would fall: Sept. 11.

This week, after listening to escalating rhetoric over plans for an Islamic community center within blocks of the destroyed World Trade Center site in New York, the Fresno center canceled the carnival…..”
(I’d recommend that you read the entire article if you have any interest in it).

EDIT:You know, it never was my intention or my desire to somehow end up as this one, somewhat persistent (and very likely to some, quite irritating) nagging voice here, who is seemingly forever highlighting stories about discrimination, intolerance, and inequities in our daily world.  I really would have thought, because the KivaFriends community, in a way, is but a microcosm of the larger world community, that more people here would have taken this stuff more “personally,” or more “worrisomely,” something, I don’t know. That people would have wanted not only to highlight it but to talk about it here to try to figure out if there were anything that, as a community, we might be able to do about it. 

That is, whether there might be something that we could do to immunize ourselves and the people with whom we come into contact against the insidious effects of that Us against Them mentality.  It’s so tragically easy to fall prey to.   I’ve even seen it happen here, if to a much lesser, but still sad and frustrating degree.  I’m talking about that familiar if so troubling division into opposing and ineffectually-communicating camps of “we’re the good guys” and “they’re not!”.

“Camps”, sides, what have you, where people tend to be driven further apart, especially when they’re constantly being supported by like-thinking individuals, further apart rather than anywhere near toward reaching any kind of mutual civility, acceptance, or possibly even the beginning of understanding with that “other”  or “other side.” 

Anyway, I find I can’t help but take all this enmity, all this tribalism, all this contrived division and chauvinism in our world very personally.  Everytime I read or hear about it or witness it in my everyday life in acquaintances, family or friends, it hurts me.  It hurts me because it’s hurting the dream of the worldwide peaceful other-supportive community that I crave and hold so dear.

« Last Edit: August 21, 2010, 08:40:12 PM by Jill » Logged
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« Reply To This #8 on: August 22, 2010, 01:02:07 AM »

Yes, this is tragic, because more and more, "Muslims" are being equated with "terrorists."
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« Reply To This #9 on: August 22, 2010, 01:02:53 AM »

(excerpted from)

The Center Cannot Hold:  Why the Mainstream Media Can't Stop the 'Ground Zero Mosque' Hysteria

by Richard Kim

Those of us in the "professional left" often lament the timidity and fickleness of our more establishment colleagues. If only they had been more resolute in their self-proclaimed roles as arbiters of truth and reason--the country wouldn't have fallen for weapons of mass destruction or gone berserk over death panels and deficits. But the furor over the so-called "Ground Zero mosque" should shred whatever faith we have left in the mainstream--not in its integrity, but in its power.

The list of establishment voices who have spoken out--often forcefully--against the plainly bigoted crusade against Park51, aka the Cordoba House, should be daunting. It includes the editorial pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and (grudgingly) the Wall Street Journal as well as CNN's Fareed Zakaria (who returned an award from the ADL in protest), NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg, Post columnist Kathleen Parker, the American Jewish Committee, J-Street and Iraq war boosters Christopher Hitchens and Peter Beinart, whose recent Daily Beast columns put him somewhere just slightly to the right of Noam Chomsky. This honor roll even included, for a brief moment, President Obama, who is now twisting himself into knots trying to retract his retraction of his refudiation of the smear.

Maybe it's the establishment, so busy lecturing the masses on the Constitution and Islam, who should be sent back to class instead. Lesson one: the hysteria over the "Ground Zero mosque" did not happen in a vacuum. Lesson two: when you permit and foment the indiscriminate dehumanization of Muslims in the name of 9/11, it is not one bit surprising that the public would view lower Manhattan as the frontline of a global religious war. Lesson three: the reason you don't have any power now--when you've decided that enough is enough--is that for so many years, you cheered the bullies on. It is not enough to demonstrate occasional courage. In order to regain your authority and honor, you have to show up to more than just one fight.
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