i read akbar ahmed’s article a while back and found some of the things he said offensive. i kept it all inside. now he’s written another article in the washington post and i feel like i must vent.
How the Florida pastor and the New York imam can live their faiths
By Akbar Ahmed, Special to CNN, September 9, 2010
“In both venues, I was struck by how the two men appeared to be disconnected from the storms they have created, unaware of the sociological laws of cause and effect.”
in both his articles mr ahmed seems to be a big proponent of cause and effect. [from his second article: “But as a man who has been an administrator in the Muslim world I am also aware of the sociological laws of cause and effect.”]
what i find interesting then is that he refuses to (or is incapable of) talking about cause and effect when it comes to the mother of all events – 9/11 itself. 9/11 was not carried out in the name of islam. it was a political act, with political ramifications. altho what followed was framed as a clash of civilizations, it was hardly “religious” to attack the financial heart of american empire. just a few days after 9/11, susan sontag wrote a short and courageous piece in the new yorker in which she said:
The disconnect between last Tuesday’s monstrous dose of reality and the self-righteous drivel and outright deceptions being peddled by public figures and TV commentators is startling, depressing. The voices licensed to follow the event seem to have joined together in a campaign to infantilize the public. Where is the acknowledgement that this was not a “cowardly” attack on “civilization” or “liberty” or “humanity” or “the free world” but an attack on the world’s self-proclaimed super-power, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions? […] Those in public office have let us know that they consider their task to be a manipulative one: confidence-building and grief management. Politics, the politics of a democracy–which entails disagreement, which promotes candor–has been replaced by psychotherapy. Let’s by all means grieve together. But let’s not be stupid together. A few shreds of historical awareness might help us to understand what has just happened, and what may continue to happen. (The New Yorker, September 24, 2001)
so let’s stop talking about religion – let’s call that bluff. let’s start talking about politics.
“He [Rauf] has just arrived back from a partly taxpayer-funded outreach tour of the affluent Arab capitals.”
i found this to be a bit personal. rauf was sent on a cultural exchange mission by the u.s. state dept and that means what? that rauf can’t take a stand? mr ahmed has advised general petraeus, ambassador holbrooke, and michael chertoff on islam and foreign policy. i’m sure he was compensated with taxpayers’ money. is he being more patriotic than rauf by toeing the majority’s line?
“Two men of God [pastor jones and rauf], both believing that they are motivated by their faith, are adding fuel to the fire flaring around the religion of Islam in the United States today. They have approached their task from the opposite ends of the spectrum. Jones’ Quran burning means to expose what he calls the “evil” religion of Islam. Rauf wishes to create an Islamic center that would attract interfaith activities and promote understanding. The pastor’s purpose is to provoke; the imam’s to build bridges.”
ok. this i find most offensive. drawing any kind of comparison between jones and rauf is ridiculous. of course mr ahmed explains how they’re coming from two opposite ends of the spectrum (one is burning a holy book and the other one is trying to build bridges) but in effect he is v much drawing a parallel:
“Yet both have transgressed on civility in American society, a concept very important to the Founding Fathers.”
his analogy goes something like this:
even tho a murderer tries to take someone’s life, whereas a surgeon tries to save lives (and yes they r both coming from two opposite ends of the spectrum), yet somehow they r in the same boat. maybe they have both transgressed on god’s will (to either grant life or take it). say what? exactly.
“And Rauf has refused to bend to the sensitivities of those who believe that ground zero in New York is hallowed ground.”
oh, yeah. this part is even more offensive. this whole idea about ground zero being hallowed ground is irrelevant. why? because: 1) the islamic center is not being built on top of ground zero – no bodies r being disinterred. 2) there r strip clubs 2 blocks from ground zero and if they’re not disrespectful to those who were killed, then why should an islamic version of the ymca be?
hallowed means sanctified, consecrated. so what we’re saying is that anything islamic within a 2 block radius of that hallowed ground is like a slap in the face? because islam is such an infamy in that location? well, who’s to say islam or muslims won’t be an equal infamy elsewhere: don’t buy a house here – it’s too close to the church; don’t park ur car here – it’s too close to a cemetery where u.s troops r buried; don’t visit the pentagon – it brings back too many memories.
let’s remember that 1.57 billion muslims didn’t do 9/11. some disaffected militants did. they didn’t do it in the name of islam either. it was about american foreign policy – which sucks to this day and is frankly much more harmful to humankind and the earth than 9/11 could ever be. so the connection b/w 9/11 and an islamic center is illogical and racist to start with.
also, i’m sorry but it’s time to look at things in perspective – yes, 9/11 was horrible (my husband was working in nyc that day so i ought to know) but it was not the crime of the century. look at what we’ve done in iraq: one million people killed. can we wrap our minds around that? 5 million displaced. a country destroyed to such an extent that it will take 100s of yrs to build it back to what it was before the american invasion. what about fallujah, where people have been genetically mutated for generations on account of depleted uranium? women have been asked not to have babies. there r pictures and medical reports from intl agencies on the web. and all of this was unprovoked! based on lies and false slides presented to the u.n. how about grieving for the muslims of iraq? does it qualify as hallowed ground? or afghanistan, where we funded a decade long war with the soviets before we decided to occupy ourselves? every time 50 muslims get killed by mistake at a wedding party on the other side of the planet, does it even register? can we feel what it must be like for a mother to pick up the charred remains of her children and bury them? this happens daily in afghanistan, not just on one day.
there is plenty of grief to go around in the world. we r paying for much grief, much death, much torture being perpetrated on muslims right now. how many more lives, how much more blood, how much more hate will it take to quench our thirst for revenge? as americans we so need to finally get over ourselves.
“I urge them [Jones and Rauf] to travel together to minister to the suffering people of Pakistan.”
alright, i agree with this. this is mr ahmed’s way of putting things in perspective. wish he had also talked about our war zones and the lives we’re destroying there – something we have the ability to stop right away.
On Faith Panelists Blog: National security does not “hinge” on mosque
By Akbar Ahmed, September 10, 2010
“When 75% of Americans are already against the mosque, this tragedy to me is counterproductive.”
mr ahmed keeps bringing up this 70-75%. first of all this controversy was created and fueled and funded by pamela geller and other marginal racists and haters. it is a non-issue as there is already a mosque closer to ground zero. so to cede to the national lowest common denominator is immensely sad – not just for rauf but for all americans who expect better from their country.
secondly, in matters of law and civil rights we do not take cues from the majority. majorities r known to lynch and segregate and harrass and vandalize. that’s why we have laws. in democracies, the rights of minorities r not determined by polling – they’re supposed to be protected by the state.
“For the imam to say that the national security of the US “hinges” on the building of the mosque makes little sense to me. He must plan for the immediate future regarding the mosque in the context of the United States and not link it to some theoretical or remote ideas of foreign policy and international relations. The problem is squarely situated in the United States and needs to be resolved here. Whether he shifted or changes his structure or comes up with any other solution, little will change in terms of the implications for American national security. However, to many Americans, the imam’s insistence on linking the construction of the mosque with “national security” appeared almost like a veiled threat.”
aie, aie, aie. the imam is just repeating what general petraeus and every other u.s. govt official has already said. and wasn’t general petraeus advised by mr ahmed?