Archive for the ‘Islam’ Category

Red Tents, Lowe’s & Tebow . . . . thoughts from mid December

December 13, 2011

Two stories seemed to populate my twitter feed yesterday: The Houston Police arresting the OWS protestors under tents, outside of the view of others.  And Lowe’s decision to pull its advertising dollars from All-American Muslim on TLC (in fairness, supposedly BOA, Wal-Mart, McDonald’s and GM also pulled their ads but those companies said they didn’t have any additional ads scheduled).  Facebook seemed to be teeming with Tebow.

Ack. I’d rather swallow cyanide.  The arrests out of public eye disturb me.  I’m not saying the Houston police did anything wrong.  It is the perception of arresting individuals outside of the public view when the individual is being arrested at a public assembly.  I really don’t have enough vested in the entire OWS movement (aside to think it’s hopelessly organized without goals for first order change) to even think it’s going to make a difference (ok, let’s shut down ports for day labors to protest imports?).  What does disturb me is the keeping the press away from arrests, breaking up camps and events in general: it happened in Boston (in our pretty liberal city with a Mayor For Life).  I’m also bemused in that ironic way that defines me that the only time various cities can seem to act together is in arresting citizens who really aren’t breaking any major laws.  Heaven forbid cities work together for something like, oh, job creation, sustainable development or crazy things like that.  Let’s face it, the OWS protestors/campers really didn’t do a lot of damage compared to winning say, the World Series and a good Nor’Easter or such event would have sent many scurrying.

Oh Lowe’s.  Once again, a company caves to the views of a few.  First, the group that managed to get Lowe’s to stop ads managed to raise the profile of a so-so cable show (brought to you by the network of the pro-creating crazies in Arkansas (what are they at? 20 now?), the objectification of children as beauty pageant contestants and the whacko kate/jon/children drama).  The sad reality is that Lowe’s is (compared to Home Depot) a low activist company: very few dollars donated in the past election cycles.  Seriously? You are going to go after Lowe’s for advertising against the trumped-up right-wing ‘values’.  Um, while you are at it .  . . how about going after Delta and Expeida for supporting the LGBT community? Or Goya for daring to sell food that is traditional found in Latin American cuisine? And Lowe’s? Seriously? You are running from a fringe group.  I’d say boycott Lowe’s but most would run to Home Depot … and well, Home Depot has a worse record since buying local is “more expensive”.  Rolls eyes.

Which brings me to number 3.  Tim Tebow.  Ok, look, he is probably a nice kid.  He is a Florida Gator so…that’s a strike.  I don’t believe in a view of any faith that starts off with “Let me first give thanks. . . ” (I’m pretty sure there is a part in The Bible about praying in private….which makes that weird pose he does annoying).  My thought (and in all fairness, I’m suspect of any born again anything) on Tebow is this: he’s what 23? Who isn’t dumb at 23?  I’m bemused at best by his comments on marital relationships when he is admittedly an unmarried virgin who has already published his autobiography!  Look, I get that he is a PK missionary kid: he is a good quarterback.  He hasn’t done something to fall from grace like Lance, Tiger or Maguire.  I hope he doesn’t: not because OF his faith but because I hope he is a decent person.  I don’t believe he has a “divine talent”, it cracks me up the amount of time people have spent talking about Tebow (ok, this week Boston plays Denver so…).  Maybe Tebow became “hot” because of Penn State and people wanting to believe in football again (for those of us who follow the SEC, we’ve seen this annoying pose for y-e-a-r-s).  Maybe Tebow became hot because of the insane 4th quarter comebacks (note to Tim: don’t try it against New England or in the playoffs).  Who knows. But there are a lot of devout football players: the difference, most of them are not white quarterbacks.  Maybe why that is Tebowmania drives me nuts (that and his gator heritage).

But if you are going to boycott Lowe’s please don’t go to Home Depot. . . .

And after 10 years?

September 10, 2011

Have we learned anything?

I vaguely remember thinking in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 that I hoped something good would come out of the tragedies.  I remember thinking that maybe we could be a stronger, better world because of a horrific act of hate.  I remember laying in bed in the nights after hearing the planes circle NORAD and trying not to be afraid.  I remember taking the first flight out of the Colorado Springs airport and finally grasping how we take mobility for granted.  I remember watching the national prayer service from a bar in the Salt Lake City airport with a NYC firefighter who had been on vacation and simply wanted to ‘get home to be with his brothers (at the firehouse)’.  I remember lying to my oldest nephew anytime I went through NY ‘because only bad people live in NY’.  I remember Paris in January of 2002 when at the top of Notre Dame, a Muslim told me he wished that somebody from his faith didn’t do that to my country: I remember saying to him a person of his faith didn’t.

But mostly, I remember the eternal hope that somehow we could become a better world.  By the 20th anniversary, I hope we have.  And I also hope we think of those who keep us safe first, instead of last when passing out invitations.



And what have we learned?

September 11, 2010

Of course you remember where you where: in class, at work, in your car, watching TV.  The pictures from that day are etched in several generations.  The ramifications are still unraveling.

And this year? The memories hurt. There was a spirit in the year that followed of bended but not broken; together we can build a better world. I took the first regularly scheduled flight out of the Colorado Springs airport when the airports re-opened. It was an early morning flight to Salt Lake City.  I often think of that flight as “unzipping” the morning.  It often brings the sunrise into Salt Lake.  I remember everybody nervously glancing at each other – probably all a bit grateful that we were on a regional jet. 

My friends had asked me to reconsider my trip.  I couldn’t. I remember arguing “If I don’t fly; they win”. I made it to Salt Lake for a 3 hour layover (to fly east to Oklahoma City) and wandered through the chaos. Armed guards, dogs and people.  Everybody, it seemed, was trying to fly east. People begged for flights to anywhere on the I-95 corridor. Richmond instead of Philly? Fine, I can take the train.  The chaos, panic and sheer desire to want to be home was palpable.  I had a fleeting thought of “why am I on a plane…I could go see my sister next week.”

The stress that was etched on the travelers heading to DC, New York, Philadelphia, and Boston showed the emotions that had been so unspoken in the Colorado mountains earlier that week.  These were people heading home: to what, many didn’t know. I remember speaking to a guy from NYC. He had driven from LA to Salt Lake to get a plane to NY. I stood to watch the National Prayer service amid a group of strangers. A rabbi or minister or imam asked the congregation to pray. It was instinctive: a group of strangers, in an airport restaurant bowed and began to link hands.  Tears fell. Strangers hugged. Nobody had words.  It seemed so insurmountable and so necessary: we can’t let them win. Not a fight on mentality but a let us build a better world. Let us remember that the actions of a handful are not indicative of many.

I remember my oldest nephew always needing to know where I changed planes until we finally put it together.  I remember my brother’s wedding later that year and thinkin the one thing I don’t want to see the hole in the Pentagon: and seeing it. I was in France in early 2002: the outpouring of love for simply being an American.  I stood by the gargoyles atop Notre Dame and had a conversation with a Palestinian about the world and where this all would leave. A random conversation in a new world.

We had the love of the world holding us.

And we blew it.

I feel like they won.

Pundits, historians, politicians can all debate what the “purpose” of the 9/11 attacks were. For me, it was to disrupt the “American way of life”. They have. We have people threatening to burn holy texts. We have a leading real estate mogul making statements about “riots” if a cultural center is built.

We are a different nation. We are not a better nation. We have become us versus them. Good versus bad. We are polarized. We point fingers instead of linking hands. It wasn’t just Americans who died. It wasn’t just Christians. People from 112 nations, of faith or no faith died. People survived amidst great odds.

And now? We shout. We argue. Over things that can so easily be fixed. Why?

Nine years later, our way of life has changed. We blame. We point fingers. We would rather stand apart than find the common thread.

We let our fears win.

And now, it’s time to remember what we stand for: equality, freedom and compassion. If the hate wins in the end, they win.  If they win? It will be our fault. We can disagree on policies and politics. But we cannot hate.  We lost far too much and it is never what we stood for.

On the summer of 2010

August 29, 2010

This morning, I scanned my page on a networking site and noticed a friend had posted Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech via YouTube.  The comments had to be disabled because of the hate comments, the arguments, and the debate between people.  Many, if not most of us, know the closing ideas “Let freedom ring. . . “I read the entire text.  Shocking ideology: equality. Shocking idea: not painting the idea of “all” when speaking about a group of people.

A section of Dr. King’s speech leaped out at me:

“But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”

Let us not drink from the cup of bitterness and hatred. If, as a nation, we needed that message it is now.  We are standing in a summer of 1968: embroiled in an unpopular war, hate rhetoric screaming from both sides. Pastor Terry Jones is holding an “International Burn a Koran Day” on September 11 at his church the Dove World Outreach in Gainesville, Florida. In an interview with Chris Matthews, Jones cited Islamic codes anti-gay, anti-feminist stance.  Jones, it should be noted, protested the inauguration of Gainesville’s new openly gay mayor with the no “homo” mayor protest.  In the blog announcing it, he cites the same issues in Leviticus that he finds offensive in the Koran (and is using as justification for the burning of the Koran)!

We live in a nation that among its principles is the right to religious freedom: or freedom from religion. For me, there is no mistaking the Islamaphoia: it is hatred and fear of the unknown. Any religious text, any, can be used to justify almost anything. Religious text, by nature, set out codes.  To those who say “The Koran says to kill if x action is taken”, my response is simple: read Leviticus if you claim to be Jewish or Christian.  The Koran provides a passage of tolerance of the other Abrahamic faiths: The Qur’an says, “Those who believe (in the Qur’an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians, – any who believe in Allah (God) and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (Qur’an, 2:62) (Parenthesis in quotes mine). 

Our summer of 2010 shall be remembered as the hatred and the exclusion of the other. Granting gay individuals the right to marry, developing an immigration path for children who are now adults and where brought here illegally, demonstrating, that we the people understand that the actions of a few to not represent the beliefs of many.  Heeding the words of Dr. King, cautioning against drinking from the cup of bitterness, it is time this summer ends. In 1969, we, as a nation put two men on the moon. It is time we strive for that: for something that is positive, something that can move us as a nation forward.  We cannot ask our government to do it: as individuals it is up to us to stand up and say no to those around us who spread hate, no to our leaders who by inaction continue to promote it and no to corporations who through donations and policies continue to allow actions to continue.

The time for intolerance is over. It is not a founding principle this country. It is not a tenet of any religion: please do not confuse a person or group of people with an entire faith tradition.  There is something we can do every day by choice, to build a bridge.

There would be no better way to honor those who died on 9/11, than to demonstrate that as a nation, we embrace an Islamic Cultural Center several blocks from ground zero. We would show that we are a shining light. A nation working embracing diversity; and a people who realize that in the other, we find and better the self.

Until then, we continue to drink from the cup of bitterness and hate. And that is not a founding principle of my nation.