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US Mosque Opponents Acting Like Radical Islamists

Posted by libhom Sunday, August 01, 2010

The right's jihad to close mosques has become more fervent, and the corporate media are happily using Muslims as scapegoats for the pain caused to middle class and poor Americans by wealthy and corporate interests. This is truly disturbing. But, Islam also is disturbing. Every religion is dangerous and evil, especially when its adherents accumulate political, economic, and cultural power. Much of the left in this country refuses to do anything but reflexively defend mosque construction without doing any real analysis. That is hardly surprising because rational analysis and critique of religion is still largely taboo.

The decision of the Anti Defamation League to call for the cancellation of the project to build a mosque and Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero is both fascinating and instructive. It should immediately strike people as odd and ironic that the ADL is trying to suppress the construction of places of worship for minority religious faiths. However, it is as instructive as it is ironic.

The ADL's position as a civil rights organization already had been compromised by its racist and antisemitic bigotry against Palestinians and Arabs in general. For many, this stunt will permanently remove it from the category of civil rights groups. Yet, this needs to be looked at in the broader context.

It certainly is a good thing that Jews are safer and more comfortable in our society. That represents important progress. However, the way that some Jewish people on the right have responded to this is disturbing. Many American Jews have started to see themselves as assimilated whites in a position of dominance over others. This subset of the Jewish community has become Republican, endorsed conservative causes, and has become rather racist against a broad range of minorities in our society, not limited by any stretch of the imagination to Arabs.

The ADL's condemnation of the Ground Zero mosque reflects that mindset. The ADL is starting to see itself as part of the dominant group in society and is doing what religious organizations generally do when they feel power: suppressing faiths with little or no power in society. This phenomenon is hardly limited to Judaism nor is it limited to the USA.

Analysis of the ADL's behavior is useful, but it should serve as a mode of entry into analysis of the anti mosque crusade whose bandwagon the ADL has gleefully jumped on. Anti mosque protesters are largely trying to defeat and destroy (often their words) a minority religious ideology which has gotten a foothold in this country.

Their rhetoric and agenda are highly hypocritical. Islam isn't any more evil than Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Mormonism, or any other religious faith. If someone wants to oppose the construction of a house of worship for one faith, they are morally obligated to oppose the construction of such places for all faiths.

It's no secret that religion is the main root cause of poverty, war, environmental destruction, racism, sexism, heterosexism, and ignorance in the world. Yet, these protesters want to pretend that their particular religious superstitions are somehow morally superior to other religious superstitions. This shows an incredible level of vanity, hubris, and just plain stupidity on their part.

The anti mosque jihads certainly have their counterpart in majority Muslim countries. In the Maldives, a journalist recently was arrested after being "accused" of being an atheist in a country where Islam is required by law. In Saudi Arabia, Islam not only is mandatory, but failure to show up at mosque can result in a visit from the secret police. In today's Iraq, governed by Islamic religious extremists, Christians are routinely persecuted and sometimes murdered with impunity.

A defender of the anti mosque movement here in the US might claim that this Christian and Jewish jihad is nonviolent. That is simply not true. Anti Muslim hate crimes in this country are quite common and represent the violent wing of the same movement.

Of course, the persecution of various religious groups feeds on itself. Persecution of Christians in Islamic countries creates fear that motivates Christians to try to block Islam in societies where they predominate. It works the other way around too.

Religious persecution has been the norm ever since people of different religious superstitions encountered each other. There is nothing new here, and people never seem to learn. Religion always has been the greatest source of human division, and that is because of the absolutist claims made by religions. If you depend on the "one true way" to get into heaven or the equivalent, people living their lives happily without that "one true way" pose an existential threat to that faith and the sense of false security it brings. That will never change as long as there is religion. It's the nature of the beast.

Defenders of religion would like to claim that it is only fundamentalist religion is responsible for the problems. However, fundamentalist religion is an inevitable consequence of the belief that certain texts are "holy" and inspired by deities. Also, more moderate versions of religious faiths provide political and cultural cover for the more militant versions.

Many people have been questioning the ability of humans to survive nuclear weapons, our warlike behavior, and environmental destruction for decades. Yet, many of them don't see the connection to religion. It's not difficult to discern, but their psychological dependency on religion keeps them from seeing what is directly in front of them.

If you really are serious about peace and progress, you need to let go of religion.

 

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