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Zoethe

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Mosques in Manhattan [Aug. 20th, 2010|01:26 pm]
Zoethe
I know y'all read him, but my sweet baboo really hits it out of the park in his argument for why the Islamic Cultural Center should be allowed to be built in Manhattan.
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Comments:
From: (Anonymous)
2010-08-26 12:25 am (UTC)
"If you are incapable of seeing what is in poor taste about building a Muslim center of worship at the site where thousands of Americans were killed by Muslims then we are incapable of seeing eye to eye here."

This is a non-answer. You made an assertion, the burden is on you to provide an articulable reason behind it. Your response appears to be an attempt to divert attention from your lack of such an articulable reason by attempting to shift the focus to me. No dice.

Not to mention the multiply-repeated (and multiply-ignored) fact that the proposed site isn't "at the site where thousands of Americans were killed."

Let's talk about your example of the Auschwitz convent for a moment. There are several key facts which make the analogy faulty. Just off the top of my head:

1. The victim and perpetrator group types are reversed.

Let's accept, arguendo, that 9/11 was an act by a religious group. It was (to the extent one can take a clear statement from a terrorist act) against a political group, to wit, Americans.

Contrarily, the Holocaust was the action of a political group (Nazis) against primarily a religious group (Jews) (and secondarily other religious groups and some social/political groups).

So, when a different religious group (Catholics) appears to be taking focus away from the primary victim-group (Jews), I think that's an articulable reason for people to feel the action is inappropriate.

But because the roles are reversed, the analogy doesn't hold. An Islamic facility might (all other things being equal, which they aren't, see below) arguably take focus away from other religious groups who should be remembered, but can't really take focus away from a political group who should be. Unless one is claiming that Muslims are, ipso facto, not American, which I'll assume you aren't claiming.

2. Standing out by contrast vs. being lost in a crowd

The Auschwitz convent stood out by contrast, because there isn't a lot going on around it. You notice it, and take from its presence that it is significant, because it's the only thing of its kind around.

Contrast the proposed Islamic facility. It doesn't stand out either physically (just another amongst hundreds of buildings within that radius of the WTC site) or conceptually (just another amongst the many religious facilities within that radius).

3. For us vs. for everyone

The convent was, as far as I know, primarily if not exclusively for the benefit of Catholics. Whereas the proposed Islamic center is, according to its backers, designed to foster better multi-faith relations amongst its entire community (New York, and to some extent the world at large). You may be skeptical of this purpose, but absent evidence to the contrary I'm inclined to take them at their word.

4. Relative unanimity of opposition

The 9/11 survivors, as identifiable a group as any as having the right to decide who is offended by things, are divided, with notable voices both opposed and in favor of the Islamic center. Whereas I am not aware of any Jewish groups who were in favor of the Auschwitz convent.

I could probably go on, if I knew more about the Auschwitz convent than a brief google taught me. However, I think the differences are wide enough.

Ultimately, though, it comes back to the fact that you made an assertion, so it's your job to back it up. Neither blaming the questioner nor relying on better or worse analogies relieves you of your burden of stating a reason for your position.

-Alex
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[User Picture]From: thanoslug
2010-08-26 01:40 pm (UTC)
"This is a non-answer."
What I find amusing here is that you quoted the reason in your declaration that I was refusing to give a reason. The fact that you can state the reason why it is in poor taste without acknowledging it again points up our very different world views. I am under no obligation to make you understand mine. I can simply state it, which I did, and hope that you can see, which you didn't. This whole thread is going to be falling off my friend's page soon and once it does I shan't be commenting anymore but it is still here now so here goes one more time.

1. Towers destroyed by Muslim terrorists, thousands of Americans killed.
2. Muslims want to build a mosque at the site of this tragedy.
3. Many people feel that Muslims building a mosque at the site of a Muslim attack on Americans is, at best, in incredible bad taste.

There do you see? Muslims kill Americans, Muslims build monument at site of crime --> Bad taste. Many moderate Muslims in our country agree it is in bad taste even if you still can't see why it is in bad taste.

As to the Aushwitz example. Yes it is a slightly flawed example but not for any of the reasons you gave. In fact, the reason it is flawed was given in the example itself. Let's look at it.

Auschwitz was the site of a horrible tragedy perpetrated against the Jewish people by Nazis. The WTC was the site of a horrible tragedy perpetrated against the American people by Muslims. Jews were a people group as far as the Nazis were concerned - they were killed regardless of whether they were devout or not so identifying them as a religious group is specious. Americans are a people group - when I look at my country I do not see democrats, republicans, blacks, asians, hispanics, whites, Christians, pagans, etc - I see Americans, a people group. So there are our two victims groups - Jews and Americans.

Now the perpetrators. The villains at Auschwitz were Nazis some of whom were members of the Catholic church. A church whose majority opinion was that what was done to the Jews was a horrible crime that could not be condoned in any way. The villains at the WTC were terrorists all of whom were Muslims. A faith whose majority opinion is that America is the great Satan and is deserving of whatever violence is perpetrated against it.

The Pope, leader of the Catholic church on earth, ordered that a convent not be built near Auschwitz because of the very tenuous link between the Nazis and the Catholic church even though his church held no blame for what was done. There has been no similar attempt to consider the feelings of the victims of the WTC attack by Muslim leaders.

Peaceful Islam is largely a myth in the world today. There are those who are trying to create reformed branches of Islam that are non-violent and I wish them the best. There are barely enough of them for them to even reach the level of being considered a minority and where they are trying to grow in the Middle East they are persecuted by other Muslims as being apostate. You know what the punishment in Islam is for public apostasy? Death.

All of that being said, I have never said that Muslims should not be allowed to build mosques in America. I hope that peaceful Islam can be planted and grow here in our country and stand in contrast to the rest of Islam. However, I think that this particular mosque should be built somewhere else.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-08-26 10:38 pm (UTC)
I think I have more faith in the ability of people to accept other people.

But maybe my trust is misplaced.
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[User Picture]From: thanoslug
2010-08-27 02:05 pm (UTC)
There are lunatics all over the world and they can be found amongst pretty much any group of people.

Church burned
Muslim girl murdered for converting to Christianity
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-08-27 12:10 am (UTC)
"'This is a non-answer.'
"What I find amusing here is that you quoted the reason in your declaration that I was refusing to give a reason. The fact that you can state the reason why it is in poor taste without acknowledging it again points up our very different world views."

It appears that I may have been expressing myself poorly. I'll try to be more clear.

First, I was focused more on the "If you can't see why" part of your statement. That's generally a substitute for rational argument:

Person 1: A implies B
Person 2: Why does A imply B?
Person 1: If you can't see why A implies B, there's something wrong with you.

This is a logical fallacy, which I hope is clear from reducing it to its symbolic form. Person 1 is not focusing on the claim being argued for, but rather is focusing on the person. In theory at least, the validity of the ideas should be independent of the persons arguing for and against them.

Second, as illustrated by the symbolic example above, I'm asking why A implies B--that is, why the one thing you're talking about follows from the other. Restating that A implies B is not an answer to my question, it's just restating the thing I am questioning.

Third, for the record, I do take some small offense at the patronizing implicit in your "finding it amusing."

"I am under no obligation to make you understand mine."

Well, I was assuming that you were making a statement in order to communicate an idea. If that is your goal, then you are obligated in the sense that you will fail at your goal if you fail to have the other person understand.

"I can simply state it, which I did, and hope that you can see, which you didn't."

True, but if you do you risk having someone (possibly multiple someones) on the internet continue to believe that you have no valid reason for holding the opinion you do. It's not much of a punishment, but there it is.

[continued]

-Alex
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-08-27 12:12 am (UTC)
"This whole thread is going to be falling off my friend's page soon and once it does I shan't be commenting anymore but it is still here now so here goes one more time.

"1. Towers destroyed by Muslim terrorists, thousands of Americans killed.
"2. Muslims want to build a mosque at the site of this tragedy.
"3. Many people feel that Muslims building a mosque at the site of a Muslim attack on Americans is, at best, in incredible bad taste.

"There do you see? Muslims kill Americans, Muslims build monument at site of crime --> Bad taste."

Again, you're just repeating your assertion that A implies B, not explaining the assertion. Also, you're adding an unnecessary argumentum ad populum, which I'll ignore hereafter.

Setting aside for the moment the fact you continue to ignore, that the proposed center is not at the site of the tragedy, perhaps you believe that the logical connection between 1 and 2 and offense is so obvious that it does not require explanation. I disagree.

"Many moderate Muslims in our country agree it is in bad taste even if you still can't see why it is in bad taste."

I can think of a number of reasons that someone might find it to be tasteless or offensive. I just can't think of any that aren't offensively prejudiced, and therefore their mere popularity doesn't sway me. But I don't claim to be omnicient; there may be reasons I haven't thought of.

Let me give you an example of something I would find tasteless and offensive. If there were no memorial at the WTC site and no plan to ever build one, and someone wanted to build an Islamic center spot on ground zero, that would, to my mind, be tasteless and offensive. Why? Because by the nature of its being a) at the precise spot, and b) unique in that regard, I would think that that one group was implicitly shoving aside any other group with the right to be memorialized there.

Now two things about this example: First, it does not depend on the builder being Islamic. I would be equally offended by the Catholics being the sole group there, or the Buddhists, or the Freemasons--really, any group not identified with the actual victims.

Second, my offense depends in large part on two factors which are not present with respect to the actual proposal at hand: First, being actually on the spot, and second being unique in its position. Wanting to be the only religious structure on the place of a tragedy is saying "We represent the victims, here." Wanting to be one among many at some small distance from the place of a tragedy is saying "We want to join with our bretheren to mourn and remember the victims, there."

This difference--between joining with others to remember the victims versus elbowing out the victims--is central to my argument regarding the Auschwitz example. You appear to have missed that point. There are also a number of other points, great and small, on which I disagree with your analysis of that example, but I'm leaving them out as I believe they are tangential at this point.

"All of that being said, I have never said that Muslims should not be allowed to build mosques in America."

Nor did I claim you did. Had you done so, I would have hammered on the point that the Catholic church choosing to withdraw its convent is very different from other people preventing it from building in the first place. But I recognized that that was not your point.

You have stated repeatedly that you think this proposal is offensive. The question, which remains open, is why.

-Alex
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[User Picture]From: thanoslug
2010-08-27 02:23 pm (UTC)
This has fallen off my friend page so this shall be my farewell post to this particular thread.

You skipped a step in my logical train. I had an if A and B then C, not if A then B. I even laid it out like that, just without the A, B, and C attached. I have encountered very few people who could not at least see where I was coming from on this. They have not all agreed with me that it is a valid reason to not build there, but they understood why I believe it to be in bad taste.

That said, I came to grips long ago with the fact that I do not necessarily have the skill or eloquence to make everyone I encounter understand what I think, believe, or feel. I generally do a pretty good job but sometimes the task is beyond the amount of effort I am willing to invest. It seems to be so with this issue and yourself. Not something I'm gonna lose sleep over. :)

As to your comment about the mosque not being at the site - yes, it is. Back before the controversy really heated up over it the backers themselves were referring to it as a Ground Zero Mosque. If that is what the people building it thought of it as then who am I to argue with them? Also, it is close enough to Ground Zero to make no difference, only 2 blocks from where the towers stood in an area that was a front row seat to the devastation of the attack, an area that was showered by debris from the falling towers. I do not believe any of our nation's historic parks and monuments so narrowly define their areas as what people are now trying to do with Ground Zero in their attempt to say this mosque is not there.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-08-27 03:03 pm (UTC)
It seems a little unfair to respond when I know you have no opportunity to reply, but since you've brought that situation on yourself it also seems unfair to me to prevent me from responding. So, for what little it's worth in the event someone else in the universe cares about this conversation . . . .

The difference between "X implies Y" and "A plus B implies C" is not really relevant. My point was that, whatever the assumptions are that lead to the conclusion, my question revolves around the connection between the assumptions and the conclusion. As I said, perhaps you think the connection is obvious, and perhaps these other people who see where you are coming from are in agreement with you in that regard. I'm not.

I'm not saying that you have to explain yourself to me; I'm just trying to help you do it if you're inclined to. What you have done so far is orthogonal to the question I'm asking.

But while I have a personal interest in my own understanding (being a curious sort), I think we agree that, from your perspective, "some random person doesn't understand me" is not something to lose sleep over. I will, as "threatened," go on believing that you don't have a good reason for your position until proven otherwise. If you can live with that, then that's where the conversation will end.

As for whether the proposed site is "at" ground zero, well, it is both true that we disagree, and it is true that you're ignoring the second part of my analysis, namely whether the site is unique in its position.

I disagree in principle because while I would object to a strip club being "at" ground zero, there are at least two (the New York Dolls Gentleman’s Club and the Pussycat Lounge, not to mention Thunder Lingerie and More, a sex shop which has peep shows) closer in than the proposed center site. That's what Manhattan is like: very different things are cheek-by-jowl, and consequently the demarcations are closer in and sharper than they might be elsewhere.

Even ignoring that fact, I also need to point out again that it's important that the proposed site is not unique. There are at least two churches (Trinity and St. Paul's) within the same radius. And yes, being one amongst a group is hugely different than being one alone.

Finally, as to whether the backers referred to it as a "ground zero" project, I don't know. But one of their stated goals is to try to promote positive and neighborly relations with other religions. To that end, the symbolism of physically repairing some of the collateral damage from the attack seems, if anything, appropriate.

-Alex
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