Liberal nut takes hostages at Discovery Channel

James Jay Lee, the man who attacked the Discovery Channel building yesterday, turns out to have been driven over the edge by his liberal obsessions. His manifesto references Daniel Quinn’s eco-book My Ishmael, and demands that “all programs promoting War and the technology behind those must cease.”

The Atlantic Wire has a useful run-down of the ways that bloggers have been politicizing the incident. “Imagine the clamor for censorship if Rush Limbaugh, not Al Gore, had ‘awakened’ a nutjob gunman,” a conservative blog consolidator opines. Here’s what a “A Chicagoan’s Conservative Chronicles” has to say:

My feelings today knowing what we know about Obama and his friends who include domestic terrorist William Ayers and his wife Bernadine Dorn, I’d go as far to say that nearly EVERY domestic terrorist in the modern American era besides Eric Rudolph, Tim McVieh, his partner Terri Nichols and some very sad and obscure David Duke types are either liberals, Muslims or converted African American Muslims.

Every time.

My own feelings today knowing what we know is that the operative word is “nut.” No one could read Lee’s manifesto and claim with a straight face that it’s some kind of left-wing policy brief–he’s clearly psychotic. Yes, he wants to stop global warming and war and save the planet (dangerous, fringe ideas), but his stance on immigration would give pause to anyone except maybe Tom Tancredo:

Programs must be developed to find solutions to stopping ALL immigration pollution and the anchor baby filth that follows that. Find solutions to stopping it. Call for people in the world to develop solutions to stop it completely and permanently. Find solutions FOR these countries so they stop sending their breeding populations to the US and the world to seek jobs and therefore breed more unwanted pollution babies. FIND SOLUTIONS FOR THEM TO STOP THEIR HUMAN GROWTH AND THE EXPORTATION OF THAT DISGUSTING FILTH!

I’m going to stop right now, because frankly I think it’s pretty pointless to keep score in this way. Rightists who make a point of flaunting their weapons and talking about rising up against the government should have thicker skins when people accuse them of sounding like terrorists; leftists should keep their focus on the lunatics who occupy the ostensible mainstream, as they kill a lot more people than any number of “obscure David Duke type” outliers.

Considering how many psychotics there are, and how easy it is for them to exercise their Second Amendment rights, we’re going to have to deal with a lot more Lees, von Brunn’s, and Kaczynskis.

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Orrin Hatch says the right thing

Senator Orrin Hatch tells a Utah reporter that the so-called Ground Zero Mosque is a religious liberty issue, pure and simple. He says that as a Mormon he understands religious prejudice–that he once had to ask his good friend Teddy Kennedy to intervene in a controversy about a temple in Massachusetts.

It absolutely kills me that Harry Reid–a Jew who converted to Mormonism–needs to be schooled by this old right winger. Polling and sensitivities be damned; religious liberty is a fundamental, inalienable right–and as any serious student of American history knows, Madison and Jefferson were looking to protect religion just as much as the state.

It offends MY sensitivities to hear a billion and a half people being demonized; it embarrasses and shames me to hear American leaders counseling Muslims to be meek and conciliatory because of what the Wahhabists do in their name. I haven’t heard Abe Foxman telling me that I bear any responsibility for what Baruch Goldstein did in Judaism’s name.

I’ve tried not to get too caught up in the fringe stuff–the Koran burnings and Pamela Geller and Bryan Fischer. They are what they are. I just finished reading Chip Berlet and Matthew N. Lyon’s Right Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort. “Rather than dismiss right-wing populists as paranoid or fanatical extremists,” they write, “we need to recognize these movements as both complex and dangerous: complex, because they speak to a combination of legitimate and selfish grievances; dangerous, because they channel people’s hopes and fears into misguided rebellions that only serve to heighten inequality and oppression.”

If you’re worried about the forces who are trying to steal your liberties, go after the people who do have an unequal share of power and wealth–not Jews and Muslims and blacks, not feminists and homosexuals, not ZOG and UN troops, not Mexicans, and for that matter, not white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Go after big business and the forces of entrenched privilege–what Eisenhower (“a dedicated conscious agent of the communist conspiracy,” as he was once described) called the Military Industrial Complex.

Glenn Beck and the Tea Party, we now know, are huge admirers of Martin Luther King. So I guess there is reason for hope. Standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial forty seven years ago, King taught us that America’s greatness lies in its ideal, as-yet-unrealized aspirations:

When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned….But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now.

“You can’t change the heart through legislation,” King said in a different context. “But we must go on to say that while it may be true that morality cannot be legislated, behavior can be regulated. It may be true that the law cannot change the heart but it can restrain the heartless. It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me but it can keep him from lynching me and I think that is pretty important, also. So there is a need for executive orders. There is a need for judicial decrees.”

When it comes to the Ground Zero Mosque, one need look no further than the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

Gone Fishin’

I just don’t have it in me today to post about Harry Reid’s disgraceful concession on the mosque and for the next couple of weeks I’m going to be offline. But something tells me that, come September and the return of business-as-usual, this issue will be moving to the back burner. Like last year’s death panels, pretty much all the juice has been squeezed out of it already.

I’m going to give this round to the Republicans. Though they’ve trashed their own principles in the process, they’ve managed, once again, to define their opponents as weak-kneed defeatists who are out of touch with the concerns of average Americans. Xenophobia, demonization, and scapegoating are tried-and-true tools of demagoguery; this wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last of them that we’ll see. Still, American history tells us that (with the exception of our indigenous peoples) they only work in the short term–Irish Catholics, Southern Italians, and Slavs were also once targets of this same kind of hatred, not to mention blacks and Jews. Homophobia is no longer the sure-fire wedge issue that it was thought to be only a few years ago; a slight majority of the country now supports gays’ right to marry. Hispanics already have recourse to the ballot box, and the Republicans will eventually reap a significant backlash.

There’s reason for hope, in other words, even if the prospects for November are looking increasingly grim.

Starbucks and the New World Order

Though the coffee chain’s specific plans are not known, existing Starbucks franchises across the nation have been locked down with titanium shutters across all windows. In each coffee shop’s door hangs the familiar Starbucks logo, slightly altered to present the familiar mermaid figure as a cyclopean mermaid whose all-seeing eye forms the apex of a world-spanning pyramid.

My son told me about this piece in The Onion. I thought it was pretty hilarious.

No More Mosques

Bryan Fischer, Director of Issues Analysis for Donald Wildmon’s American Family Association, wrote a blog post yesterday saying that “America should have no more mosques. Period,” Talking Points Memo reports. “This is for one simple reason,” he wrote. “Each Islamic mosque is dedicated to the overthrow of the American government.”

Click here to read Fischer’s entire post. Everyone should, because his analytics expose the underlying premise of this whole deplorable controversy–that all Muslims are equally responsible for 9/11 and every other monstrosity that has ever been committed in Islam’s name, much as Christians once blamed all Jews for killing Jesus. As repellent and profoundly unAmerican as this is, more than 68% of Americans, according to a recent CNN poll, also oppose the mosque. 49% of us, according to the same poll, favor a Constitutional amendment that will “prevent children born here from becoming U.S. citizens unless their parents are also U.S. citizens.” And for what it’s worth, 52% of us think it’s ok for gay people to marry. Go figure.

I know it’s futile to argue with bigots, but I couldn’t help noticing one glaring logical inconsistency. Fischer writes, “Muslims cannot claim religious freedom protections under the First Amendment” because they are “using First Amendment freedoms to make plans to destroy the First Amendment altogether.”

Ask the Hutaree Christian militia how much good it did them to plaster Bible verses all over their website while plotting attacks against government officials. They are currently pondering the limits of the First Amendment, as they should, from the inside of a jail cell. The First Amendment cannot be used as a cloak for subversive activity.

So here’s my question. Why should we distinguish between one Christian sect and another if we won’t extend that same courtesy to Muslims? According to Fischer’s own premises, shouldn’t the mere existence of one subversive Christian group be reason enough to ban them all?

In general, I think it’s a good thing when propagandists jump the shark; they not only discredit themselves, but their ostensibly “mainstream” allies too. They make ugly look as ugly as ugly is.

Nativism in the raw is not a pretty sight. Back in the 1890s, the American Protective Association circulated a counterfeit Papal Bull that ordered American Catholics to slaughter all Protestants “on or about the feast of St. Ignatius in the year of our Lord, 1893.” Similar rumors swept the country in the 1850s, at the height of the Know Nothing movement. Section 14 of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 specifically prohibited Chinese from Naturalization (“hereafter no state court or court of the United States shall admit Chinese to citizenship; and all laws in conflict with this act are hereby repealed”). The idea was that the Chinese were inherently unassimilable; much the same thing was said of Eastern and Southern Europeans–Poles, Hungarians, Italians, Greeks, Slavs, Ashkenazi Jews–when eugenicists like Madison Grant were in vogue in the teens and ’20s.

“If I were asked,” Grant wrote in The Passing of the Great Race, “What is the greatest danger that threatens the American Republic today? I would certainly reply: The gradual dying out among our people of those hereditary traits through which the principles of our religious, political, and social foundations were laid down and their insidious replacement by traits of less noble character.” I might say something similar, but I wouldn’t blame it on heredity or immigration.

Still more on the Ground Zero Mosque

My older son and I walked over to the site this morning to join a Jewish show of support for the Cordoba Initiative; look closely at the picture and you might see us. The great Marty Ehrlich played the clarinet, Rabbis Ellen Lippman, Arthur Waskow (see photo on the right), Marcus Bernstein, and Richard Jacobs gave short speeches (Daisy Khan, the Iman’s wife, said a few words too, but I couldn’t hear her or see her over the crowd). Reporters scribbled in their notebooks, snapped cameras, and thrust microphones in the speakers’ faces. There were at least three TV crews, from NY1, CNN, and I’m not sure where else. The journalists practically outnumbered the demonstrators, but it will probably look different on TV. There’s already some coverage on line–AP , NBC, and NY1.

Standing there in the hot sun, it was really hard to believe that this address has been the cause of so much national consternation. Walking from the Brooklyn Bridge we passed City Hall, banks, restaurants, bars, a gym, retail establishments, apartment buildings, schools, a giant church that looks like a Greek temple, loading docks, and I don’t know what else. The people bustling up and down the street, many of them shouting into cell phones, were of all colors, nationalities, and faiths. Some of the women wore headscarves; some of the men kippahs–this is NYC, after all.

As other writers have pointed out, the site isn’t precisely at or even over-shadowing Ground Zero. The Burlington Coat Factory is close enough to where the twin towers stood to have had a jet engine fall through its roof, it was in the “frozen zone” for several months after the attack–but it’s still a five minute walk away. And Ground Zero itself isn’t like Flanders Field or something–it’s a gigantic construction site, walled off with plywood and chain link fences.

I’m not sure that the people who are so emotional about the disrespect to the dead that an Islamic presence represents understand how many Muslims live and work and pray in New York City–there are at least 600,000 of them. Yes, the terrorists were Muslims, but there were Muslim victims too, and Muslim first responders. It would have been a statistical fluke if there hadn’t been. And do they really hold every Muslim accountable for al Qaeda?

People talk about Islam as if it is monolithic–they don’t seem to realize that there are a billion and a half Muslims in the world, 145,000,000 of them living in Bangladesh, 28,000,000 in Ethiopia, 202,000,000 in Indonesia and 13,000,000 in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, to name just a few countries that aren’t at war with either Israel or the US. How could Jews, a people who have been corporately blamed for everything from the murder of Jesus to the de-monetization of silver, stand by while a whole religion is demonized? Even extreme Zionists who hate Islam categorically (which I fear explains the ADL’s position) should recognize that nothing good can come of diluting the First Amendment, of picking and choosing which religions are deserving of toleration.

Arthur Waskow has a piece on the CNN site today that proposes a thought experiment in which liberal, well-meaning Jewish Americans are told not to build a synagogue in Detroit, out of respect for Palestinian sensitivities. Read it and weep:

The following six paragraphs are not fact; they are fiction. But they have a nonfiction point. Please note your own reactions to this fictional story.

“Two major organizations of Arab-Americans and Muslim Americans today urged the city of Detroit to prevent the building of a new synagogue in the city.

“The two organizations said that while Jews have a legal “right” to build a synagogue there, it was not ethically ” right” to do so in the face of the emotional upset it would cause the Palestinian and Arab residents of Detroit, many of whose families suffered from the Israeli government’s blockade and invasion of Gaza.

“Leaders of the new synagogue pointed out that, while deeply committed to the security and the flourishing of the State of Israel as a country with a special relationship to the Jewish people, they had often condemned specific policies of the Israeli government and had for many years actively supported a peace settlement between Israel and a new state of Palestine.

“They added that they had been active in interfaith work and as a result of coming to understand the deep traumas of many communities in the Middle East, had opposed the Israeli government’s invasion of Gaza in 2009. They said the new synagogue would be a venue devoted to multireligious and multicultural dialogue and peacemaking, and prayer to the One God Whom Muslims also worship.

“The Arab-American and Muslim American organizations responded that this did not matter: Arab-Americans in Detroit were so deeply traumatized by the invasion of Gaza, the continuing blockade against crucial economic exports from Gaza, and by the demolition of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem that they could not be expected to pay attention to differences of opinion within the Jewish community. So the repeated traumatization of their community by intruding a synagogue in their midst was unacceptable.”