Monday, September 13, 2010

Two Americas on September 11, 2010

Anyone who reads this blog is probably aware of the outburst of Islamophobia in the USA recently, with intemperate denunciations of plans to build a Muslim community center a few blocks from the WTC site in Manhattan, threats to burn the Quran (exactly why I am not sure) and rabble-rousing about how (American!) Muslims might not deserve the full measure of 1st amendment protections.  Alarming and in some instances rather hysterical.  It's like the return of Millard Fillmore, in whose time it was the Irish who might not deserve the 1st amendment, because they were the wrong kind of Christian.

But bad as the active promotion of this stuff, by agitators obscure and prominent alike, may be, all may not as it seems.    Let me tell you what I saw this September 11.

I was invited to take part in an SCA medieval re-creation in Northern Illinois.   Despite the distance I decided to go.   Despite some early rain, the weather was mostly beautiful and there were probably 400 people there, dressed in a variety of medieval-style clothing and some very sharp-looking armor.  Among this crowd were some people playing the part of medieval Muslims, including a handful of ordinary black and white Americans wearing niqabs.

And no one said boo.

On September 11.

That evening I was at dinner with another participant, talking about a favorite SCA subject, one's upcoming artistic projects.  The lady in question expressed a more-than-idle desire to extend her knowledge of medieval culture by learning a foreign language. 

Arabic. 

About this point I began to feel that there must be two different USAs, on two different planets, one considerably less hysterical than the other.

Thank heaven.

I will remember this when the big-name agitators start thumping their drums, or start promoting some lunatic preacher or politician because they are steadfast against unAmerican Islam.

BTW, I did indeed see a remembrance ceremony of the 9-11 attacks, too.  The participants were very dignified and appropriate and had nothing to do with denouncing any religious tradition.

Image:  an attendee at the event in question.

6 comments:

  1. Anonymous2:46 pm

    there was also a knighting at this event -in true memluk( muslim) fashion -very rare indeed- this man has served his country and was outraged at the events of 9/11 this brings new hope to that dark day for us

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  2. Steve,

    It has been way too long since we have had a chance to sit and talk at events like these. I have to think, given this, that the discussions we had along with the likes of Anne and Andrew, and many others, that they are as entertaining and enlightening as ever.

    The one thing all of this makes me wonder is this... how much of this dichotomy really comes down to the division between those who are educated and think for themselves, and those who may or may not be, but allow others to think for them. In the latter case, those lemmings swallow the pablum of the pundits from whom's teats they suck, and it is often the spoiled milk of hate, distrust, etc.

    Take care!

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  3. Anonymous11:21 pm

    Yes, yes, yes. The specter of "those people" has haunted us . . . well for a long time. “Muslims” aren't the problem. What constitutes “Muslim” is about as broad as what constitutes “Christian”. Lets talk individuals or specific sects that advocate violence and murder.

    Most importantly we will see in December that the drum beating about “Muslims” was a tool used by some to get out the vote for November. We still have more than a few hateful people in the land who yell very loud and think waving Old Glory makes it OK. It insults Old Glory.
    I was living in Washington D.C. and at work on 9/11
    K. MacDonald

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  4. Anonymous11:56 pm

    Occasionally after perusing professor Muhlberger’s blog one comes across ‘hysterical’ promulgations. This I believe is one of those.

    If one speaks of, and defines an “outburst of Islamophobia in the USA recently” as consisting in opposition to the building of a mosque at ground zero, and one ‘obscure’ leader of an insignificant church threatening to burn the Koran then one would guess there has been an “outburst of Islamophobia in the USA recently”. (It would be circular reasoning in logical argumentation, i.e. accepting the premise that you want to prove to be true.)
    But the question is, do these aforementioned examples REALLY constitute “Islamophobia”?
    Perhaps the question really should be what is “Islamophobia”?
    If one does not believe in the ‘truth’ of the Koran does that make one “Islamophobic”?
    If one does not believe in the value of Shari’a law?

    Is the USA more “Islamophobic” recently because Time magazine had ”Islamophobia” as a cover story? Does this mean it is true? Is there any verified and substantial evidence of recent increased attacks on Muslims in America? NO!
    Since only about 6% of ‘hate crimes’ in the U.S. are directed against Muslims, and over 60 % of ‘hate crimes’ are directed against Jews, why do we not speak of an ‘outburst of “Jewophobia” in the USA recently”?

    And if 70% of the American people in recent opinion polls are against the building of a mosque at ground zero does that make them all “Islamophobic”?

    And to bring up the issue of the first amendment is disingenuous at best. No politician either Democrat or Republican who opposes the building of the ground zero mosque has argued that they do not have the RIGHT to build it. It is a matter of the sensitivity of doing so. Indeed it was the same argument against the burning of the Koran that the pastor had the right to burn it, but it was insensitive to do so.
    In any event to call 70% of the American people “Islamophobic” because they oppose the building of a mosque at ground zero is quite simply ridiculous. If this is what makes an individual “Islamophobic” then one could argue that the term “Islamophobic” is so general, mundane, and commonplace that it really should not be labeled a phobia.

    The organizers of the insistent and uncompromising efforts to build the mosque including Mr. Rauf have some relevant and legitimate questions that they apparently refuse to answer. There are over 100 mosques in the NYC area. Why the vehement demand to build this particular mosque when there is such a genuine concern of many, many, Americans in regards to the proposed location? If the mosque as claimed is about community bridge building, and tolerance, then again why the doggedness on this particular location?

    And for a scholar of history Prof. Muhlberger must know of the history of Islam building monuments (Mosques) in places where they were victorious. And the original proposed name Cordoba House also must raise some eyebrows.
    Continued….

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  5. Anonymous12:01 am

    Prof Muhlberger states, “I will remember this when the big-name agitators start thumping their drums, or start promoting some lunatic preacher or politician because they are steadfast against unAmerican Islam.”

    Well Prof. Muhlberger I guess we must just take it on your authority that Islam is not un-American. But even the phrasing ‘unAmerican’ is misleading. What is “American”?
    Well Prof. Muhlberger there are serious academics (philosophers and political scientists) that do question whether the fundamental values of “Islam” and the fundamental values of the “West” are compatible. And to suggest otherwise is either being intentionally deceptive or being ignorant. Indeed there are many elements in the political and religious structures of Islam that can be argued to be inherently anti-West. And if Prof. Muhlberger wants to debate the content of the Koran which presumably he has read (but with all due respect I seriously doubt) then lets debate how the Koran is compatible with the fundamental “Western” values.
    Note: I did not say “Christian values”

    Cinnion states, “how much of this dichotomy really comes down to the division between those who are educated and think for themselves, and those who may or may not be, but allow others to think for them. In the latter case, those lemmings swallow the pablum of the pundits from whom's teats they suck, and it is often the spoiled milk of hate, distrust, etc.

    Ahh!! The ad-hominem, argumentation technique. If someone does not agree with your political viewpoint they are “lemmings”, “swallowing pablum” etc. Has this individual ever been anywhere in the Muslim world? Has this individual been to cities in England, France, Holland, Sweden etc. Apparently these existent, serious, integration problems are just imaginary!
    “Thinking for oneself”(believing what one wants to believe) can be dangerous as this individual displays.

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  6. Anonymous4:18 am

    A website: http://sig.ville.gouv.fr/Atlas/ZUS/
    The SIG du Secretariat General du CIV
    page: Atlas des Zones urbaines sensibles (Zus)
    It might be of interest for those of you who believe in the inherent political and moral equivalence of all of humanity’s religious traditions.
    Question: What do 98% of these 750+ listed no go zones have in common????

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