Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

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Why We Shouldn’t Stop Rev. Jones’ Quran Burning Party

09.08.10

Rising from the still-smoldering debate over the legitimacy of the Park51 community center is the Rev. Terry Jones’ proposed “Burn A Quran Day,” scheduled for this Saturday, September 11th.  Just like the name implies, from six to nine in the evening, people will gather to set copies of the Islamic holy text ablaze to show their opposition to the faith held by the radicals who attacked New York City nine years ago.

Jones’ plans have been met with considerable opposition of their own by just about everyone in the State Department and even from the military — General Petraeus warned that this very act could harm our efforts to control Afghanistan, even endangering our troops.

This hasn’t deterred Jones and his Dove World Outreach Center church.

Jones, who has about 50 followers, gained some local notoriety last year when he posted signs in front of his small church declaring “Islam is of the Devil.” But his Quran-burning scheme attracted wider attention… The Quran, according to Jones, is “evil” because it espouses something other than biblical truth and incites radical, violent behavior among Muslims.

Religious freedom sure is an odd thing, isn’t it?  People want it when it suits them, but want ways around it when it doesn’t.  It’s part of the freedom’s brilliance and why it’s so vital to our Constitution.  Just like the Muslims have the right to build their mosque near Ground Zero, Jones and his own crew radicals have the right to burn some books.  Freedom of expression, of speech, of religion, however you want to slice it: they have the right to do this.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it an effective, worthwhile use of time.  Combating extremism with more extremism isn’t going to work.  Not to get all squishy, but you can’t beat hate with more hate.  You can’t beat ignorance with more ignorance.  You beat brutality with civility.  You overcome oppression with freedom.  You trump prejudice with acceptance.

What people don’t want to realize is that conflating all Muslims into radical terrorists is the same fallacy as Muslims condemning all Americans as infidels.  So, by blaming the entire religion of Islam for the terror attacks, Rev. Jones and his followers are responding to the mentality with which they disagree by adopting that exact mentality themselves. There’s very little in the way of logic going on here — it’s simply an “I’m right, they’re wrong” line of thinking.  No rationality required.

Another paradox is that these 50-odd people and their inflammatory plans for Saturday really could’ve just come and gone without much notice from anyone, except the media exploded this thing to the point where all levels of government voiced their opinions, it’s all over the news, all over the blogosphere.  It’s everywhere.  We could’ve all ignored Jones and his followers’ sad, unfortunate response to tragedy and they would’ve faded away without much of a whimper — no television stories for people abroad to see and misinterpret.

Although, that’s never going to happen — nor should it necessarily.  It is a news story, after all.  But does it require the amount of national exposure that it’s receiving?

People wonder why others hate Americans and then when snippets of news of Americans burning Qurans flood the airwaves, it’s not hard to see why they might be too fond of us.  Because just like how we only catch glimpses and read certain stories about what kind of people they are in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, and Palestine, you have to figure that people in those countries only catch glimpses and read certain stories about us, too.  And who knows what is being passed off to them as representative of Americans as a whole. Odds are that if there’s video footage of a bunch of Floridians burning Qurans gleefully, claiming that the entire faith is of the devil (remind you much of Ahmadinejad calling America the “Great Satan” at all?), that will make it over to those Islamic nations with which we’re firmly entrenched overseas.

While we can’t stop the Dove World Outreach Center from their Quran-burning plans, we can do our part to embrace our diversity and focus on remaining rational in the face of these highly emotional times.  Let them burn their books.  Because when has that ever changed people’s minds?  The beliefs aren’t in the books; they’re in people’s minds and hearts. They won’t accomplish anything good with their pointless, crude event, so why give them a soapbox any bigger than they already have?  Our efforts are best served doing something else, something productive, something positive.

If we continue to do more and more things that promote tolerance, acceptance, rationality, and – ultimately – positivity, we can outshine any blaze by the loud, radical outliers.

Image courtesy of Sydney Lea Steele — All Rights Reserved.  And no, it has nothing to do with this post other than it makes me happy.  And we need more of that in the world, right now especially.

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Get Out Of The Desert! Cont’d

11.05.09

I know this is playing to emotions and there are difficult, real-world issues at stake here, but for the same party that touts family values and the traditional nuclear family to also want to just keep sending moms and dad overseas to fight for a pointless war for nearly a decade just seems so very contradictory and blind.

Let’s get out of both Afghanistan and Iraq for all of the little girls in the country who want their daddy back home.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

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We Are Still In The Desert

09.11.09

Everyone remembers where they were on this tragic day eight years ago.  Everyone remembers those images of devastation and horror.  And everyone remembers the feeling of comradery and patriotism that ensued.  It was amazing to feel everyone pulling together for a common goal.

Yet looking back on it, I find it sad and depressing that the only way we could all be on the same page was with a sense of anger and revenge.  We were all only in arms together in the primal sense of survival, a basic human reaction.

And that didn’t last long.

In the past eight years, we’ve avenged the deaths of our loved ones in the World Trade Center attacks by losing over 5100 more men and women overseas fighting two wars, one of which was completely unprovoked and criminally unnecessary.  We’ve gotten more polarized as a country, to a point where a large section of society gets enraged when the president wants to speak to the students.  Have people really lost sight of real issues that should get us enraged that we waste our energy on something as benign as that?

How about the fact that we are still in Iraq?  And that President Obama is talking about a troop surge (sound familiar?) in Afghanistan while its government proves to be dangerously unreliable.  If you want to get outraged at him, that would be a really good reason.

My brother Dave lost his best friend, Pfc Levi Hoover, in Iraq on the day before my birthday two years ago.  Growing up together since they were kids, so many of Dave’s memories include Levi.  They went fishing together.  They went hunting together.  They fixed their trucks together (after they wrecked them together).  You’d be hard pressed to find any pictures of Dave without Levi right next to him, holding up a prize trout or next to a seven-point buck.  They were brothers.  And, now that he’s gone, my brother hasn’t been the same.

None of us have.

I wish I could at least take comfort in knowing that Levi had to be there, that he had to be fighting for our freedom, that he sacrificed his life for a cause that we had no choice in being a part of.  September 11th, 2001 changed our world.  So many people lost their Levis that awful day.  Tragically, thousands and thousands more have been lost since.

Never forget 9/11.  But, more importantly, never forget what happened after.  And that it’s still happening.

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George W. Bush: War Criminal

03.16.09

It’s amazing how quickly we forget what a totally corrupt and illegal presidency we just endured for the past eight years now that we have a president who actually understands that he is not above the law.

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove, and the whole lot should be tried for war crimes. I bet they’d be found guilty.  You can’t just throw the rules out the window because we had an attack on our soil.  Remember when we threw Japanese-Americans into internment camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor?  And now we consider that to have been a horribly inappropriate, unjust, and illegal act that no one condones.  This is one of those same things.  And we should take those responsible to court.  Even if it’s the former president.

Andrew Sullivan states it rather simply:

The question you have to ask yourself is a relatively simple one. Does this treatment amount to “severe mental or physical pain or suffering” in the pursuit of intelligence? If it does, then Bush and Cheney have to go to jail for the commission of war crimes.
Why is this a difficult question to answer?

It’s not difficult.  And maybe if Bush hadn’t completely decimated the world’s economy, our current government could put more effort into making him pay for his actions.

I’d be very curious to hear how anyone could defend Bush right now.  Please, feel free to explain it in the comments.  And do so without making some ridiculous correlation to Obama.  Obama wasn’t president then so leave him out of it.  One person’s mistakes don’t make another’s okay.