Archive for the Religion Category

Kubrick & Burgess: Two Clockworks

Posted in Art, Blu-Ray, Books, DVD, Film, Politics, Religion, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2013 by halmasonberg

clockworksmallerI recently responded to a friend’s Facebook post commenting on the differences between Anthony Burgess’ novel A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and filmmaker Stanley Kubrick’s adaption of the material. I tried to describe why I thought the changes that were made by Kubrick were valid and why I saw his concentration on sex and sexuality in the film (compared to the novel) as being so crucial and important an element.

What I wrote was a combination of my own thoughts and observations, mixed with ideas raised in conversation with others and, finally, other notions and observations made by professional critics, both contemporary and at the time of the film’s release.

Here is my response as I sent it. I repost it here simply as a conversation starter and because I so enjoy this type of discussion. I hope you do, too:

I think it’s important to see the film of CLOCKWORK within the context of the time in which it was made. Newfound sexuality, the sexual revolution, sexual conversations were out there in a way that was the antithesis of where they had been in the years just prior to this period. Sexual violence was also something that was finally being discussed as opposed to swept under the rug. I think it does a disservice to Kubrick to think of him as unsophisticated or adolescent. I think he’s one of the few directors for which these terms do not apply. Don’t mix up commentary on a subject for being a justification or acting out of a subject. As for subtlety, the film may be more subtle than you think in this regard. The simple fact that some people saw the film as “cool” or “got off on it” is extremely telling. I don’t think Kubrick himself was making the film to elicit such responses. He was making it in reaction to such responses and raising the topic for conversation. That said, subtlety is not a requirement for me in storytelling. Though it’s something I admire greatly. But there have been many masters of filmmaking who are not known for subtlety. In fact, quite the opposite. The great David Lean being one of them. Never subtle, but almost always amazing.

What Kubrick wanted to address in CLOCKWORK reflected what he saw in society. He wasn’t trying to simply adapt Burgess’ ideas or vision. He was “interpreting” them to what he felt was important and contemporary. In his eyes. A great book should leave one thinking, asking questions. The end of a book should be (in my opinion) the beginning of a journey for the reader in life. Burgess’ book sent Kubrick on his own journey which, for me, is incredibly appropriate and exactly what I would want from him. That said, I think that Burgess and Kubrick did say many of the same things and I don’t feel the film is as far removed from the book as you do. There have been a few films that were direct, literal adaptations of books and, in many cases, those films did not work for some of us as well as other adaptations that tried to capture the “essence” of the material as opposed to transcribing it directly. It’s another medium and another storyteller at work. One could not adapt a painting into a film and expect them to be the same.

Burgess wrote the novel 10 years before Kubrick turned it into a film. There were great cultural shifts in those 10 years which are reflected in Kubrick’s adaptation. Burgess’ wife had been raped after the war and a lot of what’s in his book comes from an autobiographical perspective. Kubrick is taking in the story via his own experiences, as we all do, and what the characters and story mean for him. As for the book’s ending, Kubrick was more of a pessimist with a sense of the ironic than was Burgess. That is why he kept the ending he did (he did read Burgess’ other ending). The film reflects the social anxieties and political concerns of its time. Not to mention, fashions, styles, etc. The naked women furniture in the Korova Milkbar were inspired by sculptures (by Allen Jones) that had been on display and gaining lots of attention. Again, Kubrick was making a commentary. Even Alex’s costume in the film was very different from the description in the book. Kubrick was making a commentary on a certain type of cricket-playing English gentleman.

Filmmaker Fellini stated of CLOCKWORK “I was very predisposed against the film. After seeing it, I realized it is the only movie about what the modern world really means.” Again, I think it’s crucial to take the film in under the context of the times. And to give Kubrick some credit. He was never a flippant filmmaker. And he, unlike many other filmmakers today, dealt with sexuality directly and in ways that were often misunderstood (EYES WIDE SHUT). Also, Burgess was a Christian and came from that perspective. Kubrick, on the other hand, was more of a pessimist and saw the State as using many of its most violent and disturbed individuals to maintain control. Alex’s droogies becoming policemen and Alex himself being hired by the Minister of the Interior at the film’s end. Kubrick was always very vocal in regards to politicians and the military and their use of “collecting” violent individuals to enact their needs and maintain control. Again, look at the political and social upheavals, the wars, police actions, taking place at the time. Alex and his droogies are “evil” but also very human. Are they so different from a society that acts similarly but in the name of morality?

Alex is the Id. And I think any portion of him that we may recognize (consciously or, more important, unconsciously) in ourselves is a very scary notion which quite easily elicits anger and a condemnation of the film itself instead of an exploration of what it evokes in us as human beings and members of society. Alex also has some very noble and attractive qualities: he’s witty, smart, VERY much “alive,” not to mention his deep appreciation for music. Another thing to consider is that Kubrick uses films of violence as the tool with which to try and control Alex. They are the government’s form of propaganda. Kubrick is HIGHLY aware of the power of film and of violence in film. And he says as much in this sequence. He is making a commentary on his own medium and, in a way, the very film he is making.

Kubrick also chooses to comment on how open-sexuality, which had until recently been a rebellious act, had now become incredibly casual. This is one reason for the imagery in the home of the woman he kills with the penis statue. CLOCKWORK is also, in many ways, satirical. It can not –should not– be taken at face value. No Kubrick film should if it is to be understood and its many secrets revealed. And yes, there is a journey that needs to be taken in order to get to that place. But it is a journey I, as a lover of film and filmmaking, find wholly worthwhile.

And I absolutely think Kubrick’s vision is about “choice.” The entire film suggests that to try and make Alex good, they are, in fact, making him less than human. And their tactics are equally as horrific as Alex’s own. “It is necessary for man to have choice to be good or evil, even if he chooses evil. To deprive him of this choice is to make him something less than human — A clockwork orange.” –Stanley Kubrick.

In his write-up on A CLOCKWORK ORANGE at the time in “The Catholic News,” John E. Fitzgerald wrote: “The film seems to say that to take away a man’s choice is not to redeem him but merely to restrain him. Otherwise we have a society of oranges, organic but working like clock-work. Such brainwashing organic and psychological, is a weapon, that to totalitarians in state, church or society might wish for an easier good even at the cost of individual rights and dignity. Redemption is a complicated thing and change must be motivated from within rather than imposed from without if moral values are to be upheld. But Kubrick is an artist rather than a moralist and he leaves it to us to figure what’s wrong and why, what should be done and how it should be accomplished.” 

Santorum & The Evil That Men Do

Posted in Favorite Quotes, Politics, Religion, Science with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 5, 2012 by halmasonberg

“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction.” –Blaise Pascal.

It seems almost daily that I read another comment or another statement steeped in fear and hatred uttered from the lips of Rick Santorum, self-proclaimed Christian and American moralist. I do, thankfully, realize that Santorum does not represent all of Christianity and its followers, but he does represent a portion of them. Keep in mind, though he is currently at the bottom of the heap, he is still, as of this writing, a GOP presidential candidate in a playing field whittled down to four contenders. This means there is a large enough portion of Americans who share his views, his intolerances, his fears, misunderstandings and judgements of things that, well, any good Christian would normally leave up to God and not assume upon themselves.

Sadly, as Mr. Pascal once pointed out in the above quote, religion has spurned some of the most vile hatred and suffering known to man. And I think it’s rather easy to assess by the goings-on in the world today, that some things have not changed. Unfortunately for any forward-thinking individuals, men like Rick Santorum represent a part of society terrified of change. And, one could easily come to such a conclusion, of themselves.

Part of me feels sorry for men and women such as these since their lives appear to be made up largely of running away and holding on to the past with such desperation as to exhaust themselves of all humanity. Ironic, given that they claim to represent the most compassionate and forgiving of all beings. But this is in words only. Actions tell a very different story. The pain and suffering brought on by men like Rick Santorum is immeasurable, and it is considerable. Make no mistake, lives will be lost while others trampled. All in the name of one who is no longer here to protect his good name and teachings.

The bright side to all of this is that at least Santorum’s particular brand of bigotry is now out there for all to see. And those easily swayed toward his proclaimed “solutions” are no longer hidden from public view to boil and swell beneath the surface. They are out there where we can confront them, and ourselves, in the bright light of day. Good things will come from this in the bigger picture. It’s a step forward. Like a detoxing of the American psyche. We may feel a bit ill while we’re going through it, but hopefully we will come out the other side healthier and happier. If we choose to tackle it.

As for how we got where we are in the first place, well, history is full of men like Santorum. Perhaps the recent study published in the latest issue of Psychological Science explains part of it.

“Despite their important implications for interpersonal behaviors and relations, cognitive abilities have been largely ignored as explanations of prejudice. We proposed and tested mediation models in which lower cognitive ability predicts greater prejudice, an effect mediated through the endorsement of right-wing ideologies (social conservatism, right-wing authoritarianism) and low levels of contact with out-groups. In an analysis of two large-scale, nationally representative United Kingdom data sets (N = 15,874), we found that lower general intelligence (g) in childhood predicts greater racism in adulthood, and this effect was largely mediated via conservative ideology. A secondary analysis of a U.S. data set confirmed a predictive effect of poor abstract-reasoning skills on antihomosexual prejudice, a relation partially mediated by both authoritarianism and low levels of intergroup contact. All analyses controlled for education and socioeconomic status. Our results suggest that cognitive abilities play a critical, albeit underappreciated, role in prejudice. Consequently, we recommend a heightened focus on cognitive ability in research on prejudice and a better integration of cognitive ability into prejudice models.”

As one who does not believe in God in a traditional sense (therefore a heathen and going to hell in the minds of many), I have always assumed that it took a level of non-thinking to allow oneself to so completely abandon reason and take the words and teachings of the bible and, not only accept them as literal, but to allow oneself to become swayed by the interpretations of such texts by those with ulterior motives. However, I do not believe all who believe in God to be less educated or less intelligent than those who do not. But there is a certain ilk that have always been ready to take to the streets to express their intolerance of others; those who would kill, maim and damage their fellow man in the name of their God. A God of love? A God of vengeance? Which is it, then?

What are we supposed to think when Rick Santorum tells you that contraception is “not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”?

How things are supposed to be. If Mr. Santorum believes this, then he is free to refrain from the use of such tools and activities. But when he believes his beliefs should be law… This should be of great concern. Santorum warns of fascism and socialism and why you should be afraid… But nothing endangers freedom more than men and women who think like Rick Santorum. His beliefs suggest the ultimate form of fascism.

When Rick Santorum tells you what marriage is, he presents it as fact, as indisputable evidence.

“Marriage is what marriage is. Marriage was around before government said what it was. It’s like going out and saying, ‘That tree is a car.’ Well, the tree’s not a car. A tree’s a tree. Marriage is marriage.” 

“It’s like handing up this and saying this glass of water is a glass of beer. Well you can call it a glass of beer, it’s not a glass of beer, it’s a glass of water. And water is what water is. Marriage is what marriage is.” 

“I can call this napkin a paper towel, but it is a napkin. Why? Because it is, what it is.” 

But what Santorum is really saying is that this is what marriage is for Rick Santorum. And therefore it should be for all others. By law. Like it or not, there are those who do not share and were not raised with Mr. Santorum’s limited definition. And we are Americans, no more or less so than he is. Just as Santorum’s God is not everybody’s God, Rick Satorum’s definitions and interpretations are not everyone’s. Nor should they be. That would be similar to asking a nation to publicly mourn the death of their beloved leader, Kim Jong Il, even if they did not, in fact, love him or mourn his loss. And then imprison those who did not either mourn publicly or mourn sincerely. Is that the America Santorum’s followers envision? Because if it’s not, then they best rethink their stance and support of such an individual. Or is that low IQ getting in the way of reasoned thought again?

“[Marriage] is an intrinsic good … we extend certain privileges to people who do that because we want to encourage that behavior. Two people who may like each other or may love each other who are same-sex, is that a special relationship? Yes it is, but it is not the same relationship that benefits society like a marriage between a man and a woman.” 

What he means is that such a relationship does not benefit Rick Santorum. I’ll tell you right now that he does not speak for me. Same sex marriages have benefitted me in my life and my world, the kind of society I want to live in. And it damn well benefits same-sex couples who are (guess what?) members of this society. Again, what doesn’t benefit Rick should not benefit anyone in Santorum’s world view.

“Whether it’s polygamy, whether it’s adultery, whether it’s sodomy, all of those things, are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family.” 

Once again, these may be things that Rick Santorum chooses not to engage in, but he is not in a position (no pun intended) –and it is the point of this write-up that he should not be– to tell others what sexual activities they should or should not be doing where two consenting adults are concerned. But Santorum’s answer to that would be:

“If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.” 

The truth is that consensual sex in the home does NOT make polygamy or bigamy or incest legal. It DOES, however, allow one (or two or three or four…) to engage in certain sexual activities that some other folks may find startling, offensive and even a little off-putting. It seems, however, that even a healthy and imaginative sex life is off-putting to Mr. Santorum. When you allow a man like this to tell you what you can and can’t do in bed… But Mr. Santorum disagrees:

“The idea is that the state doesn’t have rights to limit individuals’ wants and passions — I disagree with that. I think we absolutely have rights because there are consequences to letting people live out whatever wants or passions they desire. And we’re seeing it in our society.” 

The world Rick Santorum envisions has more in common with the Crusades than it does with the teachings of Christ. And like many other religious zealots before him, Santorum will fight to ensure HIS way of life at the exclusion of all others:

“The battle we’re engaged in right now on same-sex marriage, ultimately that is the very foundation of our country, the family, what the family structure is going to look like. I’ll die on that hill fighting.” 

Rick Santorum is too mired in his own fears, fear of change, fear of reality, fear of difference, fear of things he wasn’t taught, fear of things he doesn’t understand, fear of the dark and the unknown. And it has turned him into a man mired in hatred and intolerance.

“You can say I’m a hater. But I would argue I’m a lover. I’m a lover of traditional families and of the right of children to have a mother and father. … Isn’t that the ultimate homeland security, standing up and defending marriage?” 

Marriage, he fails to point out, as Rick Santorum sees it. And Santorum’s “logic” is no better than claiming the KKK doesn’t hate blacks, they simply love white supremacy. No, even science, the ground beneath his own two feet, the air he breathes, and the very planet he lives on is not enough to convince Mr. Santorum that the world may not always be the way he wants it to be. The way he so clearly needs it to be.

“I’ve never supported even the hoax of global warming.”

In Rick Santorum’s world, there are no other valid points of view, no other opinions of note, no other interpretations than his own. Rick Santorum would fight to make his beliefs your beliefs. All the while pointing out the dangers of others. And if he gets his way, when the time comes and he has passed from this world, you will mourn his death. Whether you want to or not.

Mike Huckabee vs. America (and Natalie Portman). Who Will Win?

Posted in Film, Politics, Religion with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2011 by halmasonberg

This is what possible Republican candidates have been reduced to: either they pander to the least-educated, racist, conspiracy-nuts, or they simply don’t stand a chance. Mike Huckabee has recently received some flack from the left (and any sane individuals remaining on the right) for not only misrepresenting President Obama as having been raised in Kenya (Obama didn’t actually visit Kenya until he was in his 20’s), but suggesting that Obama’s time spent NOT living in the United States (he did live in Indonesia from ages 6-10) had made him un-American.

“And one thing that I do know is, his having grown up in Kenya, his view of the Brits, for example, is very different than the average American,” claims Huckabee.

Well, it seems when called out on this, Huckabee’s spokesperson informed us that Huckabee meant to say Indonesia and not Kenya at all! A simple slip of the tongue. Great. So now that we know Obama grew up in Hawaii and lived for a short time in Indonesia and NOT Kenya, we can ask the real question: Why would Obama have issues with the Brits since they never colonized Indonesia (it was, in fact, the Dutch that took that honor)? And wouldn’t it be Americans who might take issue with the Brits since our very country was founded on a war we started to break from British rule? Isn’t that the foundation of this country?

So while Huckabee has since admitted publicly that, yes, Obama is “technically” an American, he still reserves a right to judge Obama’s “spiritual” patriotism:

“…I do think [Pres. Obama] has a different worldview and I think it’s, in part, molded out of a very different experience. Most of us grew up going to Boy Scout meetings and, you know, our communities were filled with Rotary Clubs, not madrassas.”

I don’t know what fantasy world Huckabee lives in, but I think he just insulted far more Americans than just President Obama. How many American men would you imagine have also not attended Boy Scouts? And how many American women have not attended Girl Scouts? And how popular are those rotary clubs in your community these days? Mike Huckabee is clearly far less in touch with what it means to be an American in 2011 than just about anyone else out there spouting off in public. And for the record, both the Boy Scouts and Rotary are international organizations, not exclusively American. And yes, they have Boy Scouts in Indonesia. And yes, Barack Obama was a Boy Scout there. But perhaps Huckabee feels that only the American arm of the Boy Scouts is truly honorable, and that any attempt to teach such values in a place like Jakarta, where Obama was a member, would be fruitless, even anti-American.

Values like those taught to Huckabee’s son David who, according to Newsweek“was involved in the hanging of a stray dog at a Boy Scout camp in 1998. The incident led to the dismissal of David Huckabee, then 17, from his job as a counselor at Camp Pioneer in Hatfield, Ark.”

It has even been suggested (but not proven) that David Huckabee hanged the dog, slit it’s throat and stoned it to death.

But I suppose being a cruel and inhumane Boy Scout in America is more American than not being a Boy Scout at all. Perhaps David Huckabee is next in line for the coveted Dick Cheney Award For Humanitarian Concerns, which automatically comes with a job offer training recruits at Abu Ghraib.

But wait, there’s more! To add insult to injury, Huckabee has also managed to alienate all single mothers by lambasting Oscar winning actress Natalie Portman for being pregnant out of wedlock and “flaunting” it publicly at the Oscars.

“…one of the things that’s troubling is that people see a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet who boasts of, ‘Hey look, you know, we’re having children, we’re not married, but we’re having these children, and they’re doing just fine.'”

Maybe Huckabee’s son David might want to consider hanging Ms. Portman from a tree, slitting her throat and stoning her to death.

Or, the Huckabees and others like them can just back off and start the long painful process of coming to terms with the reality that Americans come in all different shapes and sizes, hold many different beliefs, and are never, ever, going to all be like one another no matter how severely you judge them. And the America I personally feel more connected to is one inhabited by the likes of Ms. Portman. But I accept that there are men like Mike and David Huckabee out there. And they also represent what it means to be American. But they have no exclusive claim on the definition.

In the meantime, it seems a vote for Mike Huckabee might just be a vote for open intolerance and moral judgement, albeit of the American variety. Weren’t in the Boy Scouts of America? Not American. Pregnant out of wedlock? Irresponsible and immoral. Bad American. Yes, it seems the margins for being a decent American (or American at all) are very narrow in Huckabee’s book. So get ready because, liberal or conservative, you’re probably not going to make the cut.

America: Insanity Or Performance Art?

Posted in Politics, Religion, TV with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2011 by halmasonberg

Egypt. Wisconsin. Union rights. The Anti-Christ.

It seems Glenn Beck and Fox News are on the loose again. This time they’ve brought in a self-proclaimed prophet as “expert” on comparing Obama to the Anti-Christ and why the goings-on in Wisconsin are about the end of days and turning America into an Islamic state and not about union rights after all. And while we’ve all gotten used to this kind of rhetoric being tossed about on a daily basis and shaking our collective heads at the absurdity of it all –so much so that we barely notice it anymore– there are more than a few people out there taking all this nonsense very seriously. After all, Fox News brought in an “expert!”

And while 35% of those polled in New Jersey either believe or are willing to consider the possibility that Obama is the Anti-Christ, Rachel Maddow, as always, has a rather enlightened take on the whole affair.

Every Country Has Its Own Rev. Terry Jones

Posted in Politics, Religion with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2010 by halmasonberg

Protests throughout the Middle-East condemning Reverend Terry Jones’ claim that he will burn copies of the Quran (which the Reverend then said he would not do and is now reconsidering again), have resulted in injuries and the stupidest of all responses, the burning of the American flag. Like Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck’s followers, there are people everywhere who simply do not put two and two together.

Burning the American flag is not the best way to convince anyone that they should respect the Quran and not burn copies. However, while it’s easy to assume that most Afghans or Pakistanis protesting are this misguided, be reminded that it’s just as easy for them to think that most Americans are like the Reverend Jones. Both sides react based on extreme actions by a select faction of people and violence, hate, and oftentimes murder ensue.

Osama Bin Laden, George Bush, Dick Cheney, the Reverend Terry Jones, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin… these are all people who offer those seeking an avenue to syphon their fear and anger a place to rage. To gather together with others who have not come to terms with the emotions they are feeling and allow them to act inappropriately and dangerously. This is not new to society. Any society. It is not new to the human race. Joseph McCarthy, Adolph Hitler… granted, those are extremes, but the idea is the same. People the world-over are disillusioned and fearful. We all struggle with these emotions. We always have.

Hopefully through the events of the past ten years, we will all start to learn just how susceptible we are to those who prey on those fears and insecurities, whether they do so knowingly or through ignorance. It’s one thing to try and learn from the past, from something one hasn’t experienced oneself. It’s another to live through it, as we are doing now.

I wonder if it’s possible to learn how dangerous this type of behavior is and to actually pass that on to further generations. Or do we all have to learn it for ourselves and be doomed to repeat it for all eternity? Or at least until we take it so far that there’s no turning back.

Let’s hope something good comes from it all. At least in the present. And let’s hope it doesn’t get too much worse before it gets better.

The Ugly Americans: Reverend Jones & Friends

Posted in Politics, Religion with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 7, 2010 by halmasonberg

I’ll start out by saying that I’m thrilled to see so many people standing up to oppose Reverend Terry Jones’ intention to hold a “Burn A Quran Day” event on September 11th. In the face of the overwhelming ignorance, hatred and blatant religious and ethnic bigotry opposing the proposed building of an Islamic Community Center near Ground Zero, Rev. Jones’ disgusting intent just adds fuel to an already out of control fire raging through America. Add the lunatic-gathering at Glenn Beck’s “Take Back America” rally and Sarah Palin’s daily tweets of extreme ignorance and vile attacks, and we have a picture of a dangerous country succumbing to its own panicked state of fearfulness.

What would the American picture of Islam be if some nut-job over in Afghanistan gathered people together to start burning copies of the Christian Bible? Or the Jewish Bible? Would we easily be able to separate an extremist like this–that one in a million religious kook–from the rest of the population? Hell, we already know we can’t separate a group of terrorists from an entire nation and/or religious belief.

And even when Gen. David Petraeus claims that Jones’ actions, if carried out, will almost certainly endanger American soldiers overseas as well as place Americans everywhere (including right here at home) in even more peril, and the Reverend still insists that “Burn A Quran Day” is enacting God’s will… Well, one has to question whether Jones’ God cares all that much about this little country of ours or whether he’s just a vengeful entity who likes to “stir the pot” and see what happens.

Sadly, it’s people like Reverend Jones who are, in my opinion, no better than the terrorists who attacked this country. He is putting his personal beliefs over the lives of lord knows how many people and claims to be on a mission from God. “We actually feel this is a message that we have been called to bring forth,” claims Jones. “And because of that, we do not feel like we can back down.”

Irony of ironies.

“Maybe it’s time to stand up. Maybe it’s time to send a message to radical Islam that we will not tolerate their behavior,” added Jones.

Hmmm… What if we changed the words radical Islam and replaced it with America and placed that same sentence into the mouths of the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11.

“Maybe it’s to time to stand up. Maybe it’s time to send a message to America that we will not tolerate their behavior.”

As a result of his actions and some of the negative attention it has drawn, Rev. Jones has started wearing a .40-caliber pistol strapped to his hip. Now there’s a good picture. A man of God insisting on endangering human lives (American lives, for those that separate) and carrying a pistol in case someone tries to stop him from going through with his “religious obligation…”

And so the lines blur even more…

“Islam is of the Devil,” read the signs Rev. Jones has posted in front of his church.

Wasn’t America the incarnation of the devil in the eyes and words of the Al Qaeda?

The Quran, according to the all-knowing Rev. Jones is “evil because it espouses something other than biblical truth and incites radical, violent behavior among Muslims.”

Is that what it does? Cause I’m guessing the same could be said about the Torah. It certainly espouses some different biblical truths than Rev. Jones’ preferred version of the holy book. And if you’re Palestinian, you might well believe that it also incites radical, violent behavior in Jews.

Why, it seems to me that Rev. Jones’ bible is inciting radical behavior in him and his followers. Behavior that may well lead to violence and killing as a direct result. Violence and killing Rev. Jones is well aware of. If he wasn’t, do you think he’d still be armed with that .40-caliber pistol strapped lovingly to his hip?

There’s that fine line again. I just can’t keep it all straight…

Who exactly are the good guys?

Anti-Muslim Fear. America In Transition.

Posted in Politics, Religion with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2010 by halmasonberg

This whole notion of a “Ground Zero Mosque” is a complete fabrication created and spurred on by politicians who are using Americans’ misguided fear as a tool. And the consequences are dire. Now simply being a Muslim is reason enough to fear for your life. Is this America? Yes, it’s America in transition. It’s America learning that it is no better or worse, no stronger or more immune to mass hatred and bigotry than any other country in the world.

Here’s just one example of a politician fueling hatred and twisting facts into a misguided, fear-based movement:

“The folks who want to build this mosque, who are really radical Islamists, who want to triumphfully (sic) prove they can build a mosque next to a place where 3,000 Americans were killed by radical Islamists. Those folks don’t have any interest in reaching out to the community. They’re trying to make a case about supremacy… This happens all the time in America. Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington. We would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor.”  –Newt Gingrich

Ironic that Gingrich equated Muslims with Nazis and yet the type of hatred he espouses is far more akin to the early stages of Naziism than anything being promoted by an Islamic Cultural Center. And isn’t a Holocaust Museum’s purpose to forever remind people of the bigotry and hatred that caused the Holocaust in the first place in the hopes of recognizing it and stopping it before it happens again?

One such consequence of Gingrich and others’ fueling of people’s misconceptions and feeding into their fear is that New York Muslim cab driver Ahmed Sharif was slashed from throat to cheek by his fare when he admitted to being Muslim. By a drunk 21 year old Michael Enright caught up in the anti-Muslim fervor.

Or how about the man mistaken for a Muslim who was violently harassed by anti-Mosque ralliers?

While the face of American bigotry and small-mindedness rears its ugly head and reveals its face to the world at large, at least a voice of reason can be heard alongside it as 9/11 families and others stand in protest to the anti-Muslim sentiment sweeping the nation and vocally support the building of the Islamic Cultural Center 2 blocks from Ground Zero that Fox News and a handful of politicians have misleadingly dubbed the “Ground Zero Mosque.” New York Neighbors for American Values rallied yesterday near Ground Zero:

“I lost a 23-year-old son, a paramedic who gave his life saving Americans and their values,” Talat Hamdani said, and supporting the Islamic center and mosque “has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with standing up for our human rights, including freedom of religion.”

Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director of New York’s Shalom Center, said the project will show the world a form of Islam that espouses peace – not the Islam of the terrorists.

“It is right; it is wise to build it,” he told hundreds of people gathered under the arches of Manhattan’s Municipal Building, a short walk from ground zero.

Several coalition members noted that the mosque site’s developer, Sharif el-Gamal, modeled it after the Jewish Community Center on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. It serves anyone who wishes to participate, they said, and so will the Muslim center near ground zero.

Stand up for what is right. Don’t be a pawn. And support freedom of religion in America. See the Islamic Cultural Center blocks away from Ground Zero for what it is. Not what you may fear it is.

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