ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.

Daily Archive: 09/09/2010



September 2010



Koran Burning Cancelled

Written by , Posted in Politics and are both reporting that the Florida pastor has called off the Koran burning. Here is the full text of the story, from…


The Florida pastor who had planned to burn copies of the Quran on Saturday has called it off.

The Rev. Terry Jones of the Gainesville, Florida-based Dove World Outreach Center made the announcement Thursday.

Earlier Thursday, President Obama said Jones’ plan, which had triggered worldwide controversy, would be a “recruitment bonanza for al Qaeda.”

“You could have serious violence in places like Pakistan or Afghanistan” as a result of the proposal by Jones, Obama said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “This could increase the recruitment of individuals who’d be willing to blow themselves up in American cities, or European cities.”

Jones had previously said he would proceed with the plan Saturday — the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — despite increased pressure to abandon the proposal and warnings that going ahead could endanger U.S. troops and Americans worldwide.

There were several developments prior to Jones’ cancellation announcement:

— Local governments said they were going to bill Jones for the extra cost of security for Saturday’s event.

— Interpol on Thursday issued a global alert to its 188 member countries, warning of a “strong likelihood” of violent attacks if the Quran burning proceeds.

— An armed Christian organization, which withdrew its support for the Quran-burning event last month, said the administration “needs to stay out of this” and pledged to defend the Dove Center’s right to hold the event, despite its disagreement.

— The FBI warned local law enforcement that the plan, along with other recent controversies involving the American Muslim community, could lead to hate crimes and could encourage extremist rhetoric, although a federal law enforcement official said there was no credible information that attacks were planned.

The FBI visited Jones at the Dove Center on Thursday, according to Jeffrey Westcott, special agent in charge of the Jacksonville, Florida, bureau. The FBI also visited him a few weeks ago, he said, but would not say what was discussed.

Discussions were taking place within the Obama administration about the possibility of intervening, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters Thursday. Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said the possibility of calling Jones is under consideration, and that Defense Secretary Robert Gates was participating in the discussions.

Earlier this week, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, warned that the plan “could cause significant problems” for American troops overseas.

Jones has rejected the pleas, saying his message targets radical Islamists. “The general needs to point his finger to radical Islam and tell them to shut up, tell them to stop, tell them that we will not bow our knees to them,” Jones said on CNN’s “AC360.” “We are burning the book. We are not killing someone. We are not murdering people.”

Meanwhile, Obama told ABC, “As commander in chief of the armed forces of the United States, I just want him to understand that this stunt that he is talking about pulling could greatly endanger our young men and women in uniform who are in Iraq, who are in Afghanistan. We’re already seeing protests against Americans just by the mere threat … this is a destructive act that he’s engaging in.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil liberties and advocacy group, announced an initiative called “Learn, Don’t Burn” on Thursday and will distribute Qurans to replace the burned copies.

Awad said the group is concerned that the plan may lead to hate crimes against Muslims. Cross burnings by the Ku Klux Klan were an indication of hate crimes to follow against African-Americans, he said, and Nazis started with burning books and “ended up burning people.”

CAIR has been working with attorneys, and no basis has been found to stop the burnings under the law, he said, but he added that if the plan is going to incite violence, the government should step in.

“I can assure you that on September 11, you will not see a bonfire of Qurans being burned at the Dove Church,” Imam Mahdi Bray, head of the Muslim-American Society, told reporters.

He said he has just returned from Gainesville, where city officials told him Jones will not receive a burn permit and any sort of incendiary material will violate the city code. A fire truck will be nearby to douse any flames, he said.

Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe said Jones’ requests for burn permits have been denied, and city officials hope that he will comply. If he breaks the law, action can be taken against Jones, with the response based on whatever the infraction might be, he said. Lowe has declared Saturday “Interfaith Solidarity Day.”

City Communications Manager Bob Woods said the city will tally up costs related to the event and present Jones with the bill.

Alachua County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Art Forgey said “we do plan to compile and send a bill to Mr. Jones.”

“I don’t know that we have the teeth to enforce it, though,” Forgey added. Instead, the bill may just end up being a statement to Jones about how much the event cost local citizens, the spokesman said.

Before Jones announced the cancellation, the Gainesville Students for a Democratic Society said Thursday it would bus in students from as far away as Chicago, Illinois, and would have about 600 on hand Saturday to protest at a nearby park, then march to the church to picket the event.

Meanwhile, two websites associated with Jones and his church were down Thursday.

Rackspace Hosting took down the two sites because the church “violated the hate speech provision of our acceptable use policy,” spokesman Dan Goodgame said.

The company investigated a complaint in the past couple days and made the determination after reviewing both sites, said Goodgame, adding that Rackspace was under no pressure to act.

“This is not a constitutional issue. This is a contract issue,” he said.

Rackspace gave Jones until midnight Wednesday to migrate content and find another host. Goodgame said he did not know how long Rackspace had hosted the websites, but he said it did not handle design or content.

“We have about 100,000 customers,” Goodgame said. “We don’t even know what all the sites are.”

Jones and Dove World had agreed to terms on the Rackspace Cloud service, Goodgame said. The policy dictates the suspension or termination of service for offensive content, including material that is “excessively violent, incites violence, threatens violence or contains harassing content or hate speech.”

“We would have taken the same position if it was hate speech against Christians or other groups,” he added.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is one of the few public officials who defended Jones’ right to go ahead with the burning, even as he condemned the idea as “distasteful.”

“The First Amendment protects everybody, and you can’t say that we are going to apply the First Amendment to only those cases where we are in agreement,” Bloomberg said, citing the section of the Constitution that promises freedom of speech.

The U.S. State Department issued a global travel alert because of the potential for anti-American demonstrations if the Quran burning were to have been carried out.




September 2010



Embarassed and disappointed

Written by , Posted in Politics

I am embarrassed. And disappointed. The last year and a half I’ve been watching much of what has been going on in this country from afar. I was mortified by the health care debate, and saddened by the woefully inadequate outcome. Health care is still attached to employment, and for some reason people are content judging those who do not have health care as deficient, as somehow unworthy of the benefit if they do not have a full-time job. I see people who have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to have a job that provides health care actually believe that they alone deserve those benefits, and those without do not. Not having health care is a punishment for ‘not working hard enough.’ If you have health insurance, you are a good person in a worthy job. If you don’t, it is your fault. You are a bad person and thus not worthy of assistance from others.

I am not willing to accept that compassion for others no longer factors into how we interact with our fellow humans. I do not believe that most rich people got there solely by working hard and pulling themselves up by their bootstraps; they had help, whether they are willing to admit it or not. They had a connection through a parent or friend, or happened to be born into an environment that nurtured their growth. Even those salt of the earth folks who begrudge others access to health care because it is too much government assistance gladly take large farm subsidies, and are happy to have the police show up if they call 911. I do not subscribe to the idea that any one person can succeed all on his or her own, and I also do not believe that some deity rewards some people and punishes others based on some perceived work ethic. Many people work very hard and don’t succeed; others pick a good stock and end up rich. I do not believe life is fair, but I also do not accept the use of that platitude as a way to justify unfair and cruel actions. It may be true that life is not fair, but that does not mean we as a country should be actively engaged in acting in as unfair a way as possible.

The issue of health care hit close to home to me, as previous posts describe, but that is not what motivates me to write today. What spurrs me on is the disgusting Islamiphobia that is bubbling up throughout the country, as evidenced by the opposition to the Islamic Center in Lower Manhattan and the proposed Koran burning on September 11.

I posted Mayor Bloomberg’s response to the debate on the Islamic Center, and it is the most eloquent statement I have heard. In spite of all the severe problems with the US constitution and the inequalities present at the founding of the nation (slavery, lack of vote for women), there were some things the framers got right. They did not found the country on Christian principles, and they chose to specifically allow in the Bill of Rights for both freedom of speech and freedom of and from religion. Those who claim to so love the constitution and the framers seem to be unable to grasp this reality.

Some who have discussed the issue of the Manhattan Islamic Center have said that they think the builder has a right to develop it where it is proposed, but that he probably should not. I disagree. I think he has a right, and I think if that’s the real estate that is available within the group’s budget, then build it there. What is missing in this discussion is the fact, the reality that the people who flew the planes on September 11 2001 were not accurately representing the Muslim faith any more than Scott Roeder was accurately representing the Christian faith when he killed Dr. Tiller. Just because people claim they subscribe to a religion and are acting in support of that claim does not mean they are actually representing that religion.


The ‘faith’ of the September 11 terrorists may be what they used as their excuse to murder people, but it is not an accurate representation of the religion. Muslims did not kill nearly 3,000 people that day; assholes with no moral compasses did. That they happened to be Muslim, and believed they were acting in furtherance of their version of that religion does not mean they, the nineteen “men” who destroyed thousands of lives, somehow get the honor of being the poster boys of their religion. That’s not how it works, and it is not what they deserve. 

I am especially disgusted by the Republicans who suddenly care about NYC. I know that September 11 has always been exploited by the GOP, but I find it extraordinary that the same people who spend each day telling me I am not American because I live in a big city on one of the coasts and think gay people should be able to get married suddenly cares about what happens in that city. Either people from New York – including those who support the religious freedoms of all people – are Americans, or they aren’t. If you are not going to take their opinions seriously on other issues, then butt out of this local land use decision. Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, I’m talking to you. And Newt, as I believe Jon Stewart and others have pointed out better than I can, your statement about Saudi Arabia not allowing churches is beyond ironic. We used to be different from such nations because we allowed religious freedom – ostensibly, at least. Now there isn’t even a pretense; either you’re Christian or you apparently don’t deserve the same rights.

This leads me to the proposed Koran burning on September 11. Book burning is an action taken by people who are afraid that their own belief systems cannot stand up to scrutiny. They hide behind these acts of aggression, Burning books is disgusting and childish. It is the action of those who either know they cannot win an argument on facts, or are too lazy to attempt to do so. I certainly recognize their right to act in whatever manner they choose, but I remain gobsmacked that there are people who would choose to act in this way. As I write this I am trying to find some way to not be filled with such anger towards these people, but I am at a loss.

I am embarrassed. And disappointed.