Fair. Balanced. American.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

On the Ground Zero mosque... and its neighboring gay bar

You wouldn't want Greg Gutfeld to run your foreign policy. He's a provocateur with no real understanding of policy. He claims to be libertarian but, through his writing and Fox News rantings, strengthens the power of the GOP, despite his presumed support for unrestricted abortion on demand. And the Republican Party's fiscal, military and religious policies haven't just bankrupted and weakened our country. They are also very, very disconnected from libertarianism.

When the President of the United States defended the construction of the "Ground Zero mosque" yesterday, he grounded his argument in equal treatment of religions, not on his personal approval, necessarily, of that particular project.
White House officials said earlier in the day that Mr. Obama was not trying to promote the project, but rather sought more broadly to make a statement about freedom of religion and American values. “In this country we treat everybody equally and in accordance with the law, regardless of race, regardless of religion,” Mr. Obama said at the Coast Guard station. “I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding. That’s what our country is about.

“And I think it’s very important as difficult as some of these issues are that we stay focused on who we are as a people and what our values are all about.”
That is absolutely true. It was a teachable moment; in more hopeful times, we expected a lot more of those from Barack Obama.  And at was an act of political courage, given that solid majorities of Americans, cutting across race, gender, income, region and party, oppose it.

Gutfeld, who hates all things Islamic, saw political opportunity  in the mosque project. And while you might not count on a literature major turned Fox News bloviator to develop social or foreign policy, you can expect him to come through with the perfect provocation, for that is his vocation.

So, the Muslim investors championing the construction of the new mosque near Ground Zero claim it's all about strengthening the relationship between the Muslim and non-Muslim world.

As an American, I believe they have every right to build the mosque - after all, if they buy the land and they follow the law - who can stop them?

Which is, why, in the spirit of outreach, I've decided to do the same thing.

I'm announcing tonight, that I am planning to build and open the first gay bar that caters not only to the west, but also Islamic gay men. To best express my sincere desire for dialogue, the bar will be situated next to the mosque Park51, in an available commercial space.

This is not a joke. I've already spoken to a number of investors, who have pledged their support in this bipartisan bid for understanding and tolerance.

As you know, the Muslim faith doesn't look kindly upon homosexuality, which is why I'm building this bar. It is an effort to break down barriers and reduce deadly homophobia in the Islamic world.

The goal, however, is not simply to open a typical gay bar, but one friendly to men of Islamic faith. An entire floor, for example, will feature non-alcoholic drinks, since booze is forbidden by the faith. The bar will be open all day and night, to accommodate men who would rather keep their sexuality under wraps - but still want to dance.

Bottom line: I hope that the mosque owners will be as open to the bar, as I am to the new mosque. After all, the belief driving them to open up their center near Ground Zero, is no different than mine.

My place, however, will have better music.

Gutfeld followed up the next day with this:
I also contacted the Cordoba House, the folks behind the mosque - but they have not returned my calls.

So I tweeted them.

Here's what they tweeted back.

"You're free to open whatever you like. If you won't consider the sensibilities of Muslims, you're not going to build dialog."

By the way, I'm not building dialog, I'm building a bar.

And as for the sensibilities of Muslims - which involves homophobia - thats not for me.

And that's my point - its weird being educated in tolerance by an incredibly intolerant ideology. As long as gays and women are treated so poorly, how can they teach us compassion and generosity?
Of course, one imagines, Mr. Gutfeld has never tried to open gay bars south of the Mason-Dixon line, where evangelicals preach a form of virulent homophobia that isn't too far from the Shar'ia he detests. Nor does he make too many efforts to go after the Catholic Church, whose former leader John Paul II, went so far as to call gay marriage, now supported by 67% of American women, "an ideology of evil." And let's not even get started on Christians' international efforts to hobble women's rights.

Both evangelicals and Catholics, ultimately, form part of Gutfeld's Republican coalition, one that attempts to crush women's rights (even the right to equal pay) and sexual minorities in his own countries. A libertarian hero, indeed.

So Gutfeld inadvertently points us to a larger truth. Intolerant religions deserve to be confronted because  their influence is so pervasive and dangerous. American Catholic bishops' obsession with homosexuality and abortion, dictated by Rome, resulted in a health care bill that favored the interests of insurance companies far more than it should have. It may kill immigration reform, so desired by the third of the American Church that is Hispanic.  The bishops' influence on U.S. foreign policy has killed family planning efforts around the world for decades, miring millions in poverty and leading to countless wars. American evangelical religions' roots in slavery and Southern plantation economics, meanwhile, kept our country from achieving its true promise in a number of policy arenas, not just racial progress.

And even Gutfeld's pro-war policies, so destructive to the future economic (and thus military) strength of the United States, were themselves formed by a small group of ignorant neoconservatives whose beliefs were strongly grounded in intolerant religious beliefs of their own.

So let's confront fundamentalism in the United States wherever it rears its head, whichever offshoot of the (usually Abrahamic) faiths might be its source. It pushes our nation into dangerous domestic and foreign policy choices that weaken it in the long term.  The future of our country depends on our courage  today. Patriotism demands it.

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