Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Yes, I am a Muslim-American

(eds note: My father, who has been increasingly horrified by the growing tide of bigotry apparent on the nightly news lately, emailed me this last night and asked if I would post it on my blog. Of course I would, I said.)

Am I an American? Why am I asking myself this question again? Yes, I am an American, a Muslim African American.

Why am I asking that question again? It is because the monster is trying to once again rear its ugly head. A monster who once tried to trick me into believing that I was not an American because of the color of my skin and because of the origin of my parents and the first language that I spoke (Spanish) as a child.

The ugly beast who snapped at the heels of my parents, with its white only bathrooms and diners, and the black only seats at the rear of the bus or train, and the inequality and lack of justice that permeated its presence, breathing the fire of hate for those who dared to be different than it.

The horrible looks and words of hate that frightened a child and young adolescent, emanating from the mouths of pale skinned creatures that looked as human as I; and breathed the same air that filled my lungs, and walked the same earth that I walked upon. I a child not really understanding the disease that filled the hearts and minds of these men and women, some who called themselves the follower of Jesus (peace be upon him) as I was, the prophet of peace and love.

Why I said as a child why, why do you hate me so, the answer always being you are the other, not like me, apart from me. Yet in my heart I always knew this to be a lie, knew that the other was as human and fragile as I was. He or she was just sick in the head from some blow of a hammer that must have once fallen upon their heads.

Then as I grew into adolescence, came the words and actions of Martin, words of freedom, equality, respect, the transformational words of Malcolm demanding respect as a man and as a human being and servant of God. The demand for the implementation of the eternal principles that I knew permeated the hearts of all men and women who know the truth and that submit to the one and only Lord and Creator of the universe.

These waves of change passed through our country transforming hearts and minds, as they always have when the creature appears. Men like Mandela, Gandhi, Muhammed, Jesus, and Moses and so many others. Who chase the monster away; if not for a little time, making him hide in slumber for another day.

Here is that day, today when I ask myself again, am I an American? The monster stares in my face, I now a grown man a Muslim-African-American.

The beast once again looms in our presence, again staring at me with eyes aglow. It basks in its own self-indulgence of ignorance, hate and accusations of being the other. The same old story just another time and another place.

Know this oh beast, I will stand firmly on this sacred ground that I call my country, my home, my place of birth. A place called America; I stand here with no fear of you in my heart. Knowing with surety who I am and why I am.

I am a Muslim American, a servant of Allah, born in the home of the brave the land of the free.

I am a red-blooded American.

You can screech your words of being the other, of there is no room for Muslims or mosques, or adhans in this land. I tell you we are here to stay, over nine million of us strong and growing, most born American Muslims and true believers in our hearts.

I stand here wrapped in the cloth of freedom made by the blood of my ancestors and yours. The promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness not a dream but a reality made true by the following words:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union,
establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense,
promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
This is my birth-right, a covenant made to every citizen of this country born or naturalized.

Your disease of the heart has made you blind and ignorant to the beauty and guarantees encased within those words. So beware oh beast, the sword of justice looms over your head, and no matter how loudly you screech, justice and freedom always prevail as God our Lord and Creator has promised. Watch your neck because the sword of Damocles hangs over your ugly head. You will consume yourself in your own self-hatred and ignorance.

We stand as brothers and sisters together Muslim, Christian, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and all the other paths of life that exist in this world.

For we stand with the Creator who has given us love and compassion the most powerful forces in all of creation. Beware and be aware, because we have the Niyat (intention) to us this force of love and compassion to its maximum effect.

We wish to change your heart, to cure you of the ancient disease of hate and ignorance. Your brothers and sister call to you to join us in peace (salaams), to join us and to become part of the human family once again.
We await your decision.

Salaams always,

Imam Abdur’Rauf Campos-Marquetti
TaHa Mosque-Islamic Center of Santa Fe

Sunday, August 22, 2010

How little things have changed.

It's really depressing, but not entirely shocking, to see how little things have changed since this speech was given.

Monday, August 16, 2010

It's not us and them. It's just us.

The hysteria surrounding the not-a-mosque, not-at-Ground Zero interfaith community center that an Islamic group wants to build in Manhattan has gone on longer that even I thought it ever would.

The objections to it are so ridiculous, so reactionary, so based in hatred and fear that I don't even know where to begin taking them apart anymore.

The fact that you have representatives of the Muslim community on the news having to make statements like "American Muslims were not behind the terrorist plot," is totally fucking Twilight Zone-scary.

David Vitter, the Republican senator from Louisiana, says that the not-at-Ground-Zero, not-a-mosque is "a slap in the face to the American people." If that's the case, then I backhand slap the American people right in that stupid, afraid, bigoted, unthinking face. Twice.

9/11 was not an attack by Muslims against America. 9/11 was an attack by those who embraced a theocratic view against the forces of democracy and capitalism (there's a reason they targeted the World Trade Center, it was a financial center). Those Muslims who committed almost 3,000 murders that day were also attacking other Muslims. Many of the office workers, restaurant employees, firemen, police officers, and paramedics who were killed for the "sin" of living in New York (or D.C., let's not forget the Pentagon was also attacked) were...Muslims.

It doesn't work to say that "Muslims attacked us" when "Muslims" and "us" are two groups that overlap. This, despite the best efforts of many, is a cosmopolitan nation. Muslims are not others, they are us. As are Catholics, Jews, Baptists, gays, blacks, asians, hispanics, Dallas Cowboy fans, Sarah Palin fans, and even (gasp!) atheists.

I say again, this, despite the best efforts of the worst amongst us, is a cosmopolitan nation. You can't change that no matter how hard you try. It's the whole fucking point of our country. To think otherwise puts you on the losing side of history.

I mean, Jesus, even W. said we were not at war with Islam.

President Obama finally weighed in on the subject on Friday, saying “Al Qaeda’s cause is not Islam — it is a gross distortion of Islam,” the president said, adding, “In fact, Al Qaeda has killed more Muslims than people of any other religion, and that list includes innocent Muslims who were killed on 9/11.”

To which I add, No shit, Sherlock. Really? Does this even still have to be said? I get the feeling my poor dad (who is an imam now) is going to have to go on another "Muslims don't all have claws and fangs" tour of local churches.

Usually, I find Keith Olbermann just this side of shrill and histrionic, but this time I think he hit just the right note.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Right now, (during Ramadan no less) millions of Pakistanis, the vast majority of them who are probably Muslim, are dying because of horrific flooding in that country. Wouldn't our energies (and our 24-hour news cycle) be better spent helping -or at least paying attention to- these people? (*cough* Donate to Doctors Without Borders *cough*)

To conclude, I like the point made in this blog post.
In the real world, New York is rebuilding. The site of the ruined World Trade Center is the site of the new World Trade Center, 20 stories high and rising. Get rid of the Islamic center and the alternative will not be a memorial park, but a fitness center, an American Apparel, a Pinkberry.
Maybe I'm naive in my patriotism, but the reason I think that so-called "Ground Zero" is sacred ground is because all of America is sacred ground, because the principles laid out in the Constitution (although, historically, actually following those principles has always been a bit touch-and-go) protect the inalienable rights of the people who live here.

Well, for now anyway.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Chuchu the sock monkey.

Why yes, I did just spend the last 10 hours or so making two socks into a monkey, why do you ask?

Discoveries along my journey across the sock monkey learning curve: use thicker socks, use longer socks, use smaller stitches, use more interesting socks, and most of all, don't explain to your child what a sock monkey is because you're certain to spend the next ten to twelve hours making one, much to your chagrin.

But then she named it Chuchu and gave it a big hug and loved it despite all the obvious flaws I saw. Which is why she is wonderful and I am a jaded former punk rocker.

Full evolution of Chuchu here.

Monday, August 02, 2010

A challenge.

I don't know what I was thinking. I ventured into the comment sections of this and this (much better) article on the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" (which is neither at Ground Zero nor a masjid) and I think I've been driven to the edge by the complete rejection of both reason and reality on display by many of the commenters.

So, I issue a challenge.

I challenge anyone to explain to me why this community center shouldn't be built at this location, using 500 words or less. You must (unlike anyone I've read or heard who so far who objects to this) take these five actual, factual points into account:

1) The proposed building is not just a mosque, but a community center that will include a restaurant and a gym.

2) The proposed site is not at "Ground Zero" but in fact several blocks away, and you can't even see it from the WTC site.

3) Dozens of the New Yorkers (and, if I recall correctly, at least one of the people on the planes) murdered on 9/11 were Muslim, and their families deserve the same respect as the other victims.

4) It's private property owned by this group, and as long as all proper building codes are followed they're allowed to build whatever the fuck they want.

5) Republican politicians (and celebrities like Sarah Palin) are using this as a wedge issue to motivate their base to vote for them in November, as a distraction from the successes of the Obama administration and the previous eight years of Republican failures.

Seriously. 500 words or less. I'll send you a free Viking Fish t-shirt.

I don't expect any takers, because a) no one reads my blog anymore, but more importantly b) once these five points are addressed you don't have much of an argument beyond, "I hate Muslims because television and the Internet said I should."

Hm, I kind of like this idea. Maybe I'll try it next for those who oppose gay marriage.