Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

August 20, 2010

Landing on Park Place: No matter what, it’s very expensive

Filed under: Radicalization,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Philip J. Palin on August 20, 2010

Not being a native New Yorker, my familiarity with Park Place had been limited to the monopoly board.  Along with Boardwalk, it is a very expensive place to own.  According to most game strategists owning it also pays-off poorly.

Now I know Park Place as the planned location for a controversial Islamic community center.  The pay-off still looks iffy.

This blog is one of the few places where I pronounce.  Usually I ask questions.  I listen.  I confirm what I hear.  I ask follow-on questions.  Peter Drucker wrote, “My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions.”

As a teacher, supervisor, and consultant, listening and trying to truly understand the other is critical.  My colleagues in the intelligence game — at least the analysts — make the point that they too are mostly very active listeners.

Whatever else, the controversy brewing along Park Place in lower Manhattan gives me an opportunity to listen.  As  made clear in prior posts (re-posted far below) I have made my own judgment and am unlikely to shift.  But I ought not stop listening.

On this issue much of what I hear is personally painful.  I often hear fear, anger, and a mangling of the truth.  But this is also a kind of truth.  As one who has pledged, if only to myself, to protect my nation, it is important to listen.  The issues — including fear, anger, and non-truths — are crucial to my work in homeland security.

Immediately below is an argument that I respect against the proposed Islamic community center.  This is followed by the best alternative argument I have seen.  I close by re-posting a personal reaction.

The Mosque at Ground Zero

By Abraham H. Foxman (Originally published in the Huffington Post)

Perhaps no issue in recent memory has aroused as much controversy and passion as the proposed Islamic community center and mosque two blocks from Ground Zero. Those passions came to a head as the blogosphere reacted, mostly in a headlong rush to judgment, over the recommendation by the Anti-Defamation League that New York City would be better served if an alternative location could be found.

The reaction was immediate, and in most cases we were maligned, and our position was mischaracterized and deeply misunderstood. The main charge was that an anti-bigotry organization had joined with the bigots. That false accusation was extremely painful and served to diminish and obscure the fact that our position on the Islamic center was carefully considered, clearly stated and consistent with our values and mission.

There are legitimate differences of opinion regarding the building of an Islamic cultural center at Ground Zero.

To us, after much discussion and debate it became clear that the overriding concern should be the sensitivities of the families of the victims that dictated finding another location for this massive, $100 million project.

At its essence, our position is about sensitivity. Everyone — victims, opponents and proponents alike — must pay attention to the sensitivities involved without giving in to appeals to, or accusations of, bigotry. Ultimately, this was not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center would unnecessarily cause some victims more pain. And that wasn’t right.

Having made our decision known, we expected disagreement and criticism from some quarters. What has been so disheartening, however, has been the nature of that criticism. Two kinds of attacks have been particularly troubling: that we are violating principles of religious freedom, and that we are stereotyping Muslims.

These criticisms simply ignore ADL’s record in dealing with such matters, particularly in the post-9/11 climate.

Shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Muslims were being stereotyped and in some cases individual Muslims or Muslim institutions were attacked. ADL took the lead in not standing idly by. We took out ads in The New York Times and other newspapers with the headline, “Don’t Fight Hate with Hate.” Our message was that a terrible event occurred on 9/11, a national tragedy brought on by hate, but the way to deal with it was to fight the terrorists, and not to stereotype and hate individual Muslims.

Similarly, when two mosques in Dallas were targets of shooting, ADL’s director in Dallas organized a press conference featuring the imam of one of the mosques, a Baptist minister and himself to speak together against this dangerous and inappropriate reaction to the 9/11 horror.

When a Muslim congressman was condemned by some for taking the oath of office on a Koran instead of a Bible, ADL was quick to defend his right to that option.

In Ohio, in 2002, ADL called upon Cuyahoga County corrections officials to reverse their decision not to permit Muslim women to wear their hijab in the courtroom. In 2006, ADL condemned remarks by a member of Congress depicting Muslims in a stereotypical way.

And there are many more examples in recent years of ADL’s voice standing out against anti-Muslim bigotry.

Indeed, ADL supports the building of mosques, like churches and synagogues, just about anywhere in the country. That is a religious freedom perspective.

And when French government officials sought to bar the wearing by Muslims of religious facial garments, ADL spoke out to defend the right of Muslims to wear traditional clothing and participate as full members of society.

Not to mention ADL’s day-to-day work across this country in fighting hate crimes, which affect Muslims, and in teaching about respect and tolerance for difference in schools, workplaces and federal institutions.

All in all, we have established ourselves as leaders in promoting pluralism and fighting against bigotry, particularly against Muslims in the difficult post-9/11 period.

Critics should consider that context and credibility before reacting to ADL’s position. Clearly we would not take a position to limit religious freedom. Clearly we would never take a position that would stereotype Muslims.

However, we also must take into consideration the feelings of the families who lost loved ones at Ground Zero.

The lessons of an earlier and different controversy echo in this one. In 1993, Pope John Paul II asked 14 Carmelite Nuns to move their convent from just outside the Auschwitz death camp. The establishment of the convent near Auschwitz had stirred dismay among Jewish groups and survivors who felt that the location was an affront and a terrible disservice to the memory of millions of Jews who died at the hands of the Nazis in the Holocaust.

Just as we thought then that well-meaning efforts by Carmelite nuns to build a Catholic structure were insensitive and counterproductive to reconciliation, so too we believe it will be with building a mosque so close to Ground Zero.

The better way for Muslims seeking reconciliation and moderation would have been for them to reach out to the families of the victims, who we are sure could have recommended any number of actions to achieve those goals other than the present plan.

To make this a test of whether one supports religious freedom or is stereotyping Muslims is to engage in demagoguery. Good people can differ as to what should happen, without falsely being accused of abandoning their principles.

Abraham H. Foxman, a Holocaust survivor, is National Director of the Anti-Defamation League

Religious Tolerance, then and now

By Dana Millbank (originally published in the Washington Post)

“To bigotry no sanction.”

– George Washington

“Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate.”

– Sarah Palin

Two hundred twenty years ago today (August 18), the Jews of Newport, R.I., wrote a proclamation for President George Washington on his visit to their synagogue the next day.

“Deprived as we heretofore have been of the invaluable rights of free Citizens,” the Jews wrote to their famous visitor, we now “behold a Government, erected by the Majesty of the People . . . generously affording to All liberty of conscience, and immunities of Citizenship: deeming every one, of whatever Nation, tongue, or language, equal parts of the great governmental Machine.”

Washington’s reply the next day, a simple letter titled “To the Hebrew Congregation in Newport,” set a standard for religious tolerance that guided the nation through two centuries. Here is that message in its entirety — along with some alternative thoughts on the topic occasioned by the proposed mosque near Ground Zero:

Gentlemen,

While I receive, with much satisfaction, your Address replete with expressions of affection and esteem; I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you, that I shall always retain a grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced in my visit to Newport, from all classes of Citizens.

“There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. The time for double standards that allow Islamists to behave aggressively toward us while they demand our weakness and submission is over. . . . Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust museum in Washington.”

– Newt Gingrich

* * *

The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet, from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security. If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good Government, to become a great and happy people.

“9/11 mosque=act of fitna [Arabic for scandal], ‘equivalent to bldg Serbian Orthodox church@Srebrenica killing fields where Muslims were slaughtered.’ ”

– Sarah Palin

* * *

The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.

“President Obama’s support of building the mosque at Ground Zero is a slap in the face to the American people. . . . In fact, the majority of the country is strongly opposed to building a mosque at the site of the most tragic terrorist attack on America. I will continue to demmand [sic] President Obama to reverse his support on this.”

– Sen. David Vitter (R-La).

* * *

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

“The Ground Zero Mosque is not about freedom of religion, as President Obama claims. It’s about the murderous ideology behind the attacks on our country and the fanatics our troops are fighting every day in the Middle East.”

– Carl Paladino, Republican candidate for governor of New York

* * *

It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my Administration, and fervent wishes for my felicity. May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.

“President Obama has this all wrong and I strongly oppose his support for building a mosque near Ground Zero, especially since Islamic terrorists have bragged and celebrated destroying the Twin Towers and killing nearly 3,000 Americans.”

– Jeff Greene, Democratic candidate for Senate in Florida

* * *

May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.

G. Washington

“Come on, we’re going to allow that at Ground Zero?”

– Rudy Giuliani

***

Help me understand

by Philip J. Palin

CNN poll is out reporting that two-thirds of Americans are opposed to creation of an Islamic center planned for 51 Park Place in New York.  I am surprised.

I might have expected similar numbers, but of reverse opinion: 68 percent in favor, 29 percent opposed, 3 percent uncertain.  Actually, I would have predicted a higher percentage of undecided.  My long-lost cousin Sarah certainly has evidence for me not “getting it.”

I am in the distinct minority that supports the Center. The more arguments I hear against the Center the more this judgment seems to be reinforced.

Based on what I read and hear the core argument against the Center is that Islam, as a faith, caused — or Muslims, as a group, conducted — the 9/11 attacks, two blocks away from the building to be developed.  Neither of these perceptions is accurate.  Such arguments are a horrible fiction the terrorists themselves have attempted to foist on the world.  In adopting this fiction we give aid-and-comfort to those who have chosen to be our enemies.

Rather, a few deluded self-defined, and largely non-practicing Muslims — contrary to the tenants of Islam — murdered nearly 3000 innocents, including at least 58 Muslims.

Moreover, from everything I have heard and read, those involved in conceiving the Islamic Center are explicit in rejecting the false teaching of those involved in terrorism. These individuals, by their own testimony and those of many faiths who have known them, are motivated to “improving Muslim-West relations.”  As such, it is hard for me to imagine a better place for such a center than lower Manhattan.  The current controversy demonstrates the need for such work.

I am proud to be an American.  For me this means I am proud of the values articulated in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.  These are challenging and ambitious values. As an individual I too often fail to keep faith with these values.  But it is very clear that among these values are religious freedom and significant property rights.  At 51 Park Place these two key values have intersected.  I understand I am duty-bound to protect these liberties.

Further, as a self-defined (if nothing more) homeland security professional, I perceive the stated intentions of the Cordoba Initiative  as supporting the core values of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.  From what I can discover regarding those involved in the Cordoba Initiative their motivations are inimical to those of our terrorist adversaries.  I have heard accusations otherwise, but I have not yet found any evidence otherwise.

So this is an occasion when principle and pragmatism meet.   This highlights how the vocal opposition to the Islamic Center causes me significant concern.  In the rhetoric and actions of those opposed to the conversion of 51 Park Place I perceive Osama bin-Laden, Anwar Awlaki, and their ilk are being given an enormous amount of unintentional — even paradoxical — support. 

It is also my duty to protect the free speech of those who I perceive are playing into the hands of our adversaries.  I will do so.  But I hope that along the way we can speak together and  listen together.  I am very unhappy  that I seem to oppose two-thirds of my fellow Americans on a matter of core principle and pragmatic self-interest.  Help me understand our differences.

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32 Comments »

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 20, 2010 @ 7:02 am

Well since I assume if built the Mosque would be tax exempt then does it serve a large population of worshippers of Islam? I don’t offer this facetiously. Current religions operating in the US seem to be largely of two types. The Brick and Mortar type with overweening structures meant to rival the era of Cathedral building in mideval Europe. I believe there are now over 4000 megachurches with more than 3,000 worshippers. These represent something other than religion. This represents the ego, hubris, and dynastic pretensions of their leaders. It is ridiculous and I would limit the availablility of tax exempt status for those organizations qualifying under what is essentially the STATUTE of First Elizabeth (1600′s era) to no more than bare necessities. Hey are they all energy efficient? Are they used daily? What statement are they making about humility before whatever GOD or GODS you worship. Allowing tax deductions for religions to me violates the first AMENDMENT and its restriction that “Congress shall make no law . .” Hey where is HUGO BLACK when we need him. I am tired of these expansive desert religions that seem to not reflect the austerity of their beginnings. Perhaps a vow of poverty for leaders and believers. Oh that may be why we are so busy destroying our (US) and other world economies trying to protect not the right to worship who you wish but to protect and expand the coverage of various religions beliefs on a corporate basis. Did Constantine help or hinder the Roman Empire when he gave those fateful words “In hoc signo vinces” [sic-phil I know can correct) meaning in Latin–In this sign shall I conquer–referring to the symbol of the cross.
I am not irreligious and in fact am a believer one desert faith-Christianity-but believe that religion belongs in one’s head and heart not in a big box store.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

August 20, 2010 @ 7:47 am

Bill:

I understand that 51Park will be developed as a tax-exempt Islamic community center. The developers have argued it is more accurate to compare the site to a YMCA than a Mosque. The following is from the Cordoba House Initiative website:

The community center will meet the needs of all New Yorkers with six programmatic areas:
1. Culture and Arts – 500-seat auditorium, exhibition)
2. Education – Lecture hall, conference rooms, library, classrooms,)
3. Social Cohesion,(cooking classes, senior citizens space, child care, banquet hall)
4. Religion + Healing – Muslim prayer space, Contemplation and reflection area, 9/11 victims memorial
5. Global Engagement – Mapping studies on trends in the Muslim world, resources on good governance and principles of liberal democracy, women’s empowerment issues, youth development, countering religious extremism.
6. Recreation – pool, gym, medical education and wellness programs

Your Latin is correct, though I think the tale is that Constantine said it in Greek. In my personal opinion, Constantine’s official embrace of Christianity complicated and undermined core elements of Christianity… which is another reason I am so keen to protect the principle of government non-involvement in religious matters in this case and others.

Comment by LOGGER

August 20, 2010 @ 9:05 am

Love of enemies has no logic. As Justice Holmes said, the history of the law and love of it is not based on logic it is based on experience. To love in proportion to the injury would mean offering a premium for a crime. I don’t think logically. Those who preach love your enemies are for the most part the greatest persecutors. Around here, it’s more common to convert former religious property into commercial property. The flocks scattered. Converting commercial property into religious property is against the interest of government. The city needs the revenue more than the citizens need another house of worship. It’s another of the mayors special projects and as usual it’s very expensive. The organizers are willing to pay a premium for an exclusive address and I’m sorry to say I can’t afford it or I’d buy the building and sell dry goods.

Comment by LOGGER

August 20, 2010 @ 9:34 am

“A telling advertisement for O’Neill’s store appeared in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper in 1871: “50 doz. French chip hats, just received, $3. Sold on Broadway at $6. Just received 500 cartons of French flowers, finest imported. 50 percent below Broadway prices.”" By 1890 O’Neill employed 2,500 people.
http://www.nyc-architecture.com/CHE/CHE002-HughO%27NeillDryGoodsStore.htm

Put a hat on your dome and keep your Italianate traditional. I’m chipping here. An Italianate mosque seems more like a statement of futurism than a romantic ideal. The prophet was a historian and as such a future historian. Italianate is still a girls best friend if it’s filled with the right stuff. They are going to stuff it with a swimming pool. Tell me you aren’t joking. It sounds all wet!

Comment by Philip J. Palin

August 20, 2010 @ 10:00 am

Logger:

I try to practice love of enemies, (interesting word “love”) but in this case I am even more concerned not to mistake friends for enemies and make further enemies unnecessarily. Regarding the interests of government, I was recently meeting with government officials in a major city regarding catastrophic planning. Very much off-the-record, these individuals strongly suggested engaging the churches and other places of worship as effectively as possible. “If the worst happens, the churches will be among the few still operating and effective,” said one of the government officials. I guess it depends how we define the government’s interest. But, again, in this case, I am mostly concerned that government basically stay out of the process, and free speech, freedom to worship, and property rights be respected.

Comment by LOGGER

August 20, 2010 @ 10:06 am

“Italianate buildings often have a formal symmetry accentuated by pronounced moldings and decorative details. The commercial buildings resemble Italian palaces and tend to be rectangular buildings of several, spacious stories well suited to their original purposes as work spaces.” http://www.nyc-architecture.com/STYLES/STY-Italianate.htm

Work shop geometry. In the house of mathematics there are many mansions. If the heart of Israfil is a lute as legend has it, the heart of each of them is the dollar. Watch your tax base be converted from work space to prayer space. No doubt a soup kitchen will be in order with lines around the block and the mayor with a offer of free bread for the masses.

God, thou great symmetry,
Who put biting lust in me
From whence my sorrows spring,
For all frittered things
That I have spent in shapeless ways
Give me one perfect thing

Order, beauty and perfection create no pain. The other choice for your choosing is pleasure. It’s a lot of work and it can get lusty. That’s NYC for ya!

Comment by Art Botterell

August 20, 2010 @ 10:07 am

And who can argue with logic like that?

Comment by LOGGER

August 20, 2010 @ 10:29 am

Tranquility. We copy you on the ground. We’re breathing again. Another computer malfunction, registered an abort. We might not be back. Have a highball.

TGIF!

Comment by dan oconnor

August 20, 2010 @ 11:50 am

Nothing stirs passion quicker than religion and politics. While I may seem trite here, I do not mean to be…

Whether it’s a demographic issue, that being the growth of Islam, a slow decline issue, that being Catholicism or simply Christianity, or as persecuted one, that being Judaism, all three have influenced the world we live in and to categorize them merely as “desert religions” does not do them the appropriate justice. I’m sure it is not Bill’s intent to do such, but I find different metaphors in the syntax. I do not pretend to be a religious scholar, nor am I dismissive of their machinations with regard to their motives. As with all groups of people; motives are often self interest driven, albeit for purposes of good and not so good.

Organized religion by and large attempts to establish first a micro culture and than an influential one. Their impact on the world and the spread of Western Civilization must also be balanced against the cultures destroyed. All took place under the guise of spreading religion and Empires need for expansion. What sets you free also enslaves you.

Recently in the movie, the Book of Eli, one sees this exact phenomenon; in the not-too-distant future, across the wasteland of what once was America, a lone nomad named Eli (Denzel Washington)traverses a desert wasteland fighting to bring the remaining civilization the knowledge that could be the key to its redemption and save the future of humanity. a single wandering survivor in a post-apocalyptic world, Eli has the last Bible on earth. He believes he is God’s messenger and has been charged with delivering the book to the west coast. His journey takes some thirty years to complete. Searching for a source of water, he arrives in a ramshackle town built and overseen by a man who becomes his antagonist, Carnegie (Gary Oldman). Carnegie dreams of building more towns and controlling, some would enslaving the people by using the power of a certain book, of course that book being the Bible. The power of God for good and evil…( see the movie, its pretty good!)

Religion 101. Freedom and enslavement. Perhaps I oversimplify, but its too convenient to blast faith and/or religion for the worlds ills… and at the same time, all together obvious that the tenants of religion when exploited, do far more harm in Gods name than good.

But take it a step further. Is it religion or human nature? Someone has to win and someone has to lose. We are exploitive by nature and have rationalized fairness and equity as a human right. Is it ? There is no time in history where we haven’t exploited one another. War is a business model and a tool of compliance. Dominance is almost a necessity. There has to be poor to have wealthy. There is always exploitation. We didn’t get this vast wealth and opportunities by accident or by some virtuous behavior. We did not thrive in a vacuum. History bears this out. I am not apologizing either.

Sometimes I wonder if our fear of being post relevant and our prejudices and bias’ drive more of our actions than we want to admit. I do not believe we want to understand Islam. Its an anathema to us. We are a xenophobic and jingoist nation, which is ironic because of our diversity and amalgam of ethnicity. Again, perhaps a leap or overstatement, but clearly not a naive or unobserved approach. Our Western traditions and our tribal instincts keep it so. So is this our realization that our relevance and influence is waning? Are we now becoming afraid of our descent? I think we must examine and embrace our reality and own it. Not apologize for it, but own the obvious. We have some degree of responsibility for our condition. And, if we continue not to own our situation and take responsibility, who will? The ash heap of history is high and wide with those who chose not to own their situation.

Just being “straight up” ; Why did we go to Iraq? I can come up with some quasi legitimate reasons to go into Iraq. Whether a foothold in the middle east, oil, whatever. I can even see the WMD thing. We will be there a long time and our success remains to be seen. What about Afghanistan? Our need for retribution and blood seems reasonable, but we did not plan, prosecute, and deliver justice. What is victory? On some levels, our self emasculation in these two theatres did far more harm than good. We demonstrated nothing except weakness, (in our adversaries eyes) because we didn’t get the guy who bombed the WTC, twice! Is this the truth or is this a manufactured storyline? How is it possible that we, the United States could not catch the person who planned and did this?

Our displeasure about the cultural center being hundreds of yards away is our way to continue grieving. Our paradox of believing we’re not responsible in any way or fashion for our current economic and political state is contrary to the illusion of America being this beacon of fairness and righteousness. We have an image problem amongst ourselves.

We’re angry and hurt because of the WTC attack. I grew up in NY, worked on the WTC security and rebuilding for 2 years, and lost many, many friends… and 9 years later I continue to do so. Perhaps if we caught and killed Bin Laden and Al-Zahiri quickly and at all costs, the argument wouldn’t be taking place.

But we didn’t do that. There are a lot of reasons, but we did not.

Our Nation did not evolve in a vacuum. There are consequences and manifestations of actions we chose to take and not take. But we must embrace that as part of our DNA. Our country right or wrong, but our country.

I will never apologize for being an American, for serving our country as a Marine, and trembling at every playing of our National Anthem; never. It’s the greatest place on earth as far as I am concerned. But my love of country is much like realizing my mother wasn’t perfect. Recognizing the blemishes, mistakes, and shortcomings does not diminish the adoration or affection; it simply explains and contextualizes what is often necessary to overcome human nature.

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August 20, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

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Comment by William R. Cumming

August 20, 2010 @ 1:55 pm

Will this be the world’s first Islamic unisex pool? Do Burqua’s get waterlogged?

Now being facetious of course. I believe that the desert religions all have a simliar mistake paradigm–that men are superior beings to women! What exactly is the revealed truth of the writings of the Torah, Bible, and Quran on the equality of the sexes or lack thereof?

Comment by LOGGER

August 20, 2010 @ 10:04 pm

They could of built a hospital. Instead we are getting a new office building and mosque. At least we are all getting health-care or getting fined if we don’t. It’s enough to make you sick.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

August 21, 2010 @ 5:40 am

Dan:

Thank you for sharing your grief. The Foxman argument earns my respect because it honors your grief. The reality of your loss and so many’s profound loss should not be diminished.

My grief in regard to 9/11 — if it can be called that — is much more an abstraction. I did not personally know any of those who died that day in New York, at the Pentagon, or in Pennsylvania.

As such, an abstract grief contends with an abstract commitment to what I understand to be a set of constitutional principles. In this, my grief for the past gives way to a hope for the future. But in my experience with less abstract grief this is what usually happens: the source of grief is embraced, remembered, and transcended. We keep faith with our grieving, even as we re-discover hope beyond the grieving. I hear you saying something similar in your encouragement to, “own our situation and take responsibility.”

Not everyone seeks transcendence. There can be a kind of comfort in anger, fear, and cynicism. But if we seek to transcend, if that is our purpose, we find some principles to pull us up. Faith, hope and love? Goodness, truth, and beauty? Freedom, justice, and courage? What are the principles to which we cling at least as much as our grief?

Comment by LOGGER

August 21, 2010 @ 7:16 am

The fact is that most people are like sheep. The wolf banged hard on the door on September 11. The sheep are not drowning in grief, they are just in denial that they are sheep. They only want peace. It’s not easy for the sheepdogs. The wolves naturally don’t want you around and the sheep aren’t crazy about you either. No use in quarreling with them and you can’t shoot them. The sheepdogs are greatly outnumbered, but the math is a good equalizer. If you can’t sleep, count sheep. The sheepdogs are always getting chewed out for napping on the job. They make good lifeguards in any case.

Comment by LOGGER

August 21, 2010 @ 7:33 am

West’s Champion Sheepdog to Compete in Soldier Hollow, Represents Dynamite Probiotics for Dogs
http://www.prweb.com/releases/Ultimatedogfoodnutrition/probioticsfordogs/prweb4399894.htm
Somewhere in Idaho.

Comment by A Broken America!

August 21, 2010 @ 8:58 am

A mosque to mark Islamic victory at Ground Zero, nothing new in history, however how would anyone know for who read history and sees how Islamic fundamentalists have always placed their markers?

A mosque in New York City at Ground Zero where the Koran talks about sensitivity – which prompts us on Main Street USA to point to an array of observations:

The First Lady spends our burdened tax “fiat” dollars vacationing in Spain last week – what’s the matter with visiting the Grand Canyon or Denver? By the way Secret Service, under the Freedom of Information Act and an American born citizen, not only have I never been informed of what Jimmy Carter discussed behind closed doors withe the Syrians, but I (we) are asking whon the First lady visited in Spain? Distrustful of her, you bet as we still have not been able to read her college these pertaining to her warped perspective of Blacks and Whites in America for just as Barry’s birth certificate has been sealed, her tell all paper was sealed –

Barry Obama breaks Ramadan bread at the White House and the makes personal comment about the mosque? Was his “pulpit pal” who we recall from election days, his hateful remarks twaords America at the White House dinner as none of us heard who was at the White House Easter dinner?

Like the incident where this Chicago community organizer in office without showing Main Street USA or Congress his birth certificate to prove his validity to run for office, addresses a local Cambridge police matter without fact ’cause his Harvard/Vineyard professor “elitist” pal…well, we are tired of the “Goldman Sachs fellas” who have affiliation direct or indirect to the executive office and now Kagan in the Surpreme Court. As a matter of fact, when is CNN and Fox News going to show the GS organizational chart flows….

The Prez’ visit to Cairo offering the olive branch to the Muslim, the snubbing of a very astute MIT educated Hebrew who sits with his Israeli people and has little tolerance for all this hatred towards Jew, the lack of Will to oust Iransian leadership who has killed many an American youth in American uniform, chooses to kil in cold blood, its own, rich in Perian blood willing to spill the blood and spirit and hopes of a Persian youth so well educated and tired of this charade.

Wake up America! Kudos to the hard hats and their growing commitment to stand tall and have nothing to do with any such desecration of a hallowed site which the Islamic fundamentalist who vows to promote Islam globally killing anyone not a Muslim!

Even in Jerusalem, during the ’67 War when the Arab League and all its nations surroudned Israel seeking its extinction, when the Israelis held the mosque in Jerusalem, it gave it back to the Islamic followers with the provision that anyone could vsit the mosque….A Christian cannot visit or even carry a Bible near the mosque…Wake up!

We are a Judeo-Christian natuon and our beloved Republic was founded on these principles and whiule there are over 100 mosques in New York, wake up! This mosque in such gradeur as we have seen its plans, give us a break here at the coffee shop on Main Street USA!

We have heard enough from Barry about his elistist friends. We will stand atll for our first responders and if I were the Cambridge police officer, I would not have gone to have a “beer” on the White house lawn. This “elitist” Cambridge professor pal just as we are contantly reminded by Barry and his Wife about the challenges of Blacks in America. Black America composes some 12% of the population and we know the history and in a few short decades, like the Irish, the Italians, the Greeks (Hellenes), the Latinos, strides have been made to overcome the narrow and bigoted perspectives….

Let’s get on with respecting one’s dignity, one’s distinctive genetics and heritage. no one has to embrace, but it is a two way street and tolerance and transparency are very much in order from individual to individual and government to the people. The Goldman Sachs’ “handlers” – “smug-smiled Pelosi, Frank and so on and so forth” – you are besieging us from within and raping us – a dsicussion about a mosque at Ground Zero, by all means no sensitivity, however given $5+billion daily in increasing budget deficit, $13+ trillion in deficit, and not only a failed government whereby Barry and his elitist pals “entrusted” and failing to protect this republic with no idea how to do so and no new jobs and only taxes and taxes on Americans already enslaved to poverty, a third world nation!

In my international global business development in wastewater and water purification project development whether in Ghana, Rwanda, the Middle East, Indonesia where in this 21st century I have learned that nearly 1 billion souls have no access to a clean glass of water and that the Chinese with their long history and wisdom are global in every bsuienss, every nation, sweeping up the resources no matter where and stockpiling like squirrals while Barry’s world of Islam chooses to affront the Christian and in reality portrays little tolerance of other.

It is time that a group of Christians carry their Bibles and demand to visit and pray in the Jerusalem mosque. Do you know that one is not even permitted to bow one’s head and we here on Main Street USA at the coffee shop, elders who cannot travel to the mosque in Jerusalem as the only change we have seen from Duval patrick, Governor of Massachusetts and his campaign like his pal Barry’s using the word “change” w/the only change robbed from our pocket and less and less jobs, opportunity and even less funding of medicare –

We ask that Christians take their Bibles and go to Jerusalem, enter the mosque and pray and bow your heads and like any other institution which shoudl be open to all, pray even among the Islamic community which via the Koran must be sensitive and tolerant –

We’ve had it -

No mosque! Find another site…and Barry and your Wife and kids, our Middle America, bible country and ur southwest await your visit and when you get to Denver, we’ll see if you all can recite Biblical verse or it will be the Koran you reference.

We have little confidence and we are an enlightened people who are seeing a Germany resurrecting itself with a fast deployment Army, shiny new destroyers and battleships in the Meditarannean and a Vatican and Islamic intolerance of one another which will again result in million and millions of infidels and Muslims killed and while their will be few to look back, the void in leadership and the willingness to state publicly the reality of this deciding moment in the 21st century…well, World War will break out soon and the “Brutes of Tehran” and the German-led EU with is downsized ten (10) nation slaves and a Vatican supportive of its own self-agenda will cause undue hardship, death, hopelessness and history will again repeat itself…

Barry, Wife and the kids, have you visited Lexington and Concord or George Washington’s home?

My Muslim friends as a Hellene and proud American born, tell me that the Koran and the teachings and principles they have been taught, toleraant of others, indeed referenced as a necessity to be sensitive to others find this proposed “mosque” quite contrary to the Koran’s teachings and it only fuels the perception that those who follow Islam are violent, far from the truth they assert….

God Bless us all. God is witness to all and bringing harm upon another of God’s creations is making choice and judgement which can only be done by God….Unfortunately the perverse and dysfunctional premises held towards another inevitably leads to failure for as we have seen, no matter what form of man-made government since babylon, all ahve failed!

(Chris)topher Tingus
PO Box 1612
Harwich, MA 02645
chris.tingus@gmail.com

Comment by Philip J. Palin

August 21, 2010 @ 9:58 am

As noted, anger, fear, and cynicism can offer a kind of comfort. It is not a comfort I covet.

In response to another post, a commentator has written, “The difference between a prejudice and a conviction is that you can explain a conviction without getting angry.”

I understand the anger of the moment. I do not understand when anger seems to be carefully cultivated.

We are a long way from the policy focus that once characterized Homeland Security Watch. In some ways I regret the shift. But I also perceive that the tensions expressed in the few comments above suggest several of the fundamental challenges facing homeland security.

The anger, grief, confidence, eccentricity, denial, knowledge, naivete, logic, and illogic (what else?) demonstrated above is the reality homeland security must be able to engage.

Comment by A Broken America!

August 21, 2010 @ 3:32 pm

What we must engage in understanding are the facts in our precipitous fall as our beloved Republic falters economically and politically -

The facts are that very, very few, a handful have contributed to this proposed mosque, this landmark in victory against the infidel, a Christian who is not permitted to pray in a mosque and not even walk near the Jerusalem mosque with Bible in hand and the fact that 100 mosques exist in New York, thus the reality is – the facts – who is truly behind the mosque and who in the Muslim community has expressed support for such disregard for the victims, some even Muslim and for America!

Homeland Security is exactly what I refer to and we here on Main Street USA when we see Barry Obama and the billionaire New York Mayor reaching out to the fundamentalists who are behind such insensitivity, well, as citizens of the United States, We are obligated to protect the Union from outside and from the Goldman Sachs insiders positioned in every administration position with past and present ties to the GS core and agenda!

That’s a fact!

Breaking News will tell the real story this Saturday afternoon for very little monies have been raised and the support only comes from those seeking our demise, individuals who have their agenda and seek to kill Christians without a blink of the eye though to those who seek our demise in our Judeo-Christian based America and its principles, the trillions of dollars that have gone to Muslims everywhere, let’s just say, this is our watch….We are obligated and in the Love we have for America, our “melting pot” where we respect one another and have compassion for those less fortunate, We are more vigilant than you perceive and we care not to rely on “political DHS” appointees for We see the challenges as a result of failed DHS policies and perceptions.

At least 9.5% of America is unemployed, we are $13+trillion bankrupt, no jobs have been created and we are at great peril from those within and at the White House and on both sides of the Congressional floor and given our freedom of vote, We will most assuredly throw the self-rightous out!

70% + of America said it does not favor any such mosque at Ground Zero! Anyways, no one is financing it other than maybe Goldman Sachs and no hardhats will be available….So many Muslims themselves from around the Globe are not in favor of this intentional insensitivity and blatant politicizing of the Koran!

This is Homeland Security in reality!

(Chris)topher Tingus
aka Citizen Joe
chris.tingus@gmail.com

*By the way Mr. Barney and Smug smiled Pelosi, foreclosures are climbing, modification of mortgage loan to American family duped, a farce and the bankers raping us with the nod of approval of Congressional members and the White House –

We have little confidence in anyone other than intel folks, NSA and the DoD these days.

Homeland Security starts at home!

We are at great peril….however never underestimate the Will of America!

Today, the world again blinked by allowing the “KGB Putinites” to support the “Brutes of Tehran” – It is only a matter of time when Germany will address its contrary agenda….

Comment by Philip J. Palin

August 22, 2010 @ 6:47 am

Mr. Tingus:

I have also seen the assertion that the Islamic center planned for 51 Park Place is designed to celebrate the terrorist “victory” of 9/11. I cannot find any evidence to support the assertion.

Rather, I find evidence to the contrary. In the Sunday, August 22 New York Times there is a new report that further repudiates the assertion:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/nyregion/22imam.html?_r=1&hp

In terms of fundraising, the facts seem to me quite obscure. They are, in any case, very early in the fundraising process. Lack of funding does not, I think, yet prove anything.

You have been clear regarding the preconceptions that influence your understanding of this situation. Let me be as transparent.

My concerns go beyond homeland security or, perhaps, embrace a very broad definition of homeland security.

As you may have seen, TIME magazine recently commissioned a survey of American attitudes toward Islam and Muslims. Here are few of the findings:

Nearly nine years after the 9.11 attacks, a large segment of Americans remain critical of American Muslims. One in four (25%) believe that Muslims in the U.S. are not patriotic Americans, with another 21% not sure.

More than one quarter (28%) of Americans believe the Supreme Court should prohibit a Muslim member. In addition, nearly one-third (32%) do not believe that a Muslim should be allowed to run for the Presidency.

There were several other findings of similar concern. (You can access the full survey findings at http://www.srbi.com/TimePoll5122-Final%20Report-2010-08-18.pdf)

You and I have disagreed on several prior matters, but it seems to me we have consistently agreed on the fundamental importance of engaging our Muslim neighbors as full citizens. While there are pragmatic reasons for doing so, I perceive we are each motivated in this way by principle.

My worldview was profoundly affected by the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in September, 1963.
(See: http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/civilrights/al11.htm)

Very few of those who opposed civil rights, would have specifically countenanced that bombing. But in their rhetoric and inaction it seems to me they established the pre-conditions for the bombing. I see similar dynamics at work related to 51 Park Place.

What can I do — what can we do — to help prevent such an outcome here?

Another commentator, in this context, has raised the issue of sheep and sheep dogs. (See Dave Grossman’s essay “On Killing” http://www.mwkworks.com/onsheepwolvesandsheepdogs.html) As someone who once raised sheep, I have always had difficulty with the analogy. But for the moment I will accept it.

When my neighbor is threatened because of where he or she happened to be born, or because of the color of their skin, or the faith they profess; whenever the individuality of my neighbor is dismissed and he or she is lumped into a group to be despised, I hope I will recognize the wolves and find in myself the fierce resolve of a sheep dog.

Given the size of the pack of wolves that seem to be circling around our Muslim neighbors, I could use your help.

Phil

Comment by Ground Zero; Flooding in Pakistan

August 23, 2010 @ 1:06 am

I do concur that we do in fact agree on most points pertaining to this subject as you have so eloqently explained the evolving Ground Zero challenge.

While we and numerous others debate this issue, I called State and asked them how we can lend more assistance to 20million Pakistan human beings subjected to such terrible flooding and in need of billions in global financial assistance. I was very impressed with the compassion conveyed towards the good peple of Pakistan so terribly affected and advised that early on, aid was sent and much more is enroute.

I am hoping the top one hundred of the world’s richest men will muster together and set up appropriate funding to help the people of Pakistan as the monies are needed urgently.

While I have been active in addressing prerequisite wastewater and water purification solutions for the good people of Haiti as well as practical 200 sq. ft. permanent housing, eco-friendly, earthquake resistant and offering solar and rainwater retention system, the same housing we use in Rwanda and Ghana for instance, this tragedy unfolding in Pakistan requires the same consideration and compassion for fellow human being as the weeks, months and years ahead for these unfortunate people requires all of us to bring attention to their plight and the need for assistance….

Thank you for sharing your various perspectives.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

August 23, 2010 @ 4:45 am

Mr. Tingus:

Thank you for your note above and your attention to the profound needs in Haiti and Pakistan.

We do not know each other. We have — and will — disagree, perhaps often and even vehemently. But if we listen carefully enough, we can recognize each other as men of good faith.

Moreover, even with our differences, we can make commmon cause to do whatever we can to protect the fundamental rights of citizenship… and to address the needs of the most vulnerable.

Perhaps this is a digital handshake?

Phil

Comment by ~

August 25, 2010 @ 4:33 pm

I’m working on crossing Go and collecting $200. Might get rich or busted. The crisis was a test, the empty car dealership is certainly DOA and the next crisis is looking a little more complex. More empty auto complexes. I got a longbow and a shield. Watch out for Rolling Stone rambows. You guys can get lots of people hurt or killed. The big shield opens and closes. It’s expensive.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

August 26, 2010 @ 5:24 am

I agree the next crisis is looking a little more — even a lot more — complex. That seems to be how complexity works. We also see that, almost always, the system self-organizes around strange attractors of meaning (love that phrase) and rough order is restored. It’s similar to your contributions: they are often strange, I am nonetheless attracted, eventhough your meaning can be elusive. What I wonder (hope, actually) is if we have the ability to self-generate positive and constructive meaning to which we — lots and lots of us — will be strangely attracted and organize around.

Comment by ~

August 26, 2010 @ 7:29 am

Not elusive, she just has a bodyguard of lies protecting her. Watch for false flag operations and don’t assault the cabbies. They are neutral, politics is driving the mosque-i/c project. That’s why it’s $100 million rather than modest. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38861763/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/

Comment by ~

August 26, 2010 @ 7:58 am

We have a defense that is thoroughly reliable and total. They have a defense lawyer that’s very expensive and New Yorkers are offended. Mixing religion and politics brings to mind the phrase, “more money than brains”. It’s bad for national morale and bad for business. It’s looking like a bigger crisis and people are going to lose money. Praise the Lord and pass the ammo. Have a PTA meeting, the enemy is going to be DBA -Dead Before Arrival. PBS History Detectives claim no secret is safe. I’m not that sort of history detective. Some secrets are safer than others. Some people too. If money got you into this mess, why can’t it get you out of it? Checkmate.

Comment by ~

August 26, 2010 @ 8:41 am

Suit on political stump: Didn’t you come to this country to escape religious persecution and breath the fresh air of freedom?
Tailor: No, I just came here to make and sell cheap ready made clothes.

That’s the drygoods business for you. Have fun with it. I have some wetwork that needs done and weeds to pull.

Comment by HISTORY DETECTIVE

August 27, 2010 @ 6:26 am

What if I had $100 million? Blasted-It’s going to get all out of control. Sixteen years in the jail house for the crime of having no dough. The grass needs cut and the truck has an oil leak. School buses are running again. Watch out for children…

Comment by HISTORY DETECTIVE

August 28, 2010 @ 8:44 am

“The owners of the NASCAR Plaza office tower have defaulted on a $95 million loan, according to a lawsuit filed by Regions Bank, which is urging fellow project lender Wells Fargo & Co. to do whatever it takes to collect, including foreclosure.

The uncertain future…”
http://charlotte.bizjournals.com/charlotte/stories/2010/08/30/story1.html

$299 million worth of nothing.
http://www.indy.com/posts/lauth-group-owes-299m-in-bankruptcy-case

Driving in circles and hitting walls. No matter what, it’s very expensive. Drunk driving is still more expensive. Then you are busted or blasted.

Comment by HISTORY DETECTIVE

August 28, 2010 @ 9:53 am

They would pledge NYFD pension funds to fund the mosque if they could. Then when the bonds went bust, there would be a blood letting. It can be a bloody mess. One doesn’t know where that would go or how great the losses would be. It looks like a bad investment because it is. You run the numbers it looks worse. When it’s crunch time, all bets are off, you need to perform. If you can’t perform-preach. I’m not going to pay you to do it.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

August 28, 2010 @ 11:58 am

If wisdom is written deep in the chasm of an obscure blog’s comments and no one — or only one — reads it, is it still wisdom? Does wisdom depend on being perceived, accepted by at least one other, more than one other? Or… does wisdom exist in an ideal form even if unknown to any?

Some say Socrates was wise. He claimed otherwise. Socrates chose suicide on the order of those obviously less wise. Was this wisdom personified or perverted? If Socrates was wise it was in knowing what he did not know and always seeking to know. In this seeking he was persistent, enthusiastic, avoiding the pitfalls of the cynic or romantic.

A Saturday afternoon toast — drink deep — to each of us knowing what we do not know and ever seeking to know.

Comment by HISTORY DETECTIVE

August 29, 2010 @ 7:07 am

If this be Gods will, so be it.

Equivalent Property in U.S. Here & Now Edition:
Fenway Park in Boston
http://boardgames.about.com/od/monopolyproperties/p/park_place.htm
Old disputes…
The distance from home plate to the Monster has long been disputed. For many years, it was posted as 315 feet (96 m). During the Red Sox pennant race in 1975, an overhead photograph of Fenway Park was shown to a man who had analyzed reconnaissance photos in preparation for bombing missions in World War II. He determined that the foul pole was just 304 feet (93 m) from home plate, but the marker on the wall was not changed. Writers from the Boston Globe once snuck onto the field and measured it as 304.7 ft (93.2 m). In 1990, Red Sox management relabeled the distance at 310 feet (94 m), though many people still believe it to be closer than that. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Monster

Post more reconnaissance photos and we’ll see what lands where.

Comment by HISTORY DETECTIVE

August 29, 2010 @ 7:39 am

“”I’m Shipping Up to Boston” is a song with lyrics written by the folk singer Woody Guthrie and music written and performed by the Celtic punk band Dropkick Murphys. It appeared on their 2005 album, The Warrior’s Code. An earlier recording of it can be found on the Hellcat Records compilation Give ‘Em the Boot Vol. 4.” “The song appears on an Armed Forces Network Commercial about keeping your computer safe.” WiPe
http://www.dropkickmurphys.com/discography/releases/warriorscode.html
Boots on Ground Zero. I’m building a store. You do what you have to.

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