Ten Questions for Monday

by A. Jay Adler on August 9, 2010
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All right, move it along. The weekend is over. Get back to work.

  1. What do you think of the plans by Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and the NRA to hold a “Restoring Honor” rally at the Lincoln Memorial on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington and “I Have a Dream” speech?

  2. Historian Tony Judt, who died Saturday of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), appears truly to have lived his difficult end, in the words of Yaacov Lozowick, with “fortitude and courage.” What would you have thought of an early decision by Judt, instead, while he still could, to end his own life rather than live through that torturous end?

  3. As Judt did, Christopher Hitchens, who thinks himself likely to die of the esophageal cancer for which he is now undergoing treatment, is writing and speaking publicly about his experience, each to a degree in a somewhat detached reportorial manner. Why do you think writers feel the desire to write about even this experience? Is it simply their nature, or does it serve another function?

  4. How, if at all, does it affect your reactions to Hitchens’ illness and the manner in which he is confronting it to read him when he writes that he regrets he may not live “To read—if not indeed write—the obituaries of elderly villains like Henry Kissinger and Joseph Ratzinger?”

  5. Does Naomi Campbell deserve to live?

  6. If you support the building of the new mosque in the neighborhood of Ground Zero, do you nonetheless sympathetically understand the feelings of mosque opponents, or do you think them all benighted bigots and hate mongers?

  7. If you oppose the building of the mosque, do you sympathetically understand the arguments of its non-Islamic supporters, or do you think them all soft-headed and soft-hearted fools of political correct “tolerance”?

  8. The New York Times reported Saturday on an apparent upsurge in protests around the country against proposed new mosques. Do you know how many mosques were built in the United States between 9/11 and the public announcement of the new Manhattan mosque near Ground Zero? Do you know how much, if any, protest there was against them?

  9. Question prompted by my dentist – around whom would you choose to build a baseball team, Alex Rodriguez or Derek Jeter?

  10. Do you think people really know who you are?

AJA

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2 comments

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate August 9, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Mr Adler,

A few more or less random thoughts here for you:

6/7: There are arguments for both sides here. On one side, the group building the mosque has the right to put it wherever they choose. On the other, choosing such a symbolic location reeks of triumphalism, no matter the language it’s coated in. It’s got the same emotional resonance as you’d have if in 1950 a Japanese group tried to build a Shinto temple a stone’s throw from the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. Or for that matter a US group in 1957 tried to build a cathedral in Hiroshima.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that the people behind this idea want to have that effect: all it means is that at best they’re tone-deaf to the legitimate reasons a number of people don’t want to see a mosque there – where a mosque somewhere else wouldn’t be a problem.

1. I see nothing on that site indicating that the anniversary of Rev. King’s event was involved in the decision. For that matter, it appears that the cause behind the event, namely honoring fallen servicemen and women, and raising funds for their families, is one most Americans would have no problems supporting. I would also hope that Rev. King, given his words on that day, would support this event, given that the US Military does for the most part do precisely what Rev. King desired: judging its members on their character and not on the color of their skin.

8. This reads to me as an awareness issue. Rightly or wrongly, a lot of people see the NYC Ground Zero mosque as the enemy crowing over ruin of American greatness. Whether this is an accurate reflection of the mosque is another matter, but the controversy has made people much more aware of Muslim communities in their own regions – and I suspect many are discovering that there is a lot of expansionism and activism going on. Most people overreact when they get a nasty shock – why would the people who are now objecting to new mosques be any different?

Also – and how accurate this perception is I can’t say – I wasn’t aware there was any kind of standard for reporting the approval of new mosques, churches, temples, or other religious sites anywhere. Unless one of them makes news for something controversial, no-one’s going to hear about it except maybe the people in that community.

Regards,

Kate

Reply

A. Jay Adler August 10, 2010 at 3:52 am

Kate, thanks for your thoughtful comment, as always.

On the subject of the Manhattan mosque we’re in agreement. I’ve written about it before and hope to do so again later in the week.

On the subject of Beck’s Lincoln memorial rally, do you really think the choice of date is coincidental? To relieve any doubt, follow this link to Beck’s explicit comparison: http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201008090018. What is essentially offensive about the whole event is precisely this targeted date and comparison. It is part of Beck’s – and some other conservatives’ – continuing attempt, cynically and offensively, to co-opt the legacy of liberalism. Beck and Palin are, in their very political being, their views and their practices, anathema to all those who consider themselves heirs of King’s political philosophy and causes. There is no doubt for anyone who believed in him THEN that he would today reject Beck and Palin completely. And Beck and Palin know this. That is why the event is really quite disgusting.

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