In my editor's column last week, I wrote about the controversy regarding the building of a mosque near Ground Zero. As one might expect, the column drew lots of comments (62, the last time I checked). One of our regular commmenters, CHG, at first claimed that President Obama admitted to being Muslim, and attached a link to a George Stephanopoulos interview (in which it was clear, the president did not claim to be Muslim). In later comments, he sent a links — one from Reverend Moon's Washington Times and another from a right-wing website — that decried the fact that the U.S. was spending tax-payer dollars to "build" mosques around the world.
Upon researching the issue, I learned that there indeed is a federal aid program that spends our tax dollars on foreign mosques (among many other kinds of structures in other countries). Here is a summation from the conservative website, Daily Caller:
Nicole Thompson, a State Department spokeswoman, told The Daily Caller that the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation is a type of diplomatic effort and outreach, what she says Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls “soft power.”
“It is helping to preserve our cultural heritage. It is not just to preserve religious structures,” Thompson said. “It is not to preserve a religion. It is to help us as global inhabitants preserve cultures.”
In a document provided on Monday to Indiana Republican Sen. Richard G. Lugar, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, the State Department explained that the practice of funding such projects became acceptable in 2003 when the Justice Department declared that the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause did not preclude federal funds from going to preserve religious structures if they had cultural importance.
So let's review, shall we? The Cultural Preservation program was started by the Bush administration in 2003, vetted by a Republican Congress, and approved by John Ashcroft's Justice Department. But now that the Democrats (and the dreaded combo of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama) are in power, this has become yet another false cause celebre for right-wing websites and other media to demonstrate how Obama is a Muslim terrorist sympathizer.
Getting to the bottom of these issues takes time and a little research, which is what conservative mouth-pieces (and website commenters) hope we won't do. And sadly, for a large number of those who are predisposed to buy into this right-wing malarky, they are correct.
Sometimes I read stuff on the Internet that just leaves me speechless. Like this:
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A mother has pulled her mixed-race children from a Mississippi school over a policy that dictates blacks and whites alternate years holding class officer positions but makes no provision for students of mixed parentage.
Brandy Springer said her 12-year-old daughter, who is half native American, couldn't run for sixth-grade class reporter at Nettleton Middle School in Lee County because that position was only for black students. School president was for white students this year.
Springer, who is white, had two children who are half native American at the school. She said she has two younger children who are half black.
Administrators didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. A statement on the district's website said the policy is under review.
There are so many things wrong with this, I don't know where begin. This is a public school, in the United States (Mississippi, yes, but still the U.S.) that actually has a policy of election eligibility determined by race. If it's 2010, only whites can run. In 2011, we'll let the black kids run. Simply insane. And, surely, patently illegal in a public school.
And we wonder why the race card still gets played in grown-up elections? I'm flabbergasted.
Jeez, are these people TRYING to invite ridicule. Really, how freakin' difficult is it to spell basic English words that are going to held up on a giant sign in a demonstration for the world to see? Or do they just not care? I bet most Muslims could spell "ground" correctly. Just sayin'.
The stoopidization of America continues.
I don't understand why people are opposed to letting some Muslims build a mosque a few blocks away from Ground Zero in New York City. I actually think it would be nice for President Obama to have a place to worship in downtown Manhattan.
Seriously, the stoopidization of America seems to be accelerating. Each week, there's a new round of pointless absurdities dominating the news cycle. Yesterday, the news was chock full 'o stories about new polls that said up to 24 percent of Americans believe the president is a Muslim. This is a staggering level of ignorance, if you think about it. Walk through, say, a crowded mall and ponder the fact that one in four of the adults around you are buying into this media-propelled myth.
And here's the crazy thing: This year, the yahooligans are convinced Obama's a Muslim. But only two years ago, they were outraged because Jeremiah Wright, the minister of the president's Chicago CHRISTIAN Church was making what they considered anti-American statements from the pulpit. They were screeching because Obama and his family had been members of the church for years and had therefore had to have heard Wright's controversial remarks.
This is from MSNBC in March 2008: Obama spoke warmly of Wright, who retired last month as pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Wright is a man “I’ve known for 17 years, [who] helped bring me to Jesus, helped bring me to church,” he said.
“I strongly condemn” Wright’s statements, but “I would not repudiate the man,” Obama said. “He’s been preaching for 30 years. He’s a man who was a former Marine, a biblical scholar, someone who’s spoken at theological schools all over the country."
This was candidate Obama, walking back his support of Wright, distancing himself from his soon-to-be former PASTOR.
So to reiterate: Two years ago, Obama was getting beaten up by critics who wanted him to distance himself from his Christian minister. Now the same anti-Obama crowd is pushing the falsehood that he's a Muslim?
Not only are these people stupid, they can't even remember crap they were mad about only two years ago.
I don't know that I've seen a more discouraging visual than this one, which documents the spread of unemployment across the United States:
When it comes to elections in America, issues such as immigration, mosques near Ground Zero, and even healthcare fade into the periphery. It's always "the economy, stupid." And in this case, things ain't looking too good.
You may be wondering why there is a slight dearth of activity on memphisflyer.com today. Or you just may be waiting for the return of Tommy V (not gonna happen, parenthetically speaking). The dirty truth is that today is a very special day around our office. Yep, it's clean-up day, an annual ritual during which the staffs of the Flyer, Memphis Magazine, Memphis Parent, and MBQ come to work in shorts and T-shirts and spend half the day totally douching the office — wiping off the dust on cubicle walls, spritzing copy machines with Lysol, tossing a year's worth of accumulated newspapers and magazines, a bazillion press releases, 4,000 horrible music CDs into recycling bins. Like that. After it's over, we all repair to an un-disclosable location for a pool party and lots of beverages. Sort of like an office Christmas party in August.
In the meantime, talk amongst yourselves. Squabble, if you like. We're watching, but we're also sweaty and thirsty, and, to quote the immortal Tim Sampson, we don't know you (most of you) and we don't care what you do.