Dream of the Dragon

Category: public policy

The Ground Zero Mosque

by Justin

Let’s first of all point out that the popular title I adopted for this piece, usually reserved for the feverish demagogues and their pigheaded followers, is itself misleading. The proposed mosque will be built two blocks from the former site of the World Trade Center,but the title suggests the mosque will be built on top of the ashes. And were that the case, I’ll concede that it would be insensitive and bizarrely prejudiced toward the Muslim community affected by 9/11. But this Islamic community center and mosque will be at some distance and represents a beautiful opportunity for the United States to rise above prejudice and recommit to a legacy of tolerance and acceptance.

The debate on this proposal has been raging for some time, the petty and ignorant crawling our from beneath their fundamentalist rocks to assault the very foundations of American liberty. That foundation being religious freedom. There are legitimate reasons to be opposed, to at first be insulted and contest that hey, maybe there’s no good reason to invite controversy so close to such a recent tragedy. I understand that the Islamic community in general had its image tarnished in the minds of many Americans in the wake of 9/11, people making the unfortunate and perhaps involuntary mistake of allowing Al-Qaeda to represent an entire religion. It happens often in history that the loudest and most radical groups define public image, but the era of mass media should no longer permit that. Somehow, the fact that the GOP’s domestic agenda flagrantly favors only the wealthiest Americans and disregards the needs of the poor isn’t enough to throw them out of favor and out of office.

The point here is that there is considerable popular misconception about Muslims and an unfortunate mental association for many with Islam and 9/11. Read the rest of this entry »

On Same-sex Marriage

by Justin

Today’s personal revelation, hot on the overturn of Proposition 8 in California (the Cali kids should have known better from the beginning), emerged when I realized that I don’t understand the arguments against same-sex marriage. My belief in equal rights and my opposition to archaic judeo-christian ideals were always enough to bolster my support of gay marriage. Really, it seemed like common sense and a belief in the Golden Rule would be enough to silence the debate.

But I thought to myself, with no expectation of being swayed but in hopes of better understanding what I deemed to be an enemy of freedom, maybe I should read the secular or ‘liberal’ cases for the preservation of marriage as a strictly heterosexual institution. For all I knew, I was mirroring the ignorance I condemned by refusing to understand the opposing view. So I spent an hour reading through the popular arguments against same-sex marriage. I’ll save you the suspense of reading through the whole post to discover my conclusion: they’re more ignorant than I imagined. It’s willful ignorance in the extreme and ultimately falls under one of two headings: zealous adherence to religious dogma or¬†paralyzing fear of change. (Quick note – those are really sides of the same coin, and paralyzing isn’t the right word as the fearful are remarkably well mobilized against the threat to their beliefs.) Read the rest of this entry »

Maximum Accountability

by Justin

The post title is misleading – what I’m talking about is misdirected cruelty masquerading as extreme accountability.

In the thick of the financial crisis many people demanded the sacking of Goldman Sachs executives that oversaw the exploitation of its investors. Again, throughout the Gulf spill disaster concerned citizens called for the firings of BP and Transocean leaders as a show that things would change. In giant corporations this may very well have amounted to just that: a show. But sometimes that’s all anyone wants – a little drama in place of substantial reform. Well, North Korea went to the extreme of misguided theatrics, hoping that an execution would overshadow the endemic flaws in its system.

This ran in the Guardian yesterday, a¬†brief account of the execution by firing squad of former North Korean cabinet official Kwon Ho Ung. Read the rest of this entry »