Dream of the Dragon

Tag: ignorance

Misdirection: Frogs, Mosques, and Octopi

by Justin

The classic misdirection employed by most politicians, and with shimmering expertise by the ruin-sewing GOP, seems to be working. I fell soundly into the camp of those attracted by the boldest headlines and the loudest voices in the polarized debates surrounding the Cordoba Center construction in lower Manhattan. The reminders of what matters, at least with regard to public policy and the perpetuation of life, came from a television series and a cartoon. Really.

First, courtesy of Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist Mike Luckovich:

I appreciate the joke and I’m a fan of the maybe inaccurate anecdote about a frog’s acceptance of water slowly brought to boil, which is now commonly used in discussions about Global Warming. The point, of course, being that the current mosque maelstrom concerns individual prejudice, wounded egos, and ideological schism – all petty in the grand scheme of things. Whereas the future of our planet rests rather (un)comfortably as the most pressing issue conceivable. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Identifying Evil

by Justin

The first step in identifying an evil practice or individual is to define the word itself. I’ll open with the Wikipedia version as it’s as great (not necessarily wholly accurate) an authority these days as anything else:

the intention of causing harm or destruction while threatening or deliberately violating morality. Largely due to the subjectivity of the word morality (which may refer to a society’s moral code, one’s own moral system, relative morality, absolute morality, etc.), there is no agreement about whether evil is a matter of social custom or universally correct principle that overrides custom.

The harm and destruction bit is pretty straight forward – but then you hit the immediate snag of absolute morality and the challenges of identifying (and condemning) evil across great cultural divides. This is a critical issue in W’s glorious legacy of the ‘War on Terror’. Launching missiles at an idea should have seemed like nonsense from the beginning, but 9/11 and its aftermath were the direct product of an ideological schism. So it almost makes sense. And in that administration’s defense, radical and violent fundamentalism has a near intoxicating stench of evil all over it. Read the rest of this entry »