It’s easy to fault right-wing blowhards as they expound on any number of knee-jerk propositions. Criticizing polemic closer to the stone is a more nuanced effort. I often follow David Safier — an Arizona local — at his site: Blog for Arizona. Another noted blogger posting on the same site goes by the nom de plume — AZ BlueMeanie. Both have intelligent things to say and generally are worth reading. Both have more time on their hands than I, and/or are extremely prolific writers, judging by post count and frequency of publication.

Late last week, Mr. Safier was praising AZ BlueMeanie for editorial comment concerning the brouhaha over the proposed Mosque to be erected near the 9-11 epicenter in New York City. My thoughts had gravitated to near sync with their expressed sentiments which consisted of a narrow interpretation of the the First Amendment. This was before speaking with my good friend Mariano Bartolomei, who editorializes on occasion, even once at this blog. Mr. Bartolomei is much more traveled than I, having even been employed as an architect in several nations in the Mid East predominantly populated by Muslims. Mr. Bartolomei, an educated man, came away from these experiences with a conviction that Islamic faith has a bit more bite to it than what one might find at your average Church social. I have no such experience to temper these observations. Yet we all have heard extremes of this argument. Briefly, is Islamic faith ruled by violence prone jihadists, or are Muslims  largely sheep-like as most Christian denominations these days?

Lots of blood has been shed in Middle Eastern wars where US interests have been spectacularly involved. We might discount atrocities on both sides as excesses of battle. Fair enough. Yet these same confrontations seem to be driving the predominant Muslim nations back toward the middle ages, by portraying technology as something dangerous and foreign. Concurrently, fear and loathing has rattled Western communities exposed to practices of suicide bombers and the like. Not a good way to forge friendships. Even more unsettling, civil matters of adjudication in predominantly Moslem countries appear harsh and barbaric by Western standards. What drives this abdication of civil rights? Is it the adherence to Sharia Law or is it simple poverty? My friend Mr. Bartolomei would suggest the former and he does so in a convincing manner.

So when I read Mr. Safier’s post last week entitled: “A quick thought about the ginned up Muslim center controversy”, it read a bit too forgiving — and nobody had voiced prior comment. Naturally, I sparked the comment line late last Monday.

“At face value, I agree with tolerance as bedrock for democracy. Yet my patience is beginning to fray with the realization that Muslims refuse to enter 21st century dialog with the enlightened world. Theocracy in general, and the Islamic faith in particular offends this secular experiment which is our United States.

It is annoying to find common ground with dimwitted racists and xenophobes.

Sam Harris explains it best: Ground-Zero-Mosque

Feathers flew: one commenter referencing Sam Harris’ contribution to the controversy said: “This is an unfortunately short sighted column by Harris.” AZ BlueMeanie pointed out that extremists existed in Christian practice too. He also declared: ‘stereotyping of Islam as a monolithic “Islamism” (the imposition of sharia law under a pan-Islamic caliphate) is a fundamental misunderstanding of the religion.’ I wonder if that is true. I’m not so sure.

So I offered one last rebuttal:

“Please do not mistake me for a Christian zealot. Pointing to Islamicists as the most egregious abusers of civil rights and the most likely to punish infidels, does not excuse the bigotry of other religions. At its core, all belief enslaves a fearful mind contemplating death, by promising eternal life. Religious practice has been employed by all governments, for its ability to gather wide spread socio-political power. The question becomes — in the 21st century — can we continue to perpetuate belief systems, where irrational adherents might threaten the survival of this planet. At the founding of this country, slavery too was tolerated but eventually ended. Imagine abolishing another form of bondage. Perhaps the beginning of another age of enlightenment.”

Solidarity at Blog for Arizona was again achieved at a second mention of enlightenment, even though the balm of tolerance was again professed for “mainstream tenets of (Muslim) faith”. With choice necessarily constrained by constitutional requirements, building any religious edifice hardly seems an exercise in good sense.

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