Amy Goodman on the Ground Zero Mosque: This is Not a Time for Silence

At TruthDig, Amy Goodman bemoans those who have fallen silent over the mosque near ground zero and asks a good question:

[There is an] absence of people in the U.S. in leadership positions in every walk of life, of every political stripe, speaking out for freedom of religion and against racism. As the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Does anyone seriously say that there shouldn’t be a Christian church near the site of the Oklahoma City bombing, just because Timothy McVeigh was a Christian?

One, of course, would only say that “no Christian churches must be built in proximity of the Oklahoma City bombing site” if you held Christians collectively guilty for Timothy McVeigh and thought that Timothy McVeigh represented the heart of Christianty, its essence, its true nature.

Build the mosque.

Image: children standing before a burning synagogue, November 1938 (Kristallnacht).

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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17 Responses to Amy Goodman on the Ground Zero Mosque: This is Not a Time for Silence

  1. Trencherbone says:

    I agree! We need to celebrate diversity by acknowledging that Ground Zero is a hallowed site for Muslims as well as for Jews and Christians, and it is only right that they should build a mosque there.

    Ground Zero is sacred to Islam as being the holy altar on which 3000 najis kafirs were sacrificed as burnt offerings to Allah (aka Moloch) for the greater glory of the Religion of Peace™ .

    • Christ's Angel says:

      But most Muslims do not know their Book of Faith, their calling, nor God. I have found that many or most non-Muslims also do not know such things about Muslims. The Koran ends with a definitive admission that Allah is the devil, God’s enemy. Until all Muslims know that Jesus Christ is God and Allah is the devil, the building of a mosque or any “house of worship” is only more tragedy heaped upon the ruin.

      Humanity has learned in God’s revealing Himself to us that edifices of worship built of stone by men at specific locations has been superceded by men worshipping God in spirit and in truth wherever they may be.

      Furthermore, if all Muslims knew that Jesus Christ is God and Allah is the devil, they would not build another mosque for they would be of a greater understanding which includes worshipping God rather than the devil.

      And so it is for non-Muslims as well. And here, “Muslims and non-Muslims” includes everyone.

      • santitafarella says:

        Christ’s Angel:

        Allah is the devil? What verse of the Quran are you referencing?

        Also, look up on Wikipidia the “Names of God” in Islam. There are 99, and all of them match the characteristics that Jews and Christians traditionally ascribe to God.

        Also, in Isaiah is a verse that says that God is responsible for both the good and the evil—which would, by your reckoning, make the Bible declare God to be a devil.


      • Christ's Angel says:

        The Koran is based upon Biblical texts. I have watched the Muslim mullahs be disproved of their ‘traditional’ interpretations. You must remember that Muhammed was told to “recite”, and Muhammed the prophet is no where mentioned in the Koran. The part about the Koran with which I agree is that it is a miracle. The book is based upon the entire God to man dialogue from the fallen angel’s, the devil’s perspective. When one is told to revolt, to “kill the infidel”, it is because the devil fell from God’s grace, but being an angel, was still endowed with an angel’s original enlightenment. It is in the closing passage of the Koran that one can see that it is the devil who has spoken in a highly poetic form throughout, even citing examples of the Crucifixion, and expressing the pain that Mary and Jesus brings to himself as in Genesis, “she shall crush your head.” I have seen it proven, and I have seen violent reactions from Muslims who were manipulated by mullahs but remain ‘brainwashed’, thinking the Koran is a stand alone book of faith.

        Allah is indeed the name of God in Arabic, but in the Koran, Allah is used in a totally different way. Mohammedanism is the teaching of the Koran as a stand alone book of faith. It is a heresy.

        It is not my reckoning, interpretation is a gift associated with prophecy and the speaking in tongues.

  2. mary says:

    It about Ground Zero. It’s symbolic.

    It was no accident of public relations that “Córdoba Initiative” was chosen as the title of the Ground Zero mosque project. The city of Córdoba was the capital of al-Andalus, the Umayyad Caliphate in Iberia, and the famous Córdoba Mosque was built atop the rubble of a destroyed church.

    Peaceful conquest is a historical anomaly, however — from its inception until its long decline began in 1683, Islam expanded solely through violence. 

Wherever Islam expanded violently, it built mosques at the sites of its victories. The minarets rose over the rubble of destroyed churches, synagogues, and temples to stand as symbols of Islam’s conquest of the kuffar. The Córdoba Mosque was an architectural announcement of the Moorish triumph over Christian Iberia.

The Córdoba Initiative thus provides an obvious historical analogy to the Islamic victory on September 11th, 2001, at Ground Zero. The significance of the name and place will not be lost on any educated Muslim who hears about the project.

    What has NOT been revealed is the source of funding for construction. What also has not been revealed are the parameters of the Shariah Index Initiative.

    The Ground Zero Mosque has at least 6 mystery floors. We suggest that they’ll be used by the Shariah Index Project.

    The Shariah Index Project was built by at least 14 Shariah experts. We have the identities probably of 7 of them, and Rauf should reveal the other 7 right away.

    The Shariah Index Project generated at least 16 documents and maybe a final book, and Rauf should release all of these – right away.

    The issues at stake in the Ground Zero Mosque and the Shariah Index Project are not about Americans supporting the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom. Americans support that protection.

    The issues at stake here are about Americans protecting the Constitution from Shariah-adherent groups using the protective guise of religious freedom to attack the Constitution itself – using a triumphal Ground Zero mosque as “the base” for a project to institutionalize Shariah in America.

  3. Grad Student says:

    Hi Santi,

    I’m totally in agreement with you on the Park51 question, but I’m not sure that your Nazi references are appropriate. Perhaps it makes for nice rhetoric, but if I were Andrew Sullivan I might nominate you for the Moore Award. 😉

    • santitafarella says:

      Grad Student:

      I’ve been deeply influenced by Zeev Sternhell’s book, “The Anti-Enlightenment Tradition,” which I’ve been reading over the summer. I’m 400 pages in (meaning, almost done), and dizzy in the reading. Contemporary tea party white ethnic politics is stunningly similar—in fact, exactly the same—in sentiment to 18th century, 19th, and early 20th century European nationalist politics. And, I think it is fair to say, the political reaction to the Enlightenment that began with Herder culminates in the politics of Weimar and the rise of Hitler. I’m not being hysterical or indulgently rhetorical. The tea partiers are on the exact same continuum, and they are escalating. Collective guilt is a very, very dangerous thing to introduce into politics. If you have the energy, I recommend the book to you. Here’s the link:

      As for what I might nominate you for: how about the Neville Chamberlain award? : )


      • Christ's Angel says:

        Seen another way, Christ offered some hope and an alternative to what is called World War II by sending His Mother with a message of repentance while World War I was firmly etched in many minds of those days.

        This is a case when collective guilt, if it had been received favorably, would have produced a different outcome.

        The “Enlightenment” as a historical period is a delayed reaction to the Dark Ages, when many thought Christ would return in the year 1000 A.D.

      • Christ's Angel says:

        God is the cause of all things. God appeared to Mohammed via the angel Gabriel and told him to recite. Recite what? At that time there had arisen a vocal error concerning God, particularly, the recitation that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son, i.e. “and the Son”, also known as the filioque. Papal authority was against the adopting of “and the Son” into the Creed as “and the Son” was not taught by Christ, nor is it justified by Scripture.

        But Mohammed’s family was no less in error in their persecution of him. (St.) Mohammed prayed diligently and his hard work resulted in the miracle of the Koran.

        Yes, Allah is the devil.

        For you to mention wikipedia here puts your God as Steve_Smith, a felon there.

        Ground Zero is hallowed ground because it is a site of national chastisement.

  4. mary says:

    Christ’s Angel, the mere declaration of the supremacy of your beliefs does not make it so. Please, stop the prosetylization!

    • santitafarella says:


      I read one Muslim who said that one story about Muhammad has him abandoning an area where he wasn’t freely wanted, so I’m not surprised that you would see divided opinions among Muslims about how to proceed. I still think it would be good for America to have this mosque built, but if the developer is getting cold feet, he has a right to sell his property.

      What this whole drama has exposed, in my view, is the anti-Jeffersonian impulses of the right in America, and the need for Muslim Americans and non-Muslims to dialogue. Integrating Muslim Americans into the ho-hum mainstream of America is probably one of the most important things that the country can do over the next fifty years.


  5. Religion is being Questioned says:

    Santi, here’s a question.

    I’ve read threads online where plenty of people have said that Islam is a violent religion. There are lots of things, though, that aren’t considered. I like to think that Muslims are very passionate. I have a friend who would gladly debate with anyone who says something negative about Islam. I once asked her why and she said, “Look around. That girl over there is Christian. Would she get upset if anyone said something wrong about her religion? No, because she probably never hears anything like that. I’ve seen lots of people, heard lots of people ‘diss’ my religion. Why am I so loud-mouthed and temperamental when it comes to religion? Because it hurts. It hurts me when one questions something so close to my heart. Religion is your essence! It ‘s your life! It guides you! And if you say something rude about my religion, I will retaliate!”

    Her words really made me think. Maybe Muslims act a bit more rebellious because they are more passionate. They care more for their ‘essence’. My friend cried after saying this. So, Santi, what do you think? I’m not sure I was able to get her entire speech in there because I am writing from memory, but I think I have the gist of it. If you understand what I am trying to imply, please give your thoughts. Thank you.

    • santitafarella says:

      Who gives a shit if the retaliation stays verbal? I “retaliate” with passion against anyone who argues with me about something I care about and have a strong opinion concerning. But speech is not a gun, a fist, a bomb, or a law court. Anything kept at the level of speech, argument, and dialogue respects the autonomy of the individual that you are reacting to. It’s not tone of voice, but threats of violence that constitute the problem.

      And so my problem with any Muslim who apologizes for violence in the street in response to, say, depictions of Muhammad, is grow up. Adults can hear things, and can move about in the world among people who don’t value what they value. The autonomy of conscience has to be respected for a civil, diverse, and democratic society to take root. You can’t make certain forms of speech off limits.

      What is it that an adult can’t hear or consider?



    • santitafarella says:

      As for your question about whether Islam is a violent religion, my take is this: yes, of course it is. Can you imagine the psychological dungeon it is to be a woman, for example, in Saudi Arabia? Do you imagine that her autonomy as a being with an independent conscience and mind is respected if she chooses to change her religion, become an atheist, or drive a car?

      But, having said this, all other religions linked to the power of the state are violent. States are characterized by violence—and assert a monopoly on the exercise of violence within their jurisdictions. But a good state, as is the United States, has mechanisms in place that protect the individual’s conscience, mind, rights, and autonomy.

      Islam—like any other religion—can be practiced in a way that respects individual autonomy and choice. Any individual Muslim who does this, who makes Islam strictly voluntary on the members of his or her family and neighbors, is practicing Islam nonviolently. But, alas, violent people practice religion violently, and nonviolent people practice religion nonviolently, and all religious texts can be cherry picked for passages justifying one or the other attitude. Temperament is inherited, and so authoritarian minds will always gravitate to authoritarian religions. Getting rid of the existing religions is not likely to make the authoritarian minds go away. They’ll just find other law and order systems in which to believe.

      Does Islam have a strong bias toward coercion and psychological terror within the Koran? In my reading of it, yes. It’s an authoritarian monotheism that is being advocated, obviously. This is also true of the Bible. But it’s also true that people can read such books differently than this (be they Muslims, Christians, Hindus, or whatever). Is it corrupting the plain meanings of such texts to do so? Perhaps. But I really don’t care how religionists read their texts so long as the conscience of people who reject “God’s words” is respected. Any religionist who does not accept the voluntary nature of religious adherence for others is an enemy of the Jeffersonian ideals that I adhere to, and an enemy of humanity generally. Religious coercion—the forcing and intimidation of the mind and heart—is the grossest form (in my view) of irreligion (because it does not respect the integrity of the individual conscience and mind).


  6. mary says:

    Your friend touches upon a very genuine and central characteristic of Islam:

    “If you say something rude about my religion, I will retaliate!”

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