Friday, August 27, 2010

Kurlansky's Third Lesson Redux: Look in the Mirror NYC


There are still plenty of lessons from Mark Kurlansky's book on nonviolence, but the recent spate of histrionics about the "Ground Zero Mosque" (which, to channel Mike Myers' character Linda Richmond, is neither at Ground Zero nor a mosque—discuss), I couldn't help but think of the previous lesson I blogged about: in war, one begins to resemble the enemy.

Of course, that presupposes that what's going on is a "war," and, in terms of what's going on in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, it just ain't. But for our purposes, what's more important is that the situation is being framed rhetorically as a war, and a lot of people have accepted that frame.

And those people who have accepted that frame are, just as Kurlansky posits, looking exactly like the people they claim to be fighting. More than that, they are taking on exactly those aspects of the "enemy" they claim to despise.

I couldn't help but think of this when seeing the footage of the louts protesting the "mosque" and accosting the African American man they assumed was Muslim ("He musta voted for Obama!").

Hadn't I seen such scenes before? Hadn't all of us?

Sure! In places like Iran and Pakistan where Islamic radicals were protesting the evils of America.

But that's only a superficial comparison. I wondered if there were examples of Muslim crowds protesting the building of Christian churches. Off to the Google machine!

It took me all of 30 seconds to find what I was looking for.

In February of this year, a crowd of 150 radical Muslims in Indonesia protested the building of a Protestant church. Just as in the mosque case in New York, the civil authorities had okayed the building. And just as in the mosque case (and similar cases that have cropping up across the U.S.), hateful bigots were looking for legal loopholes such as zoning regulations to find ways of stopping the perfectly lawful building of an "infidel" place of worship.

The more you look at conflicts like this, the more you realize that the apparent opposing sides are not the true opposing sides. The galoots making idiots of themselves in New York are the same galoots in Indonesia. They just speak with different accents.

These folks are on the same team. They want the same things. They believe in the same things. The delicious irony is that pointing this out to people on either "side" infuriates them both.

If you needed any further proof of Kurlansky's third rule, look no further than NYC and Indonesia.


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