Build Mosque Near Ground Zero, Needed Bridge Between Religions

After the events of 9/11 an Islamic center in Madison opened their doors to the larger community so to better understand what is at the heart of the Koran.  It was a practice that many mosques and educational centers around the nation undertook in an effort to underscore what Islam was really about, and equally important to state what it was not.  After all, those that were at the center of the events on 9/11 were not those who followed the Koran, but instead were those who had bastardized the faith.   When tormented men who dishonored Islam flew planes into the Twin Towers they also brought a dark cloud on all those who follow Islam.  Everyone suffered as a result of 9/11.

Those dialogues shortly after 9/11 are still important to think about.  It is one of the reasons that I strongly support the building of a mosque and Islamic center two blocks north of ground zero in Lower Manhattan.  The fact that this proposal has become a political football for the conservatives, when in fact it is a zoning issue for New York City, means that liberals also need to be heard on the matter.  It is for that reason that I add my voice to the debate.

The need for tolerance and bridge-building between those who practice Islam, and those who do not should be apparent to all.  There is not a week that goes by that some incendiary remark or offensive reminder of the bigotry that too many have for Islam is not heard.  How often do we hear some ‘expert’ on Islam throw out a blatantly incorrect ‘fact’ as a way to continually undermine the religion, and create fear among those who have little to guide them in their thinking about the faith?

When I first heard about the idea for a mosque to be built on the site close to where the Twin Towers stood I honestly did not think twice about it.  It was just another news story among many.  It was only when the outlandish attacks started by those opposing it that I started to consider the merits if built at this location. 

The new project will will be called Cordoba House, named after the medieval city in Spain where Muslims, Christians, and Jews peacefully lived side by side some 800 years ago.  In light of that fact, and after reading more about it over the past weeks, I concluded in my mind this project was a correct one for this site, and at this time.  I have had time to reflect on the dialogues that were held after 9/11, and as I thought then, and still do today, anything that bridges the divide between people is the route to take.  How could one think otherwise?

I applaud the construction of this mosque and educational center with the  hope that advancing Islam in its true form will help alleviate the misunderstandings and bigotry.  The over-whelming majority of those who practice Islam are as decent as those who are blessed by a priest, or offered a handshake at the end of a holy roller service.  What divides those of different faiths is the lack of communication that too often takes place.   Cordoba House will be a step in one city to help resolve those issues. 

This project has the backing of many, including the powers that shape policy in New York City.  On June 6, 2010, New York’s Community Board voted overwhelming  in support of the building of the proposed mosque and community center.  The vote was 29-1.  There is a growing consensus to do the right thing, the American thing, and allow for this mosque and center to be built.  There is not one justifiable reason not to allow it to be constructed.

I stand with those who know what divides us is much smaller than what unites us.


Rod Blagojevich And Elvis Presley

As Elvis would say “Well, Hot Damn!”     

I have been fascinated by the legal case surrounding Rod Blagojevich.  I also am a fan of Elvis Presley.  So clearly this caught my attention……

In trying to get a handle on Blago’s strange and sordid saga, I took inspiration from the songs of his idol, Elvis Presley. What follows are actual song titles from the King’s vast catalog that testify to Rod’s story, even if he didn’t.

Thanks to the ever-impressive Huffington Post for making me smile this morning.

Bill And Hillary Clinton Needed To Smooth Over Mess Concerning Wedding Invitation To Lone Uncle, Norton Mezvinsky

This is a pretty rotten story that surrounds the wedding today of Chelsea Clinton.   Norton Mezvinsky, the lone uncle to Marc Mezvinsky, was not invited, and Norton is telling everyone why.  Seems like the smarter thing to have done would have been to invite him.  The old maxim seems to apply here.  ‘Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”   The only thing this story proves is that dysfunctional families abound at all levels.  That gives me some strange comfort.  When I was not invited to the 90th birthday party for my own father I felt really hurt by those in my immediate family who would act in such a fashion.  (Readers who have not read that story can do so here.)  So I understand how Norton Mezvinsky must feel today.  There are times when it is best to move forward, but often in families like the Clinton’s, or the Humphrey’s,  the worst impulses seem to reign. 

What intrigues me is that master politicians, Bill and Hillary Clinton, would have allowed this mess to mar the big day for their daughter.  With all the skills and leverage that they have this was one time they really should have given an order.  They should have never allowed this lack of a wedding invitation to make news.  This was not the finest political moment for this power couple.  Norton Mezvinsky is getting the last word, as it is never a good idea to mess with a smart and creative person.

The A-list roster of 500 guests for the Chelsea Clinton wedding didn’t include a spot for her fiancé’s lone uncle.

A family feud blocked a disappointed Norton Mezvinsky from making the cut for the Saturday nuptials of his nephew, Marc, and the former First Daughter.

“I’m the senior male member of the family, and Marc’s only uncle,” Norton Mezvinsky told the Daily News Wednesday. “I am not surprised, but extremely hurt I wasn’t invited.”

Asked if he planned to send his nephew and Chelsea a wedding gift, the retired professor replied, “You can probably guess the answer to that.”

Mezvinsky, a controversial figure because of his frequent criticisms of Israel, said politics had nothing to do with the decision to keep him away from the celebration set for a 50-acre estate in Rhinebeck, Dutchess County.

He confirmed reports from friends that a dispute involving the groom’s father, disgraced former Iowa Rep. Edward Mezvinsky, was behind the snub.

The father, who served a five-year jail term for a $10 million investment scam, hoped to write a book and move to New York after his release last year – but Marc Mezvinsky opposed both plans.

Norton Mezvinsky supported his brother, leading to the rift with his 32-year-old nephew.

“Friends said it because it’s true,” Norton Mezvinsky said in his Manhattan apartment. “Two people who love each other should be able to disagree.”

The uncle retired last year after four decades at Central Connecticut State University

Saturday Song: Jim Ed Brown “Scarlet Ribbons”

Here is the original version by The Browns.  (Jim Ed, Bonnie and Maxine)  This song reached #13 in December 1959.

Muslim Feminists Pray With Men

Thank God for feisty women. 

Now these Muslim feminists have had enough. Hoping to reform Islam by making it more women-friendly, Ms. Thompson—an American convert to Islam—has organized several “pray-ins” at mosques in the D.C. area. These include the Islamic Center of Washington and the Dar Al-Hijra Islamic Center in Falls Church, Va., a mosque attended by several of the 9/11 hijackers and the Fort Hood mass killer Maj. Nidal Hasan. Ms. Thompson’s next pray-in target is a mosque in Washington.

Like the civil rights activists of the 1960s, whose “sit-ins” were part of a movement that ended racial segregation, Ms. Thompson hopes her peaceful pray-ins will help initiate a movement that ends overt sexism in Islam, despite the conventional wisdom that regards Islam and feminism as anathema. Her efforts come at a time when, as of a 2001 study, 66% of American mosques segregate men from women during prayer, an increase of 14% from 1994.

During the pray-ins, Ms. Nomani, Ms. Thompson, and several other women walk through the front door of the mosque—many require women to enter through a side or back door—and into the main hall. They then seat themselves behind the rows of men to pray.

The Muslim men get rattled. Ms. Nomani remembers one bearded man who “furrow[ed] his brows and scream[ed]… ‘Sisters go over there!'”—indicating the dreaded penalty box. Ms. Nomani humorously refers to him as the mosque’s “bouncer.” At one pray-in, the women didn’t budge when they were asked to move, and the service began with them praying with the men.

Wisconsin State Journal Looking At Salaries Of MATC Instructors

In light of the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau looking into the  technical schools comes this nugget from Charles McDowell,  Executive Director of Human Resources at MATC.  He mailed the following notice to all instructors at MATC.  This shows the press intends to pursue the many elements that spin-off of the audit.

I write to let you know that we received a request pursuant to the state open records act from the Wisconsin State Journal for an electronic database of salary information for full-time and part-time faculty members and administrators for the 2009-2010 academic year. The request included access to overtime and other salary source information.  The request included access to overtime and other salary source information. Additionally the request asked for hire dates, years of service and seniority for each faculty member. A follow-up request asked for the names of the employees to match the information, as opposed to other identifying information such as an employee ID number.  

We have complied with these legal requests.

Jurors In Rod Blagojevich Trial Wants Transcripts Of All Testimony

Cut me down a forest, please.

The jury in the corruption trial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich may be settling in for a long haul after sending a note to the judge this morning asking for a transcript of all the testimony.

“Is it permissible to obtain a transcript of the testimony?” the note signed by the jury’s foreman read. “It would be helpful.”

U.S. District Judge James Zagel said he took the note to mean the jury wanted transcripts of the testimony of all 27 witnesses in the seven-week trial.

Hibiscus Bloom Like Small Plate

The size of the Hibiscus blooms never fail to draw attention.  This one measured 8 inches across.  Though amazing blooms, they are short-lived.