Monday, September 27, 2010

Readers fire back on column about prejudice

Sunday's column on the proposed community center two blocks from the World Trade Center aroused the ire of several readers, who sent along criticisms and questions:

All I can say after reading your column today in the Observer is thank God there are other outlets that I can get opinions from. I challenge you to give the democratic ads the same scrutiny.

By the way, I am a lifelong Democrat, but no longer can find a single issue that aligns with my values.

Reply: Check out Saturday's blogpost on Democrats who won't admit error or apologize for running misleading ads at

One reader who did not include his address wrote:

Interesting OpEd. Fact question: Didn't the Imam plan to call the new center "Cordoba House"? If so, why? If he did and has since dropped the name, why?

I'm asking because I think I read about the name and it is the name of a significant Moslem conquest you referenced. If he had planned the name and dropped it you should have included that. If not, no problem. Thanks for listening.

Reply: The original name of the community center project was indeed Cordoba House. It was later changed to Park51.

Another reader, no address included, wrote:

Mr Betts, once again your article on the "Mosque" points out the current liberal view whereby facts are ignored in the debate. When you state the "Mosque" is not BY ground zero you ignore the fact that this proposed building site was damaged in the Muslim terrorist plane crashes on 9-11. You just brush aside that fact that landing gear from the crashing planes passed thru the roof of the Burlington Coat Building the same as if it had been a fired missile. And despite your argument to the contrary, the Cordoba mosque was called the "Grand Mosque" because of its significant Muslim location in Spain and the NY mosque started off with the name Cordoba Project.
And as a suggestion to the Muslims in the US seeking better relations in this country you could have added a comment for those announcing their program for improved relations to add at least one item to their list publicly and forcibly denouncing specific Muslim terrorist bombing around the world. No mention condemning these acts is listed.
As for Feisal Abdul Rauf, would it not be honest journalism to at least mention with his background info that he refused to stand for the National Anthem when playing basketball in the NBA and that he implies that the US carried some of the blame for the 9-11 Muslim terrorist attack.
No sir, most Americans do not agree with you and Renee Elmers is just reminding folks of the arrogance being displayed by local Muslims to force a confrontation when no confrontation would happen if the site was elsewhere.

A Charlotte reader wrote:

Jack, how is the NC race a plus for terrorists? What Western Civilization prejudice and intolerance caused the terrorists to bomb the NY World Trade Center then fly planes into the buildings and the Pentagon and into the Pennsylvania earth, bomb the USS Cole, embassies, the barracks in Saudi Arabia, night clubs, etc? What prejudice and intolerance causes "good" Muslims not to assimilate in European societies? What prejudice and intolerance bans the Bible and the Torah from certain countries? What happens to Muslim tolerance in countries where Muslims achieve the majority? What intolerance and prejudice burns within Muslim terrorists, supported by apathy of many of the "good" Muslims throughout the world, to destroy Western Civilization and replace it with Sharia Law? After WWII should the U.S. have allowed the Japanese to build a Shinto Shrine outside the gates of Pearl Harbor or should countries have allowed German peace memorials to be built outside the gates of Auschwitz, Sobibor, and Treblinka? Yes, "The toll of 9-11 continues to rise." But not as you write. It is the Muslim prejudice and intolerance that is revealing itself throughout the world that we have to fear.

Another Charlotte reader e-mailed:

My very left wing, Obama supporting, brother-in-law is a retired college professor. Prior to his retirement, he taught European History at a midsized university - for his entire working life! He knows his subject and he also knows Islam. He tells me, and anyone else that will listen, that it is, indeed, a muslim tradition to build a "celebratory mosque" at the site of great victories. Anyone who has actually read both the Koran and the Hadith knows that followers are commanded to conduct their business in a prescribed manner - and lying to promote Islam is part of their doctrine.
For reasons you might know but your readers don't, too many in "journalism" give Islam a pass. You and the rest ignore the oppression of Christians in countries where muslims have power; you ignore the complete failure of Rauf to condemn terrorism, he even refuses to acknowledge that Hamas is a terrorist organization when their own charter tells us that it is.
Instead of promoting discussion on the subject, you and many of your fellows resort to name calling and attacks on those who have studied the subject and speak out against it - including some truly moderate muslims.
You got one thing right. Someone is lying but it is not Renee Ellmers or her campaign; nor is it Robert Spencer or Steve Emerson or any of the others who correctly call this proposed building a victory mosque.

Another said:

I think you've leaned too far in the opposite direction over Ms. Ellmer's opposition to building an Islam anything too close to the 9-11 site.
Most Americans are aware that the mosques cited were not built immediately (less than 50 years) after Muslims took control of those cities, and, indeed, New York wasn't overtaken by Muslims - no, rather it's like a cat marking its territory by peeing on a wall.
Despite the 'paternal kindness' of the broadcast media in trying to keep the Muslim world's reaction to 9-11 as it happened (victorious celebrations of people flooding the streets burning American flags and cheering at big screens showing the destruction of the twin towers), most of us had access online to all this at the time or soon after, and it is that reaction that Feisal Abdul Rauf did not address - at the time or shortly thereafter. Not the terrorist act itself, but the fellow Muslims' reactions. Those are two extremely different things, and that difference is what most of us who don't want this mosque are reacting to, and what most of the bleeding-heart, can't-we-all-be-friends supporters just can't seem to get.
And, unfortunately, neither do you.


Anonymous said...

Jack, Do the above comments help you and your fellow editors to understand why so many of Observer readers are distressed by what they see on the editorial pages day after day? There appears to be no attempt whatsoever to consider the "other side" on this and most other issues by any of the local editors. Yes, you run some national columnists with a more conservative bent, but no one on the editorial staff seems to relate (or even wants to relate) to a great many good people in this community. We are tired of being told that if we don't toe the line with the liberal leaning crowd we are insular, racist, uncaring, etc. We see rampant corruption in our county and state government, both controlled by the Democrats, yet time and again it's the Republicans who are denounced as the bad guys (yes, I know you blogged about two democrats with questionable campaign tactics but that's just a drop in the bucket). In Sundays paper we had both Taylor's column and your column both going after Republicans.
In a tribute to former Associate Editor Tom Bradbury Stuart Spencer wrote "He respected those who differed with him - and people who differed with him respected him." I don't see that much (if at all) on the editorial pages any more and I think we are definitely poorer for it. I don't think anyone expects the staff to make a hard right, but one does have to wonder why (especially with the staff's enthusiasm for diversity) you all cannot have just one voice that differs a bit from the "good democrats, bad republicans" model.

Long time reader who is becoming more and more disenchanted

Anonymous said...

When in Paris recently, we sat in a restaurant inches from a couple of Parisian men in their low 60s. Both were well-informed on America politics and events. One, a movie producer who lives a good deal of time in NY and Los Angeles, described himself as pro-Obama; the other, a well-heeled real estate broker, said he contributes to U.S. Republicans. Both described the naming of the near-Ground Zero mosque - "Cordoba" - as a "provocation". [When folks lifted eyebrows about the name, it was, for now, dumped.] As I understand it, and they described it, Cordoba was the first major conquest of the Moors in Spain. Both men were appalled at Obama's brushoff of the provocation. Perhaps there are aspects of the mosque that Rauf, the rabid Giants fan, is eager to veil.

The Parisian men were careful in their choice of words (except for a few hushed American expletives), but it appeared to me that they, like more and more Europeans, are aware of the threat to Western democratic and pluralistic ideals that massed Muslims are presenting in France, Norway, the Netherlands, UK and elsewhere. Polls in Britain on questions of loyalty to the country reveal an appalling lack of it among Muslims, who would, among other things, side with a Muslim country at war with Britain. I am confident polls would find the same thing here.

As I have written to you in the past, your column and observations are among the best the Observer has to offer. This one was consistent with what we anticipate and expect from the mainline press, but do mainline writers have their heads in the proverbial sand (knowing that ostriches do not) or simply dismiss unpleasant evidence contrary to their wishes?

Anonymous said...

Those polls have been taken and two groups, Mexicans and Muslims would favor their "home" countries over the US.

Here's a reference for the Muslim poll (taken in LA) by Kambiz GhaneaBassiri.

"Indeed, his questionnaire shows that 8 out of 15 immigrants and even 5 out of 15 converts feel more allegiance to a foreign country than to the United States."

None needed for the Mexicans, just watch a soccer game of Mexico vs. US.