National Take A Muslim To Lunch Week

Muslim AmericansI never met a Muslim I didn’t like. Seriously! As a rule they tend to be lovely people, great neighbors, very well mannered - and don’t get me started on their food! Having lived a good portion of my life in New York City I have come to know oodles of people who follow that faith. All of them are fine people and an asset to this country. God bless America.

It never even occurred to me to blame any Muslim I know for what happened to this country nine years ago next month - with good reason. Adolf Hitler was baptized (as I was) a Catholic, and yet I refuse to share the blame for his crimes against the human race. But that’s okay. No one was ever silly enough to connect me with him or the Nazi cause. That being the case, I was somewhat bewildered (although hardly surprised) when the people who make their livings fertilizing America’s ideological garden with right wing bullshit decided to make an issue out of a proposed Islamic cultural center which is set to open next year around the corner and down the street from the what is now known as “ground zero”.

Here is what’s happening, boys and girls: In case it slipped your mind, there is an election coming up in November. In the last few months the Republican party has been in the process of imploding (and it’s been so much fun to watch, too!) As was predicted on this site over a year ago, the so-called “Tea Party” would end up being an albatross around their collective neck. Sure enough, the mindless extremism of these nitwits is starting to scare the hell out of that mysterious segment of the electorate who describe themselves as “moderate”. What to do? Find an issue - any issue - that will distract the people. After a desperate search that must have taken them weeks, they finally found that issue last week in - of all places - lower Manhattan.

The Muslims Are Coming! The Muslims Are Coming!
They grabbed this non-issue and ran with it. Then the corporate media (you shouldn’t be surprised) decided to play this story to death like Hotel California and Stairway To Heaven. And it worked like a charm. Very few of us are at present thinking about the utter mess that six years of Republican control of the executive and legislative branches of our government made of this country. Instead we’re wasting precious time thinking about a non-issue. Just for a moment let’s put our minds on the things that really matter:

  • The economy
  • Two wars
  • Massive unemployment
  • A multi-trillion dollar debt
  • The plunder of our national treasure by Wall Street
  • An environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico….

….and what the hell are we talking about? A non-existent “mosque”. Don’t forget that it’s a cultural center. The “mosque” (if that’s what you want to call it) consists of a single prayer room within the building’s interior. If your prime source of information is FOX Noise, you’ll be forgiven for believing that the proposed center is smack dab on the site of the late World Trade Center – or across the street. It isn’t. It’s location is not even visible from ground zero. In fact it’s about a five minute walk. And you wonder why America is the laughingstock of the planet?

The reaction to this “nontroversy” has been shrill to say the least. On FOX and Friends the other day, Newt Gingrich called the new center’s imam a “radical extremist” and compared him (with a straight face, I swear) to the Nazis. Not surprisingly, not one of the three FOX morons who were interviewing him had the wit to call him out on the absurdity of that charge. In truth, the imam of the “Ground Zero Mosque”, a man by the name of Feisal Abdul Rauf, is well known for the fact that he has made a concerted effort in the past to bring together eastern and western religions. The guy even went on a mission to the middle east a few years ago for none other than President George W. Bush! Accompanied by Bush attack dog Karen Hughes, his job was to spread the good news of religious moderation. He has also worked closely with the FBI in the past. Radical extremist indeed.

Between you and me and the fire hydrant, I’m getting sick and tired of all the anti-Muslim hysteria that has been running rampant in the last nine years, and I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands. From this day forward I decree that the first week of September be deemed, “National Take A Muslim To Lunch Week”. You don’t know any Muslims? No problemo, amigo! Just get in touch with me.

As I said before I have more Muslim friends and acquaintances than I know what to do with! I can set you up with a Class A, regulation Muslim in no time at all! September 1 is two weeks from now. You have plenty of time to set up a date. And if your schedule makes lunch time difficult, then take a Muslim to breakfast - or dinner. And if there is a fasting issue which prevents a meal, then what the hell - take a Muslim to the movies. Take a Muslim to a ball game - or the gulf course! Whatever the venue, be sure to spend some quality time with a child of Islam.They’re quality people!

Muslims Don’t Bite
How are we going to appear when historians look back on this era? Honestly, our chronic Islamophobia is gonna make us look awfully silly, don’cha think? Do you remember Bull Connor? He was the police commissioner of Birmingham, Alabama during the civil rights conflict of the 1960s. During his lifetime a lot of Alabamans viewed him as a hero. Looking at film footage of him today, however, hosing down defenseless civil rights demonstrators with high-pressure fire hoses, old Bull looks like a nasty little buffoon. Death has not been kind to Bull Connor. I suspect it won’t be kind to us as well. Historical hindsight is 20/20 vision.

There is a great opportunity here to send a message to Osama bin Laden; that his attempt to divide us has been a total failure; that we in America believe in religious freedom and brother and sisterhood. Unfortunately that opportunity is slowly slipping away. As a matter of fact it might already be too late. The damage has been done and it may very well be irreparable. Maybe a tip of the hat toward Osama is in order. Maybe he won. Did he?

tom deganA lot of the people who died on September 11, 2001 were Muslims. Let’s tear down Trinity Church. But seriously, folks!

Afterthought:

I have just been informed that the week of September 1-7 falls on Ramadan this year – which is a period of fasting. Lunch might indeed be problematic. Don’t wait for September. Take a Muslim to lunch today!
Tom Degan
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

Published by the LA Progressive on August 25, 2010
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About Tom Degan

Tom Degan is a fifty-four-year old video artist who in 2006 became so thoroughly disgusted at the state of America's national political dialogue, he decided to take time off to become a freaking civics teacher. He was born in Goshen, NY in 1958 and, after living all over the United States and Canada, moved back there in 1992. He is a high school dropout who in 1977 received an equivalency diploma (HEY, IT'S LEGAL!) He attended SUNY in Middletown, NY and in 1986 studied journalism at the New School in New York City. He is the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and has worked as a truck driver, a radio DJ, and a metal worker... OK, he didn't ACTUALLY receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, but he DID get some kind of ribbon of sorts when he was in the Cub Scouts. He is the inventor of Cheez Whiz and lives off the royalties on the sales of that fine product. He loves children and little baby duckies. FULL DISCLOSURE: He didn't really invent Cheez Whiz. His address is: 2590 Rte 17M (PO BOX 611) Goshen, NY 10924 (845) 294-5714