Hear me roar

25 03 2014

I cannot fucking believe that the Supreme Court might rule in favor of Hobby Lobby.

It just. . . it’s. . . it makes no fucking sense what.so.ever.

One law. One fucking law for all. Is that so hard to understand?

You’d think Scalia would get this, he of the Smith decision who wrote that

We have never held that an individual’s religious beliefs [494 U.S. 872, 879]   excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that the State is free to regulate. On the contrary, the record of more than a century of our free exercise jurisprudence contradicts that proposition. As described succinctly by Justice Frankfurter in Minersville School Dist. Bd. of Ed. v. Gobitis, 310 U.S. 586, 594 -595 (1940): “Conscientious scruples have not, in the course of the long struggle for religious toleration, relieved the individual from obedience to a general law not aimed at the promotion or restriction of religious beliefs. The mere possession of religious convictions which contradict the relevant concerns of a political society does not relieve the citizen from the discharge of political responsibilities (footnote omitted).” We first had occasion to assert that principle in Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1879), where we rejected the claim that criminal laws against polygamy could not be constitutionally applied to those whose religion commanded the practice. “Laws,” we said, “are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices. . . . Can a man excuse his practices to the contrary because of his religious belief? To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.” Id., at 166-167.

[. . .]

[re US v. Lee] . . . There would be no way, we observed, to distinguish the Amish believer’s objection to Social Security taxes from the religious objections that others might have to the collection or use of other taxes. “If, for example, a religious adherent believes war is a sin, and if a certain percentage of the federal budget can be identified as devoted to war-related activities, such individuals would have a similarly valid claim to be exempt from paying that percentage of the income tax. The tax system could not function if denominations were allowed to challenge the tax system because tax payments were spent in a manner that violates their religious belief.”

[ . . .]

Precisely because “we are a cosmopolitan nation made up of people of almost every conceivable religious preference,” Braunfeld v. Brown, 366 U.S., at 606 , and precisely because we value and protect that religious divergence, we cannot afford the luxury of deeming presumptively invalid, as applied to the religious objector, every regulation of conduct that does not protect an interest of the highest order. The rule respondents favor would open the prospect of constitutionally required religious exemptions from civic obligations of almost every conceivable kind. . .

[. . .]

It may fairly be said that leaving accommodation to the political process will place at a relative disadvantage those religious practices that are not widely engaged in; but that unavoidable consequence of democratic government must be preferred to a system in which each conscience is a law unto itself or in which judges weigh the social importance of all laws against the centrality of all religious beliefs. [emph added]

Now, yes, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was passed to counter the Smith decision, but when individuals tried to use RFRA to argue against paying taxes, the Court say, in effect, “nuh-uh”, that the requirement of tax payment met the “compelling government interest” test.

Ensuring that women have access to a full range of medical care, including that of counseling and advice regarding our birth control options, may not, however, be sufficiently “compelling”.

Taxes: yes! Control over one’s body and health? Nah.

As Dahlia Lithwick observes,

The rights of millions of women to preventive health care and workplace equality elicit almost no sign of sympathy or solicitude from the right wing of the bench today. Nor does the possibility that religious conscience objections may soon swallow up the civil rights laws protecting gay workers, women, and other minorities. Religious freedom trumps because we’re “only” talking about birth control.





What if God was one of us

5 11 2013

I’m one of those don’t-hate-religion non-religious types. Most of the time.

And then I read smug shit like this:

To a person, the new atheists hold that God is some being in the world, the maximum instance, if you want, of the category of “being.” But this is precisely what Aquinas and serious thinkers in all of the great theistic traditions hold that God is not. Thomas explicitly states that God is not in any genus, including that most generic genus of all, namely being. He is not one thing or individual — however supreme — among many. Rather, God is, in Aquinas’s pithy Latin phrase, esse ipsum subsistens, the sheer act of being itself.

I’m all about being, so you’d think I’d be all over this. You’d be wrong.

Hell, I’ve read Heidegger, and even if I can’t stop myself from muttering “Nazi gasbag” every time I pick him up, I do think he is worth picking up. It’s tough to talk being without talking nonsense, and while ol’ Martin (that “Nazi gasbag”) peddles his share of nonsense, he does also manage to make sense. Unlike Robert Barron.

God is not a supreme item within the universe or alongside of it; rather, God is the sheer ocean of being from whose fullness the universe in its entirety exists.

Actually, this does make a kind of sense: God is everything, such that without God, there is nothing. It’s a handy bit of sleight-o-hand: How does one know God exist? Because without God, there would be nothing. Easy-peasy.

It’s not a bad tautology, as tautologies go, but, like Pascal’s wager or Lewis’s trilemma, it seeks to lock down not just the answer to a question, but the questions themselves. This is THE question, one is told, and no follow-ups and no other possible interpretations, which might lead to other possible responses, are allowed. No questioning the question.

Barron allows that science allows us to learn a great deal about our material reality. The problem, he says, is that these materials are themselves “contingent”, i.e., dependent upon another reality rather than being real in and of themselves. How does he know this? God-is-everything!

We are surrounded on all sides by things that exist but that don’t have to exist.

[...]

Now a moment’s meditation reveals that all of the conditioning elements that I mentioned are themselves, in similar ways, contingent. They don’t explain their existence any more than the computer does. Therefore, unless we permanently postpone the explanation, we have to come, by logical deduction, to some reality which is not contingent and whose very nature is to exist.

Um, no. Perhaps the explanation is that everything is contingent, nothing is necessary, and existence itself a kind of chance, nothing more.

Barron accuses skeptics of incurosity and irrationality for not bothering with the question of why is there something rather than nothing, but not having an answer doesn’t mean the question isn’t asked; not all questions are contingent upon an answer.

As for Why should the universe exist at all? Who says anything about “should”? It does, for now, and for awhile longer. If it someday ends, it doesn’t mean it never existed at all.

Same goes for us. We don’t have to be here, and yet we are, for now. So what are we to do with this chance?

That, to me, is the real question, and wonder, of being.





Just sitting on your porch

9 09 2012

So I had this post in my head about understanding and not understanding and agnosticism and religion and politics and empathic imagination. . . .

It’s still there, and there it remains, at least for another day.





Mayan Campaign Mashup 2012: The sky is falling!

26 02 2012

Kids going to colleges! Episcopalians not being Southern Baptists! States separating from churches!

It’s hard out there for Santorum.

And women, oy, women, fooled by feminists and secularists into wanting jobs and guns and contraceptions and everything! Amirite, Republican ladies?

Now, to be fair, he wouldn’t actually mandate that women remain barefoot and pregnant, but there’s no reason for the government to make it easy to women to purchase footware, is there?

No good can come from that.





Talking ’bout what everybody’s talking ’bout

19 02 2012

Let’s not talk about contraception—oh no, no no no.

Can’t talk about contraception—except, as in the case of Senator Lynn Blankenbeker, a Republican legislator in New Hampshire, to talk about not using birth control:

“People with or without insurance have two affordable choices, one being abstinence and the other being condoms, both of which you can get over the counter,” she said. [. . .]

“Abstinence works 100 percent of the time,” she said.

Blankenbeker also asserted that condoms and abstinence offer married couples a wider range of family planning options than oral contraceptives.

“If you decide you want to get pregnant you can refrain from abstinence,” she said.

Uh-huh.

If nothing else, Blankenbeker helps to remind us that women may also qualify for the title as American idiot.

Anyway, let’s talk about all of those who don’t want to talk about what everybody’s talking about: sex and not-making babies. Let’s start with an inquiry into how many children these got-my-fingers-in-my-ears-lalalalalala-can’t-hear-you legislators have.

There are a lot of legislators, of course—100 senators, 435 voting representatives, plus hundreds more state legislators—so why not start small, with, say Representative Darrell Issa (he of the all-male panel on not-contraception) and the 112th Congress’s Full Committee on Oversight and Government Reform:

Republicans
Rep. Darrell E. Issa (CA-49), Chairman: b. 1953, married for over 30 years to second wife, 1 child
Rep. Dan Burton (IN-05): b. 1938, Church of Christ, 3 children w first wife (deceased), 1 child resulted from extramarital affair; remarried
Rep. John L. Mica (FL-07): b. 1943, Episcopalian, married, 2 children
Rep. Todd Platts (PA-19): b. 1962, Episcopalian, married, 2 children
Rep. Michael Turner (OH-03): b. 1960, Presbyterian, married, 2 children
Rep. Patrick T. McHenry (NC-10): b. 1975, Catholic, married
Rep. Jim Jordan (OH-04): b. 1964, evangelical Christian, married, 4 children
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (UT-03): b. 1967, Mormon, married, 3 children
Rep. Connie Mack (FL-14): b. 1967, Catholic,  2 children w first wife (divorced), remarried
Rep. Tim Walberg (MI-7): b. 1951, Protestant, married, 3 children
Rep. James Lankford (OK-5): b. 1968, Baptist, married, 2 children
Rep. Justin Amash (MI-3): b. 1980, Orthodox Christian, married, 3 children
Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (NY-25): b. 1951, Catholic, divorced, 6 children
Dr. Paul Gosar (AZ-1): b. 1958, Catholic, married, 3 children
Rep. Raul Labrador (ID-1): b. 1967, Mormon, married, 5 children
Rep. Pat Meehan (PA-7): b. 1955, Catholic, married, 3 children
Dr. Scott DesJarlais (TN-4): b. 1964, Episcopalian, 1 child w first wife (divorced), 3 children w second wife
*Rep. Joe Walsh (IL-8): b. 1961, Catholic, 3 children w first wife (divorced), remarried, 2 children (w second wife?)
Rep. Trey Gowdy (SC-4): b. 1964, Baptist, married, 2 children
Rep. Dennis Ross (FL-12): b. 1959, Presbyterian, married, 2 children
Rep. Frank Guinta (NH-1): b. 1970, Catholic, married, 2 children
Rep. Blake Farenthold (TX-27): 1961, Episcopalian, married, 2 children
Rep. Mike Kelly (PA-3): b. 1948, Catholic, married, 4 children

Democrats

Rep. Elijah Cummings (MD-7), Ranking Member: b. 1951, Baptist, married, 3 children
Rep. Edolphus Towns (NY-10): b. 1934, Baptist, married, 2 children, surrogate to 2 nephews
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-14): b. 1946, Presbyterian, widowed, 2 children
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.): b. 1937, Episcopalian, divorced, 2 children
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (OH-10): b. 1946, Catholic, 1 child w first wife (divorced), married to third wife
Rep. John Tierney (MA-6): b. 1951, Catholic, married, 3 stepchildren
Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (MO-1): b. 1956, Catholic, divorced, 2 children
Rep. Stephen Lynch (MA-9): b. 1955, Catholic, married, 1 child, surrogate to niece
Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-5): b. 1954, Episcopalian, married, 3 children
Rep. Gerald Connolly (VA-11): b. 1950, Catholic, married, 1 child
Rep. Mike Quigley (IL-5): b. 1958, Catholic, married, 2 children
Rep. Danny Davis (IL-7): b. 1941, Baptist, married, 2 children
Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-1): b. 1957, Presbyterian, married, 3 children
Rep. Peter Welch (VT-At Large): b. 1947, Catholic, 5 stepchildren w first wife (deceased), 3 stepchildren w second wife
Rep. John Yarmuth (KY-3): b. 1947, Jewish, married, 1 child
Rep. Christopher Murphy (CT-5): b. 1973, nondenominational Christian, married, 2 children
Rep. Jackie Speier (CA-12): b. 1950, Catholic, 2 children w first husband (deceased), remarried

So what can we tell from this august group? Of the 40 members, 4 are women, 38 are some variety of Christian, and, apparently, damned near all of them almost certainly practice some form of birth control.

“Almost certainly”: I do not know and do not want to know the sexual habits or fertility of these men and women, whether they or their sexual partners have miscarried or had abortions, or whether there were any health problems during pregnancy or with any of their children.

None of this is my business. None.

But what is my business is the public activity of these 36 men and 4 women and what they prescribe to the rest of us in terms of our own, private, business. And while I tend not to make much of the usual gaps between private behavior and public pronouncements—I don’t actually know if any of these representatives have voted against making birth control more accessible—it is nonetheless worth noting that evidence suggests that these representatives (or, perhaps, their wives) have accessed birth control themselves.

________________
*Joe Walsh deserves special mention, and not just because he’s been sued by his ex-wife for child support and chastised by a judge for his non-cooperation; at the not-contraception hearing he stated This is not about women. This is not about contraceptives. We know, you’ve said it, we’ve said it up here. This is about religious freedom. This is about religious liberties.

Because women and religion have nothing to do with one another. Perfect.

(Biographical info from Wikipedia, Project VoteSmart, official home pages)





Try to see it your way

1 12 2011

I am not, as you know, a particularly religious person.

An agnostic, I believe I have called myself on severaleventy occasions. A-gnostic, as in, I lack knowledge [about matters of God]; skeptic regarding claims of god/s would also work, as would unbeliever when it comes to the supernatural (such that if there is any kind of being who might be called a god, that being would exist within and not outside of nature, insofar as I don’t believe that anything exists outside of nature).

Hm, perhaps I should have included more brackets and/or parentheses.

Anyway, despite by a-skepti-gnosti-naturalism, I remain interested in many things religion, and for all kinds of reasons (none of which—look! more parentheses!—I’ll discuss here).

Which brings me to this little jewel of a thought, quoted by Kurt Frederickson, and re-quoted by Fred Clark:

Swedish Lutheran theologian Krister Stendhal offers us three guidelines for broader religious understanding. He says: (1) When you are trying to understand another religion, you should ask the adherents of that religion and not its critics. (2) Don’t compare the best of your faith to the worst of another’s. (3) Leave room for “holy envy.” Recognize elements in the other religious tradition that you admire and wish could, in some way, be reflected in your own. These suggestions change the conversation. It enhances the dialogue and our lives.

A fine set of guidelines, easily adaptable for any kind of conversation in which anyone seeks to understand anything.

Now, if I didn’t have a cold and my brain wasn’t fooked by microbes, I’d use this as a take-off for a discussion of John Caputo, Gianni Vattimo, radical hermeneutics, weak theology, and just what the hell is meant by the “hard” versus the “soft” sciences and why that distinction is fucked up and bullshit, but, like I said, my own brain is fucked up and bullshit, so there you go.

Anyway, understanding. Yeah.





Whisper words of wisdom

24 11 2010

Allow a moment of sympathy for the Roman Catholic Church.

No, really.

The old girl is over 1500* years old, and the world now is not the world of its founding or expansion—a tough spot for an institution based on both spreading the Word and upholding eternal truths.  Yes, the One True Church has had to deal with interlopers and usurpers—in particular that centuries-long unpleasantness sparked by a disgruntled monk—but always, always, she has held true.

(*Given the un- and dis-organization of early Christian communities, a conservative estimate seems best. Oh, and for the purposes of this post, ‘the Church’ is defined narrowly as the institution, not the laypeople.)

Truth—ay, there’s the rub. Or, perhaps, insert the requisite LOLcats image here: ‘The Truth: I haz it.’

Consider the view of Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, newly elected preside of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops:

“You get the impression that the Holy See or the pope is like Congress and every once in a while says, ‘Oh, let’s change this law,’ ” he said. “We can’t.”

The key is to convince [would-be] parishioners of the Church’s position:

He said he was chagrined when he saw a long line of people last Sunday on Fifth Avenue. “I’m talking two blocks, a line of people waiting to get into …” he said, pausing for suspense. “Abercrombie and Fitch. And I thought, wow, there’s no line of people waiting to get into St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the treasure in there is of eternal value. What can I do to help our great people appreciate that tradition?”

Hence the dilemma: We have this great tradition. . . that many reject.

The whys of the rejection are likely numerous—people don’t think the traditions are great, don’t think they’re immutable, don’t believe the Church is the best or only repository of those traditions, etc.—but that people are able to reject them means that those trying to sell the eternal value of those traditions have to figure out how to persuade the rejectionists to change their minds.

A number of commenters on the Dolan piece note that this amounts to a view of ‘Change your mind so we don’t have to’—a reasonable take on the Church’s position.

But those same commenters are also missing the point: the Church does in fact hold the position that there are eternal truths, that it is the guardian of those truths, and that to compromise on those truths is to call into question the point of the Church itself. Granted, some of those commenters are doing just that, but others seem to think that the Church simply needs to ‘get with the times’ when in fact the Church thinks it’s the times which need to get with the Church.

This is Ross Douthat’s view, expressed in his usual fuzzy, befuddled, obedient manner:

Here the Church struggles and struggles, in ways that it doesn’t on other controversial issues, to make its teaching understood and its moral reasoning transparent. . . . Orthodox Catholics sometimes argue that the problem is simply that the teaching hasn’t been adequately explicated and defended, whether by bishops or priests or laypeople — and there’s truth to this. But the problem probably runs deeper than that: It isn’t just that the arguments for the teaching aren’t advanced vigorously and eloquently enough; it’s that the distinctions that the Church makes bump up against people’s moral intuitions more than they do on other fronts, and the Church’s arguments often take on a kind of hair-splitting quality that’s absent on other hot-button questions. (As in: The natural law permits me to rigorously chart my temperature and/or measure my cervical mucus every day in an effort to avoid conception, but it doesn’t permit me to use a condom? Really?)

So Douthat sees that even those who generally follow the Church’s teachings nonetheless squint at the reasoning behind the pronouncements on Truth—in this case, the anti-contraception Truth. Thus, should these same laypeople follow their own reason to the Truth?

Not exactly:

Now for a serious Catholic, the argument from tradition and authority is a real argument, not just the dodge that many people assume it to be. And the fact that the Church’s moral reasoning seems unpersuasive may just reflect the distorting impact of a contraceptive culture on the individual conscience.

Again: the problem, dear (un)believer is with you.

But what if the Church does try, however fitfully, to make practical sense of its moral stance in an im- or a-moral world, as with condom use in paid-for sex? You get it from all sides, from those of us skeptical of the morality of its stance to those who consider it an impermissible detour from the straight and narrow.

John Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center and a moral theologian, urged the publisher not to publish the Pope’s book, Light of the World, arguing it would only create a ‘mess’. That a Vatican spokesman later clarified that the Pope’s comment related not just to male but also to female prostitutes, was almost unbelievable, given the implications regarding contraception:

Indeed, Dr. Haas, of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, could barely countenance Father Lombardi’s comments that broadened the debate to include women. “I don’t think it’s a clarification; it’s a muddying of the waters,” he said. “My opinion is that the pope purposely chose a male prostitute to avoid that particular debate.”

And if Benedict was in fact opening that debate? “I think the pope’s wrong,” Dr. Haas added.

Well.

The Church has to hold the line because, were any slack allowed, the meaning of the line would cease, as would that of the Church itself. Yet not to loosen the line means that people will flee, if only to save themselves from suffocation—and in so doing, to call into question the meaning of the line and that of the Church itself.

It is a true dilemma, and for that reason, I am sympathetic.

But—you knew I’d throw a ‘but’ in—the Church itself is the author of this dilemma. It set itself up as the One True Church, the path to salvation, the authority on all matters God, so much so that authority itself was reified. The point of the Church became the Church.

This is, of course, an ancient dilemma, one which runs through the history of not just Church but Christianity itself. Early dissenters (including Pelagians and some gnostics, among others) argued that God was carried within and thus no formal structure was necessary; a thousand or so years later protesters lay the Bible before the people and told them that was all they needed. (That those Protestants set up their own structures is another issue.) Sola fidelis, sola scriptura.

But the Church, the Church said No. The Church said We are the One True Faith. The Church said, in effect (if anachronistically): Who you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes?

The Church, in other words, rested the faith on its authority, rather than its authority on faith. In doing so, the truth of the authority calcified into the Church’s Truth and, as such, could be neither compromised or countermanded. The Church is the repository of God’s Word, its guardian and keeper; to doubt this authority is to risk losing the keys to the Kingdom itself.

This risk has kept many inside, as, I hasten to add, have faith and love for the Church itself. But those on the outside, especially those faith-seekers on the outside, see the lines and the walls of the Church and wonder Where is God in all this?





Question of the day: hate and love

25 09 2010

Consider the relatively ubiquitous phrase, oft deployed by religious folk to describe their approach to queer folk and their sexuality:

‘Hate the sin, love the sinner.’

Yeah, it grits in my teeth, and not just for those who deploy it who clearly don’t mean it, but even for those who are sincere, it misses the point.

Consider: ‘Hate the belief, love the believer.’

Again, a variation of this is offered with regard to Christian outreach to/evangelization of Muslims and other heretics, apostates, and unbelievers. Again, too glib.

How would those who (sincerely) use this sentiment react if such a sentiment were deployed against expressed to them?

Seriously, I’m askin’.





Are we not men?

13 09 2010

This is cheap, I know, but Martin Peretz doesn’t deserve the cost of real thought:

On a spring day in May 1631, Count von Tilly celebrated a mass to thank God for his conquest of Magdeburg, the chief city of the Protestant Reformation, boasting that no such victory had occurred since the destruction of Jerusalem. He was only slightly exaggerating—the cathedral in which the mass was held was one of three buildings that had not been burned to the ground. His Catholic League troops had besieged the city since November, living in muddy trenches through the winter snows, enduring the daily jeers and abuse of the Protestant inhabitants of the city. Once they stormed through the gates their zeal, rapacity, and greed knew no bounds. The slaughter was unstoppable. Fires were set throughout the city, children were thrown into the flames, and women were raped before being butchered. Fifty-three women were beheaded in a church where they sought refuge. No one was spared—twenty-five thousand Protestants were massacred or incinerated, and of the five thousand survivors some few were noblemen held for ransom, but all the rest were women who had been carried off to the imperial camp to be raped and sold from soldier to soldier. News of this atrocity quickly spread throughout Europe, hardening the sectarian lines of a conflict that had begun thirteen years before and that would rage on for another seventeen

. . . The slaughter at Magdeburg, for all its horror, was not the first nor the last such event. During the Peasants’ Rebellion in the 1520s, over one hundred thousand German peasants and impoverished townspeople were slaughtered, many of them when they rushed headlong into battle against heavily armed troops, convinced by their leader Thomas Müntzer that true believers were immune to musket balls. In 1572, seventy thousand French Huguenots were slaughtered in the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. The Franciscan monks who had preached that killing heretics was the surest way to salvation were pleased, but apparently not as pleased as Pope Gregory XIII, who was so delighted to receive the head of the slain Huguenot leader Coligny in a box that he had a special medal struck commemorating the event. And finally, lest anyone imagine that the barbarity was one-sided, Cromwell’s model army sacked the Irish town of Drogheda in 1649, killing virtually everyone. They burned alive all those who had taken refuge in the St. Mary’s Cathedral, butchered the women hiding in the vaults beneath it, used Irish children as human shields, hunted down and killed every priest, and sold the thirty surviving defenders into slavery. Cromwell, without the least sense of irony, thanked God for giving him the opportunity to destroy such barbarous heretics.

Michael Allen Gillespie, The Theological Origins of Modernity, pp. 129-130.





Right through the very heart of it

3 08 2010

You may have heard: SHARI’AH IS COMING! SHARI’AH IS COMING!

All because a group of New York Muslims want to build a MOSQUE AT GROUND ZERO!

Only it’s not exactly a mosque—tho’ the Cordoba Institute will contain a mosque—and it’s not at the former World Trade Center site.

Still, I wondered just where this vessel of Mohammadean infiltration was—not just on the map, but in terms of the neighborhood.

This is the general area:

Stephen Van Dam, NY@tlas, 1998-2004, 5th ed

And a close-up:

If I had any kind of skillz, I’d be able to put a little doohickey in there to show you exactly where the building is, but you’re smart, you can see that it’s right at the tip of the red arrow on Park Place.

But what does it look like, really?

(Apologies for the poor quality of all shots to follow; I shot these on the fly over my lunch hour with my  point-and-shoot . Click on any of the shots or of the maps to make big. Or at least, visible.)

So here it is: 45-47 Park Place, located between Church and West Broadway, two blocks north of Vesey (which is itself the northern border of the re-construction zone).

I think the above shot is 45, and this one, 47:

Regardless, the building itself was denied landmark status today, which means it can be torn down for the HEADQUARTERS OF JIHAD!

And what else occupies such sacred territory?

To the east:

And to the west:

In short, a bar and a market—the ‘Amish Market’.

Lots of bars and markets in the ‘shadow of Ground Zero’:

SE Corner Washington & Cedar: Indian restaurant; O'Hara's pub a bit south.

NE corner Broadway (in view) & Park Pl

And sundry other shops:

NE Corner Cortlandt & Broadway

Park Place, between Church & Broadway (yes, the OTB is for 'off-track betting')

There are Starbucks and pizza joints, Chinese and Korean and French and Japanese restaurants. . .

Cortlandt, NW corner of Broadway

Trinity Place, at Liberty St

And, of course, let’s not forget this spot, south of Ground Zero:

You know that the Pussycat Lounge isn't a pet store, right? At least, not that kind. . . .

And that lingerie shop? Advertises ‘peep show’ in its window.

Where is this in relation to the site?

See the crane?

This is what you see from the proposed Cordoba Institute site:

This building takes up the south side of Park Place between Church & West Broadway

Not exactly ‘looming over’ Ground Zero.

And dhimmis have their places, too:

St Paul's Chapel, overlooking Church St, bet Vesey & Fulton

Church of St Peter, on SE corner Vesey & Church

Trinity Church, which takes up the block between Broadway, Trinity Pl, Rector & Thames

And the quiet spots:

Portion of the FDNY Memorial Wall, at FDNY Engine 10 Ladder 10, at Greenwich & Liberty

On grounds of Church of St Peter

What does this all mean?

I don’t know. What does it mean to have a department store—Century 21—-adjacent to the site? What does it mean you can buy t-shirts and baseball caps and coffee and pizza and sushi and hot dogs and pretzels and *gasp* halal food around and next to and overlooking the place where almost 3000 people died?

A place in the middle of the largest city of the country, a city which never stops, never sleeps, where people may pause and mourn and reflect—and live.

I have been so tremendously angry at those current- and former- and half-politicians and pundits and alleged civil rights organizations who and which spew fear and loathing, trying to make us afraid and mean and small.

So let me, uncharacteristically, respond to anger with affection, even love:

This is my city; this is New York City.

It is big and  it is tough, but it isn’t mean, and it shouldn’t be small.

Let us be large, let us be mixed-up and loud and jostling and gesturing and Jewish and Muslim and Christian and Hindu and Sikh and Voudou and pagan and heretic and agnostic and atheist and conservative and liberal and radical and apathetic and hustling and napping and dancing and falling down and flirting and singing and praying and chanting and arguing and mourning and laughing and embracing and letting go and everything everything everything that we have always been and always became and always will be.

Let us be all of that and everything more. Let us be New York City.

And I’ll refrain from telling the loathsome lot of you to fuck off. Even though that’s a New York thing to do, too.








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