Monday, August 16, 2010

What She Said

One of the things that a middle-class, highly educated Euro-louche-lily-livered-liberal such as myself finds confusing, bewildering, and often difficult about living in these US of A is the high levels of religiosity. I come from a place where barely 10% of the population attends church on any sort of regular basis.* It's just not... done. We don't believe the Prime Minister needs to be religious - indeed, in the debates any religious belief was downplayed so as not to bring about accusations of zeal/intolerance/irrationality. It's just a different landscape, albeit one that I still, after many years, sometimes find hard to get used to.

But what I find utterly intolerable is the utter ridiculously bigoted, terrible reactions to Park 51. I'm not going to go into my reactions, but Jill summarizes nicely some of the reactions (good and bad) and also points you to some incredibly well-researched, well-written articles that neatly point out why the opponents have no standing to prevent the building of this community centre (I recommend reading them all). I've been incredibly disappointed in Harry Reid - what precisely does this NY issue have to do with you, Senator Reid? - and unsurprised by the racism, anti-Islam and general nonsense coming out of the mouths of Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich et al., who spend most of the year throwing New Yorkers under the bus for their liberalism, elitism, and generally not being "real" Americans.

It's not all bad news, though. What I find heartening (given the context) is the polling that suggests that while a majority of US dwellers don't want the mosque built, a majority of them also believe that the builders have the right to do so. But mostly, the person who I have come to admire, greatly, for his stance in this is Mayor Bloomberg. I'm not a big fan of big Mike on a lot of things, but his courage, eloquence and passion on this subject have made me almost want him to break all those crazy term-limit rules and run for a fourth.

My favourite passage (tissues ready):

Our doors are open to everyone. Everyone with a dream and a willingness to work hard and play by the rules. New York City was built by immigrants, and it's sustained by immigrants -- by people from more than 100 different countries speaking more than 200 different languages and professing every faith. And whether your parents were born here or you came here yesterday, you are a New Yorker.

We may not always agree with every one of our neighbors. That's life. And it's part of living in such a diverse and dense city. But we also recognize that part of being a New Yorker is living with your neighbors in mutual respect and tolerance. It was exactly that spirit of openness and acceptance that was attacked on 9/11, 2001.

* I also come from a place where the most devout - in terms of observance - members of the population are Muslims and, despite what you might read about the state of Britain in The Daily Mail et al., it hasn't fallen apart as a result.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I, for one, can't believe that I actually agree with Dowd today.