Friday, September 10, 2010

I still have trouble watching it. (or, my angry 9/11 rant)

I wasn't there. I didn't lose anyone. I didn't know anyone there. I don't think I know anyone who lost anyone. And yet I still have trouble every time I see those damn planes hit those damn towers, and every time I watch a damn show about New York City they seem to find a reason to show that damn pancake dust explosion and every time it's like a vise around my heart and throat and stomach and my whole face scrunches up like I've bitten into a lime and I just can't watch it. And I just can't look away.

Nine years. Nine years, and the WTC site still hasn't been built on, and we're still arguing and squabbling about what a replacement tower should look like and who has the right to do what, where. Not to mention, the wars in Iraq (oh, sorry, the combat's over there so that's not really a war anymore?) and Afghanistan are using money like a sieve, so to speak, without much accountability or even much question at all.

And now a group of Muslims has purchased an old Burlington Coat Factory four blocks from "Ground Zero" and wants to build a community center there, and now everyone's all "ZOMGHOWDAREZTHEY?!" or alternatively and more PC "ZOMGIKNOWTHEYCANBUTIDONTTHINKTHEYSHOULD!!!" Because apparently religious freedom only applies to Christians in this country. But we knew that.
I mean, yeah, Islam can be a violent and dickish religion. Know what else? Christianity can be a violent and dickish religion. Atheists, while not for their unfaith or cause so much but more as individuals, can be violent and dickish. Heck, even Buddhists can be violent (though rarely) and dickish (see the Dalai Lama's comments about the supposedly-unnatural aspects of homosexuality, for instance).
So, everyone's all careful and tactful and saying "yes, they have a right to build there, but should they?" mostly because Muslims were responsible for the attacks on 9/11/01 so building a community center so close to the former WTC-site would be like them rubbing it in our faces, or something. And yes, maybe technically it's a bit tactless for them to build there. But maybe we should be the bigger and better country and get over ourselves. Maybe a community center is exactly what that neighborhood needs, even if it is the dreaded Muslim kind.

**begin tangent**
And have I mentioned that I really hate the use of the term "Ground Zero"? I do. I really, really do. But maybe that's another essay for another day.
**end tangent**

**begin secondary tangent**
And while I'm at it, fuck you "9/11 Truthers." Yes, the attacks likely could have been prevented and perhaps we do not have all of the information about how everything happened and why and when, but when a giant fucking airliner full of jet fuel crashes into a building and severs the support columns and sets the fucker on fire, you get FIRE and COLLAPSE. That's how that works. No, steel doesn't burn at those temperatures but it sure the hell melts and warps and weakens and that's all you need. And once one floor mashes, you set off a chain reaction and get yourself a nice mashy death-filled building squash. As seen on TV. I know people have questions. I know people have doubts. But it's really not that complicated. OH! And also while I'm at it, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and Fred Phelps can all go suck a collective bag of dicks.
**end secondary tangent**

In response to the "Ground Zero Mosque" (which is neither a mosque -it's a community center- nor AT Ground Zero -it's four blocks away- ...and there is already a mosque six blocks away), some pastor in Florida is all "I'm going to honor the memory of those lost on 9/11/01 by burning a whole mess of Korans at my church on Saturday." Forgetting, I'm sure, that there were Muslims IN the Twin Towers that day, who died as well, and whose families might be a wee bit offended by the burning of their sacred book. Forgetting that everyone in this country has the right to believe -or NOT believe- as they desire, rights granted in the Bill of Rights in the (wholly secular, by the way) Constitution that so many people seem to point to these days while clearly not having read the darn thing. No, religious freedoms seem these days only reserved for those Christians who want to offend others.

The NYC Muslims have every right to build a community center (or heck, even a damn mosque!) near the WTC site. They have every right to worship and pray and commune as they please so long as their beliefs and practices aren't harming anyone. Just as Christians have every right to worship and pray and commune as they please so long as their beliefs and practices aren't harming anyone. And that shit about Islam being inherently violent and cruel and discriminatory and misogynistic? Sure. But have you read your Bible lately, sirs? Yeah, that sucker ain't so great, either. So unless you're ready to give up your stupid backward religion and practice Humanism and rationality and logic and science, the way I think everyone should, you don't get to make demands of Muslims about their religion -so long as no one's harming anyone else. Extremist Islamic terrorist training centers? Not okay. Community centers with basketball hoops and craft tables? Not so scary, actually. And heck, it's not like fundamentalist Christians aren't training creepy little Christ warriors right here in this country, too, right?

And as for Koran-burning, (...If you're interested in some PZ perspective on this particular topic (and let's face it, who isn't?), please click here) like it or not, people have the right to disagree with other people. They have the right to do so in writing or in words or even, yes, by burning shit. In this particular care, said shit happens to be the holy book of another religion -and a religion that happens to be rather violently hostile to the idea of people burning their holy book. The pastor is within his rights to burn the book in protest. Muslims are NOT within their rights (as humans, as Americans, as Earthlings) to threaten or harm anyone with whom they disagree or by whom they feel slighted. THAT is the problem, that we as a planet and as a civilization allow Muslims (and others) to react with an inapproperiate level of insult and violence when they are offended, and that we are so afraid of their reaction that we let them get away with it. And I call bullshit.

If you defile the sacred objects of another religious group, you're kind of being a dick. But people don't have the right not to be offended. Maybe, if religionsists (and pretty much everyone) would stop taking themselves so damn seriously, they wouldn't come across as such assholes and everyone else would have a much easier time respecting them.

In closing, this September 11th I encourage you to not be a dick. Don't burn something out of spite. But don't not burn something out of fear. Rather, just do something good. Do something nice. Do something caring and thoughtful and necessary. Attend a service or ceremony in honor of those lost but not forgotten. Volunteer on the September 11th Day of Service and Remembrance.
Along with anything else I might do or attend or charitize this weekend, I, for one, will be attending the Roc City Roller Derby intraleague bout (Rottenchesters vs. 5-H8-5s), Sink or Swim at the Dome Arena. It's a charity bout benefiting Rochester Police Officers (Badge of Honor Association) and Rochester Firefighters (Benevolent Association). And it's derby. Eat a hot dog, watch some derby, do some good and be proud to be an American, where we can and do disagree and should be able to, as long as we can do it calmly and rationally. So let's try that, hmm?

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