Park51 Serving Intended House Function

When we were brand new to the world of blogging, namely two months ago, we expressed our frustration with the mainstream Muslim-American community’s misplaced enthusiasm for the so-called Ground Zero Mosque. The media has been rife with coverage of opposition to Park51 because it’s perceived as a triumph for militant Islamism and disrespect for the victims of the 9/11 attacks. Encouraged to “refudiate,” some Muslims have also opposed it on the grounds that it is a “deliberate provocation, to thumb our noses at the infidel” and “rub salt in [Americans’] wounds and pretend they are applying a balm to sooth the pain.”

Ikhras had entirely different reasons for criticizing Park51. Here’s a quick rehash. On June 7, 2010 we wrote in What the Muslim-American Establishment Fights for:

How will the building of a mosque near Ground Zero alleviate the grief of 2 million Muslim families that have lost loved ones? How will it protect Muslims from the empire’s claws? What role will it play in defanging the US war machine? Will Abu Ghraib survivors’ psychological scars heal? Will this mosque help dispossessed Afghani and Iraqi refugees feel safe enough to return home?

Feisal Abdul Rauf: Department of State's Muslim spokesperson

We were concerned that the US would use Park51 as a “PR cover for its war of terrorism against Muslims” and that it would serve as a “distraction to keep Muslim Americans tied up in the perpetual task of chasing after acceptance in the US instead of engaging in the far more pressing priority of working to end the occupations to three majority-Muslim countries (Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine).”

 More importantly for purposes of this article, we predicted that:

the ground zero mosque will be a breeding ground for ikhras-worthy events. Muslims will host US presidents, US National Security Advisers and other such war criminals there. Friday sermons will consistently fail to criticize US foreign policy. Muslim-American soldiers will pray there before getting deployed to participate in the empire’s crimes abroad. Groups like “Seeds of Peace” will use the mosque as a site to engage in useless negotiations between Zionists and Palestinians. The FBI and DHS will hold sessions to learn “Muslim culture” to look more politically correct when detaining and deporting Muslims.

Our speculation, sadly, is finding support. Feisal Abdul Rauf, the center’s imam, has been actively engaged in enhancing the US’s image as some kind of US ambassador to Muslims.

the US state department flew Rauf to Saudi Arabia this week to promote America by telling audiences “what it’s like to practise Islam under our regime of religious freedom and equality”.

 At a press conference earlier this week, the Department of State explained the purpose of its Abdul Rauf’s propaganda trip. Straight from the DOS’s website:

He will be traveling to the region at the end of this week starting, as I recall, in Bahrain, then Qatar, then the United Arab Emirates. He is participating – I think this is fourth trip – as part of an International Information Program. We have about 1,200 experts in a range of fields that travel on behalf of the United States every year. About 50 or so of those are religious figures. They come from every stripe. We have rabbis, imams, Protestants, Catholics who participate as part of our effort to promote religious tolerance and religious freedom around the world. The guidelines that we provide him – he is there to promote this kind of international dialogue. We have had conversations with the imam to make sure he understands that during these kinds of trips, he’s not to engage in any personal business. He understands that completely. But this is his fourth trip and we value his participation as a religious figure here in the United States who can help people overseas understand the role that religion plays in our society.

Damaged minaret in war-torn Iraq

It is no surprise that Imam Abdul Rauf’s itinerary includes countries like Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries, which are already staunch US allies. The man wouldn’t stand a chance trying to convince citizens of Kabul or Baghdad that the US is a tolerant, egalitarian entity.

We’re all for dialogue as long as the US boot is not on the neck of those it’s trying to “dialogue” with. Is Imam Abdul Rauf unaware of atrocities the US is committing in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq? Has he no concept of decades-long US support for Israel throughout its colonial occupation of Palestine?

This is as ridiculous as a Vietnamese-American cleric flying around to give a good impression of the US around the time of the My Lai massacre. 

For a Muslim to ignore US atrocities and focus on the its supposed “regime of religious freedom and equality” is an expression of American arrogance. House Muslims, with their knowledge of English, their degrees from American universities, their spacious houses in the suburbs and their consumerist lifestyle, perceive their position on the empire’s sociopolitical ladder as more valuable than the lives of dispensable Muslims languishing in refugee camps. An Islamic community center in Lower Manhattan is more “cool” and worthy of advocacy than mosques in Afghanistan and Iraq the US has bombarded.

The House Muslim strives to be tolerated in the US. To convince himself that he is worthy to the slavemaster, he turns a blind eye to the Field Muslims’ suffering. The House Muslim tells himself the empire’s approval of Park51 redeems it to some extent. He thinks his efforts advocating for Park51 absolve him of the responsibility of resisting the wars.

The House Muslim’s throat-gripping fear of the US informs him that he has only two choices: accommodate the US to the point of collaboration with its war crimes or face its disapproval then its wrath. The House Muslim thinks he’s smart for adopting “strategies” that involve going along with the US’s agenda in the short term, which will mysteriously lead to serving Islam and Muslims’ interests in the long-term. America might even give rise to the long-awaited caliphate someday. But for now, it needs a Muslim face to explain away its war crimes, and House Muslims need to step up to the plate.

It’s remarkable how a single two-minute-long speech could succinctly explain this House phenomenon. The bedrock of Ikhras’ mission statement, we never get tired of referring to it as it never stops being relevant as long as there are oppressors and oppressed. As Malcolm X described the House Negro:

The house Negroes – they lived in the house with master, they dressed pretty good, they ate good ’cause they ate his food — what he left. They lived in the attic or the basement, but still they lived near the master; and they loved their master more than the master loved himself. They would give their life to save the master’s house quicker than the master would. The house Negro, if the master said, “We got a good house here,” the house Negro would say, “Yeah, we got a good house here.” Whenever the master said “we,” he said “we.” That’s how you can tell a house Negro… the house Negro would look at you and say, “Where is there a better house than this? Where can I wear better clothes than this? Where can I eat better food than this?”

Probably one positive use for Park51 will be that it will make our job at easier. A beacon for House Muslims, it will bring them out of the woodworks and brandish their House-related accomplishments in one convenient place for us to observe, expose and tell to Ikhras.

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