The media mosque madness

By Tom Putnam | Sep 11, 2010

For the past several weeks, when you turned on the television you would hear about the Mosque at Ground Zero controversy in New York City. For those not up to speed (and you must be asleep), the mosque is really an Islamic Cultural Center with a prayer room that is to be built within two blocks of the former World Trade Center towers.

"Nine/Eleven" is the name for the tragic destruction of the Trade Center towers in lower Manhattan that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, an event instigated by Osama Bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda, an ultraconservative Wahhabi Islamic sect from Saudi Arabia. "9/11" evokes thoughts of horror and betrayal, such as those inspired by "Dec. 7th," the Sunday that Japan attacked us at Pearl Harbor. It is quite doubtful that the two major U.S. wars — Afghanistan and Iraq — in this first decade of the 21st Century would have occurred if 9/11 had not happened. Many in the U.S. view Islam as the causative factor for 9/11 and blame the religion for it.

As I previously wrote last February in a column, "Clash of Civilizations," Islam is one of the three monotheistic religions claiming ancestry from Abraham, the father of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It is a beautiful religion, as is Judaism and Christianity. It is human beings who have taken those basic religious teachings and turned them into instruments to serve their own evil pursuits. Unfortunately, in the U.S., many otherwise rational citizens believe that Islam is an evil religious belief that was behind 9/11. Their thoughts come more from emotional reactions than from intellectual research. Therefore, there has been a knee-jerk reaction from many citizens that Islam is evil and does not have a place near the site of 9/11, never mind that there is a mosque four blocks away.

Now lets' get back to the media.

There are so many news sources today: online, television, and the dwindling news print. All are continually scrambling for viewer/readership. The advertising dollar is involved. Over the past two weeks, every time you would turn on the tube to see what was new in the world, all you heard about was the 9/11 mosque story.

Most stations today are left of center. Fox is the one station they love to beat up on when news is slow. Now the media have turned their mosque attention to two people: President Barak Obama and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Gingrich stated that the creation of a mosque at Ground Zero would be like painting a swastika on the Holocaust Museum. President Obama initially stated that the U.S. Constitution guaranteed freedom of religion. Muslims had a right to build a mosque (no, Islamic Cultural Center) near Ground Zero.

The media ate that up and came out screaming. The next day, a Saturday, Obama, demonstrating his wisdom and the strengths of his convictions, stated that he would not comment on the wisdom of the Muslim maneuver. That really got the media howling. Again and again, every morning, the mosque issue was at the top of the news. It broadened into: Why doesn't Obama get former presidents Clinton and Bush to comment on the legal rights of Muslims to build a mosque near Ground Zero? Fortunately, they are two too experienced politicians to get trapped in that quagmire.

Lately, media have been crowing about the number (some say over 20 percent) of the U.S. citizens who believe that Barak Hussein Obama is a Muslim. That issue is rather scary for the U.S.'s future if you believe, as Thomas Jefferson did, that a successful democracy depends on an educated public. Had Obama been an acknowledged Muslim, he would never have become the Democratic presidential candidate in 2008. John F. Kennedy's Catholic faith was a big hurdle in 1960. Mitt Romney's Mormonism was not an asset for him in the 2008 Republican primaries and likely turned many primary voters against him.

Refreshingly, the media gossip has turned away from the Mosque Madness. We haven't heard any further news; is the Center going to be built near Ground Zero or not? Now we are beginning to hear the concerns and fears from much of the media about the potential for turnover of the House and Senate to the party out-of-power. Now we are hearing: "When that happens, nothing will get done in Washington. The Administration will be controlled by one party and the Congress by the other."

The result? The dreaded deadlock.

Let's consider what has happened over the past 18 months when one party controlled the Administrative and Executive branches of government? Continued high unemployment, ever increasing federal debt (one good reason to be happy with one's advancing years), aversion to cutting federal programs (I grew up in an era when you were taught to take care of yourself and not depend on somebody else) and a push to repeal the so-called "Bush Tax Cuts for the Rich." Where do most new jobs emanate from other than from government favoritism? Small business owners. The government would seem to want to tax away new job creation.

There is a yearning to return to the years when the U.S. had vast industrial might, which evolved out of being unscathed at home during World War II. Manufacturing took off and the world bought our products. Unions were needed to protect abused workers, but they became self-serving and wages continually rose, as did retirement and health benefits. That was great until other countries, such as China, with millions of desperately poor peasants, willing to work for a pittance (more than they had before) undercut the U.S.'s predominance in world production. Those jobs moved offshore.

American's future will be governed by American invention and creativity: production of new ideas for energy, transportation, and social behavior. This requires education of its citizenry. It will be more and more difficult to survive in the world of tomorrow without strong education. And if you study test results in the U.S., the Asians do the best, followed closely by the Anglo-Saxons; further back are the Hispanics and the African Americans. There is no scientific evidence that one genetic heritage is superior to another in being able to become educated, to achieve wisdom. There is a difference however, in how the various children have been reared in their different cultures from birth to school age. Yes, teachers are important, but not nearly as important as parental rearing and concern.

Yes, I have drifted away from the initial theme of Media Mosque Madness, but this was done with some intent: Let's get on with preparing our country to face the future. Let's support the Constitution's provision for freedom to worship as one chooses, but let our media also begin reporting the news in ways that will inspire the populace to prepare for our future using America's unique innovative talents.

Enough gossip.

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