Thursday, August 19, 2010

Soccer Dad

Soccer Dad

What's so funny about peace, love and a mosque near ground zero?

Posted: 19 Aug 2010 04:19 AM PDT

In an editorial today, the Washington Post asks Where are the Republicans who will reject pandering and prejudice?

BROADLY SPEAKING, there seem to be three strands of argument against building a mosque or Muslim community center two blocks from Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan.

The first is that the terrorists who destroyed the World Trade Center and killed almost 3,000 people there in 2001 really did represent Islam and that to pretend otherwise is a dangerous delusion. The second is that, no, al-Qaeda does not speak for Islam, but many people -- including survivors and relatives of the victims -- naturally associate the two, and therefore it would be insensitive to locate anything Islamic so close to the scene of the crime. The third, for many politicians, seems to be that most Americans oppose construction of the mosque, and therefore opposition is useful (for Republicans on the attack) or safe (for Democrats cowering in a corner).

All three of these are objectionable.

So then there is no debating the wisdom of placing a mosque near where Osama bin Laden's henchman killed 3000 people. Glad to know that the editors of the Post are so openminded. I thought that dissent was an important part of the American way of life. But apparently some things are so sacrosanct that they may not be debated.

Still let me try.

For one thing, I don't find the second reason for objecting to Imam Rauf's mosque objectionable. Perhaps, if Imam Rauf was who the editors of the Post say he is - a true moderate who believes in peaceful coexistence - then that argument wouldn't hold much water.

But in a number of ways Imam Rauf has shown that he is not the moderate he advertises himself to. As Charles Krauthammer noted, he told Ed Bradley that he considered the United States to be an "accessory" to 9/11. He refused to condemn Hamas as a terrorist organization. And I see from Roger Simon (something that Laura pointed out to me in an e-mail) that he doesn't believe in interfaith dialogue. Where, then, is the moderation that allowing him build a mosque will foster?

The editors of the Washington Post are remarkably incurious about these matters. That is, of course, their right. But it hardly justifies their painting those who disagree with them as bigots who oppose the free exercise of religion. After all a large percentage of Americans find the notion of the mosque near ground zero to be objectionable.

James Taranto put his finger on what bothers me most about the Post's attitude.

It reminds us of something Bob Tyrrell said about the left not long ago: "There is only one political value that they have stood by through three generations, and that is the political value of disturbing your neighbor." The pro-mosque left's pieties about "American ideals" have about as much to do with the reality of the controversy as the fringe right's ravings about "Shariah." In truth, the left favors a mosque near Ground Zero simply because most Americans find the idea obnoxious.

The mosque's critics are expressing their views. Nothing more. As far as I can tell there are no legal ways to challenge its construction. But to ask Imam Rauf to show some sensitivity, is somehow offensive.

BTW, Imam Rauf is going to the Gulf to promote understanding.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the man behind the Park51 Muslim community center and mosque proposed on a site near New York's Ground Zero, leaves this week for a three-nation Middle East tour on behalf of the State Department, during which he is expected to speak about the controversy surrounding his project.

So what wil he talk about? Will he complain about how he's persecuted by Americans? Or will he praise America for allowing citizens to object to their government's action without fear of reprisal, as they might find in a country like Bahrain?

Third in a series by george will

Posted: 19 Aug 2010 04:18 AM PDT

In recent weeks, George Will has written two excellent columns about Israel and the Middle East:
Netanyahu, the anti-Obama and
Netanyahu's warning.

Today, he presents Skip the lecture on Israel's "risks for peace":

The intifada was launched by the late Yasser Arafat -- terrorist and Nobel Peace Prize winner -- after the July 2000 Camp David meeting, during which then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered to cede control of all of Gaza and more than 90 percent of the West Bank, with small swaps of land to accommodate the growth of Jerusalem suburbs just across the 1949 armistice line.

Israelis are famously fractious, but the intifada produced among them a consensus that the most any government of theirs could offer without forfeiting domestic support is less than any Palestinian interlocutor would demand. Furthermore, the intifada was part of a pattern. As in 1936 and 1947, talk about partition prompted Arab violence.

Those two paragraphs are loaded, and there's a lot more packed into the op-ed. It's a really an excellent capsule of everything that's happened since Oslo (and more!)

Crossposted on Yourish.

Vacation in niagara

Posted: 18 Aug 2010 10:44 PM PDT

Last week we drove up to Niagara Falls. It was a wonderful vacation. I don't think I've ever seen natural phenomena as awesome as the falls. After talking to numerous friends, we decided to get a package to the Canadian side attractions. I'm not unhappy we did as the Horseshoe Falls are located on the Canadian side. (The other two sections of the falls are called the American Falls and the Bridal Veil falls.)


Because of the mist, it was impossible to get an unobstructed view of the Horseshoe falls from the Rainbow Bridge that spans the river from the United States to Canada.


We went on the Maid of the Mist which took us in close to the Horseshoe falls.


Afterwards we went to the shopping area to have lunch and enjoyed the view of the top of the falls from the observation deck.


Then before we went to meet my nephew and his bride (and her family) we went on the Journey behind the falls. This takes you down to the through tunnels to an observation area near the foot of the Horseshoe falls, which again is quite awesome.


But in the end, the part that everyone loved the most was the next day. We walked to the Cave of the Winds. Unlike any other attraction of Niagara Falls, the Cave of the Winds tour doesn't just bring near the falls, it puts you in the path of Bridal Veil Falls. At a distance and in comparison to the other falls, the Bridal Veil Falls look small and unimpressive.



Up close, on the other hand ...


And the scaffolding takes directly into the path of the water. You will get soaked.


As you can see, this picture was somewhat obscured by all the mist, but I still caught an elusive "rainbow" going across the rock.

The place to get deluged is called the "hurricane deck." And there's this useless warning sign there.


I guess someone had a sense of humor.


I liked the picture of this wild flower (or weed) with white water behind it.

The commercial development on the Canadian side makes it much more "touristy." I'm not sure that Iiked it.


The American side benefited from the wide open spaces of a park.


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