August 14th, 2010


Profiles in Bullshit, "Ground Zero Mosque" Edition

Even in our degraded state of affairs, we have internalized the idea that it is rude to respond uncivilly to issues which our political opponents pretend to take seriously. And that's too bad, because there are a lot of these issues that should be easily dismissed by someone prominent -- the president, say, or a ranking member of Congress -- simply saying "Yeah, that's bullshit" and refusing to talk about it any more.

Foremost among these at the moment is the non-issue of all non-issues, the proposed building of a community center in Manhattan by a Muslim organization. On the list of things America needs to be worrying about at the moment, it ranks somewhere in the lower ten-thousands, but somehow, conservatives have contrived to make it the preeminent problem of the day. Even I, as you can see from this very website, have become obsessed with it, despite the fact that by every rational standard, it is complete and total bullshit. What do I mean by every rational standard? I mean that there is no sensible reason anyone would care about this issue: there are no grounds for opposing it legally (it's private property, purchased by the organization in a perfectly legitimate fashion), morally (the people building it had nothing to do with the terror attacks of 9/11/2001), religiously (freedom of religious assembly is protected by the U.S. constitution), ethically (the man behind it is a respected scholar and a Sufi, the most peaceful of all Islamic schools of thought), economically (if anything, it will be a boon to the area), or historically (there is already a mosque in the area, closer to the World Trade Center than this one will be). Even the language the right has warped to describe the building -- "Ground Zero mosque" -- is total bullshit on every level, because it is not at ground zero and it is not a mosque. When even the words you use to describe an issue are fraudulent, that's a good signal that no one should be paying any attention to you.

And yet, the bullshit keeps on piling up.

US President Barack Obama's endorsement of a controversial plan to build a mosque just blocks from Ground Zero poured fuel Saturday on a raging debate over religious freedom and sensitivities over the 9/11 attacks.

BULLSHIT RATING: Doppelbock Institutional-Grade Bullshit. The controversy is entirely manufactured, and Obama's comments did not "pour fuel" on the debate; it just gave people who already hate Obama a way to attach him to the fabricated outrage.

On Saturday the group 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America, which represents some relatives of attack victims, said it was "stunned" by the president's remarks. Obama "has abandoned America at the place where America's heart was broken nine years ago, and where her true values were on display for all to see," the group said.

BULLSHIT RATING: Quadruple-somersault Grade AA Premium Bullshit. Obama has not abandoned anything, and if, contrary to what conservatives usually have to say about lower Manhattan, it truly is the place that America displays "her true values", they will remain unperturbed by this building, as they have been unperturbed by the presence nearby of strip clubs, gay bars, and actual mosques.

"Now this president declares that the victims of 9/11 and their families must bear another burden. We must stand silent at the last place in America where 9/11 is still remembered with reverence or risk being called religious bigots."

BULLSHIT RATING: Octuple Kraken-style AAA Prime Unadulterated By-Prescription-Only Bullshit. No 9/11 families are being forced to bear any burden whatsoever; the risk of being called a religious bigot is only run by those who express religiously bigoted opinions; and anyone who claims that Ground Zero is "the last place in America where 9/11 is still remembered" is automatically composed entirely of bullshit and should not be listened to, but rather spread across fertile soil to encourage crop growth.

Congressman Peter King, who represents New York in the US House of Representatives, said the Muslim community was "abusing" its rights and "needlessly offending" many people.

BULLSHIT RATING: Quintuple SAT-Prep-Course A-Grade Restaurant-Quality Bullshit. Only a conservative would define exercising one's rights as "abusing" them, and needless offense is not more acceptable when you direct it at Muslims.

"It is insensitive and uncaring for the Muslim community to build a mosque in the shadow of ground zero," said King, a Republican. "Unfortunately the president caved in to political correctness."

BULLSHIT RATING: Triple Creamy Smooth 'n' Luscious Chocolate Flavored Artificial Bullshit-Style Fertilizer Product. There is, as has been pointed out repeatedly, already a mosque "in the shadow of ground zero", and context-free use of the phrase "political correctness" is an automatic three-stroke bullshit penalty.

Passions over the issue run high across the country. A Florida church has already said it will hold a "Koran-burning" on September 11 -- which this year coincides with Eid al-Fitr, the end-of-Ramadan holiday.

BULLSHIT RATING: Incalculable. Any time you find yourself burning books, whatever the issue is, you're on the wrong side of it.