Monday, August 23, 2010
The Ground Zero Mosque Controversy: An Open Letter to Feisal Rauf and Daisy Khan
The intention with which I write this letter is as a friend – although I realize that you may not consider me to be a friend. After all, I have been publically critical of Feisal’s book: What’s Right With Islam (e.g., in my: Unveiling Terrorism, Fundamentalism and Spiritual Abuse). However, if friends can’t be honest with one another, then, I’m not really sure what friendship means.
Moreover, we previously have sat down face-to-face on a number of occasions to break bread and discuss issues of importance. I may not always have said what you liked or stated that with which you agreed, but I have always interacted with you both in a sincere fashion.
I once asked you, Daisy, to look in on a friend and her two children because I was concerned about their physical and spiritual welfare given that they seemed to be inextricably entangled with a fraudulent Sufi teacher. I asked you to do this because, among other reasons, you were relatively proximate to, and a friend of, the family in question while I was living more than ten hours travel-time away from them, and because -- for reasons about which you were cognizant -- a phone call from me might not have been well received.
You expressed mystification about what I believed you could do concerning those three individuals, and I said: “Be a Friend”. In response you said during our phone conversation that you were planning to meet with the mother in the near future, and you indicated to me you would try to gauge what was going on. I assume this was done – I have to assume this since I never heard back from you on the matter.
I also have tried to get in touch with Feisal on several occasions – both by e-mail and phone. On one of these occasions, I spoke with you and asked you to pass on a message to Feisal that I wanted to talk with him about an issue of some importance to me.
Once again, I never heard back. So, I have to assume that neither of you consider me to be a friend despite our past relatively, friendly interactions.
I can’t do anything about your side of the situation. All I can try to do is look after my own spiritual condition.
I have never written either of you off. I did not do this despite my disappointment in some of the things you were saying and doing – such as Feisal’s support for the fatwa which tried to justify Muslims killing other Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan … a fatwa that Feisal sent to the New York Times encouraging them to publish it and which was included in Feisal’s book (What’s Right With Islam) – a position which I criticized in my aforementioned book.
On the other hand, you both have been giving me some fairly clear signals for quite some time that you did not wish to have anything to do with me. Consequently, I consider our relationship to be one of estrangement – that is, something which is, in a sense, still open, in however a tenuous manner, but fraught with tension of one kind or another and something that might never get resolved.
In any case, despite the turbulent waters that have flowed beneath the existential bridge so elusively connecting us, I am currently writing to you both as a friend. Moreover, what I have to say now is from nowhere but my heart and soul with a deep concern for your spiritual welfare, as well as the welfare of all Americans and people throughout the world.
You, Feisal, have been criticized by, among others, Newt Gingrich for claiming that the United States was, in a sense, partially responsible,for what happened on 9/11. Your position is the ‘blowback’ theory championed by a variety of people – including Noam Chomsky, Chalmers Johnson, Amy Goodman, and Howard Zinn – that through the oppressive and destructive policies conducted by the United States government in relation to many Muslim countries over the last six decades (starting, perhaps, with the CIA’s over-throw of the legally elected Mossadegh’s government in Iran in 1953), the United States incited various elements in the Muslim world to get revenge against the United States … revenge which allegedly came home to roost on 9/11.
Your ‘blowback’ position is in need of revision, for it is inconsistent with the actual facts of 9/11. You should revise your understanding in the light of testimony from, among others: Sibel Edmonds, Indira Singh, Mike Ruppert, Barry Jennings, David Chandler, William Rodriquez, Richard Grove, Robin Wright, Colleen Rowley, April Gallop, David Schippers, Pierre Henry-Brunel, Judy Wood, Kevin Ryan, A.K. Dewdney, Steven Jones, Anthony Shaffer, Richard Gage, William Lagasse and Chadwick Brooks (both of whom are Pentagon Police Officers), as well as hundreds of architects, engineers, scientists, pilots (both commercial and military), fire-fighters (including the first responders whose testimony was finally released under a Freedom of Information suit by the New York Times against the City of New York), ex-CIA officers, and workers at both Arlington Cemetery and the Naval Annex who have come forth with evidence that collectively demonstrates that the “official” conspiracy theory concerning 9/11 cannot withstand critical scrutiny – in other words, that what is alleged to have happened, among other places, at the Twin Towers and the Pentagon did not occur in the way that has been claimed in: The 9/11 Commission Report; the various NIST (National Institute for Standards and Technology) reports concerning the Twin Towers and Building 7; or, the Pentagon Performance Report.
John Farmer, who headed up one of the 9/11 Commission research teams, has indicated that there were many dynamics taking place behind the scenes of the Commission that ensured Philip Zelikow -- a person with deep ties and conflicts of interest concerning the Bush Administration, conflicts of interest about which he remained silent when he was being interviewed for the position of: ‘Director of the 9/11 Commission’ -- had complete control over what did and did not see the light of day during the investigation. Not only is there evidence to indicate that Zelikow had already written a first draft of the Commission’s Report prior to any witnesses being deposed, but there is overwhelming evidence to indicate that Zelikow actively sought to exclude important testimony from the process by preventing many, if not all, of the testimony from the foregoing listed names to be properly considered or openly discussed through the 9/11 Commission process.
I believe you are honorable people who are seeking to do good as best you currently are able to understand what that might mean and involve. I believe your Cordoba initiative is done with such an intention.
I do not believe you are willfully holding an opinion concerning the events of 9/11 that is contrary to the facts. Rather, I believe you hold the opinion you do because you are ignorant of the actual facts – because you have not had the time or taken the time to do due diligence with respect to conducting rigorous research concerning 9/11.
I believe your situation vis-à-vis 9/11 is that of many Americans and even that of many people in the media. I do not believe any of you are part of some vast conspiracy to cover up the truth about 9/11.
I believe you have made the same mistake that many people have committed in this matter. You have let other people provide you with many of your opinions and ideas about 9/11 without bothering to properly verify or vet those sources.
Based solely on your public statements (such as, among other places, your book: What’s Right With Islam), I know that you have not carefully, if at all, gone through The 9/11 Commission Report, The FEMA Report, the NIST reports, or the Pentagon Performance Report. I know with even more certainty that you have not taken the time to listen to the testimony or read the testimony of most, if not all, of the witnesses who I mentioned earlier.
I know this because if you had done such due diligence you would have come to a much different conclusion than you have concerning the events of 9/11. I know this because you have had a good education and, at one point in your life, were heading toward a career in science and, therefore, are capable of looking at empirical data or experimental results and, then, being able to critically analyze such material in order to evaluate its credibility and viability. I know this because I have had discussions with you previously about technical issues.
The problem, however, is that you really have not looked at the actual data and facts concerning 9/11. Indeed, as indicated, your problem is that of many individuals in America – individuals of good will and decency – who have accepted, without much critical investigation of their own, what other people have had to say about 9/11 … people who had positions of responsibility concerning the investigation of 9/11 but, unfortunately, betrayed the American people instead.
I don’t know what the motives of such people were. I am not interested in speculating about them.
What I do know is that they got pretty much everything wrong. They committed egregious errors of both commission and omission during their inquiries into such things as the collapse of the Twin Towers, the collapse of Building 7, the devastation at the Pentagon, and the jet crash in the field in Pennsylvania.
I have no theory about who or what is responsible for the events of 9/11. I have not formed any conclusions -- one way or the other -- whether the alleged 19-20 hijackers actually had anything to do (whether peripherally, indirectly, or directly) with 9/11.
People who demand to know who committed the terrorist acts of 9/11, if not the 19 or 20 Muslims in question, are getting the cart before the horse. First one needs to establish the facts, and, then, one needs to connect the dots to see where they lead with respect to the people who may be implicated by those facts.
No one in the government, academia, or the mainstream media have done any of their so-called fact-finding in a way that is capable of plausibly being able to demonstrate that the Twin Towers or Building 7 collapsed in the way alleged. No one in the government, academia, or the mainstream media have done any of their so-called fact-finding in a manner which is capable of accounting for what allegedly occurred at the Pentagon. No one in government, academia, or the mainstream media have done any of their so-called fact-finding in a way that plausibly accounts for what allegedly went on in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
None of the foregoing is about who is responsible for 9/11. It is entirely about what actually happened – and can be demonstrated – with respect to the physical facts of 9/11.
Why have I bothered to provide the foregoing overview concerning certain facets of 9/11? There are several reasons.
First, I am trying to induce you both to actually take the time to verify whether, or not, your beliefs concerning 9/11 are correct and viable. You cannot do this without going through the physical evidence alluded to before, and, to date, I am certain that you have not done this with much deliberation … if at all.
Secondly, as long as your opinions concerning 9/11 are critically and factually uninformed, you are not really in any position to make sound judgments concerning the present situation vis-à-vis Cordoba House aka Park51, or the so-called Ground Zero Mosque. Pressure is mounting for you and the other stakeholders of SoHo Properties to acquiesce to the demands of many Americans that you should be willing to move your project to another, less sensitive, less problematic location.
Unfortunately, almost everyone is arguing about the wrong principles with respect to the foregoing controversy. The central issue is not about First Amendment rights, nor is it about the right of Americans to have their sensitivities concerning 9/11 be given proper consideration, nor is it about the rights of 9/11 families to be saved from further insult and injury … although all of these principles are, in their own context, perfectly understandable and not unreasonable.
The real principle at the heart of the ‘Cordoba House’ controversy is the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about. The elephant is named “Truth and Justice”, and it is the visibly invisible ghost of 9/11. Three thousand innocents – both Americans and foreign nationals – were assassinated on 9/11. Then, when there was a rush to judgment by all too many people who should have known better, the tragedy of 9/11 led to the further slaughter of tens of thousands of more innocents in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with tens of thousands more who have been maimed for life – both American and non-American and both Muslim and non-Muslim.
The families of 9/11 victims have been betrayed. The people of America have been betrayed. The soldiers of America have been betrayed. The people of Iraq and Afghanistan have been betrayed. Truth and justice have been betrayed.
How can you or the other stakeholders of SoHo Properties reach an equitable resolution with respect to the Cordoba House controversy when the whole brouhaha is predicated on misinformation and ignorance concerning the facts of the matter of 9/11? Your present controversy cannot be properly resolved, America’s 9/11 wounds cannot be adequately healed, and the tremendous injustices inflicted on Iraq and Afghanistan cannot be adequately addressed until the truth about 9/11 is established.
Mark Twain once said: “The trouble with the world is not that people know too little, it’s that they know so many things that aren’t so.” No truer words have ever been said about people’s ideas and opinions concerning 9/11.
If 9/11 families and the people of America want their concerns and sensitivities properly taken into consideration with respect to the Cordoba House project, then, they need to reciprocate and take steps to ensure that what they believe to have happened on 9/11 actually took place in the way that the official story claims. For, if things concerning 9/11 are other than they are officially framed to be, the 9/11 families and the people of America will need to adopt an entirely different set of concerns and sensitivities with respect to 9/11.
If anyone would like to interject at this point that the facts of 9/11 already have been established, then, they haven’t been paying attention. Anyone who has not gone through: The 9/11 Commission Report, the NIST reports, The Pentagon Performance Report, as well as listened carefully to the testimony of all of the people I have listed earlier (and many others could be added to that list) and who were prevented (either actively or passively) from testifying before the 9/11 Commission – such a person really has no idea of what may, or may not, have taken place on 9/11.
The understanding of such an individual concerning the physical facts of 9/11 has been provided for them through something other than their own due diligence. Anyone who is honest about this issue will admit as much.
Feisal and Daisy, you, and others at SoHo Properties, have an unprecedented opportunity to do great service to both truth and justice, as well as to the 9/11 families, the rest of America, democracy, and the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan. Actually, there is no one else on the face of the earth at the present time who has the same chance as you now possess to ensure that the right thing is done with respect to so many principles and people.
This opportunity may never come again. You have a chance to do what no one else has been able to achieve with respect to 9/11 -- namely, seek a new investigation into 9/11 that is objective, rigorous, independent, thorough, and capable of generating results which are actually able to reflect the full set of existing data concerning 9/11 … something which has not, yet, happened through: the government, the media, academia, or any of the organizations which officially have been linked to the supposed official investigation into 9/11.
As an act of good faith, I feel you should be willing to move your Cordoba House project to another location. However, in exchange for your act of good faith you should require a reciprocal act of good faith – an agreement to establish (through state and/or federal grand juries) an exhaustive exploration into 9/11.
In fact, since David Patterson, the governor of New York, has graciously offered to help you find a suitable but alternative location for the Cordoba House project, I propose that David Patterson also has the authority to ensure that an appropriately unbiased grand jury of New Yorkers be convened for the purposes of investigating the murders of 9/11 – just like any other murders that have occurred, or will occur, on New York State soil. The Office of David Patterson would be a natural bridge through which both sides of the offered good faith might meet and reach a just and equitable resolution to the current controversy.
I have confidence in the American people. Moreover, the great work that state and federal grand juries do at least five days a week all across America in helping to protect democracy demonstrates that my faith in the American people is justified.
If a group of average Americans is permitted to investigate 9/11 via a grand jury format and follow the evidence wherever it takes them and subpoena power permits, I believe that the results of such an investigation will be fair and impartial. I believe that when they consider all the relevant evidence they will arrive at a judicious conclusion concerning 9/11.
However, this challenge must be under the full authority of the people of America, not the government. Let the people fulfill the purposes for which grand juries were originally established as the last bastion of defense against forces of tyranny and injustice that are capable of undermining democracy and freedom.
If you have the foresight to adopt and realize the proposal I am making concerning the exchange of location for a proper investigation into 9/11, the entire world will owe you a debt of gratitude. If you have the courage to adopt and realize the proposal I am making, the whole purpose of Cordoba House would have been fulfilled before it was even built.
I will end with some words from a Tracy Chapman song:
Don’t be tempted by the shiny apple;
Don’t you eat of the bitter fruit;
Hunger only for the taste of justice;
Hunger only for the word of truth,
For all that you have is your soul.
As a friend, I can think of no better counsel to give you.