November 12, 2004

How would you feel?

If this was your place of worship, and you saw this picture on the front of the newspaper?

US soldiers in Falluja mosque

[The photo was on the front page of this morning's LA Times, by the way.]

Jeanne at Body & Soul nails it:

Apparently I'm still capable of shock, because I at least did a double take when I saw soldiers in a shattered mosque lying on my kitchen table. I know what my reaction would be if this were my church. Desecration. I am not a Muslim, but the violence done to any holy place hurts. There was at least talk of concern about desecration in Najaf, and I wonder now if we have given up any pretense of caring about that. I wonder if I will look back and think that desecration was the whole point.

My god is bigger than your god. Beyond that symbolism, can anyone explain what the point of attacking Falluja is? Does control of that city matter if it angers the rest of Iraq? Do we just keep playing whack-a-mole when they pop up again in Mosul and elsewhere?

Or do we just hope that if we keep feigning divinity, it will eventually be ours?

We'd also ask: What effect do you think this photo is having on the people in Iraq that the US is supposedly in the country to help? Or on Muslims in other countries?

Posted by Magpie at November 12, 2004 03:55 PM | Iraq | Technorati links |

I agree with what you are saying almost in every instance, am on the same page with you as to how Iraqis and Muslims will perceive this. Also, I find this war a planning debacle that was poorly run from the top after being instigated based upon lies.

Having said that, we should not be too indignant about our soldiers "desecrating" these places of worship, lest we forget that virtually every one of these mosques has either been used to store weapons, serve as an insurgency headquarters, hide fighters, or provide a backdrop for one cleric's followers to assassinate another group's leading cleric. And this trend has hardly been limited to Iraq.

I find this war wrong on every level, but I have seen too many instances where the Muslims have held these shrines to be sacred until they have had the opportunity to use them for violence.

Posted by: Scott at November 12, 2004 05:17 PM

As a Muslim, I do not "h[o]ld these shrines to be sacred until [I] have had the opportunity to use them for violence."

Can we please try to avoid making sweeping statements like this about Muslims? Thanks.

Posted by: Al-Muhajabah at November 12, 2004 06:00 PM

I find it ironic that this country's government professes to be so pious, yet picks and chooses the times when religion must yield to expediency. This is, after all, a crusade, remember? A crusade to make all like us. A crusade to ensure that those uppity Muslims don't get any idea that they can challenge us. A crusade for the future of the world (and it's oil). We can't forget that these folks in charge of our government have had imperial designs since before Bush's inauguration. Photos like this shouldn't shock us at all anymore.

And of course, broad generalizations about people of any religious faith don't help matters. The fact that most Americans tend to lump brown people together into one mass category shows us just how intellectually lazy most of us are. No, we shouldn't be this way. But our leaders also shouldn't take advantage of that laziness to line their pals' pockets.

Posted by: Brian at November 13, 2004 01:39 PM

Al-Muhajabah misinterpreted my comments and Brian's opening line of his last paragraph seems to do the same.

Nothing I said was a sweeping or blanket statement. I go in to more details on my own site so as not to tie up PV, but the point remains that pointing out U.S. desecration of a mosque provides an imbalance of argument given the high usage of these same mosques in Iraq for what I mention in my original posting. At no point did I say all Muslims were terrorists or hated America, nor did I say that every mosque is a terrorist haven.

The fact remains that many mosques have been used for violent and non-religious purposes in Iraq, and while everything about our invasion is wrong, so to is the use of a place of worship for terrorism. There has been ample evidence of this happening, and my point was that if you are going to critique U.S. troops for doing something inappropriate you should speak with equal clarity about the other misuses of these sites in Iraq by the insurgents. Our misguided war efforts do not justify the actions of the insurgents and should not be ignored to make a point.

And disgust for Bush policy, which I share wholly, does not rationalize using the same blanket and one-sided take on things so prevalent from the Right.

You may now return to beating me up for trying to be an anti-war Liberal who still believes we must provide balanced perspectives.

Posted by: Scott at November 13, 2004 01:55 PM

I think we've finally stepped over the line.

There's no way out of this, we can't even withdraw... and they won't even drive us out of their homeland. The Fall of Saigon, where we were pushing helos off the decks of aircraft carriers into Cam Ran Bay to make landing space for the in-coming helos, pales in comparison ... we're looking at the biggest massacre since Custer.

And like Custer, we brought it upon ourselves.

Isreal... is the enemy.

Posted by: Thomas Ware at November 13, 2004 04:50 PM

Hey, I'm all for "balanced perspectives." But you have to admit that you're providing half the story. Maybe these "insurgents" violate the terms of their own religion by hiding in mosques. But I submit that the Bush Administration violates the terms of their religion by waging a war of aggression.

Posted by: Brian at November 13, 2004 07:14 PM

I could not agree more. I see no difference between extremist Muslim groups like al Qaeda or Zarqawi's group and extremist Christian groups like the far right of the Republican Party. I see the war in Iraq as a complete violation of any statement of values or faith.
And you are sort of right; I am providing half the story. I felt I had to as only one half was being put out there.
Both the Bush Administration and the insurgents/extremists/terrorists have desecrated both their religions by falsely using it as a cover for motives that are less than godly.
You want to condemn Bush? If you read more of my blogging you would see I am right there with you. However, I will not ignore other pieces of the puzzle in making a point. In this case I saw half the puzzle put forth and I wanted to add some more pieces. There was no need for me to repeat the parts that were already said to do so.

Posted by: Scott at November 13, 2004 07:58 PM

i'd suggest that *even if* the mosque had been used to hide fighters or ammunition, or otherwise was involved in the insurgency, using that mosque as a bivouac was still stepping way over the line. this picture is going to do a lot of damage ...

Posted by: Magpie at November 13, 2004 10:53 PM

The moral difference, as I see it, is that one side in this conflict decided to stage an unnecessary invasion which the other is trying to repel. I would tend to place a slightly higher moral culpability on the side that initiated hostilities.

And for love of gods, what the **** did they think was going to happen, anyway? Did this government think they think they could start a war on false premises, replace one set of torturers with another, tear down every shred of social order without replacing it, and expect the other side to follow the rules?

We're a society that was founded on the premise that the law needed to be the foundation of moral authority, and that no given individual should have the ability to be above it. That a fair and equal standard should apply to everyone. We've just told the whole world that our present government doesn't think that sentiment is worth a hoot in a hurricane, not that this is the first such action but certainly the most flagrant, and it will be a long time before this country stops paying for it.

Posted by: natasha at November 13, 2004 11:32 PM

Scott, thanks for the debate - I will read some of your other posts.

I share the view that this picture's not exactly going to help us win the "hearts and minds" battle, but I also tend to think that what we're not seeing - what's happening on the ground in Iraq - would make any outrage we feel over this picture seem petty.

Posted by: Brian at November 14, 2004 07:06 AM

Can someone photoshop that into the National Cathedral or Grace Cathedral? Do to Christian interiors what was done there?


Posted by: Scorpio at November 14, 2004 06:09 PM

"Can we please try to avoid making sweeping statements like this about Muslims? Thanks."

Why not ?

We are talking here about a religion that is still stuck in the 7th century mindset.
These so called "moderate muslims" are people who choose to ignore certain aspects of that religion mainly for personal convenience.

BTW where was all that outrage when Palestinian gunmen/terrorists were desecrating Church of Nativity ?

Posted by: warmi at November 15, 2004 02:59 PM

Dudes, if that mosque wasn't a weapons dump the Marines would not go anywhere near it. All through this battle the insurgents used minarets as sniper posts. And you know, asking your enemy to hold a piece of ground as sacred, and then firing from it, that happens to be a war crime called perfidy. And it's punishable by death.

Posted by: Omri at November 15, 2004 10:15 PM

"But I submit that the Bush Administration violates the terms of their religion by waging a war of aggression."

I'm wondering if Brian typed this with a straight face.

If not, perhaps a more honest look at the "terms of their religion" and its relationship to war and aggression would be in order. Sanctified violence against percieved infidels, civilians, non-combatants, women, children, Christians, Jews, non-believers of every kind, including fellow Muslims deemed not to be following the "true path" of Islam. While we obviously support moderate, peaceful expressions of Islam, we also recognize that war, violence, and aggression are specifically promoted in sacred texts as official expressions of true devotion. When read and obeyed literally, these are the terms of the religion. To pretend otherwise is to sacrifice reason and common sense for the luxury of misguided tolerance and wishful thinking.

If this was my place of worship, and I saw this picture in the newspaper? I would ask my fellow worshipers why our people are using them to store weapons and plot murder. As people of faith and good will, we should be demanding that they only be used for peace and sanctuary.

Posted by: Michael at November 17, 2004 07:46 PM