9/11, Part II: Mortification

According to an eyewitness — someone I have known for years, not at all my favorite person but unlikely to retail fabrications — there was a moment during the anti-mosque protests of September 11th 2010 when a woman in hijab crossed the paths of the protesters; whether to confront them, or simply to go about her business (the World Trade Center site occupies a part of Manhattan sometimes referred to as Little Syria), I haven’t yet been able to find out.

With scant words exchanged, one of the protesters yanked off the woman’s hijab, threw it to the ground, and spat at her.

Yay for America.

I worked at a powder puff health club back in the early 80’s, the kind of place populated by fiftysomething grandmothers grudgingly adopting an exercise program and women who fear using what they think will be a “meat market” co-ed gym. An unexpected segment of the clientele involved Muslim women who wore hijab and observed strictures against appearing uncovered in front of men, but who still wanted a good exhilarating bout of exercise a few times a week. One day I found a couple of these young ladies peering out of the locker room. Apparently a man was repairing something out on the workout floor and they were vexed, wondering how long it would take before all male presence was banished from the exercise area, and could I ask?

I thought it was a sad business, that any religion was a silly religion which cultivated that degree of restriction, and that in my ideal world those two girls would say “Hey — what’s more important?” and march out there into the aerobics class to enjoy the endorphin buzz which was their human right. But it was not my job or civic duty to tell them what I thought of the beliefs which had been foisted on them, most likely, by accident of birth. I went out and checked with the repairman, found he was just finishing up, and was glad to be able to tell them so. Who knows how much stress they had already had during that week?

We have some curious Christian sects in this country: witness the Amish, whose women’s dress is copious and concealing, and whose rules of conduct are meticulous, all-encompassing and often harsh. We consider them a cherished curiosity, to judge from the way their culture is granted indulgences and exemptions within the areas where they have settled. I think it all sounds rather horrid, but even if some fundamentalist Amish group had gone rogue and started bombing, say, power substations and car dealerships, I can’t see what yanking off some Amish woman’s cap would do to register my objection.

I wonder who those inflamed assholes in New York thought they were impressing, and how many rounds of Preparation H the cops would have had to fire into the crowd before subduing them.


22 thoughts on “9/11, Part II: Mortification

  1. What staggers me is that America is famous for the Pilgrims who left England to escape religious persecution (they wore funny outfits and banned make up and dancing etc etc etc), and over the intervening centuries they have been followed by millions of people from all over the world who emigrated to the US with the intention of establishing a society built on freedom of expression and justice for all.

    Except, not if you’re moslem, apparently.


    • Part of the reasons the Puritan Pilgrims felt “persecuted” was that they were not able (they tried) to impose their views on the Church of England and by extension all of their fellow citizens. The people who are justly alarmed by some of the provisions of Sharia law need to look more closely at the laws governing early Puritan communities in New England.

      The spirit of American religious freedom owes more to William Penn and Thomas Jefferson.

    • Isn’t it ironic that the Puritians would come to the New World to be free to worship considering what the same people did in England? Perhaps there is something to think about in that bit of history.

      What allegedly happened was an example of mob violence and what comes of mob rule. Such people are not capable of a response to violence and wrongdoing, they just perpetuate it.

  2. Fear drives all those nut cases. They are afraid the Muslims will take away their liberties because they have more children than they do and become a majority. The same thing goes, in some parts of your country, for Latinos.
    The way to survival is not killing off the others but to reproduce ourselves so as to maintain a significant presence. Nature abhors emptiness.

    • I worry myself, to be honest, about people who have scads of children, not so much because of their beliefs (since you never know what the children will continue to believe in a pluralistic society) but because there are too damn many people on the earth already and because so often many children = poverty and ignorance. One of the most horrifying trends in current American culture is the “full quiver” Christian movement which decrees that a couple ought to have as many children as they possibly can. Shooting your spouse in the head and then yourself would seem like a quicker, kinder and more socially responsible way of achieving the same result.

      I have read that the Protestant denominations which are rigorously opposed abortion and sometimes contraception trace those policies to fear of being out-reproduced by Catholic immigrants (and the Catholic church itself only discovered an opposition to abortion and birth control around 1850). The only result seems to have been more suffering for women.

      Anyway, from what I see around me here near DC even the secular, well-off young Americans are competing in some kind of reproductive derby. I can’t walk down the street or shop for groceries without tripping over a stroller or a squealing kid — the nearest “high street” area, with shops, sidewalk cafes, a theater and library, is impossible for me to enjoy because it’s like dodging through a kindergarten — and some days I feel like I’m going to snap and just stand in the middle of foot traffic yelling stop, stop, STOP.

  3. I turned off all news over the weekend; the combination of our media fascination with all things to be sensationalized and the furor against Muslims was enough to keep me tuned out.
    I do not understand how those who consider themselves living in a Nation Under God, would turn and do the very thing that God abhors. Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself clearly only applies now to those who look like us. Sad times.

    Thank you for sharing the 9/11 posts, thoughtful without being sappy-sentimental. As one expects here at Sixteen Tons.

  4. I enjoyed your series on 9/11.

    Sharia law need to look more closely at the laws governing early Puritan communities in New England.

    From what I read, when the Quakers landed in Massachusetts they were beaten, tortured and hanged. And I don’t know what happened to the Catholics (many came at first from England itself). But one has to consider this was before the Enlightenment arrived, who brought the concept of secularization. The problem with Muslim societies (apart from Turkey) is that they have skipped the Enlightenment. So they are theocracies, state and religion being one.

          • I think the draw for me in Hawaii was a nascent outrage at the soul murder (and worse) committed by religious zealots in the name of righteousness. The whole primary plot about the missionaries and Calvinist doctrine sucked me in and reinforced my growing suspicion of people who impose their views on others “for their own good,” or even just assume their views are right because they’re “Godly.” He drew a devastating picture of that brand of insanity.

    • Skipped the Enlightenment? We didn’t skip it, but plenty of people in the USA talk as if they wish we did. They are actively trying to remove the ‘dis-establishment’ clause from the Constitution.

      I rather think the ‘problem’ with Moslem nations is that they skipped the Industrial Revolution, in part because they spent it as colonies of enlightened European countries.

      China also skipped the Enlightenment, but they don’t seem to have a theocracy, unless you think Communism is a religion in the theological sense.

      • I don’t know if you can even apply the same timeline of religious vs. scientific secular thought to China, lacking as it did a monotheistic or revealed religion in the senses we’re familiar with, but I would vote for Communism — especially in its pure Maoist form — being a religion. As was Nazism. Look at the superstitious reverence and object-worship involved (I own a “Barefoot Doctor’s Manual” which instructs rural health practitioners to apply not only herbs, acupuncture and basic Western medicine but to enjoin the patient to imbibe and adore the Wisdom Of Chairman Mao).

        What we’re seeing in this country now weirds me out because so many of the “Christians” don’t seem to know or care what is actually in the Christian Scriptures and the “patriots” have the same confused attitude to the Constitution. Apparently being a Christian just means you believe in Jeebus and being an American means you love the flag.

  5. 9/11 is now just an excuse for people to do dumb shit and believe whatever fearful, hysterical nonsense seeps into their cranium at the time. It’s like in the Trade Center rubble they found a secret vault of Asshole Certificates and handed them out to the most knee-jerk reactionary members of the American population. 9/11 is not a national tragedy anymore, it’s now a rhetorical device for people with the reasoning capacity of a child who eats paint chips.

    • Everybody with political aspirations and anyone who fancies themselves a “public intellectual” will be running their mouths, and shitting digital diarrhea all over the Internet.

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