Saturday, September 11, 2010


Today's superb late summer weather is eerily like it was then. The poem I posted, disturbing & unlike any other I've written, is one of thousands displayed  at another website, & was all I had to say in poetry about the day, &  I gave  the words to Martin, my birthday saint,  patron of soldiers, beggars, & winemakers. Martinus is derived from Mars, god of war. Martin was a young Roman soldier who decided he didn't want to fight, yet offered to stand unarmed between opposing armies. That is not my favorite Martin story. I love that he gave half his cloak to a beggar. No reason either of them had to freeze. He had twice as much cloak as was absolutely necessary. I read recently, a poll or study,  that poor people are more charitable than affluent people, in proportion & in spirit.As impressed as I am by Bill & Melinda Gates, well, they ain't feeling much of a pinch. They don't need to pull their half-a-cloak tighter to keep out the cold wind.

This  year is the angriest 9/11 anniversary we've yet had. I'm one of those odd folk who didn't want to rebuild on Ground Zero, despite it being some of the most valuable real estate in the world. I wanted a sunken park, a place where, on nice summer evenings, an orchestra could perform works like Vaughan Williams' "Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis." Let the open sky be the memorial. No "Freedom Tower" (now it's just One World Trade Center). It's an office building disguised as a giant nonsectarian steeple.   Our preferences  were dismissed early on as impractical. Thank heavens the USS Arizona didn't sink where it would blight the view &  property values  at Waikiki. & the Battle of Antietam/Sharpsburg was fought where Washington  D.C. suburbs wouldn't gobble up the cornfields..

President Bush couldn't resist the bullhorn the day he went into the pit, 9/14. We've been shouting over the place ever since.

The craziness about Park51, as if a temple to Donald Trump - he offered to buy the property at cost plus 20% - would be preferable.  Might be more honestly American: Trump51.

Perhaps the loony pastor in Gainesville did us a service. He isn't disconnected from us. He's just a lousy minister who allowed the anger & frustration to carry him to one of the predictable destinations. He became "demonic," possessed by a terrible spirit. Nine  years on, all the blood spilled in Iraq & Afghanistan, & they still hate us. Bombing plots are broken up by police, security agencies, or accidentally -  smoke coming out of  a guy's shoe. It's troubling to think that our armed forces aren't responsible for keeping suicide bombers out of New York subways, but that seems to be how it is. It's also at the center of the Park51 furor. Park51 quickly went beyond the feelings of 9/11 families.  Fact is, several types of fundamentalist Islam grow & inspire  terrorists.  But major religions don't neatly compartmentalize themselves; they are  blurry prisms  of  belief & doctrine.

Our Constitution doesn't prohibit fundamentalist religion.  We already have too much of it. Investigating religious beliefs, putting spies in our religious institutions, isn't something we like doing.  It creates conflicts  for us. Our distaste for interference is how the American Roman Catholic hierarchy  covered up its knowledge of  massive  priestly child abuse for decades. The best way to conduct religion in America is with  all possible  doctrinal,  institutional, & financial  transparency.  I don't know the secret rites of Latter Day Saints & I don't care, because I'm certain they aren't preaching the violent overthrow of the United States government.  Mormons had to change their polygamist doctrine to fully root & grow in America - we forced the issue, at gunpoint. Change or we'll take away Utah. 

American Muslims have a harder road to travel than American Jews, Catholics, & even  Hindus.  But the road leads in the same direction: They have to  become Americans. Initially, it's a one way street, &  it isn't fair that  Americans of other (or no) faiths want reassurances,  but that's the situation, folks.  It's always been the situation. John F. Kennedy had to explain his Catholicism.  Now we act ashamed that he did it, but  it was   politically necessary in 1960. It helped. If the mullah at a  mosque is teaching ideas & attitudes he doesn't want spoken outside the mosque, it's not going to work out here.  Find another mullah.   Sharia will not influence American law. Wherever it violates Constitutional rights, any attempt to force it  upon an unwilling resident  of the United States will be challenged, punished, & suppressed. You can disown, shun, excommunicate, but you cannot forcibly compel obedience to religious law & doctrine, There's some gray area concerning minors, but none with adults.  Conservatives are correct when they say that if any  American Muslims can't accept these conditions, they're  in the wrong nation. & Muslims should not  make the error  of assuming  Americans  who strongly defend religious freedom are in any way endorsing specific beliefs & practices. I don't like fundamentalist & patriarchal religion.

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