Monday, August 9, 2010

Go To A Mosque

So at 6:55 pm last Saturday I spotted online notice that one of my favorite authors, Norman Finkelstein, would be speaking at 7 pm at a mosque about 40 miles from me. So I jumped in the car and got there near 8 and people were just lining up to get something to eat. Apparently it was dinner and the lecture. The lecture hadn't yet begun.

There was a man at the entrance to the room with a clip board and a jar labeled "Flood Relief for Pakistan" with some money in it. And I asked him if this talk was open to the general public. "Sure" he said. "Is there a fee?" I asked. "Donations only, but don't you worry about that." Well, I gave him $10 anyway and stepped through the door. Immediately a man motioned to me to come with him. So I started following him and he's leading me to the front of the food line. It's obvious that I'm a visitor since I'm the only person that I see that has a white face. I'm kind of embarrassed saying that I'd rather go to the end of the line, but he insisted and he inserts me in front of a man who smiles and grabs a plate for me. He tells me that when I get my food please have a seat towards the front where I'll have a good view. Then another man approaches me just to check and see if I know what the food is so that I can get what I like. As I work down the line he's telling me what everything is. This is spicy, this is more mild, etc. I ended up grabbing a seat that wasn't all the way to the front and sat with a couple of people. The more elderly gentlemen starts conversing with me. Everyone was just as gracious as could possibly be.

I understand that Islam is a religion that is growing rapidly and I can see why. The mainstream portrayal of Islam is so negative. In fact I had planned to go with my family to a mosque on Friday for prayers just so they could experience it, kind of as an education thing. Christian friends and even atheist friends react kind of like that's some sort of dangerous thing. What I could see happening is when a person that is religious oriented experiences Islam, which in reality is so much more positive than they expect, they're probably a little shocked and greatly impressed. Perhaps this tends to draw them in.


HispanicPundit said...

Not me - I've known many Muslims. Some of the nicest people I have ever met.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post. How was the lecture though? I just watched the new documentary about Finkelstein and can heartily recommend it if you haven't seen it. I reviewed it here:

Paul said...

I too have recently seen the documentary.

Nicholas - this is a side issue but in your review you refer to Alan Dershowitz (sp?) as a neocon. I believe he is a strong supporter of Israel but are his other political views conservative? I am under the impression that his other views are more left of center. Although I don't know much about him so I could be wrong.

As to the documentary - of the plagiarism charge - I don't know anything more than what the movie showed but that was a bad move on Finkelstein. Though honestly, of that segment what I thought was going to be the point (which turned out not to be) was that Dershowitz had repeatedly referenced a book that had been discredited.

Jon said...

Hi Nicholas,

I saw the documentary as well. I thought it was very good. I thought he was right to go after the crocodile tears. Remember that he's been watching this game being played forever. All the weeping and gnashing of teeth regarding various other issues all as a means of turning a blind eye to the massive suffering of the Palestinians.

But Chomsky was right to suggest he ignore the plagiarism charge. Still, I can imagine the temptation Finkelstein would feel. Such blatant and pathetic errors from the dean of Harvard law. It's really quite shocking and hard to ignore.

Nicholas, I think you said DePaul was in New York when you meant Chicago, just FYI. Thanks for the link though.

Anonymous said...

@Paul, You're probably correct that maybe it's fairer to label Dershowitz as a "right-wing" academic rather than a neo-con. Maybe he's borderline :)

@Jon, I was a bit divided on that moment. It's probably Finkelstein's most passionate and powerful speech in the film. But I can't help thinking that as soon as he starts shouting, opponents are just going to stop listening to what he has to say and just dismiss him as a ranting Israel hater and thug for "making" that girl cry. I personally have no sympathy with her argument though although I can appreciate the ways in which she has been brainwashed to think like that.

I also understand, as you say, Finkelstein's anger towards Dershowitz both for his shoddy academic work and with hot witchhunt of Finkelstein. But in the end, it would probably have been more effective for him to have just exposed Dershowitz's inaccuracies on Israel, but not pursued the plagiarism charge which caused him so many problems.

Thanks for spotting the DePaul error by the way!

mohammad said...

Peace be upon those who follow guidance,

Nice to know your experience. You can read more about beliefs of islam erc here: