Friday 6 August 2010

Sarah Palin: Refudiate this!

In all fairness, we all have made some sort of verbal faux pas during a speech. Who hasn't had their tongue trip over itself and what comes out of your mouth is... well, incomprehensible, perplexing if not just downright stupid or funny. Malapropism, spoonerism or just plain simple mispronunciation: all is out there for the world to see or hear and once it's out of our mouths, there is no taking it back.

A plan to build a mosque near the Ground Zero site in New York generated quite a bit of controversy. People have been jumping on the bandwagon saying that this is offensive to America in light of the events of 9/11. On July 19, Sarah Palin, on the social networking site Twitter, wrote asking "peaceful Muslims" to "pls refudiate" the plan. She then corrected herself by then calling on "peaceful New Yorkers" to "refute the Ground Zero mosque plan". Well, refute isn't quite right either and while repudiate might fit, reject would probably be better but by then, it was too late. The rest of the world got a hold of this and have both savagely and delightedly gone after her for this "creative" use of the English language.

Of course, apologizing or at least leaving it alone wasn't enough; Sarah had to continue by tweeting this:

"Refudiate," "misunderestimate," "wee-wee'd up." English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!

Sarah is comparing herself to Shakespeare? LOL!!! This has created quite an amusing mashup #shakespalin on Twitter (mashup = mixing 2 different ideas) where people take quotes from the Bard and put in bits of Sarah's quotes.

"To be or not to be: that's a gotcha question"

“But soft, what light from yonder window breaks? It is the East, and I can see Russia from my front porch”

As we all know Sarah isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer. While John McCain's desperate attempt to somehow beat Obama failed, choosing Sarah Palin has given centre stage to a person who never should have been allowed in the theatre, never mind being put on stage. However, the curious aspect of Sarah herself as a media personality is the following which has developed around her. This has gotten to the point where there is talk of her running for president in 2012 and while at first one may find this amusing if not absurd; I would remind the reader that another not too sharp knife, George W. Bush served 2 terms in the White House.

In reflecting on the people who support Ms. Palin, people I have seen being interviewed on TV, I am somewhat apprehensive of a segment of the electorate which seems to about as sharp as Ms. Palin. While I would hate to suggest this out of fear of being considered some sort of elitist, I would like to point out that these people can vote and they may be casting their vote for a person who is not just completely unqualified, but for a person who is going to continue the George Bush style of right-wing, Christian fundamentalism, it's us or them thinking that has done so much to continue to portray the United States to the rest of the world as the "Ugly American".

The Mosque
This entire issue is very, very complex. However, the complexity stems a great deal from the emotional context of the proximity to Ground Zero and the events of 9/11. I consider it not just unfortunate but scandalous that the word terrorism in many people's minds is synonymous with a religion and I do not in any way hold out any hope of seeing a proper resolution to this problem anytime in the near future.

Jerrilynn Dodds is the Dean of Sarah Lawrence College in New York and author of a book-length photographic essay entitled, " New York Masjid: the Mosques of New York" (2002). She writes in an article published by CNN:

It's hard to think of a better place for a mosque today than lower Manhattan, near to ground zero. To support the siting of a mosque there is not just deeply American--a declaration of the freedoms we stand for -- it is the continuation of a long and established New York tradition of mosque-building.

In fact, by any historical measure it is absurd to see Cordoba House, a community center that will include a mosque, as a kind of hostile and exotic cultural invasion of the lower east side. Mosques have been part of New York's rich architectural and religious mix for over a century, and today hundreds of thousands of Muslims, many whose New York roots go back generations -- attend the city's more than 100 mosques in the five boroughs.

The Muslims who built these mosques are New Yorkers, blameless in the events of September 11, 2001, and linked to other New Yorkers through the deep shared sense of loss and pain evoked that day. Their mosques, already part of our urban identity, bear witness to the strength of our freedoms, as will the Cordoba House center.

Ideology, fundamentalism: I'm right and you're wrong
As I've said elsewhere, my wife aptly compared ideology with fundamentalism whereby a person follows a line of reasoning without regard to the facts. In other words, we pick our solution then we try to change the problem to fit the solution.

Sarah Palin like many others connects the terrorism of 9/11 to the Muslim faith because the perpetrators of this act of terrorism were Muslim. On April 19, 1995 Timothy McVeigh detonated a bomb in Oklahoma City killing 168 people which is considered the deadliest act of terrorism in the United States before 9/11. Timothy was Irish Catholic. I don't see anybody stopping the building of cathedrals. "Timothy was Catholic. The Pope is a terrorist!" Odd, isn't it? Anybody can see the absurdity of connecting the Pope to terrorism based on McVeigh being a Catholic but many will continue to say every Muslim is a terrorist because Osama is Muslim.

Fear and Facts
What are we afraid of? the unknown. If you have no facts; you don't know things; you are afraid. Get facts; things are not unknown; you are not afraid. Seems pretty simple I'd say.

However, in reality, many of our "facts" come from a variety of sources and some of the sources are not necessarily verifiable. And who's got time to verify all those facts? Well, our politicians will do it for us. They are going to tell us the facts and we can trust them to know the facts, right?

There are weapons of mass destruction.

There are no weapons of mass destruction

Time Magazine: The President Will Now Answer Your Questions
By Mike Allen/Philadelphia - Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2005

Squinting into the television lights, Bush later called on Faeze Woodville, 44, of Stratford, Pa., who cares for two sons at home. "Mr. President," she began, "I would like to know why it is that you and others in your administration keep linking 9/11 to the invasion of Iraq when no respected journalist or Middle Eastern expert confirmed that such a link existed." She got a burst of applause—this was no Bush-Cheney campaign audience. The President and other administration officials have often implied a link between Saddam Hussein and the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, and polls have shown that lots of Americans believe it. Bush was not so forthcoming with this answer. "I appreciate that," he began, which is the way he often begins the answers to questions he does not appreciate. He repeated some of his stock lines about how 9/11 had changed his view of foreign policy and then got even bigger applause by concluding: "Removing Saddam Hussein makes this world a better place and America a safer country." Chatting afterward with reporters from TIME and The Washington Post, Woodville said she was disappointed by the non-answer. "He must think we're morons," she said.

Hmm, let's not forget who we're dealing with here.

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
George Bush —Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004

I will now finish with words from Ms. Palin herself.

"As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where– where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border."
--Sarah Palin, explaining why Alaska's proximity to Russia gives her foreign policy experience, interview with CBS's Katie Couric, Sept. 24, 2008


Urban Dictionary: refudiate

An excellent summation of the various issues surrounding the building of this mosque

Wikipedia: Cordoba House (The Ground Zero Mosque)

Nothing new about mosques in New York By Jerrilynn Dodds, Special to CNN

Wikipedia: Timothy McVeigh

3.8 Trillion Reasons to Think of Sarah


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