Saturday, August 07, 2010

Ground Zero Gingrich Gets History Wrong

I guess a degree in history of Tulane just ain't what we thought it was.

Because while we may expect Sarah Palin to whiff on important matters of Western civilizational history, we should expect an actual ivory towered historical scholar to take scholarly accepted Medieval history a bit more seriously. (And seriously, the fantastic linked post is of moderate length, but so worth the read to remind us of a singular time in Western Civilization we rarely hear about.)

So it's easy to see why a group of Muslims creating a community center in the heart of a majority Christian country in a city known for its large Jewish population might name it "The Cordoba House." They're not, as Gingrich hopes we would believe, discreetly laughing at us because "Cordoba" is some double-secret Islamist code for "conquest"; rather, they're hoping to associate themselves with a particular time in medieval history when the largest library in Western Europe was to be found in Cordoba, a city in which scholars of all three major Abrahamic religions were free to study side-by-side.

Unless he actually does know the real history, combines that with the understanding that many Americans do not know (or care to investigate) the real history, and will instead send him money and attention if he intentionally misrepresents the topic for personal political gain.

And now even Pawlenty is getting in on this nonsense.

Nothing. But. Disgust.

(HT: The Daily Dish)



patsbrother said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
patsbrother said...

You have lost your mind.

Note: I am not taking a side in this silliness, I'm just calling you insane.

Gingrich et al.: Cordoba refers to Cordoba X.

Patrick et al.: Cordoba refers to Cordoba Y.

That's called a disagreement.

But you go into hysterics (both here and on facebook) as though the person with whom you disagree made a Golda Meir-type statement such as "Cordoba Y never existed".

When the Obama campaign said the McCain camp was nefariously referencing O.J. Simpson when a McCain staffer said the Obama campaign was "playing the race card," I registered my disagreement. I did NOT cry havoc the dogs of war because the Obama camp did not provide a dissertation on all the other possible sources of that phrase.

Asserting that Cordoba refers to Cordoba X does NOT mean Gingrich is (a) ignorant; (b) mendacious; or (c) nefarious.

You have lost your mind.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Umm, no.

This is a much larger issue than the melodramatic "he-said-they-said" of the most recent Presidential campaign.

One of the foundations of this ignorance-spreading fantasy land mythology is that Gingrich, Palin, et al claim the folks building the "Cordoba" mosque in lower Manhattan are doing so "like the historical Cordoba" to "build a victory mosque" near the site of a great Islamist "victory." They are not making a distinction - that is their stated belief.

They are discussing the historical Cordoba so far out of context as to be laughable, as would be this entire, digusting narrative they are trying to further. But funny time is over. These are national leaders demonstrating that they will throw American citizens of religious minorities under the bus in order to gain political power.

I am not replying with hysterics, I am replying with historical fact and repudiating this ugly behavior based on the best traditions of both American and Western civilization.

Unfortunately, some very ignorant and easily misled Americans buy quickly into anti-Islamic xenophobia and emotional reactionism. These national Republican leaders are creating an emotionally charged issue over a mundane zoning issue in Manhattan, for the political purposes of fundraising and getting their faces on television.

It is more than unfortunate that so many people who should know better are so willing to let this behavior slide.

But if you think I have "lost my mind" and have some sort of misunderstanding of what is happening here, please describe the benign policy hiding behind Gingrich and Palin's xenophobic and emotional rhetoric. I would love to hear a plausible explanation.

patsbrother said...

The following paragraph appears to have been part of an announcement of a Spanish-language Islamic television channel, to be named "Cordoba." After explaining the channel, it reads:

"Córdoba is a city in Andalusia, southern Spain. In the Middle Ages it was capital of the Islamic caliphate which conquered and ruled Spain for nearly 800 years. During this time Córdoba was one of the largest cities in the world whose name continues to represent a symbol of Islamic conquest to many Muslims around the world."

Again, according to Iran's Ahlul Bayt News Agency, Córdoba's "name continues to represent a symbol of Islamic conquest to many Muslims around the world."

Here is a link which provides a screen capture of it. As I cannot access the actual website itself, I conclude it was either taken down; it's experiencing technical difficulties; or Americans cannot access Iranian websites. (I seriously considered the idea that it was a giant hoax with little payoff, but Google lists connections to the website. I just can't connect to it.)

For what it's worth, here is a squib of that release as it was re-reported on what appears to be a site from the Netherlands.

One wonder whether it was mendaciousness which lead Gingrich to state that the name Córdoba is a symbol of Islamic conquest, or whether it had something to do with Islamic websites' recent assertions that Córdoba is "a name [which] continues to represent a symbol of Islamic conquest to many Muslims around the world."

patsbrother said...

Again: I am not staking a position on whether the mosque should or should not be allowed. There are valid points on both sides and I don't have a dog in that fight.

There is a valid basis for Gingrich et al. to believe the Córdoba in Córdoba House refers to Islamic conquest.

You, in turn, believe it refers to a library.

Y'all can argue what it really refers to till the cows come home, and I won't care. (I'll just stop paying attention.)

Yet despite your righteous calls for civility, you just as constantly jack it up to Shrill Mode. You petulantly called someone else ignorant or, worse, a mendacious liar. Because he disagrees with you and because it fit your "narrative".

That's just wack.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

No, there are not valid ideas on both sides of this.

One one side, there is respect for both freedom of religion and legitimate property rights.

On the other side, there is irrational fear and emotional reactionism instigated by national poltical figures for monetary and political gain.

That is it. That is the "choice." This is not an excercise in the equity of differing opinion.

And before we buy into any words found upon Iranian press websites (not exactly a bastion of free-press and peer review), think about the source.

It is so difficult to believe that reactionary politicians in both the West and the East are using the term "Cordoba" inaccurately and for their own political goals?

Who would you rather believe: the individuals who make money and get attention by saying this right now; or the Medieval Studies scholars who have been publishing accepted, peer reviewed research on this topic for decades.

patsbrother said...

As between a news agency from a majority Muslim nation (upon whom I think I can rely for at least what some Muslims think) and a Western-educated blogger from Atlanta, I'm going to go with the news agency for what something symbolizes to Muslims.

Call me crazy.

patsbrother said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
patsbrother said...

Instead of message versus message (which is what this thread has been about up until now), Patrick now makes it the law on one side versus the message on the other.

Please note that I have not been discussing the law. I have been responding to Patrick calling someone an ignorant liar for publicly stating what he believes the message behind the Cordoba House mosque to be.

They are two separate issues (although ultimately connected).

If Patrick wanted a discussion on the law, there would have been absolutely no need to call someone an ignorant liar for saying what he believes the message is. (Unless he wants to say the law factors in the message.) However, I’ve checked, and I’m not crazy: this thread has been squarely on whether that person was an ignorant liar for saying the name Cordoba symbolizes something to many Muslims.

If you want to discuss the law, discuss the law. Nowhere in this thread have you done that until now.

In the immediate past comment, which I have deleted, I described why someone could validly believe that the mosque itself was meant to represent something and why someone could believe that message was bad. (Also, in describing why I am ambivalent on the matter, I also discussed why such a person could be wrong.) But I couldn’t get over the fact that we would now be discussing two different things, and I didn’t want someone thinking I was discussing the law.

As I said, those are two different discussions. A person can be both legally in the right and morally in the wrong.

I will leave you now with the first and last paragraph of that comment I deleted.

"Normally, I would be with Patrick on this one. The New York Times is reporting new opposition to mosques across America. THAT really pisses me off. So I thought I'd explain why I don't care so much about the one in New York.

* * *

"Long story short: I'm far more ambivalent about this one than I normally am, and I probably wouldn't have said anything had Cousin Patrick not gone off the rails again to call someone he merely disagrees with an ignorant liar."

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Wait. I have made a mistake here. I have assumed some prior knowledge on your part that may not exist. I apologize.

So just in case you missed it, the "blogger from Atlanta" is explaining scholarly accepted Medieval history.

Don't be fooled, there is no debate here over accepted history. There wasn't even confusion until Newt opened his mouth.

This is not some new secret information that has just been discovered in response to Newt's pandering. Cordoba has been examined in historical context by scholarly work for decades. Saying "Cordoba" is a symbol for Muslim conquest is like saying the South seceded from the Union because they didn't like the color blue.

Meaning: I'm sure there were some Southrons somewhere who didn't like the color blue, but historically, the war was fought about other things.

There are three meta-narrative choices involving the Cordoba mosque (indeed all mosques nationwide, who all suffer from this ignorant misrepresentation of history):

1. Macro: freedom of religion and legitimate property rights vs. emotional reaction and xenophobia instigated for monetary and political purposes;

2. Micro: the actual history of Cordoba vs. the misrepresentation of history to forward a cynical political goal;

3. Newt: is he simply ignorant of the real history behind Cordoba vs. is he intentionally misrepresenting the history of Cordoba to further his personal political goals.

You aren't crazy, you're just excusing someone's lies in one instance and accepting that there is some legitimate debate or disagreement on a subject where none exists.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

And if you still doubt what this is about, and what is truly at stake here, watch this.

The major "Republican" running for governor of New York says he will employ eminent domain to keep this mosque from being built. He will use eminent domain to curtail the freedom of religion in America. He will use eminent domain to divest Americans citizens of $100 million of property because of their religion.

He will not allow a "monument to those who attacked us" to be built. Which means he thinks all Muslims attacked us.

This is dangerous. It is folly. And it leads us down a path as dark as any we have faced. These are the stakes.

patsbrother said...

For many vacuous young folks, Che represents anti-mainstream, against-the-mold individuality. He's chic and awesome.

Accepted history is that he was a murderous son of a bitch who did not brook differences from his opinion.

I can say that the concept of Che as held by vacuous young folks doesn't make sense, but it is simply nonsensical for me to say that since history doesn't back up their belief that their belief doesn't exist.

A message sent today is important insofar as it is understood today.

According to a recent Iranian news organization, Cordoba is a "name [which] continues to represent a symbol of Islamic conquest to many Muslims around the world."

Citing a blogger's representation of history (even if absolutely 100% correct) might impact whether that belief makes sense, but it does not affect whether that belief actually exists or whether that is the context through which those Muslims currently view the word "Cordoba".

Harp on history all you want, but if currently Cordoba is a "name [which] continues to represent a symbol of Islamic conquest to many Muslims around the world," then saying Cordoba is symbolic to many Muslims of Islamic conquest is neither an ignorant statement nor a lie.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

it is simply nonsensical for me to say that since history doesn't back up their belief that their belief doesn't exist.

But it is not nonsensical for you to say that They. Are. Wrong.

I'm sure there are a few Muslims out there that think "Cordoba" is double-speak for Islamic conquest, especially now that a bunch of leaders of the United States have now been on worldwide television telling them that Muslims out there think "Cordoba" is double speak for Islamic conquest.

But Newt is specifically and intentionally misrepresnting the actual accepted history of Cordoba. That's the whole point here.