The Urban Liberal.

Recently, I’ve been asked a bit about where the phrase “Urban Liberal” came from and/or what exactly it means. Over the past few months, this phrase is something I’ve come to relate to on a personal and political level. One morning, while browsing the political section of Joseph-Beth, I happened upon a tiny little book on the bottom shelf. It was the only copy, but as I flipped through the hundred page book and realized it was under $10, I knew it had to be my copy. I brought it home and read through the first chapter. Here is what caught my attention:

Toyota Priuses, Montessori schools, and the Gap were made for them. They work in law, academia, marketing, or computers and, as such, flock to urban centers where the work is and where Whole Foods, fusion restaurants, and stores with massive wine selections are. They’re why NARAL, the ACLU, and gay-marriage organizations do so well with fundraising. Same story with Barack Obama’s campaign. They saw themselves in Obama, with his fashionable clothes, smart wife, adorable children, interest in keeping himself healthy, and secret smoking problem. Obama is still a little hip for all his ambitions and hardworking qualities, and that’s what every urban liberal wants to be.

This type spans both the baby boomer generation and Generation X, the major difference between them being that the former clings to coolness by retaining its Grateful Dead records and perhaps having a collection of doodads from around the world (often with a Native American focus), while the Gen Xers lean more toward having concert or pop art (always tastefully framed). No matter what their age, they love The Daily Show and they love rock music, and most drift from a period of being on top of the newest mysic to being set in their ways without even realizing it.

They’re environmentalists who long for universal health care and good public transportation and shop at farmers’ markets, but they’re not anti-capitalist, no matter what Rush Limbaugh says. They’re downright brand-conscious, in fact, especially when it comes to Apple products. They’re the people who got fair-trade coffee into Starbucks, and massage therapists into Microsoft.

Everyone loathes them.

No, really. When right-wing talk-radio hosts rant about the “liberal elite,” they mean these folks. Leftists hate them, too, calling them sellouts or worse, and suggest that liberals’ tolerance of capitalism may be worse than conservatives’ championing thereof. Urban liberals even kind of loathe themselves, or at least are eager to trip over themselves to make fun of themselves, which is why the website Stuff White People Like was such a massive hit. This very section is another flavor of that same type of mockery.

THEIR VERSION OF UTOPIA: One where Republican voters calmed the fuck down, looked over the facts, and started voting like sensible beings, instead of a rabid pack of uneducated reactionaries. Urban liberals don’t need much more than that, because, outside of the world of politics, we’re talking about a pretty satisfied group of people–or self-satisfied, if you prefer.

Now, let me point out a few differences. I am actually a little more into the new Honda CR-Z and H&M. Perhaps that’s because I’m Generation Y, wishing I had been a Gen-Xer. Right on though, with the Andy Warhol artwork, The Daily Show, and my music selection. Apple is truly the one brand I very much enjoy. To the point that my new iPhone 4 is being shipped to me overnight so I can throw this BlackBerry out my window on my way to purchase fair-trade coffee from Starbucks. My Utopia would also include Glenn Beck being banned to a gulag in Siberia. Well, I guess I’d settle for him being thrown in a loony bin, kept away from innocent civilians so he stops invoking terror every day to the uneducated. Anyway, back to the point. This bio of the Urban Liberal is me.

So, folks, this is what Urban Liberal means to yours truly. Thank you, Amanda Marcotte, for writing with such a passion that inspires me every week to write the book in the back of my mind with my partner in crime, The Juris Atheist. Fin.

Islamophobia? F That.

There is no excuse for ignorance. This is my fight against Islamophobia.

Today, I decided, was the perfect day to grab a cup of coffee and read for a little while to pass the time. On my walk into Caribou, I noticed a parked car with a sign in the back window that said “STOP THE GROUND ZERO MOSQUE.” I gave the car a dirty look, and continued inside to order my medium caramel soy chai latte. I sat down, opened my book, and began to read. Three pages into it, I realized I had read one paragraph about four times, because my mind couldn’t stop listing all the reasons that that man was wrong. It bothered me to the point of asking the girl at the counter for a piece of receipt paper and a pen so I could list every single reason why Park 51 should not be stopped, and stick it on his windshield. However, ten words into writing the note, the car was gone. And so my frustration lives on.

I will preface this argument with the fact that I am not a religious person. I do not attend church or pray every night, nor will I attempt to convert you into a born again Christian or Protestant or Muslim or Atheist. I will, however, respect your right to practice which ever religion you prefer, or lack thereof (assuming you don’t try to convert me). I have read the Bible (in two different versions) as well as very large sections of the Qu’ran (despite the fact I can’t read Arabic, and therefore it is not in its original form and is not “real”). Additionally, I have taken numerous classes on world religions, including (but not limited to) Islam, Russian Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Christianity, and Hinduism. I find them interesting and profound. Many are beautiful, promoting peace and unity and togetherness. At the end of the day, as an American citizen, I am free to practice which ever religion I prefer. If you don’t believe me, perhaps a brush up on the Bill of Rights is in order:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” -Amendment I, United States Constitution

Good for Obama for recognizing the document that our nation is built upon. On that note, to be politically correct, feel free to also openly despise Park 51 as much as you’d like, since the Constitution also supports your freedom of speech. I may not agree with you, but I will fight for your right to speak your mind. But perhaps you should inform yourself on the intentions, plans, mission, building blueprints, designers, etc. of Park 51 before you go throwing around terms such as “GROUND ZERO MOSQUE” and sound like an idiot. This is how rumors get started. Ignorant (and yes, I mean ignorant in its correct usage, unlike those who use it interchangeably with the word “stupid”) people who see one news broadcast on a blatantly biased “news” network that then feel as if they know EVERY little thing about the proposed community center and are 110 percent against the “Mosque at Ground Zero” because of the simple fact that it is an Islamic community center know nothing. Do your research, people, don’t just follow the herd. The far-right-we-need-to-win-this-next-election-so-we-will-make-everyone-think-Park-51-is-a-terrorist-plot-to-destroy-all-of-America herd.

“It is going to be a Mega-Mosque.”

If you would really like to get into specifics, technically it is a community center, much like the Jewish Community Centers and YMCAs you see floating about the United States. If memory serves me correctly, my United Methodist church going family has had memberships to both. The green facility will include a prayer space for Muslims, meeting spaces, meditation rooms, a memorial dedicated to 9/11, a spa, basketball court, a garden, swimming pool, auditorium, and classrooms offering everything from digital photography to language classes, all open to the public, according to one of the Park 51 planners.

“That it may even be called a mosque is debatable. It is designed as a multi-use complex with a space set aside for prayer — no minarets, no muezzin calls to prayer blaring onto Park Place. It would seem to qualify as a mosque about as much as a chapel in a Roman Catholic hospital qualifies as a church.” -Clyde Haberman, NY Times

Muslims have built mosques for the sole purpose of being a mosque on places they have “taken over” in its early stages of development as a sign of dominance, yes. But could we also backtrack about 900 years when the Roman Catholic Crusaders built churches across their dominated countries? In 2010, if a Christian builds a church it does not symbolize their dominancy over a region, religion, state, or people. Seriously.

“The mosque is being build at Ground Zero.”

No it is not. It is approximately one tenth of a mile AWAY from Ground Zero. Go ahead, watch the video. Google Map it. LOOK at it yourself, before you use the word “at.”

“But back to prepositions. There’s that “at.” For a two-letter word, it packs quite a wallop. It has been tossed around in a manner both cavalier and disingenuous, with an intention by some to inflame passions. Nobody, regardless of political leanings, would tolerate a mosque at ground zero. “Near” is not the same, as anyone who paid attention back in the fourth grade should know.” -Clyde Haberman, NY Times

We already know there are plans to rebuild a center, likely office buildings, at the cite of Ground Zero. Likely owned by the state, and open for Americans to use. Americans… Not specifically blacks, or whites, or homosexuals, or Christians, or Muslims, okay, you get the idea. It will be of use to every citizen, despite their ethnicity, sexuality, or religion, assuming they are in the career of whatever company ends up buying the space.

“President Barack Obama is a Muslim.”

ARE YOU F@!%$#* KIDDING ME? Okay, now that that is out of my system… He is not Muslim. He is a Christian.

“I’ve been to the same church, the same Christian church, for almost 20 years. I was sworn in with my hand on the family Bible. Whenever I’m in the United States Senate, I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. So if you get some silly e-mail, send it back to whoever sent it and tell them this is all crazy. Educate.” -President Barack Obama, South Carolina Primary

His father was indeed a Muslim, and left our President when he was two years old. He had but one moment of contact until his father’s death when he was 22. Obama was raised as a Christian, still practices Christianity, and will continue to be a Christian until the day he dies. Apparently, that means nothing to 18 percent of the American public. According to PEW Research Center, one in five Americans think Obama is Muslim, and only 34 percent know he is Christian. Come on, people, DO YOUR RESEARCH. This disgusts me. We, as an American people, are ignorant. Educate yourselves. Learn facts, not fiction. The part that bothers me is not that they don’t KNOW he is a Christian, but the fact that people tend to view Muslims in a negative light. Terrorists and extremists, yes, they are bad. Muslims as a whole are not.

“Terrorists are funding the Ground Zero Mosque.”

No. They are not. In the words of my dear friend, Mr. Matthew Visco:

“Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is a neighborhood preacher who already has a mosque in a building he owns. As to him being an extremist, well that is completely untrue. If you have read any of his writings you would see how he argues that it is both morally and religiously wrong to conduct terrorist attacks and he has strong views against religious based violence.”

I may have changed some grammar and punctuation errors, but he’s right. Take the time to learn about Imam Feisal and then feel free to make conclusions of your own. Do not, however, make assumptions simply because he is Muslim that he is a terrorist. That is uneducated and you kind of just sound like an idiot. There are extremists and fundamentalists in EVERY religion, not just Islam. For instance, how about the Westboro Baptist Church. Go ahead, Google them, how much more Anti-American can you get? Praising 9/11? They are a Christian Fundamentalist group, and yet, we don’t assume all Christians support killing of American soldiers.

In closing, I’ve spent the past three hours at my computer, aiding in my future carpal tunnel, attempting to shed some light on the current situation. Islamophobia is the religious version of the time before the civil rights movement, and it needs to be stopped. There are about a million other arguments I’d like to make, but in reality, I should get back to working on my website. Or perhaps cleaning my room. Either way, here are a few more links for your educational purposes. Feel free to repost this if you’d like, or comment. I feel much better now that I’ve spoken my peace. Let the fun begin…

Park 51
Two Thumbs Up
Obama Bio
If You Build It, They Will Learn
More Park 51
Yet Again, Park 51

Update: For those of you who have already read this, I apologize for my redundancy. However, it needed to be added to the blog, not just Facebook. Despite the fact that Park 51 is not quite the center of attention like it was when I wrote this, my thoughts have not changed. I do feel for those who died on 9/11, but Muslims were included in that group. The pastor or priest or whatever he was from Florida who threatened to burn Qu’rans on 9/11 needs a reality check. He’s pegging the entire religion as terrorists. We cannot sit here and single out a single religion because of a few extremists. (I know all Catholics are not unintelligent, despite the vast number of ones I’ve met who are.) I thought this chart would perhaps help those of you who are visual, like myself:

Make Sense?

Oh! And for those of you who have some time on your hands? Check out this site. There’s some pretty interesting documentaries. And my true nerdiness is revealed…