Iftar Against Islamophobia

Yesterday I was asked to give a two-minute speech at the protest iftar in front of the White House.  The entire event featuring Muslim and interfaith leaders was livestreamed.  (My speech alone is here.)  The protest iftar’s purpose was to highlight that the Trump Administration had intentionally excluded American Muslims from its contemporaneous iftar. 

carolyn1

As-Salaam Alaikum and Ramadan Mubarak.  My name is Carolyn Homer.  I am a Mormon and a civil rights attorney at CAIR.

When Donald Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” the Mormon Church responded by proclaiming that we are “not neutral in relation to religious freedom.”  I took action by joining CAIR.  It is my faith that compels me to defend the Constitution against this Administration. 

My faith has celebrated religious diversity since its founding.  In 1841, the Mormon city of Nauvoo, Illinois enacted a unique ordinance proclaiming that Catholics, Baptists, Quakers, Muslims, “and all other religious sects and denominations whatsoever, shall have free toleration, and equal privileges in this city.”

Even as Mormons strived to welcome all, we faced persecution.  Like Muslims today, Mormon immigrants in the Nineteenth Century were blocked at U.S. ports of entry.  Like Islamophobic politicians today, Nineteenth Century politicians described Mormons as a “community of traitors, murderers, [and] fanatics.”

Back then, the President sent an army to attack Utah.  The Governor of Missouri ordered our extermination.  One Senator labeled Mormonism as akin to a “Mohammedan barbarism.”  To these officials, both Mormons and Muslims were “clearly repugnant to the Constitution of the United States.”

The Government was wrong then, and President Trump is wrong today.  Nothing honors the Constitution more than our commitment to equal protection and religious freedom.

In recent decades, Mormons have largely been accepted into American life, but animus against Islam persists.  It sickens me that such hatred persists against a faith whose name, Islam, literally means peace.

As a Mormon working for CAIR, I refuse to let intolerant history be repeated.  Today I join my Muslim sisters and brothers in calling for a total and complete shutdown of President Trump’s bigotry.

iftar prayer.jpg

My Muslim friends pray at sunset in Lafayette Square Park, while interfaith allies set up the break-the-fast dinner behind them.

UPDATE 6/12/2018:  Here’s an embedded video of the speech.

Comments

  1. Well said, Carolyn. I’m proud to know you.

  2. Wonderful. But how was the food?

  3. Thank you.

  4. Perfect. Thanks for saying this.

  5. Nice, Carolyn. This is a perfect message.

  6. Sara Bybee Fisk says:

    Thank you!

  7. Kevin Barney says:

    Very well done!

  8. Perfectly said, Carolyn. I’m so glad you were asked to speak.

  9. Wonderful speech. Said exactly the right things.

  10. Goodness but I love you. Thank you for showing by your example how we can all do better.

  11. Preach! Love this.

  12. Be careful says:

    It’s not an irrational thing to be wary of Islam. President Trump would like to keep out suicide bombers.

  13. Carolyn says:

    It is not an irrational thing to be wary of Christian white nationalists wielding guns. We would like to keep out mass shooters.

  14. Be careful says:

    Carolyn
    The evidence is all over Europe why you shouldn’t let these people in.

  15. Be Careful

    Here is my first question: Are you really willing to reject your country’s Constitution, which could not be clearer about the illegality of barring entry on the basis of religion, because you are afraid of an entire category of human beings that accounts for about 1/5 of the world’s population?

    Here is my second question: Are you really willing to give the terrorists of the world exactly what they want, and validating the reasons that they have been blowing stuff up, which is an America willing to abandon its own openness and Enlightenment values and become more like the authoritarian societies that they are trying to create? Do you really not understand that the goal of terrorism is to force the United States and Western Europe to give up the principles that we tout as superior to authoritarian extremism so that the people of the world will not see any essential difference between their societies and ours?

    Terrorism is not a religion or a nationality, or a kind of person. It is a strategy designed to produce an effect. And the effect that it is trying to produce is a harsh response against all Muslims–which then becomes a way to alienate whole populations, not just from the United States, but from the whole set of values that we say we stand for: openness, tolerance, freedom of worship, scientific progress, rational discourse. The whole point of terrorism is to force us to respond less like ourselves and more like the terrorists. When we do this, we eliminate the very difference that we are trying to assert.

    I am a fifth-generation Latter-day Saint and a tenth-generation American. I love my country and it’s constitution, and I revere my faith and my ability to exercise it freely. I have also spent every Friday afternoon during Ramadan praying with my Muslim friends at our local mosque, and every Saturday evening eating delicious food with them at a community iftar. they are kind, generous, decent people who have never treated me or any other visitor with anything but respect and profound gratitude for taking the time to get to know them. They are also deeply patriotic Americans, many of whom left their countries precisely because they knew they would be more free in ours.

    I cannot tell you how painful it is to hear people generalize about and thoughtlessly criticize my friends, who have treated me with great kindness, because they claim the right to do what all Americans are guaranteed the right to do, which is worship without fear of persecution. And now, because of their faith and our current administration, many of them cannot leave the country to visit their relatives, or invite their relatives to visit them, or move with the same freedom that other legal residents of our country can move with, I work at a university with a large population of Muslim students, and, in our May graduation, we had dozens of parents who wanted to come to see their children graduate but could not. It was one of the saddest things I have ever experienced.

    The travel ban is immoral and unAmerican. The persecution of Muslims is a betrayal of everything we stand for and everything we say makes us better than the countries that people are fleeing in order to come here. And there is no doubt in my mind that Carolyn is doing the work of God.

  16. Leftist tears r tasty says:

    The question is were (some) Mormons traitorous back then?

    Yes they were.
    Are some Muslims violent against non Muslims,v when to the honor killing of apostates.

    Yes they are .

    Pretty funny that Carolyn wires a post about people looking at her on the Subway, while women are being beaten and killed in the middle East.

    Women’s rights my tush…

  17. Carolyn says:

    Leftist tears: I realize you’re trolling and I probably shouldn’t respond, but if you think for a second that I’m in any way inconsistent in demanding respect for all women and for calling out all forms of sexual violence everywhere in the world, you’re wrong.

    I donate to a domestic violence clinic for refugee women. And Just a couple months ago a mosque asked me to give a talk on domestic violence. I couldn’t make it, but I spent two hours that day finding someone who could.

    The questions and concerns I hear from Muslim women, at least in America, are identical to those I hear from Mormon and Catholic and evangelical women. Humanity’s problems are universal and the interplay’s of various religious teachings are not particularly different. I’m not throwing out an entire faith because there are jerks in it like there are everywhere.

  18. Wondering says:

    Funny thing: the Muslims I’ve known have almost uniformly been generous, beautiful, peaceful people. Those criticizing Islam, on the other hand, exude anger, anxiety, and animosity. Isn’t there some saying somewhere that goes something like “By their fruits…”?

  19. One of the things that we teary leftists have to deal with on a pretty regular basis is that, immediately after one of America’s regular mass shootings, people come out of nowhere to explain that there is nothing that (insert gun control proposal here) could have done to prevent it from happening, so don’t burden decent people with unconstitutional regulations for no good reason. So you can imagine our reaction to a proposal to ban entry visas from a handful of countries whose citizens have never committed an act of terrorism on US soil while on a visa.

    But to the larger issue. Yes, it is true that some Muslim men abuse women. And a lot of non-Muslim men do to. Some Muslim men are terrorists, and so are a portion of non-Muslim men (Hindus in Bengal, Catholics in Ireland, etc.). It is also true that some men from Latin America are members of extremely violent gangs that do horrible things in the United States. But the common factor here is not religion; it is gender.

    If you want to propose unconstitutional limits on entry to the United States in the name of keeping out dangerous people, you don’t want a Muslim ban. You want a man ban.

  20. Be careful says:

    Michael Austin
    It’s often said that with the Muslims it’s only a tiny minority of people committing things like suicide bombings but let’s look at this 1% of 2 billion Muslims is 20 million people that’s a tiny minority 20 million people. That’s a lot of people that can create Havoc around the world.

  21. Wondering says:

    As I said … anger, anxiety, and animosity …

  22. Carolyn says:

    @Be Careful: It’s often said that with the White Nationalists it’s only a tiny minority of angry men committing things like mass shootings with AR-15 rifles but lets look at this 1% of the 35% of Americans that strongly support Trump that’s still like 1.25 million people in America. That’s a lot of disgruntled men that can create havoc in America.

  23. Be careful says:

    Michael austin
    In the UK there’s been roving Muslim gangs who have assaulted young girls. Do you think your opinion would change if one of these gangs entrenched themselves in your neighborhood and assaulted your family or your daughters?

  24. Be careful says:

    Carolyn
    Go to Afghanistan to one of those huts where a woman cannot even leave unless she’s fully Garb in Muslim attire. If you believe in them so much go live over there. Let’s see how long you last.

  25. Carolyn says:

    But more seriously. In the law, when it comes to Fundamental and Constitutional Rights, we apply really strict standards for when those can be taken away. One of those requirements is that any restriction on Fundamental Rights must be “narrowly tailored.” What that means is that the thing we ban has to have as close to a 1:1 ration with the source of the problem as possible.

    1:1000 or 1:1,000,000 isn’t close enough.

    So take terrorism. We can ban acts of terrorism. We can ban crimes. We can ban people who we have really strong proof directly espouse extremist / terrorist ideologies. We can’t ban all Muslims or all citizens of a Middle East country on the assumption that they all fall within that category and will try to commit terrorism.

    It’s the same argument the NRA makes with guns. We can ban criminals from owning guns. We can ban perpetrators of domestic violence from owning guns. We can ban people who have committed or have espoused a genuine threat of committing murders or mass shootings from owning guns. But the NRA’s argument is that you can’t ban all Republicans or Southerners or Westerners or American citizens from owning guns on the assumption that they will use them to kill people.

  26. Trash the constitution and dishonor your ancestors to trigger the libs.

  27. Mr. careful,

    I wrote this several years ago, so the data is not up to date. However, it gives a lot of evidence from recent history that has not changed substantially in several years. The actual data shows two things that are very important to this discussion:

    https://ivn.us/2015/01/18/two-myths-muslim-violence/

    1. The majority of terrorists attacks in the world, and in the United States, are not committed by Muslims.

    2. The majority of victims of terrorism throughout the world ARE Muslims.

    There are a lot of other categories that are better predictors of terrorism than the fact that someone is a Muslim.

    There is no better predictor of whether or not someone is a victim of terrorism than the fact that they are Muslim.

    The Muslim women in Afghanistan that you speak of, and yes they do exist, are victims of terrorism. An ethical response would be to accept them as refugees into the United States. Banning everybody who shares a religion with the men who are persecuting them does not actually make sense.

    There are ways to determine whether somebody coming from any foreign country is likely to be a terrorist or a violent sociopath. An unconstitutional religious test is neither necessary nor particularly effective. There are also ways to determine whether someone who applies for refugee status is a victim of terrorism. They are the ones whose homes were destroyed and whose family has been killed. About 90-95% of the people in this category will be Muslim.

  28. The data that you cite, Michael Austin, isn’t as conclusive as you profess in you opinion piece. Remember that in 2009 Nidal Hisan was categorized as “workplace violence,” and in Europe muslims are often categorized as “asians.”

    I’m also wary of any religion that advocates the destruction of Jews. Ask your friends at CAIR if they will condemn Hezzbollah and Hamas as the terrorist organizations that they are. There would be peace in the middle east tomorrow, if the Palestines wanted peace. And it is also true that if Israel wanted to destroy Palestine, it would be destroyed tomorrow.

  29. Carolyn says:

    You mean, like, our universal condemnation of all acts of terror, including by Hamas? https://www.cair.com/cair-anti-terrorism-campaigns

  30. “There would be peace in the middle east tomorrow, if the Palestines wanted peace. And it is also true that if Israel wanted to destroy Palestine, it would be destroyed tomorrow.”
    The first half of this statement is baloney; I rather suspect the second-half is as well.

  31. Carolyn, thanks so much so standing up! I’m inspired by your efforts–and the comments by some people here make me even more motivated to do something. Clearly lot of work needs to be done even within our own ranks.

  32. Mark, try learning about Islam from actual Muslims instead of from right-wing culture war talking points, and you’ve have a much more balanced view of the subject.

  33. As a right-wing nut job, I enjoy reading and learning from a variety of sources, especially this blog. It is enlightening to try and understand how Saints from a left of center perspective view the world. I don’t comment much because I understand and appreciate that conservatives and conservative ideas are often met with disdain and derision by progressives, and I don’t want to be a part of the yelling and screaming that you see on the 24/7 “news” channels. I try to be thoughtful and respectful in my comments, but I am not a professional communicator and I have a hard time expressing my opinion in a short post.

    I apologize for causing offense.

  34. Thanks for saying and posting this, Carolyn.

  35. As I read this post I couldn’t help but think that the author (Carolyn?) is using a non-issue to try to bash someone that she hates. She wraps it all up in lawyer speak and an attitude of moral superiority in an effort to maintain a veneer of respectfulness. Unfortunately the hate shows through. Sad.
    But I really have no hard feeling towards her. She is probably marinating her mind and spirit in an online and in-person culture of like minded people who have modeled this behavior for her to the point where she has adopted it. We are all, to a much higher degree than we like to admit, a product of our environment.

  36. Good grief, Fred. You’ve bought into the contemporary American distortion of the meaning of the word “hate”, (as in Mormons “hate” gays). Carolyn and you disagree, so she “hates” someone, while you, with an attitude of moral superiority, have no hard feeling towards her. BS.

  37. Carolyn says:

    I’m just amused that anyone would accuse me of being brainwashed.

    I published my first letter to the editor, on the topic of religious freedom, when I was 12. It was also the topic of my college admissions essay. Religion was my major in undergrad. Religion constitutional law was my field of study in law school. During that time I have been registered as a republican, independent, and democrat and voted for Republicans, Libertarians, and Democrats. My love for religious diversity, however, is a 20-year constant.

    To accuse me of taking a 67% paycut because I’m a hater who doesn’t actually know the law and am just disingenuously spouting leftist talking point is hilarious. I’m sitting in my car chuckling.

  38. While I applaud your message, I’m wondering about your selective use of history and your perpetuation of Mormonism’s “persecution complex.” I would argue that it’s time to move on. Let’s just deliver our message.

  39. Roger, though I often roll my eyes at the “persecution complex,” especially in sacrement meeting talks, I think Carolyn is entirely correct here. We should not forget our history – especially not when it is being repeated against another religious group. That is even more true considering the number of Mormons who voted for Trump despite his “Muslim ban” rhetoric.

  40. The one and only says:

    Carolyn
    Why do you advocate for a religion that demeans women so badly?

  41. The One and Only, I think you are going to have to wait a long, long time for an answer to that question. If you do get a response, it will likely be some contorted version of “just because they kill gays and denigrate women doesn’t mean they are all that bad.” The mental gymnastics are frankly quite stunning. If not that answer, you may just curtly be labeled a “troll” and summarily dismissed.
    Those on the left celebrate diversity and are inclusive…uh, well, unless you see things from a conservative point of view. Those sorts are sent to the back of the bus and told to remain silent until they can be “better educated” and can “evolve” in their thinking.
    I honestly think the answer to your question is Trump Derangement Syndrome. Trump won’t go to the back of the bus and he won’t keep quiet. That is so frustrating for some that they will support ANYTHING that in any way opposes him or casts him in a negative light. Yes, even a religion that kills gays and denigrates women. It’s sad.

  42. Fred and One and Only,
    Are you talking about Mormonism? Beam, own eye, etc.

  43. Carolyn says:

    Or the response will be: “Islam is a beautiful religion with a millennia-old history of women leaders and warriors, which should be celebrated. The oppression you speak so much of is real, but it is not universal. Many Muslim-majority countries have long histories of women leaders. My own organization has 50% women leadership. I find their examples inspiring. Just as I support feminist movements in Mormonism, and Catholicism, and evangelicalism, I support feminist movements in Islam.”

  44. Becca D. says:

    I do not know personally any Muslims. I would hope they go about their business as any other person in any other religion does. While there are always the bad ones in every group, I believe this website shows why many people are opposed to them being in America.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/rotherham-grooming-gang-sexual-abuse-muslim-islamist-racism-white-girls-religious-extremism-a8261831.html

  45. Concise, eloquent, and spot on. Way to represent!

  46. Becca D.

    This is an interesting article. Thanks for the reference. I think that one of the most important points that the author makes is:

    “If anything, rising anti-Muslim hate will probably make groomers stronger in their convictions, and drive ordinary young Muslim men towards fundamentalism, grooming gangs and terrorism.”

    This gets to a key dynamic in Europe right now and one that could be a serious threat for America. But the key to stopping the threat isn’t to get rid of Muslims. It is to get rid of anti-Muslim hate.

    To explain: Islam is like any other religion or world view. It has wonderful things in it that people can uses to build lives of great beauty and meaning, and it has disturbing parts of its tradition that people can use to justify their worst impulses. In this, it is no different than Christianity. I want to live in a country based on the Sermon on the Mount. I will pass on a country based on Joshua and Judges.

    What somebody does with their religious traditions has a lot to do with who they are as individuals. And here, Muslims are no different than anybody else. There are noble, thoughtful, compassionate people who embrace Islam and use it as a force for good. And there are bad people who look through Muslim scripture and teaching to justify the horrible things that they do. If you have ever studied the Ku Klux Klan in the United States, you know that Christians can and do use Christian scriptures and iconography to do horrible things.

    But the bad people in any religion often try to use cultural and economic factors to convince other people to join them. This is generally why hating whole groups of people is a bad thing. It empowers the actually bad people in the group to appeal to the others with an “us against them” appeal. And when the so-called “good guys” are part of liberal democracies, and are trying to make the case that liberal democracy is better than religious fundamentalism, it is in our interest not to abandon our democratic principles an ways that disadvantage the very people we are trying to convince to choose our way and not the other.

    Does that mean that we have to let everybody into the United States? Not at all. There are lots of things we can do to screen for terrorists, gang members, criminals, and all sorts of doers of dastardly deeds. What we cannot do while remaining true to our own values is place a blanket prohibition on people because of the religion that they follow.

    I do know a lot of Muslims. I will be having an Iftar dinner with some of my Muslim friends later this evening. They are warm and generous and caring–and they would go far out of their way to help me in any way that they could. Are all Muslims like that? Of course not. But we judge people by the content of their character and not the dictates of their conscience.

    I don’t know if you, like many of the readers of this blog, are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But if you are, you know that almost everything that is being said of Muslims today was said of Mormons a hundred years ago. If you don’t believe me, read this: https://goo.gl/S74nGV

    This is why Carolyn’s speech is so powerful. It acknowledges that what is happening right now is part of a familiar pattern of religious persecution in the United States–one that was not effectively resisted before and must be resisted now. A lot is at stake, and we can’t mess up again.

  47. Jim Mortensen says:

    To the anti-Muslim bigots,

    I’m generally moderate in my comments believing that a soft word turns away wrath. However, the Dunning-Kruger effect on matters such as these can lead to catastrophic consequences. Research indicates that willful ignorance in the face of facts simply becomes more obstinate. For example, Fred’s declaration about Trump not backing down is patently false. Trump backs down on policy all the time, it is only his prejudice where he does not. I’m a fiscal conservative. I teach economics at the graduate level. I recognize fiscal conservatism when I see it. And Trump aint it. Neither is he a constitutionalist. But don’t try telling that to Trumpistas. Damn the evidence, there is strength in fury. Hence, dear bigots, this post is not for you. You’re whited tombs.

    To Carolyn,

    Thank you for representing the inclusiveness of Christ’s good news and for representing what our religion should be.

    To the rest who are interested in anecdotal, yet first hand witnesses,

    I spent 9 years living in Saudi Arabia, two as a child, seven as an adult with my family. Two of my children, a son and a daughter, were Middle Eastern studies majors. My son is fluent in the language. My work took me throughout the Kingdom, and there are few Westerners that have seen as much of the country as I. In addition to Saudi, I’ve been to the UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, Palestine and Israel. Other Western friends have been to the rest of the Arab countries. I have Arab friends from the liberal Hijaz region to the rvative Nejd. I spent many, many hours in the Saudi desert around a campfire with Arabs of multiple nationalities, debating Islam – mostly me listening as they debated. Islam is a rich religion with as diverse application of practice and doctrine as Christianity. My experience with Muslims in the Middle East and in the US has been almost universally positive.

    My family felt far safer in Riyadh than in parts of Washington, DC, the city of my youth and much of my adulthood. The Arabs I met were much kinder and friendlier to my wife and children than most strangers in the US have been. I have a fairly indistinct ethnic look with guesses at my origins extending from Portugal to Pakistan. So the kindnesses that were extended to me were not because they thought I was American. My green eyed, blond haired wife and children looked distinctly of Western European or American heritage, yet they were treated with equal kindness.

    When I spoke with the Arab men, though they inherited similar male superiority tendencies as Western men, they spoke with great reverence of their mothers. Their wives were fiercely independent. And their daughters were doted on. More of their women attend university than their men. The most expensive university on the planet was built in the last decade devoted to women’s education. Forty-five years ago, my father ate dinner over a desert campfire with an old Bedouin Arab in the south of Arabia. The man bragged about his daughter’s college education.

    Until the late 1970s, many Saudi women did not wear the all-encompassing abaya. The move to do so was driven by the women themselves as a backlash against Western mores. Ironically, the face veil that women wear came from the Byzantine Christians. The bride price or dowry that we hear about is completely different than that found in India. It is paid to the woman herself which she keeps in case of widowhood or divorce.

    Islam has a history of religious tolerance. One of the safest places to be a Jew in Europe during the Middle Ages was in Moorish Spain. Most Arab countries had Christian AND Jewish populations until the last few decades. The move towards fundamentalism was driven by Western policies, particularly the Balfour Doctrine and the subsequent division of the Levant by Western powers. The creation of the Jewish state of Israel was supported by Western countries out of a desire to keep concentrations of Jewish refugees out of those very Western countries. Much of the Jewish Israeli population is appalled by the actions taken by the unholy alliance between the Shas and other orthodox parties and the Likud. Many “Christian” Americans support the Jewish Orthodox though their treatment of women can be as bad as that perpetrated by many Islamic fundamentalists (not to be confused with takfirist, the deadly Muslim extremists). I have had far more open conversations with Muslims in Saudi Arabia about Mormonism than I was allowed to have in Israel or China. During the course of these conversations, the common ground between early Christianity and Islam was surprising. Over a billion Muslims await the return of Christ to establish God’s law. How many Christians actually believe that?

    Much of what Westerners fear of Islam is actually tribal customs and cultures, not Islam itself. The more violent version of Islam was spread by tribal raiders across the Levant and Magreb. On the other hand, the most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia, was converted by Muslim traders which led to a far more tolerant and diverse variant. Even so, my experience with Arabs is that they are incredibly kind, curious, and hospitable. It reminds of the question I often hear, “Are you a Utah Mormon or not?” The underlying question being are you an intolerant, social conservative or a more moderate, charitable version (don’t shoot the messenger, this is how those who are not Mormons have explained it to me).

    The radicalization of Western Muslim youth is based far more on a sense of cultural disenfranchisement than anything else. Saudi youth themselves generally embrace Western liberalism to some extent. This cultural disenfranchisement is driven by Western policies and prejudices. It’s not different from those youth who resort to gun violence at schools. These are youth who have been socially disenfranchised.

    Will there always be Muslims who do bad things? Yes. Just like there will always be Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, and Mormons who do bad things. Just like there will be Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives, high priests and pastors, believers and atheists who do bad things.

    For that tiny minority who choose to piss in the milk of the rest of us, we need wise safeguards. But just like the NRA card carrying gun lovers don’t want to see a repeal of the 2nd Amendment because of the choices of some, we should not repeal (or circumvent) the 1st Amendment due to the choices of a few.

    Many wise voices have spoken here on the benefits of moderate policies. And I speak on the realities of first hand practice. The Muslims I have worked, prayed, played, and broken bread with were among some of the best beings I have ever met.

  48. Some comments:

    1. As far as I am aware Donald Trump did not call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” but merely a ban on all citizens of 8 particular countries, 6 of which are Muslim majority. Your supporting link is only an ad for the Washington Post so I would be grateful if you could provide the source of your claim.

    2. The claim that Islam means “peace” is widely spread but false. Islam means “submission”, ie to Allah. It merely shares a tri-consonantal root (“SLM”) with “peace”(“Salaam”), as it does with several other words.

    3. I could understand if you had thrown your weight behind Zuhdi Jasser’s American Islamic Forum for Democracy but CAIR? Are you unaware of CAIR’s deep links with the Muslim Brotherhood, an organisation openly intent on undermining democratic society? This is their motto “Allah is our objective; the Prophet is our leader; the Quran is our law; Jihad is our way; dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”

    4. You may find common cause with Muslims but in Islamic orthodoxy Mormons are not even “People of the Book” but are included with polytheists. Perhaps you have heard of The Reliance of the Traveller. It is a mediaeval manual of Islamic Law with contemporaneous and modern scholarly commentary, and has been authorised by al Azhar university as “conforming to the faith and practice of the orthodox Sunni Community”.

    Mormonism gets a special mention in the following section:

    o11.0 NON·MUSLIM SUBJECTS OF THE ISLAMIC STATE (AHL AL-DHIMMA)
    o11.1 A formal agreement of protection is made with citizens who are:
    (1) Jews;
    (2) Christians;
    (3) Zoroastrians;
    (4) Samarians and Sabians, if their religions do not respectively contradict the fundamental bases of Judaism and Christianity;
    (5) and those who adhere to the religion of Abraham or one of the other prophets (upon whom be blessings and peace).
    o11.2 Such an agreement may not be effected with those who are idol worshippers, or those who do not have a Sacred Book or something that could have been a Book.
    (A: Something that could have been a Book refers to those like the Zoroastrians, who have remnants resembling an ancient Book. As for the psuedoscriptures of cults that have appeared since Islam (n: such as the Sikhs, Baha’is, Mormons, Qadianis [ie Ahmadiyya], etc.), they neither are nor could be a Book, since the Koran is the final revelation.)

  49. When my niece first reverted to Islam, I turned to the internet to learn more than I then knew. I first found websites just like yours, and in my ignorance and naivete did not realize what they were. There was really no excuse for my gullibility, because I had long been familiar with the sorts of websites that purported to tell me what I REALLY believed, as a Mormon, when, of course, they did no such thing. Now I can smell sites like yours from many miles off as the festering pools of fear and hatred that they are.

    We’re all trying to be kinder and more patient with different points of view these days, and I applaud, say, Michael Austin’s response slightly upthread. But this is not a “point of view.” It’s the deliberate sowing of falsehood to incite fear and division. It is a lie. Its intent is to deceive and malign. It seeks to provoke acts of civil and criminal violence against an entire class, the individual members of which are innocent of any wrongdoing. It doesn’t merit kindness or patience, at least not from me. It deserves to be called out for what it is. It can sink back into the pit of the Father of Lies who spawned it.

    Sorry, Mike.

  50. ECAW,
    Hello. Regarding your first, remarkably ignorant, question, you can find the answer at the following link:
    https://www.aclu.org/blog/immigrants-rights/trumps-lawyers-say-muslim-ban-has-no-bias-his-tweets-show-otherwise
    Although the ban itself wasn’t against all Muslims, many of President Trump’s prior statements indicated that he wanted to ban all Muslims. Additionally, many of the country’s banned are not known sources of terrorists, unlike the unbanned Saudi Arabia.
    As for your linguistic deductions, Muslims are capable of interpretation just like anybody else and Muslims, unlike Mormons, do not have an authoritative source to lay down appropriate interpretation. Millions of Muslims worldwide get along with non-Muslims without feeling like they have to threaten them as a part of their religion. That means that you are, presumably deliberately, pulling out the worst possible interpretation because it fits your bigoted agenda and scaremongering tactics. But a Muslim could do the exact same thing from the Bible (or the Book of Mormon). To repeat myself, eye, beam, etc.

  51. I think that John is absolutely correct about Islamic jurisprudence. It is a very complicated affair, with multiple schools of thought and no controlling authority. All that the quoted passage shows is that one particular legal treatise used by some Muslim scholars has ruled that the Book of Mormon cannot be a “book” in the sense that the Qur’an uses the term to describe “People of the Book” because it was written after the Qur’an itself was written. It cannot, therefore, be considered a work of scripture. All Protestants and Catholics believe the exact same thing about the Book of Mormon, so I don’t really see how it is objectionable. Mormons don’t consider the Qur’an to be a scripture either.

    But I think it is worth assuming that everything you suggest is true, just for the sake of a thought experiment. Let’s pretend for a moment that Islamic law is centralized, and that all Muslims believe that Mormons are a cult undeserving of the protections offered in the Qur’an. Let us further suppose that all Muslim nations had a travel ban against Mormons. Would it still make sense for Mormons to advocate for the religious freedom of Muslims in the United States?

    I would suggest that, even if all this were true, it should not change our approach one bit. Our willingness to extend rights to other people does not depend on their willingness to reciprocate. That’s not how rights work. We don’t decide which religions we are going to tolerate–we extend religious freedom to people because it is a right. And it doesn’t matter whether or not they would be willing to extend it to us. The fact that my ancestors were persecuted for their religion makes me want to fight to protect religious freedom as an idea, not as a reciprocal agreement.

    But of course, that is just a thought experiment. In actual fact, American Muslims and American Mormons work together extremely effectively in communities all over the country, not just because we share a concern for religious freedom, but because there are core similarities in our worldviews (just for example, I have an acquaintance who is a Muslim who received her Ph.D. in Sociology at Georgetown. She told me, not even knowing that I was Mormon, that all of her friends in graduate school were Mormons because they were the only ones who had parties that weren’t based on drinking and having sex).

    And finally, “Islam” does mean “peace.” It also means “submission.” The words are the same because the concepts are the same. The very name of the religion contains an argument, that the only way to have peace is to submit to the will of God as revealed through His prophet. It is a message that, as a Latter-day Saint, does not strike me as at all unfamiliar.

  52. Well, thank you all for your enlightening responses. Fascinating that Ardis and John should immediately go up in sparks and start throwing the magic, thought paralysing, words about. That tells me I’ve found soft wood and I will leave you both to your cognitive dissonance.

    Michael, at least you produced a reasoned response but you misrepresent me. I agree with the gist of your first paragraph but there is a difference in that the passage quoted comes from the section on the treatment of subject People of the Book. They were given the choice of convert, pay a special tax and endure humiliating conditions or die whereas polytheists were only given the choice of convert or die.

    I agree that Islamic jurisprudence is not to be taken at face value, there are many other factors involved. The Reliance is one manual of fiqh among many. I quoted it because, since the author appears to be naive enough not to have found out that CAIR is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, then I thought it quite possible that she may also not know that there are doctrinal barriers between herself and Islam. The passage underlined the gulf in orthodox Islam between Muslims and non-Muslims and had the advantage of concretising the issue by specifying Mormons.

    What is it that I suggest is true? I certainly don’t suggest “that Islamic law is centralized, and that all Muslims believe that Mormons are a cult undeserving of the protections offered in the Qur’an”. I know that Islamic Law is not centralised (although al Azhar is the highest authority on Sunni orthodoxy) but I definitely would not be so foolish as to claim I knew what all Muslims think. You added that, thereby creating a straw man which you can easily demolish.

    When you ask “Would it still make sense for Mormons to advocate for the religious freedom of Muslims in the United States?” I suggest that Islam is different to Mormonism and other religions in that it is not only a religion. It also has a political element, that being the call on its followers to either convert non-Muslims or subjugate them under sharia. It is there to be found throughout the canonical Islamic texts, various authoritative commentaries and Islamic law. I know full well that many, or probably most, Muslims do not take that call seriously but the Muslim Brotherhood definitely do.

    Perhaps you haven’t come across the ‘Explanatory Memorandum’ of the North American Brotherhood, uncovered in 1991 as part of a criminal investigation. It states that the goal of the Brotherhood movement is to engage in:
    “…a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their [own] hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”

    That is why the author should do some research on CAIR. She may come to realise it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    By the way, it’s odd, isn’t it, that we’re never told that “salaam” means submission”? Guess there’s just no dawah pay off in that version.

  53. ECAW,
    Don’t use condescension as a justification for bigotry. Don’t pretend offense when your overgeneralizations are called out. Don’t pretend people are being hysterical when you are trolling.

    If you are as historically versed as you claim to be, then you know that there have been divisions within the Muslim Brotherhood itself regarding how to engage in jihad and that universalizing violence and force is slanted. Yes, there are places where it has been a source of terrorism, but there have also been periods where it has operated as a legitimate political party. There is no truth in a simple narrative that allows us to justify banning a religion, or declaring its adherents all too dangerous to participate in the public discourse, at this time.

    But you are a troll. And you won’t care. Go away, you little minded man.

  54. Islam means “submission,” yes, but submission to God, who is Allah. I fail to see the difference between a Christian wanting to obey God and His commandments and a Muslim wanting to do the same. Another translation for the word is “reconciliation,” an idea that should resonate strongly with Mormons. I hope no one is going to try to make the argument that Allah is not God.

    Salaam doesn’t mean “submission” though, only peace, wholeness, safety, well-being.

  55. John, how can I not be condescending when you go straight to mindless insults? It’s almost as if you know you’re defending the indefensible and have to shout to keep the truth out.

    I know that the MB sometimes use violence and sometimes politics, but only as tactical means to the same end depending on circumstances, just as the IRA used to operate a “ballot box and armalite” policy.

    If you paid attention to what I write rather than making it up for your own convenience, you would realise that I do not advocate banning a religion or declaring its adherents all too dangerous to participate in the public discourse. My problem with Islam is not the religious side – prayers, zakat, hajj etc – but the supremacist side which demands the subjugation of non-Muslims under sharia, and I do regard the adherents of that strain of Islam as too dangerous to allow to subvert Western civilisation. The problem is being able to distinguish one from the other.

    “But you are a troll. And you won’t care. Go away, you little minded man”.

    Oh dear, oh dear, you are really plumbing the depths. Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?

  56. “The problem is being able to distinguish one from the other.”
    Why? Is it hard to discern the KKK from non-violent Christians? You continue to pretend you aren’t painting with a too-broad brush, but as long as you keep implying that inviting Muslims into the country as full participants opens us up to danger at higher rates than other groups you are.

    So, stop being a troll. Seriously.

  57. John, it’s as though the 32,000 lethal jihad attacks around the world just since 9/11 hadn’t happened (that’s about 5 per day). Where is your anger about them and your concern for the victims? It seems you reserve your bile not for jihadis but those who point out the connection between jihad and Islamic doctrines.

    As a matter of fact I imagine it would be hard to discern the KKK from non-violent Christians if they left those hoods off and engaged in deception about their beliefs and actions – just like an offshoot of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood calling themselves a civil rights organisation. They certainly seem to have fooled the author here.

    Do you even know what a troll is? Here is Wikipedia’s definition:

    “In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting quarrels or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion, often for the troll’s amusement.”

    That is clearly not me, is it? I am here because I noticed a very complacent misunderstanding of reality on the part of the author and am trying to challenge it using facts and reason. both from her and other commenters. I am trying to bring light to your darkness but I am sorry to say I hold out little hope for you. However it is possible that someone else here might just think “Hey, this guy has nothing to counter ECAW with than insults and slurs. Perhaps it’s worth checking out his claims”.

  58. ECAW. Two points.

    ONE: “It’s as though the 32,000 lethal jihad attacks around the world just since 9/11 hadn’t happened (that’s about 5 per day)…”

    Even accepting that number as true, let’s put it in context. There have been approximately 10,000 gun homicides in the United States every year since 2001 — and the homicide number is itself a minority fraction of all gun injuries, including all gun suicides. So in our own country of 300 million people we’ve had more than 150,000 people murdered by (majority Christians) wielding guns. Your 32,000 “lethal jihad attacks” across a world of 6 billion probably have fewer fatalities in the same time period.

    TWO: I’m always entertained when people accuse me of not doing my research on the organization I literally work for and know nearly every employee of. It reminds me of the ridiculous attacks on Mormonism by outsiders — like when I was growing up and one of the local crops of evangelicals would try to explain to me that Mormonism was a satan-worshipping cult and our temple ceremony was a voodoo ritual in which we started growing literal horns.

  59. jaxjensen says:

    “You continue to pretend you aren’t painting with a too-broad brush” There is no too-broad a brush for him to paint with when over 1/2 of US Muslims described themselves (not others describing them, but they doing it themselves) as willing to abandon the Constitution for Sharia law. Over half! The majority admit to it. That means if you are talking to a Muslim in the US the odds favor that person wants to destroy your country and subject you to Sharia.

    Carolyn, you work there are say it is NOT related to the MB at all, and yet I’ve talked personally with others who worked there and say that it is. Perhaps you don’t see as much of their doings as you purport to see.

  60. jaxjensen,

    Actually, the percent of American Muslims who think that their religion should be the source of American law is 10%, which is lower than it is for American Protestants.

    https://www.vox.com/2016/3/17/11250800/american-muslims-poll

  61. Rexicorn says:

    Have you guys heard about these Mormons who want to establish a Kingdom of God on Earth? They believe that we should all be governed by some “higher law” that their God set up, and that society would be better if it followed their religion’s principles. In the past they’ve even done it, setting up their own settlements and government and everything. Some sects already form their own towns and institute strict polygamist rule HERE IN THE UNITED STATES (they say those are “extremists” and “fundamentalists,” but come on — it’s all just based on the way the religion was originally practiced). Sounds like a pretty dangerous group to me!!!

  62. If I were neutral (I’m not), the fear, ignorance, and outright lies from the right in these comments would persuade me away from them. Actually, that’s exactly what happened over 15 years ago at BYU when I aligned myself on the right. Jaxjensen, you are destroying any chance you have at persuading rational thinkers to your side. Quite the opposite. As Rexicorn points out, a little time thinking about an alternative view point can do wonders.

  63. Lessee, on the one hand, we have people advocating love and acceptance towards Muslims. On the other hand, we have people advocating fear and hate towards Muslims. Both groups claim to be followers of Christ. But only one group can be correct. How can we determine who is right?

    “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

    Hmmm, that’s pretty straightforward. Oh, I’m sure the haters will tie themselves in knots explaining why that doesn’t apply to Muslims, but here’s the thing: if you find yourself trying to explain away the obvious meaning of Christ’s words, trying to find loopholes in the law, then, as Cromwell once said, “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.”

  64. Incidentally, the first sentence of the great commandment sure sounds like a command to submit oneself to God, doesn’t it? Hmmm.

  65. nobody, really says:

    When it comes to Mormons, I’ve learned that some of them are just jerks. Some Mormons sell Amway and all other manners of scam products. Mormons have asked me to invest in their new trash disposal companies, food trucks, mangosteen juice, popcorn distributorships, hand cream, water filters, water magnets, cartoon scripture, cookware, you name it. They are horrible and disgusting people who would scam their own grandmothers out of their last dollar. They would encourage me to cut everyone out of my life that isn’t actively supporting my downline if I let them. These demands for my money and devotion have even come from Priesthood leaders, who have gone as far as to tell me that if I just pray about it like they have, I will come to know that they are right, and if I reject their business opportunity, it is just like denying Christ, or shooting the Prophet Joseph Smith personally.

    On the other hand, in my last stake, the county Islamic Society really needed a place to meet for Friday prayers. They used one of our meetinghouses for a couple of years while they saved money to buy their own place of worship. All we ever had to do was have one priesthood holder on site to open the door and pretend to be busy on other things. They were gracious and kind, they cleaned the bathrooms and policed the parking lot for trash that they hadn’t left. They washed windows, cleaned floors, and made a significant donation to the stake fast offering fund. When local Muslims found out I was Mormon, they had nothing but profuse thanks and gratitude. I got to be good friends with one lady, a mom of 3 who was a fellow member of the local triathlon club. She has such a dedication to her religious values that she wears a hijab for each race, including the swim. I’ve used her example in lessons to Young Women – how someone might determine what their values are and then refuse to compromise them. When she introduced me to her children at a race, she told them “We used to go to prayer at his church. They took us in.”

    From Krister Stendahl, Swedish theologian and professor at the Harvard Divinity School:
    1.When you are trying to understand another religion, you should ask the adherents of that religion and not its enemies.
    2.Don’t compare your best to their worst.
    3.Leave room for “holy envy.”

  66. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    Amen, nobody.

  67. “We wish it, likewise, to be distinctly understood that we claim no privilege but what we feel cheerfully disposed to share with our fellow citizens of every denomination, and every sentiment of religion; and therefore say, that, so far from being restricted to our own faith, let all those who desire to locate themselves in this place, or the vicinity, come, and we will hail them as citizens and friends, and shall feel it not only a duty, but a privilege, to reciprocate the kindness we have received from the benevolent and kind hearted citizens of the State of Illinois.
    JOSEPH SMITH,
    SIDNEY RIGDON,
    HYRUM SMITH,
    Presidents of the Church.
    Nauvoo, January 15, 1841.”

    Published in Times and Seasons, Vol. 2, No. 6

  68. Giordano says:

    Funny how long it takes for a comment to be approved when it contains information that powerfully runs counter to the narrative of this article.

    JR’s Joseph Smith comment was made after my comment about CAIR. Yet JR’s comment has been approved, while mine is still reading, “Your comment is awaiting moderation.”

    Is censorship of uncomfortable truths a regular thing here?

  69. “Is censorship of uncomfortable truths a regular thing here?”

    We tolerate dissent, but not stupidity.

  70. jaxjensen says:

    “Is censorship of uncomfortable truths a regular thing here?” Yes

  71. Based on these threads, they tolerate quite a bit,

  72. JR, would Joseph have allowed minarets in Nauvoo, from which the Muslim call to prayer would be made five times a day? Would Joseph have allowed Muslims to establish their own legal system in Nauvoo that supercedes city, state and federal law, and the constitution of the United States?

  73. Carolyn, as an attorney for CAIR, will you be assisting them in attempting to establish Sharia in the United States? How far does your allegiance to CAIR extend?

  74. Wondering says:

    I was going to say something witty and cutting about Kevin knowing two words about Islam: minarets and Sharia, then decided it was too close to the line on insulting other commenters. But come on, people. Where are you getting your talking points? Breitbart? Fox? You okay with being the pawns of monied interests who want you whipped up against a common enemy so they can strip your liberties, rob you blind, and control the lives of you and your children? Did you know that slaveowners kept the lower white working classes under control and used them to form slave patrols and even used them to fight a major bloody civil war by creating racial fear and hatred and even appealing to the Bible to do so? And you’re allowing yourself to be used to fight ideological battles against a faith for which you have little understanding besides a few talking points? For shame.

  75. I was going to say something witty and cutting about Wondering knowing a six syllable word: ideological, then decided it was too close to the line on insulting other commentators. But come on, people. Where are you getting your talking points? MSNBC? Comedy Central?

    /sarc

  76. “The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.” –John Philpot Curran

    Personally, I’m opposed to any individual or group that has designs on Liberty and/or the constitution, whether they be “right wingers” “left wingers” or religious fanatics. Which, it just so happens, includes CAIR and their agenda to demonize anyone who dares to voice legitimate concern about Islam.

  77. Wondering says:

    I find it curious that Kevin considers this a joking matter. I would have by default considered that commenters here would generally believe in our representative form of government and wish to uphold the constitution and principles of religious freedom and other hard-won liberties, but I’m going to have to re-examine that assumption.

    If I understand correctly, Kevin, you’re arguing that religious liberty is only for Christians? I don’t know how else to interpret your comments since your arguments against granting full civil liberties to Muslims seem to consist entirely of straw men and right-wing talking points and have little to do with the actual beliefs and practices of Muslims in America.

  78. Carolyn says:

    Oh for goodness sakes. Whatever terrible thing you mean by “attempting to establish sharia law in the United States” (I’m fairly confident you don’t know what sharia law actually is), CAIR does not support it.

    I also find any such fear-mongering particularly ironic, today of all days, when the Attorney General of the United States is literally quoting the Bible to justify his policy of ripping children from their mothers at the border.

  79. Whatever the accuracy or inaccuracy [or even stupidity] of Giordano’s quotations from people he said were associated with CAIR (yes, his comment did appear before being withdrawn into moderation), it seems some can’t get their heads around the fact that human institutions are generally not consistent over time, are not responsible for everything ever said by one or more of their members, and are certainly not monolithic. I doubt, for example, that you would find many contemporary Mormons approving of Sidney Rigdon’s threat of extermination against non-Mormon Missourians which happens to have preceded Governor Boggs’ infamous order and was published by a Mormon press with possible editorial approval by Joseph Smith. At the very least, assuming church affiliation of many commenters here, this blog thread is itself sufficient evidence that human organizations are not monolithic. Why should anyone suppose that CAIR, let alone Islam and its many variations, were monolithic?

  80. Wondering said:
    “If I understand correctly, Kevin, you’re arguing that religious liberty is only for Christians?”

    Wondering, I am genuinely mystified as to how you got that out of what I said. And it is remarkable how you jump to conclusions and see any expression of concern regarding Islam as “right-wing.”

    You’re exactly the kind of person who will allow the gradual erosion of constitutional principles with that kind of black and white thinking.

  81. “Oh for goodness sakes,” Carolyn, you rightfully express disgust at the Attorney General quoting the Bible, while you summarily dismiss any concern I might express regarding the future of Islam in America by characterizing it as “fear-mongering.”

    Do you see how lopsided your thinking is? Like Wondering, you are another person who will allow the gradual erosion of constitutional principles because of your lack of even-handedness.

  82. It will be very interesting to hear what Carolyn, JR, Wondering, et al., will have to say as the Islamic population in the United States grows exponentially along with a commensurate boldness in demanding special accommodation that challenges constitutional principles.

    Will Carolyn, JR, Wondering, et al., continue to divide us into “right-wing” and “left-wing” camps? Or will they join with all reasonable, patriotic Americans (Muslims included) and defend the constitution from Islamic extremism?

    This challenge to our Republic is in its infancy, but the writing is on the wall.

  83. Wow, Kevin, you’re just a hairsbreadth from “nits make lice”

  84. Wow, Frank, you’re only a few light years away from Understanding.

  85. Carolyn says:

    This isn’t a right wing or left wing issue. I’m serious. And I have no idea what “special accommodations that challenge constitutional principles” you’re referring to. And whatever they are, the same thing can be said about many Christian movements in America. Thankfully the Constitution is stronger than any one religious ideology, various Christian and Muslim sects included.

    I believe:

    Christianity has a rich set of moral and humble and democratic and love thy neighbor principles and is entirely compatible with American public life. I celebrate that.

    Islam has a rich set of moral and humble and democratic and love thy neighbor principles and is entirely compatible with American public life. I celebrate that.

    Christianity also has aspects of the Bible and of its history, which, when coupled with extremist or intolerant or violent propensities of some of its sinful congregants, has been used as justification for cruelty and inhumanity. I vocally condemn that.

    Islam also has aspects of the Quran and of its history, which, when coupled with extremist or intolerant or violent propensities of some of its sinful congregants, has been used as justification for cruelty and inhumanity. I vocally condemn that.

  86. Kevin – “as the Islamic population in the United States grows exponentially along with a commensurate boldness in demanding special accommodation that challenges constitutional principles.”

    This was the rationale for hating Mormons in the 19th century. It was used as the rationale for killing children in Missouri, “nits make lice”.

    I’m rather glad to be “light years away from Understanding” why you or anyone would espouse such a thing, as if Muslims were something less than human, bent on subjecting you to their inhumane laws. Glad I have freedom of association, so I can take myself away from people who believe things like this about anyone.

  87. Rexicorn says:

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but this exactly how anti-semitic arguments have always sounded as well. This strange religious minority, whose ways are not our ways and God is not our God, will surely seek to take over and extinguish us if we allow too many of them to congregate. It’s a depressingly familiar framing that just gets repeated for whichever group it’s OK to hate right now. I’m annoyed that people can’t see how incredibly transparent it is.

  88. Well, until Admin deleted them I enjoyed the recent exchange between others as a reminder of childhood arguments with siblings. I needed a laugh. Thanks, Admin, for letting me have it and then removing those several comments. I’m not convinced certain folks even grasped that my comments above could cut either way, if they insist on choosing sides. But for clarity’s sake, let me say I’m with Carolyn’s belief articulated in her last comment above. Is it time to close comments on this thread?

  89. Yes. Comments Closed.