Fear and loathing in Saint Anthony (5×8 – 6/13/12)

The Muslims are coming, Fight Night in Crude County, the curse of the ’67 Twins, the ‘zero’ debate renewed, and the mass nouns of sport.


1) THE MUSLIMS ARE COMING

It was a fairly ugly night in St. Charles Anthony last night as residents complained about plans to build a mosque/Islamic center in the community. If you’re inclined to give the community credit, give it credit for putting it out there in the open for everyone to see, whatever it is.

The City Council voted 4-to-1 last night to deny a permit for the center in a former Medtronic building, and zoning laws allow houses of worship only in residential areas. City officials say it’s strictly a zoning issue because an industrial company in the building would generate more taxes than a church.

“Islam is evil,” resident John Murlowski testified, apparently eschewing a discussion about economics and taxes.

“I know this issue is very emotional for some people. We are a melting pot. We are all Americans,” resident Sadik Warfa said.

2) FIGHT NIGHT IN CRUDE COUNTY

Is oil changing North Dakota, or just emphasizing its existing nature? Prairie Public Radio’s Black Gold Boom is exploring the changing face of North Dakota in the wake of the oil rush.

The most recent is Fight Night in Crude County.

Fight Night in Crude Country from Todd Melby on Vimeo.

3) THE CURSE OF THE ’67 TWINS

You whippersnappers won’t realize this for awhile yet, but you know when your advancing age is most obvious to you? When the baseball players you watched as a kid die.

Dave Boswell, a pitcher for the mid-’60s Twins, died on Monday. Hardball Times recalls one of his legends — a fight with Billy Martin:


Outside of the bar, Boswell began fighting with veteran Twins outfielder Bob Allison for reasons that remain unknown. When Martin heard about the fight, he ran outside, apparently with the intent of breaking up the fisticuffs. Pitching coach Art Fowler, Martin’s ever-present drinking buddy, joined Martin to offer moral support. Rather than break up the fight, Martin hit Boswell repeatedly in the face. If it were a boxing decision, Martin would have been declared a winner by knockout.

The pummeling left Boswell unconscious, and in need of 20 stitches. Yet, Boswell held no grudges. Many years later, when asked about Martin for a 1988 magazine article, Boswell said: “I love Billy.”

There’s something impressive about a man willing to forgive his own manager for essentially beating him up. It would have been easy for Boswell to hold a grudge, to answer a question about Martin with a grimace and a terse “no comment.” But Boswell was better than that. If only for that reason, Dave Boswell deserves something more than a place in baseball obscurity.

By my count, Boswell is the 12th member of the 1967 Minnesota Twins team

to die. Many of them passed away at a fairly young age. Boswell was 67.

Related baseball: Minnesota high schools now use Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution bats. It makes a difference.

4) THE “ZERO” DEBATE RENEWED

Another teacher in Canada is in trouble for giving students zeroes. Mike Tachynski teaches at the same high school in Edmonton as as Lynden Dorval, the science and physics teacher who last month was indefinitely suspended for giving his students zeros, the CBC reports.

The school district feels failing to turn in assignments is a behavioral, not an academic problem. Dorval calls it social promotion. On Tuesday, Tachyvnski defended the power of the zero.


In his brief presentation (to the school board on Tuesday), Tachynski told trustees about the difference he noticed when he started giving students zeros for missed tests and assignments about 10 days ago.

“Instantly the urgency was there,” he said. “The following morning I had five kids waiting at my door at 7:30 in the morning waiting to get some of these zeros cleaned up.”

Tachynski had 27 students make up 74 different quizzes and assignments. In the previous two months, he was approached by only two students.

5) THE MASS NOUNS OF SPORT

The Heat and the Thunder are in the NBA finals, which gives us an opportunity to bring a grammar debate back to the world of sports, not seen since we debated whether the Minnesota Wild stink or the Minnesota Wild stinks.

Over to you, Deadspin:


British English just treats all team names–mass nouns, collective nouns, singular nouns–as plurals: Arsenal are the superior side in this one. In American English, this makes you sound like a poncy rock critic: Pavement are the most important band since Wire.

But strict formal verb agreement gets into trouble, too: The Thunder is relying on its fresh legs? When the Jazz or the Magic made the finals against plural-named foes, it was still possible to write around the problems. Now, we’re stuck.

Bonus I: I turned on The Story on MPR last night in the middle of Dick Gordon’s interview with Candace Gorman, an attorney who told the story of trying to defend her client in an environment where the fix was in on a fair trial. She had no attorney/client privilege, all of the evidence was renumbered at the start of a hearing to make it harder for her to make her case, and she couldn’t take notes when meeting with her client. “In what kind of tinhorn country does this pass for fairness?” I asked myself as I listened. Then I found out. Ours.

Bonus II: Without more anti-voter-fraud rules, there’d be more keggers messing up our elections.

Meanwhile, noted Ramsey County electoral scholar Joe Mansky may have a solution to Voter ID — issuing photo ID for voting right at the polling place.

TODAY’S QUESTION

City commissioners in Fargo want to expand the area where panhandling is illegal. City ordinance already prohibits begging downtown. Today’s Question: What do you think of creating city zones where begging is prohibited?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Who should foot the bill to prepare people for specific jobs?

Second hour: Gov. Dayton’s trade mission to China. Plus, the role and future of internships.

Third hour: Couples and their friendships.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Journalist Richard Louv , author of the best-selling book “Last Child in the Woods.” He spoke in the Twin Cities as part of the Club Book series, about nature and the future of the environmental movement

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – The Political Junkie.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - While drama students study the classics all year at the U of M, for many of them their biggest dose of theatrical reality comes in the shape of Victorian melodrama on an old boat. In the latest of our Minnesota Mix series Euan Kerr reports the students perform more than 80 shows a summer in a converted showboat moored across the river from downtown St Paul. More than 9000 people are expected to join the cast for a taste of “The Vampire.”

Remember Watson, IBM’s supercomputer, which made headlines last year by trouncing the top two contestants on the game show Jeopardy? Watson donated its million-dollar prize to charity and is looking into occupations other than professional game show contestant. IBM’s chief medical scientist visited a Minneapolis hospital to talk about how Watson’s artificial intelligence could help doctors wade through loads of research data and apply that knowledge to treating patients. MPR’s Elizabeth Stawicki will have the story.

Former Gov. Jesse Ventura issues his latest broadside on American political culture. Tom Crann talks with him today.

And MPR’s Mark Steil reports the heavy rains last month washed away tons of Minnesota farmland into nearby streams and rivers. The downpours illustrate how difficult it is to make progress towards cleaning up our waterways.

  • Robert Moffitt

    “It was a fairly ugly night in St. Charles last night…”

    Did you mean to write Saint Anthony? But I agree, religious bigotry is a fairly ugly thing to behold.

  • Charles Kippley

    About the fairly ugly night above, it occurred in St Anthony. St. Charles is a Catholic Church located in St. Anthony (with which St Anthony residents have been OK as far as I know)

  • Doug Glass

    Two threads I can’t resist. First, a 2-0 ballgame seems a small price to pay to avoid watching a pitcher carried off the field.

    And second, I observed the effect at my son’s school of students being allowed to turn in an assignment late for significant partial credit. I always felt that rather than being a goodhearted policy, this created a problem by undermining any sense of urgency to meet the first deadline. My wife and I are amazed — AMAZED — that kids today don’t feel the same respect/fear for school homework/deadlines as we did.

    I know, I said it, “kids today,” right?

  • Bob Collins

    It seems to me there should be some sort of ceremony to mark this graduation to an important phase of your life, Doug.

  • David G

    As a homeowner in St Anthony, I have to say I’m more than a little embarrassed and more by that vote.

    The zoning claims make little sense to me: variances are made all the time.

    I’ve seen projections of up to 500 people for services at the center, and that location is almost perfect for that: it’s got a large parking lot, it’s just off a highway, and most of the nearby housing is multi-family dwellings: condos and townhouses. There are some single family homes across the street, but those have their backyards (with no alleys) overlooking the street and a wide city boulevard.

    They’d rather pour all that traffic into a residential neighborhood? (Of course, as far as I’m aware, there’s no suitable lot or building in a residential area within St Anthony available)

    Not to mention that, I suspect that the group has a pretty strong lawsuit against the city under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

  • Cara

    Do churches need to get a permit and go before the city council and the community in order to build? Do synagogues?

  • Joe

    Great 5X8 Bob! So much to ponder, don’t know how I’m ever going to get any work done today…

  • Jim Shapiro

    The people of St. Anthony have a good argument in believing that Islam is evil.

    Jihad. Honor killing. Subjugation of women. Pretty hard to put lipstick on that pig.

    Now petition the Catholic Church – with it’s subjugation of women and protection of child rapists – to leave, and the position of the city council will not only be good but consistent.

  • Kevin

    (#3): Tragically including Walt Bond, who played 10 games for the ’67 Twins. He died from leukemia before the season was over.

  • Jennifer

    I too am a resident of St. Anthony who is more than a little embarassed at the behavior of some. The high emotions in this debate blurred more than a few details. I’ve followed this from the beginning and even spoke in favor of granting the variance at a previous council meeting. I agree with David G’s assessment of the area in question and have never been quite clear on what the exact concerns were apart from zoning.

    This isn’t even about buildling a mosque, but rather using a single section of an existinting building for an Islamic Community Center, while maintaining the rest of the space as commercial rental. To my knowledge,the tax issue was brought up by a few residents, never by the city. There are a number of residents, myself included, who supported this variance. Most of us expected it to be approved after the planning commission’s approval last week.

    I’m disappointed that this issue has brought out an ugly side of some in a community I have found to be so welcoming and I’m more than a little disgusted that the opinions of those who air their bigotry publicly are now being generalized as the consensus of the people of St. Anthony.

  • Jim Shapiro

    I just love political correctness regarding Islam.

    Our nice, friendly community must be accepting of these beliefs and practices that we send other people’s children to fight and die against in Afghanistan.

    Otherwise, people might think that we’re bigoted!

  • Bob Collins

    //must be accepting of these beliefs and practices that we send other people’s children to fight and die against in Afghanistan.

    I don’t believe that’s what they’re saying at all. You’re defining Islam as the people who are terrorists. I would define it by the wonderful person I work with who is kind and giving, and works hard.

  • B Joe

    @Jim Shapiro

    Have you ever met a Muslim? I don’t know that there would be a lot of jihad coming out a community center like this.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Bob and B Joe – It goes without saying that there are kind, compassionate, thoughtful people who practice certain aspects of the muslim faith. Several of whom I know.

    And the culture based on Islam produced great art, music and scholarship when christian europe was in the dark ages.

    Of course there are barbaric acts justified and prescribed by the judeochristian old testament.

    But then JC came along and said to knock it off.

    (But no one expects the spanish inquisition.)

    Women and young girls are being abused in the name of Allah and people are being killed because they follow the wrong relative of Mohamed as you read this.

    Of course we should all have open hearts, but this must be tempered by rational minds that permit no organisations that in the extreme sanction inhumane practices.

    Oh, OK. Let’s be nice and welcome mosques and community centers, but only if they promise not to do that yucky jihad and honor killing stuff that their co-religionists do in the rest of the world because they can get away with it.

  • John P.

    I have Somali Muslim neighbors. They routinely have calls of “Terrorist” and worse screamed at them by passing morons. It had the mother of the family in tears one day while she desperately tried to explain to me what I already knew, that not all Muslims are terrorists. She would have explained it to the idiots that drove by, but they were long gone like the cowardly rats they are. It made me embarrassed to be a non-Muslim. Today I am embarrassed for the people of St. Anthony.

  • Jim Shapiro

    John P. You’re a good man. I’m sure that mother appreciated your compassion. I would have stood up for your neighbor given the opportunity.

    But the fact that ignorant cowards are cruel does not take away the very real, potential danger of Islam.

  • Chris S

    I have lived in the St. Anthony area for over 30 years. Yes there were a couple of “morons” at that meeting that upset most all of the good people of our community that were present. So do not try to label us as racist. There are several other factors here: 1. A christian organization was also turned down last fall. 2. Before any decisions were even made the ACLU stepped in and threatened 7 figure lawsuits if the city did not comply. 3. CAIR (Council For American Islamic Relations) also got involved. They are a controversial political organization that the majority of Muslilm Americans do not want to be associated with. 4. The group lied to the city. It does not take a rocket scientist to ask why a group would buy and pay taxes on a 100,000 square foot building and occupy 12,000 (after paying 1.6 million for it?) The truth was in their fund raising materials that stated they planned to develop a wedding hall, conference hall, gymnasium and a school. So yes, this poor little displaced group of worshipers were trying to pull a fast one on this little quiet “racist” community.

    So the racist comments came from idiots. And the folks who want to embrace Islam and it’s trampling of women’s rights (do your research – I can’t make this stuff up) – then that is your right. The bottom line is a group came into a small community and tried to bully their way in – and were turned down. They then took the latest rage in political gain and yelled racisim. Do your homework people.

  • David G

    Well a wedding/conference center is certainly much better suited for a light industrial area like the SA business center is located in rather than a residential area.

    Not to mention, that assembly, lodge, or convention halls are already permitted as conditional uses under the current zoning.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Chris S – Thanks for the relevant data. I hope it wasn’t compiled by bigots. :-)

  • Chris S

    I was wondering what they were telling the Muslim community about their plans for expansion of the facility far beyond what they were applying for? How could they outwardly lie both on the application and right to the City Council’s face? Then found an interesting tidbit in my Muslim studies. Unlike most religions, within Islam there are certain provisions under which lying is not simply tolerated, but actually encouraged. The book “The spirit of Islam,” by the Muslim scholar, Afif A. Tabbarah was written to promote Islam. On page 247, Tabbarah stated: “Lying is not always bad, to be sure; there are times when telling a lie is more profitable and better for the general welfare, and for the settlement of conciliation among people, than telling the truth.

    But – hey lets give them the benefit of the doubt . . . it just slipped their minds.

  • B Joe

    That’s right. Clearly, the concept of the “just lie” is one that only exists amongst Muslims.

    Here’s the thing, I think folks would be less inclined to call folks bigots if said folks didn’t appear disproportionately willing to make silly assertions and cherry-pick facts only in regards to certain groups. If you cherry-pick an opinion about justified lying expressed by one person and try to portray that opinion as being common to an entire group of people, you might be a bigot.

    Jerry Falwell said that homosexuality is to blame for 9/11 (or something like that), therefore all Christians superstitiously blame homosexuals for terrorism. If that seems like solid reasoning to you then you fail.

    Then again, I’ve never understood why bigots always seem so afraid to embrace the term, given their apparent fearlessness when it comes to acting like a bigot.

  • Chris S

    B Joe

    Typical uneducated comments

    Cherry-picking facts? How about twisting statements and disregarding facts for political viewpoints?

    1. Where does it say that ALL muslims lie???

    2. It is interesting that you think it is OK to lie in a legal transaction.

    3. “I don’t know that there would be a lot of jihad coming out a community center like this”. Even though only a few miles away dozens of young men were recruited for jihad from nearby islamic centers and communities. And don’t dishonor the families of the several Muslim young men that died by making such an uniformed statement.

    The issue is the ignorance of the fact that there are radical Islamists in the local community. Did you know that CAIR had discouraged local Somalis from talking to the FBI after these young men disappeared? The local Muslims then picketed CAIR (the ones that are fighting for the St. Anthony location)

    So once again – before you spread racist comments accusing anyone of being a bigot (the accusation du jour of the left loons)- please educate yourself.

  • B Joe

    Chris,

    1. Your implication was that these Muslims were following the lead of some guy who happened to be Muslim who wrote a book about how he thought Muslims should behave. You quoted the guy completely out of context. If you weren’t implying that ALL Muslims believe in lying for the greater good when necessary, then even bringing this up is a non sequitur. They’re your words. Own them.

    2. What? Come on. I never said that. I never even mentioned anything like that. You’re not being rational here. You’re making things up. You’ve let your fear of Islam cloud your ability to read plain English.

    3. How are my comments racist? I don’t even know what your race is. How can you accuse me of bigotry and in the very same comment complain about how all “left loons” naturally default to accusing people of bigotry. You’ve rebutted me with “I know you are, but what am I?” Kind of funny, but more of a distraction from the issue than anything else.

    All I said is that bigots tend to rely on flawed arguments to support their bigotry and that, depending on the context, the existence of certain types of flaws in an argument are good indicators of bigotry. Clearly, bigots don’t object to being bigots, they object to being labelled as such.

    What are you afraid of with respect to this community center? You know these “scary” Muslims are still going to exist, right? And that organizations looking to recruit youngsters for jihad are apparently doing so without this community center? Not building the community center isn’t actually a solution to any of the issues you’ve brought up.

  • Chris S

    1. Again – I say do your homework. The Qur’an in a variety of verses (2:225, 3:28, 3:54, 9:3, 16:106, 40:28, and 66:2) establishes the religious legitimacy of breaking oaths, lying, unilaterally violating treaties, and generally scheming against non-Muslims.

    Gotta love Bigotry Experts

    OMG! – the rest of your psychobabble is not even worth anyone’s time

    have fun

  • Bob Collins

    Just stepping in quickly to remind about NewsCut rules. Address and judge the issue, not the other commenters.

    and thank you.

  • B Joe

    Noted, Bob. And for the record, I don’t think I called anyone here a bigot.

    Chris, I don’t need to do any homework to know that selective quotations of religious texts doesn’t constitute evidence of much of anything. Religious texts are complicated things which are open to significant interpretation. Interpretation must rely not only on the words as written on the page, but also on historical context. You are clearly passionate about this issue, and as such, I suspect your interpretations might not be entirely objective.

    Even if you’re correct, and Muslims have the permission of their holy book to lie for the greater good, well, who cares? I suspect that most people would be willing to lie for what they believe to be the greater good. Which means that it isn’t a particularly useful criteria with which to judge a person’s behavior.

    This is America, right? Where we’re supposed to pretend we think it’s okay for anyone to believe whatever they want? If people break the law, let the law deal with it. I don’t think that assuming that everyone who subscribes to a particular religion is going to lie to you at their earliest convenience is all that helpful.

    I think your choice to conveniently ignore any of my other points speaks to the flimsiness of your position. I also suspect that anyone who doesn’t agree with you unquestioningly is someone who must “do their homework” and that one can’t actually be done with their homework unless they come to the same conclusions as you.