Shortcuts & Delusions: Finally, Peace In The Middle West


CNN assures us, “A rabbi, a reverend and an imam (no, it’s not a setup joke) are partners in a decadelong quest to bring together the three Abrahamic faiths — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — to share and worship on the same property.” The “Tri-Faith Initiative” is a 65 million dollar project to build a church, a temple and a mosque side by side on an old golf course, which had been built by Jews in the 1920s since they were banned from other area golf courses.

Where is this taking place? What region, poignant to adherents of these three faiths, will finally enjoy a harmonious atmosphere of free worship and inter-faith cooperation?

“If you can’t create peace in the Middle East — what about Omaha?” quipped Rabbi Azriel, 67, a polio survivor from Israel.

He likes to share a story from one of his congregants who was initially apprehensive about sharing land with Muslims. The man, who would later become a donor, privately expressed fears about Islamic extremists attacking the synagogue. “What if there’s a live hand grenade rolled in the middle of the aisle during the high holidays,” the man asked.

The rabbi answered there were two options. “One is to run away. But as a polio survivor, I can’t run far away,” he said with a mix of sarcasm. “The other one is for me to fall on it.”

The answer, Azriel said, brought tears to the man’s eyes…

Yearning for a new opportunity, Imam Mohamad Jamal Daoudi agreed to lead the congregation after a stint with another mosque in Augusta, Georgia.

“Refreshment for my soul. I was very enthusiastic to join the group,” said Daoudi, 52.

A Syrian native, Daoudi has been in the United States for 22 years and says it’s the first time he’s seen such an ambitious idea materialize.

I appreciate Rabbi Azriel’s self-deprecating/sacrificial joke, but this is no laughing matter. Ever since 9/11, there have been constant news reports of religious extremism in Omaha. And Imam Daoudi is correct: the Midwest in general, and Omaha specifically, deserves peace after all these years of bloodshed. You can’t turn on cable news or glance at a front-page-above-the-fold newspaper headline without learning of the latest terrorist attack in Omaha perpetrated by religious zealots.
Yep, Paris, London, Omaha. It really is a shame that America, which has religious freedom enshrined in her Constitution, has a city such as Omaha where there is constant strife between the three Abrahamic religions. I have faith that this endeavor will be successful, for as it is written in the New Testament, in Gregory 4:18, “Go there, into the fields of corn, pilgrim, and buildest a sanctuary doth meant for all My children, excepting the unclean Buddhists, from which to praise Me and grillest thine Porterhouse steaks, encrusted with herbs and spices in accordance with My tradition, and let thine steaks sit for a couple minutes before serving.”
I tried to see Wonder Woman at an Alamo Drafthouse movie theater over the weekend, but the showing I tried to get into was reserved for an all-female audience. There were some guys that were complaining, yelling to some reporters about how it was sexist and misandristic, and demanding to be let in, but I was happy to wait a few hours and catch another showing. I wouldn’t want to be in a theater surrounded by women for two whole hours; what if during that time I forgot how to do chores around the house, kill spiders and developed an appreciation for Nicholas Sparks books? I’d feel threatened and uncomfortable if I had to listen to an all-female audience catcalling and objectifying Gal Gadot’s co-star Chris Pine.
Due to the fact that I’m a complete goddamn moron, I didn’t know what to think about Bill Cosby and “The Cosby Show” after the mistrial was declared in America’s Dad’s sexual assault case. Luckily for me, The New York Times published “How to Think About Bill Cosby and ‘The Cosby Show.'” Before reading this article, I was convinced that, like O.J. Simpson, Bill Cosby was just another victim of the structural racism inherent to the American criminal justice system.
A few days later, the Gray Lady ran, “A Post-Cosby-Trial Question: Is The System Stacked Against Women?” If by “stacked against women” you mean having to demonstrate certainty beyond a reasonable doubt, the same burden in all criminal cases, then yes.

For legal experts, the trial put an unusually public prism on the ambiguities in such cases: the challenge to women’s credibility, the legal presumption of innocence, inconsistent police procedures and the science of memory itself.

In many cases, a central tension persists between the fundamental legal principle that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty and the ability to prove assault without a witness or much corroborating physical evidence. Jeannie Suk Gersen, a professor at Harvard Law School, has a provocative thesis: There is an inherent bias against women, but it doesn’t stem from sexism.

“We chose to set up our system to be stacked in favor of the defendant in all cases,” she said. “So, in areas where most of the defendants are male, and most of the accusers are female, it’s a structural bias in favor of males. Even if we were to get rid of sexism, it would still be very hard to win these cases. I think this is what we have to live with on the criminal side, because we’ve made the calculation that this is the right balance of values.”


Others argue that courtrooms still reflect lingering cultural biases about women’s credibility. Laura Beth Nielsen, director of the Center for Legal Studies and professor of sociology at Northwestern University, said that it was important to safeguard due process and the Constitutional protection of presumption of innocence rather than guilt, but that juries too often assume that women are not telling the truth.

“Yes, lying happens,” she said. “But the presumption is that she is always lying. But why do we think people would lie to be in the position this woman is in right now?”

I commend Chira for writing this article and quoting several legal professors who comment on how difficult it is for sexual assault victims to receive justice in the courtroom. What victims need are more articles like this to convince them they shouldn’t come forward.

Good job, Chira. You truly are a hero.


And that’s the way it is, as far as you know.


Photo: Rosalina Nieves/CNN
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Dillon Eliassen is a former Managing Editor of Being Libertarian. Dillon works in the sales department of a privately owned small company. He holds a BA in Journalism & Creative Writing from Lyndon State College, and needs only to complete his thesis for his Master’s of English from Montclair State University (something which his accomplished and beautiful wife, Alice, is continually pestering him about). He is the author of The Apathetic, available at He is a self-described Thoreauvian Minarchist.

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  1. The following statement MUST be a joke, as its among the more ridiculously absurd comments American history:

    “before reading this article, I was convinced that, like O.J. Simpson, Bill Cosby was just another victim of the structural racism inherent to the American criminal justice system.”

    Anyone who actually believes that is beyond mentally defective, but rather is dangerously delusional and should be locked away forthwith.

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