The Ghost of Snapped Shot

Or, welcome to my low-maintenance heck.

Updates are Also More Equal

Further Updates 25 September 2007:

If you're getting here from Google, you can find our reaction to the Administration's e-mail to the student body over here.

You must be More Equal to enter here. Women on one side, Men on the other.
Last we spoke a couple of days ago, I was doing my best to bring your attention to things going on at George Mason University, here in scenic Fairfax, Virginia. I promised to take a walk around campus and photograph some of the things we discussed, and so I have done. But first, I'd like to clear up a few misconceptions which are floating around the blogosphere, before things get too off track.

First and foremost, the Muslim Students of America here at GMU is not proposing that we build a mosque here on campus. This misconception is due to my attempted turn of phrase "mosque-on-campus." As I pointed out in the comments over at LGF, it would've been more clear for me to use "mosque-of-sorts," as the space that the MSA is proposing differs from a mosque only in the literal sense. In all other aspects (namely, the exclusive instruction of Islam within the confines), the two are the same.

Next, I previously mentioned that GMU had installed ceremonial foot-washing basins for wudu in every bathroom in the Johnson Center. This is incorrect, as I verified today. The basins are installed in every bathroom on the northeastern half of the building, and there are none present in the southwestern half. Considering some of our nation's geopolitical divisions these days, perhaps that's appropriate, but I do apologize for my mischaracterization nonetheless.

Finally, and this is the most upsetting thing I've found so far, I'd like to point out that there is one and only one "Prayer" area in the Johnson Center—rather than the four I had thought were there—and it is located on the north corner of the third foor. All of the other areas that I had thought were for prayer and/or meditation are merely called "lounges," and are generally filled with students doing what they do best—okay, the second best—thing they do best: Studying. I didn't take any pictures of these other areas today, as that would've disturbed the students in there who were actually studying cramming for their finals. If the areas are free on the day of my next final, I'll do my best to pop in and share them with you then.

This is multi-faith, too. So long as you believe in Dar al-Islam.
So, what we're left with in our journey of discovery, is that the Johnson Center was built with the intent of having a multi-faith "prayer and meditation" area, where all students could go to celebrate their faith and get in touch with their Deity, in whatever manner they do. This is the very same space that the MSA is proposing that they expand and take over fully as an "Islamic Education Center."

In the central building on Campus.

Yet, on this very same campus, there are no other permanent University-sponsored areas of prayer or worship. At least, that I've found. The only other area I could find that even remotely seemed to be assigned for religious purposes was the Campus Ministry office, located in Student Union Building I. Notice that every other religious group on campus, be it the Catholic Campus Ministry or the GMU Hillel, shares this same tiny space! What makes the MSA so special that it needs its own area?

Oh, and while SUB-I was the center of campus back in the 80's, the completion of the Johnson Center in 1995 shifted the entire commons area to a newer part of Campus. Nowadays, SUB-I seems very quiet, other than the restaurant and entertainment area in the basement. At least it has a Chick-fil-a—I couldn't imagine life without eating mor chick'n, but I do digress...

So, what we remain with, is the sense that a particular group on campus, who has been conceded to by the Campus administration and Student Government on more than one occasion already, is still not happy with their standing on campus, and wishes to have privileges that are far above and beyond what has been granted to other groups.

I protest this entirely. Let the MSA move into the Campus Ministry offices with everyone else, and build their own, privately-funded "Education Center" elsewhere.

It's not like the Middle East is short of petrol-dollars or anything, is it?

I've got a handful of photographs from the Fairfax campus in the extended body of this article, if you're interested in seeing them. And, in case you need further proof, you're more than welcome to e-mail me at bledbet1-at-gmu-dot-edu. I have nothing to hide, and neither should anyone else involved in this dialogue. If you're at GMU, I'd love to hear anything I've posted here be disputed, even if the campus IT department ends up mad at me as a result.
This is the contested prayer area. The only dedicated prayer area in the JC. The screens are to segregate (as in "apartheid") men from women, and the shoe rack on the left is expected to be used at all times.

Either three, or four out of seven sets of bathrooms in the JC is equipped with these Islamic washing areas, and as far as I've been able to tell, they were built at public expense. I regretably neglected to check the basement. I do distinctly remember them being built in 2003, though.

The Johnson Center is not a small, out of the way place.

... and I'm not suggesting that GMU is somehow "shutting out" any other religions!

Religious signs are all over the JC. Privately-financed, of course. It's interesting to note that the MSA has not put up their own sign, that I've noticed. Are they waiting for the Student Government to pay for it?

The JC is massive, and is very appropriately the showcase of the campus.

This is the Student Union I building, built sometime in the 1980's. Back then, it was probably awesome, but compared to the JC, well, I think you get the idea. Pay attention to the bulletin board close to the center of this picture.

... because it's the only sign of Hillel that I was able to find!

They're crammed into this tiny space (first door on the left) with all of the other non-preferred religions.

Campus Ministry is in room 207. All of the ministries present share roughly the equivalent space as the Pride Alliance, who are over in room 223. And don't forget the Multicultural Research & Resource Center, tucked away in the spacious 225, right next door to Diversity Programs and Services, who clearly rule the roost in 224.

No lie!



#1 Aaron 10-May-2007
The 'takeover' that worries me is the incremental and subtle changes that happen. Nothing too big to gardner any real attention. Most would dismiss this as petty and trivial. Every inch counts in 'clash of civilizations' and we seem to be giving away yardage.

Tight work by the way
#2 BunnieB 10-May-2007
What would happen if a group of Christian students in a Middle Eastern University attempted to place a cross in the common area of the Middle Eastern School? Oh, I forgot, Christianity is outlawed in many Middle Eastern Countries so the question is mute.

What concerns me is the West's tolerance of the Islamic religious practices estends into a suppression of the truth about the intolerance and even hatred towards Christian and Jewish beliefs in the Middle East. ie. The hate filled Hamas Mickey Mouse cartoon. When the terrorists of Fatah announced yesterday that the degenerate, evil Mickey Mouse clone had been dropped by Hamas TV, they were lying: Hamas TV refuses to axe contested kids cartoon. Also, CNN refused to air the cartoon so the West remains very ignorant of the hatred of the Christians and Jews spewed by Hamas using the beloved Mickey Mouse.

I just hope the West's good intentioned tolerance of Islam leads us to suppress the truth about Radical Islam and their hatred of the West.
#3 bob 10-May-2007
this stupid setup will end after some people sue on Church-state spearation--that the University pays for this is the height of Dhimmitude--and unconstitutionality-let the Muslims pay for their own facilities--just as the infidels do.
#4 Walter J Mitty 10-May-2007
Is the gardner a mute?

Two for two - what collage is this?
#5 Joseph 10-May-2007
Keep up the great work... Nothing less than civilization hangs in the balance!
#6 Keryl Kris 10-May-2007
What is to stop a large group of... say... Christian or Jewish students from holding an 'impromptu' prayer session in this space? It is... after all... for 'multi-faith' use.

Oh - and is there anyone reading this who might... suggest... such a gathering. And say... photograph the results?

Just asking. :-)
#7 EarlW 10-May-2007
BunnieB: The word is moot, not mute.
#8 MusicLover2112 10-May-2007
Everyone despises grammar Nazis, but regardless:

Aaron - gardner should be garner
Bunnie was corrected by EarlW
Walter - your smug correction included a fallacy of its own: collage should be college.

Islam continues to encroach on our lives and the masses continue to allow it to thrive because it disguises itself with the cloak democratic liberties - these very liberties and values become more eroded with each concession to the Islamic supremacists.
#9 Karridine 10-May-2007
Aaron, the Muslims, being TOLD BY THEIR CLERGY that The Promised One didn't really come May 23, 1844CE/1260AH, think they are still true believers in God's latest revelation, and are not allowed to turn their hearts and minds to the Glory of God, Baha'u'llah!

The Muslims should have EVERY OPPORTUNITY to *publicly* hear of the Coming of Baha'u'llah, the Mahdi promised by the Apostle of God, Muhammad!

This learning alone has the power to transform the majority of Muslims into Baha'is, focused on Justice & Courtesy, but only if the Muslim student 'leaders' must *publicly* deal with Baha'u'llah! :)
#10 Joyce 10-May-2007
Bend over and grab your ankles, Americans! Oh already did. My bad.
#11 Harold Brown 10-May-2007
Islam and socialists (liberals) seem to have an affinity for each other. History reminds us Islam and Nazi were dory mates in WW2. Was Nazism also considered a religion of peace?
Multiculturalism has a history of never working one culture dominates the others after awhile. Liberalism has been tearing at the root of American culture for so long that we are no longer a Christian nation but a nation of weak men and disobedient women. Islam will change that, the men will become overtaxed by the religious zealots and the women will become obedient baby pumps
#12 dave rice 10-May-2007
you and your fellow students should absolutely make the point of using these school spaces as your own. the only way to fight is to be heard. i applaud your efforts and wish i could be there to support you.
#13 ocelot 10-May-2007
I humbly suggest that you go
meditate, shoes on, on whichever
side of the screen you prefer.

(Be tasteful. It seems unduly
confrontational to obstruct
the main Friday prayer. But it
is also unduly confrontational
to commandeer the space for the
other 6.9 days of the week.)

Alternatively, you might have a
mixed gender group meditate on a
text. The Declaration of Independence,
US Constitution, and Declaration of
Sentiments suggest themselves.

My $.02

#14 Michael U 10-May-2007
I dont support this public prayer space idea altogether, but I dont like the slant given to prayer areas. I am an Orthodox Jew who is accustomed to praying in an area where there is no women. There is a thing in the shul called a Mechitza, a divider which seperates the men from the women. I fully understand this, and anyone with any religious background would not attack the muslims based on this custom. The seperation is not intended to keep women away, it is intended to keep the one praying focused on his prayers and not on the woman sitting next to him. I have been in liberal shuls where men and women sit together and I can tell you, it is not beneficial to the prayers. This custom of the muslims is not a bad practice, but the religion of Islams outlook on women is quite different from Judaisms treatment of women.

I just dont want this anti-muslim sentiment to become a anti-religious sentiment. If there was a public Jewish prayer area which did not have a separation I would not pray there. Its as simple as that... Prayers can only be effective is the full concentration {Kevannah} is on the prayers.
#15 Bob 10-May-2007
So Michael, it sounds as though since this is also a Jewish custom you are ok with trampling on the rights of all the other religious groups who don't subscribe to such. Bully for you and bull sh*t on you.
#16 Brian 10-May-2007
Please keep it civil, Bob. I understand what you're trying to say, but it doesn't seem to be Michael's intent to "trample" on the rights of any other religion.

Michael, as you say, you wouldn't feel comfortable praying in a public prayer area that didn't meet your religious needs. But you're not averse to setting up private prayer areas for the same, no?

I'm not trying to disparage the practice or otherwise cast aspersions on religion, as I consider myself to be a fairly conservative Christian in most regards. I merely object to having a "public" prayer area be claimed almost full-time by the MSA for their own personal use, and then have that somehow be translated into a "demand" on their part to customize and expand the room to meet their [i]exclusive[/i] needs.

I'd much rather see them purchase or build a private building for the purpose, just like every other group that's done so on campus.

#17 highrise 10-May-2007
uhh...these guys should do this stuff at home or in their church area. This is getting stupid. The USA is a melting pot, not a tossed salad.
#18 Teri 10-May-2007
Great piece. I've dugg it. (Surprised it wasn't dugg before). I think it's time the Jewish and Christian Groups moved out of their tiny room and took over the multifaith prayer room after all, Jews and Christians together confronting muslims are in need of some good prayers. Then a couple copies of books by Robert Spencer left in the room and garlic... and crosses.. oh wait.. Vampires are our friends...
#19 hellpig 11-May-2007
looks like a good place for a pig carcass cleaning
#20 Eri 11-May-2007
The room's name, "Quiet Mediation Area," is merely a Trojan horse to allow unconstitutional tax-payer funded endorsement of religion. The university knows that this is a de facto quasi-mosque on campus. But by labeling it as such--a mere "meditation area"--they can circumvent any direct connection with such an endorsement by claiming it is secular and/or multifaith room (which has repeated been allowed by the courts). In practice, however, it is clearly not secular or multifaith.

The style of the room--the divider between men and women, the rugs, the shoe rack, etc.--and above all the paper-trail leading back to the MSA point to GMUs special endorsement of a single faith, with the tax-payers footing the bill.

Now, if this room were truly multifaith, I would have no problem with it. To see people of many faiths (or lack thereof) able to use the space for prayer or mediation would highlight what is best about America. But to have such a blatant exclusion of other faiths, as is obviously the case here, is completely un-American and likewise unconstitutional.

Touching on Michael's point, the divider is not the issue. Sure, many faiths choose to separate men and women during prayer, just as many faiths don't allow shoes to be worn in the house of prayer. However, this room is obviously not the way it is because of the views of Orthodox Judaism or any other faith; the common denominator is the customs of a single religion which GMU has chosen to give special preference to, albeit in sheep's clothing to avoid any more obvious endorsement of religion.

Thus is the problem with these sorts of blurrings of the separation between religion and state. They should all be truly for people of all faiths or completely privately funded.
#21 captainfish 11-May-2007
Michael U, we of the Christian faith sit in church with our wives and girlfriends and women friends and have no problem focusing on GOD in our prayers. We recognize your right to pray as you wish, as we expect other religions to recognize our religious practices and history.

I wonder what would happen if a person was photo'd taking a bath in those "foot baths"? Sitting bare hairy butt on the floor of those "baths"?

Brian, I appreciate you tracking this down and trying to pull all comments and commentors together.

The fact that GMU has built these areas for the MSA in that Center in deference to the MSA, whilst the other religions are forced to reside in an (now) out of the way closet, smacks of preference.

I must also predict, that this will occurr more and more often. Muslim appeasement will become more and more overt (and defended agressively) while punishment of the expression of the Christian faith will increase.
#22 jack 11-May-2007
Go take a dump in the footbath. If caught, explain you are "gender confused" and were attempting to use what you understood to be a bidet.

That degree of political correctness should keep 'em confused at least until the end of the semester. Two can play this game.
#23 mikey 11-May-2007
Footwash? I thought that was a urinal! Oops!
#24 Steven 11-May-2007
Perhaps the campus Muslims and Jews can pray together utilizing this room and another room can be set up for other denominations. I fully understand the need for separation of the sexes. I sure has heck can't seem to concentrate in class because of this mixing either. Every time a woman is in the room I seem to get a chubby. I can't help it.
Seems to me that both the Muslims and Jews (and anyone else who has "problems" with the opposite sex) should use the current room as set up. Also, this may be an avenue toward creating peace and understanding between Muslims and Jews as they can focus on what brings them together rather than their differences.
As for the foot baths, why are you people so petty? We can all use them for something can't we? Use your imagination!!!
#25 CDG 11-May-2007
You know, when I am at a bar or pub, I find the presence of other men there to be a distraction to my concentration when my sole aim is to pick up good looking women. I think there should be a screen or divider keeping all of the other men on one side so they do not distract me from working my angle.
#26 Bob Dobalina 11-May-2007
O.k. I can point out more than a few problems with this. First of all people need to be aware of the tools that Muslims are using to gain the upper hand in these types of situations. Because of the whole *candy ass* movement “I don’t want to offended anybody”, we are stuck with this mess. Muslims can just claim that because a group is not funding, or allowing them to set up their prayer rooms, they are discriminating against Muslims. Muslims know they can play on people’s guilt. People are too soft now, and feminized, they can’t see when danger is in front of them. If they do see danger they don’t know how to act. I’m tired of this. It seems that every time I look around, there is another school somewhere that is kissing Islamic ass. I just worry that when people realize what is going on it will be too late. There will already be so much precedence set in ridiculous court cases defending the Muslims right to take over whatever they want. It will be hard legally to do anything about the problem at that point.

Muslims are human just like anyone else, if you let them get away with something, they will keep doing it. Take a look at the French. They had a liberal society that punished the achiever, and supported looser. This allowed the population to be overrun with Muslims. The French were in dire straights, but now they might pull out of it with the recently elected conservative leader. I believe the French people realized that they don’t want to bang their head on the carpet 5 times a day. I just wonder when will the people of the U.S. see this?
#27 Zabrina 11-May-2007
These meditation spaces and washing spaces should be publicized more across campus. So anybody will feel free to go there and meditate in whatever way (and on whatever side of the screen) they wish--and to wash whatever they like in whatever way and for whataever reasons they wish. This is still America--who are they to tell a woman to practice "quiet meditation" on one side of a screen or another? Seems to me it's time for a civil rights sit-in here.

Since the campus serves all the students, staff, and faculty, these facilities must be open to all, right? Any group that wishes to exclude others to practice their own breed of religious observance should fund their own private facilities off campus for those purposes.
#28 Walt C 11-May-2007
Looks like a good place to give my dog and pot bellied pig a bath. :-)
#29 Debbie 11-May-2007
Looks like an ideal place to clean fish... or perhaps we can use it as a bidet!
#30 Hyscience 11-May-2007
There are very disturbing signs of dhimmitude and Islamification going on at at George Mason University in scenic Fairfax, Virginia. And if there weren't photographs to prove it, along with detailed commentary, one would think someone made this stuff up....
#31 Jamie 11-May-2007
I thought they were bidets. I've been using them like that for a couple of months now anyway!
#32 eyeoftheheart 11-May-2007
It's been said and said, the only thing needed for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing. Why are the other religious groups not standing on their heads in protest? This is an OUTRAGE, and I will begin a letter writing campaign at once. What part of they want to see us all DEAD and gutted don't ivory tower intellectuals understand?
#33 Lance 11-May-2007
I would use those foot cleaning basins as a urinal at every opportunity.
#34 cdog 11-May-2007
Shall we let the "KKK" "meditate" with the muslims? Me thinks yes. Who do you think cleans the foot basins. The muslim students that demanded them or some poor white christian person. I think the muslims should clean them. Maybe showering before prayer would eliminate the need to wash the feet all the time. Get with it muhammed!!
#35 panamahat 11-May-2007
I'm with those who are calling for demonstrations. Yes, yes, I know. People like us spend our time working and studying while "professional demonstrators" supported by nefarious groups have workshops explaining how to do it right. Still, we could figure it out, couldn't we? We could organize ourselves, couldn't we?

We'd better learn to do things like this before we find that not only our freedoms of assembly and worship (oops -- quiet meditation) have been taken away -- but our freedom of speech, too.
#36 Sabba Hillel 11-May-2007
The point about Orthodox Jews as well as Muslims requiring a separation for prayer seems to be misunderstood by those who do not follow this "custom" (it is really a religious law.

As long as the separation is movable and is used by those groups that require it, there is nothing wrong with such a facility. The problem is that the MSA is attempting to take over the facility for its *exclusive* use.

If this "meditation room" where an interfaith facility which had the ability to be used by any of the religious groups on campus, then it would be correct.

Thus, it would have racks for those groups that remove their shoes (perhaps groups other than Islam do this). It would have a screen that could be set up for those groups that have separate prayers. Perhaps it would have other capabilities.

On the other hand, since the timing of the services might conflict, why not set up a room for each of the various religious groups that would be on campus. Each group could set up a room according to its own standards.

That way there would be no conflict. Actually, the mention that all religions are crammed into a tiny space is also an insult to them all.
#37 Teri 11-May-2007
Steven, that's ridiculous. You want Jews to pray in the same room as muslims, all the while said muslims are praying for the annihilation of Jews calling us pigs and apes? Why not just rename in the bend over and get your dhimmi status already room?
#38 pete 11-May-2007
A university campus that enjoys ANY subsidy or funding from state or federal sources is NOT the place for religion - In ANY sense. I STRONGLY object to my tax dollars being spent on or subsidizing ANYTHING related to faith or religion. It's a fundamental component of our constitution and it saddens me to see it laid threadbare in such disrepair. Dont start me on Reason.
#39 LT 12-May-2007
The entire notion of a University sponsored location for religous practice is ludicrous nowadays. So long as a single religion is underwritten or somehow supported by the state, such sponsorship works fine (as was the case with christianity in the USA in the past.)Christian chapels and the like are a holdover tradition and fading fast as an acceptable practice. But the attempt to provide for the needs of a plurality of religions with no preferences between them is simply absurd.

If the University allows a space to be taken over for the organized practice of a religion, and avers no preference between religions, then by what principle could a Lukumi/Santeria devotee be denied access to the space in order to sacrifice a chicken? Should the institution provide the knife, since it provides foot-basins for others? How 'bout snake handlers? Less exotically, consider how disruptive a good old fashioned christian revival would be if undertaken for an hour or so every day of the week. Or a charismatic preacher booming away on the sins of homosexuality and abortion. Maybe the University could provide him a podium and microphone.

That the University is even attempting this accomodation is laughable, but the fact that the notion to do it even occurred to someone in administration is pathetically sad.
#40 pete 12-May-2007
LT, I agree, but a larger question begs here; Why has has there not been an immediate call to abolish ALL of these undertakings from this University [Or all state or federally subsidised or funded institutions]? This is a blatant and egregious violation of our constitution. Let me just say it [in a raised voice] like it is:

#41 mahatma cane jeeves 12-May-2007
#38-Well said. And can you imagine the outrage if the same accomodations given Muslims were afforded to satanists? BWahahahahaha! Yes, it is beyond laughable.I say let the coveted space be used by all or none, and let the pedophile-worshipping Religion Of Peace raise the money and build a place that suits them elsewhere(preferably off campus).Oh, and "use" their special footbaths at every opportunity till they're sick of it.
#42 Hisham 13-May-2007
"Muslims build footbath on campus!" -NY Sun

Seriously though, Campus Crusaders for Christ was given $4000+ on my (admittedly conservative) campus for a "Christmas holiday summit". No one on ASG voted against it. And virtually no one complained of an impeding theocratic takeover.

But then again, Christian don't hate us for our freedoms... or something like that...
#43 Zabrina 13-May-2007
Is it "hate speech" to drop a ham sandwich in the foot wash? How about if you call it "performance art"? Or "consciousness-raising? Or "speaking truth to power"? Or "challenging unexamined beliefs"?

All of this is certainly a distraction from the real business of the university: the passing on of knowledge and the teaching of young people how to think creatively and critically for themselves.
#44 Rebecca Fulton 12-Sep-2007
Just wanted to let you know that I recently worked on an article along side Rachael Dickson of GMU's Broadside and I found that the footbaths were installed with the building 12 years ago while the meditation space was only created 5-7 years ago.
#45 Gene 13-Sep-2007
To strike a blow for separation of church and state and against dhimmitude, has anyone there thought of posting an anonymous public announcement, perhaps in a letter or ad in the student newspaper, that -- he rubs his feet with lard (strictly as a skin-softener, of course) and washes his feet off in the footbaths? (And of course, someone should actually do it.) Since the footbaths are supposed to be non-religious and intended for everyone's use, Muslims have no right to object. And since the announcement is anonymous (to avoid death threats), no one will know who is doing it. Even if no one actually does it, can a devout Muslim take a chance on whether it is true?
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