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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sioux Falls Neighbors Hide Anti-Islam Fear Behind Property Values

Don't be fooled by all the positive 'We are one country" sentiment of the Obama Inauguration: we still have a long way to go to accepting all colors and creeds and full partners in the American dream.

Case in point: As Islam expands in Sioux Falls, the faithful see the need for a second place of worship in the big city. But one man in the Garfield Elementary neighborhood, a couple blocks east of Kiwanis Avenue and Sherman Park, doesn't want their kind saying their prayers near his house.

Of course, Mr. Clinton Stickle doesn't express any outright racism or religious discrimination. Oh no, it's not that, really. He's just an upstanding citizen concerned about all the increased traffic and parking those Muslims will bring every Friday afternoon. Even worse, says Stickle, a Muslim house of worship will "flatten property values around here just like that."

Property values. Didn't folks use to say the same thing about blacks moving into the neighborhood? (Oh, darn, some people still do say it.) Even if Mr. Stickle has an economic point, lower property values due to an Islamic prayer center or some other outcropping of ethnic diversity only demonstrates the vile discriminatory attitudes the neighborhood and the broader society still harbor. The only reason an Islamic house of worship would lower property values is that the land-buying yahoos among us would say, "Eeewww, Muslims. I won't pay to live near them."

You know, it never occurred to me that the extra traffic and parking at the St. Thomas Catholic recreation center a half mile down the road from me here on Lake Herman was lowering my property values. And those darn Catholics are taking up good land that the county should condemn and sell to some good secular materialists like me who would build big houses and raise all of our property values.

Now I have a separate beef with discrimination in the name of Allah (check out the main Sioux Falls Islamic Center's blueprints for a new worship center, complete with separate and unequal worship spaces for men and women). But as Sioux Falls city planner Jeff Schmitt points out in the KELO report, Muslims "have a right to worship here."

President Barack Hussein Obama reminded us yesterday that Muslims are Americans, too. Guess we need more reminding.

It may sound impractical, but I'll make this suggestion: Muslim friends, if your Sioux Falls neighbors won't welcome you, come pray out here at Lake Herman. Heck, buy the lot next to me and build a big old mosque. Drive my property value down all you want and keep those Sioux Falls people from buying land near me. I think hearing the muezzin's call echo across the prairie and looking east to Mecca across Lake Herman to pray would be rather inspiring.


  1. Not that long ago some residential deeds contained covenants against people with yellow skin. This will pass in time.

  2. As I was watching this on KELO last night my first thought was why didn't they ask this "concerned citizen" how he would have felt if it was a Christian church moving into that house but of course that question never was asked.

  3. Cory:

    How much for the vacant lot next to you?

    If I build, will the county rescind my permit?

    Live long and prosper...

  4. Someone answer whether you would want a business next to you that had a noise like the call to worship echo many times during the day? It isn't necessarily racism or anti-Islam to not want this next door to you. But it seems that everything is relegated to anti-something if someone protests lately.

  5. Look on the bright side, as the property value drops you pay less taxes. You can't do that across the border where they tax your income.

  6. Cory one faces Northeast not East. That is the direction towards Mecca from here. Also I think in deference to al kitab (people of the book in other words Christians and Jews) that there is no call to prayer. The main concern seems to be with the parking. The city had denied the request to make a parking lot on the lot.

  7. Northeast -- interesting! Must be a great-circle thing. That'll still work here: northeast would give a view of the lake and the glorious grain elevator. ;-)

    Anon 8:14: Somehow folks don't make a fuss over a Christian church that makes all that noise on a Sunday morning when most everybody is home and could sleep in.

    And protesting by definition means you are anti-something.

  8. The location of the house is in a residential neighborhood, tucked between homes all around it. It is, in fact, a home that would be converted. I think when a family purchases a home in a developed neighborhood, they have a reasonable expectation that the homes around them will remain residential and not commercial ventures. The only question should be zoning and residential neighbor concerns about a business opening where a home used to be.

  9. Most Christian churches don't have calls to prayer many times a day. They don't make noise outside the building. There are a few that, yes, have bell towers that play music, but most are just quiet neighbors. But if there was a problem with parking with a new church going up in a residential neighborhood, I'll bet the neighbors would complain about that also.

    But never mind. Anyone protesting anything remotely connected with Islam will be deemed racist. And Obama is planning on expanding hate crime legislation, so look for more dangers of mentioning anything having to do with Islam, Black, homosexual, etc. And you libs are the ones wanting this while at the same time decrying any infringement on freedom of speech. What a dichotomy!

    BTW, maybe when Gitmo is closed and these prisoners probably get released, they will wind up in the neighborhood mosque as fine, upstanding members! Murtha said this morning he would welcome them in his backyard, even though he only has a minimum security prison near him.

  10. So when the Wesleyan church was denied use of a building downtown, was that bigotry? And would you be so quick to welcome Dr. Dobson's organization as a next door neighbor?

  11. What I find most interesting about this thread is how easily most people conflate Islam with Christianity... they aren't even close to the same. Muhammad was not an Arab Jesus... there is no hint of toleration in his biography or his theology. Thus, it is precisely a double-standard that they want us to tolerate them in our neighborhood, but they will never tolerate us in their neighborhood.

    Christians, followers of Christ, are commanded to be tolerant no matter the circumstance (turn the other cheek, etc). But no atheist, agnostic, or humanist should do anything that encourages Islam. It is a monomanical theocratic religion bent on world conquest. Read atheist Ibn Warraq's book Why I Am Not A Muslim (1995) to understand, from a former Muslim's inside account, how twisted Islam is.

  12. As a retired military member who lived among Muslims for more than half my adult life, I feel a need and responsibility to comment here. Our general ignorance of others' beliefs and ways of life saddens me in this age of fast information and relatively easy travel to far corners of our shared planet.

    We are often just as guilty of extreme prejudice, similar to that of the rulers of Spain and Portugal when Jews were forced or pressured to leave those countries hundreds of years ago.

    Where did they go? To the seat of the Muslim Caliphate in Istanbul, Turkey, where they were welcomed and allowed to live under the very tolerant "millet" framework. This allowed the community, culture, and unique language to survive, and the people enjoyed relatively autonomous rule. This system also applied to ethnic groups who were predominantly Christian.

    When we were growing up, we'd joke about South Dakota being 50th in everything. Sometimes that's not such a bad thing, if you're talking about crime statistics or cost of living. But there's a greater opportunity here to be something better. South Dakota should continue to be a place for pioneers. That means welcoming and embracing newcomers despite their differences.


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