Let’s first of all point out that the popular title I adopted for this piece, usually reserved for the feverish demagogues and their pigheaded followers, is itself misleading. The proposed mosque will be built two blocks from the former site of the World Trade Center,but the title suggests the mosque will be built on top of the ashes. And were that the case, I’ll concede that it would be insensitive and bizarrely prejudiced toward the Muslim community affected by 9/11. But this Islamic community center and mosque will be at some distance and represents a beautiful opportunity for the United States to rise above prejudice and recommit to a legacy of tolerance and acceptance.
The debate on this proposal has been raging for some time, the petty and ignorant crawling our from beneath their fundamentalist rocks to assault the very foundations of American liberty. That foundation being religious freedom. There are legitimate reasons to be opposed, to at first be insulted and contest that hey, maybe there’s no good reason to invite controversy so close to such a recent tragedy. I understand that the Islamic community in general had its image tarnished in the minds of many Americans in the wake of 9/11, people making the unfortunate and perhaps involuntary mistake of allowing Al-Qaeda to represent an entire religion. It happens often in history that the loudest and most radical groups define public image, but the era of mass media should no longer permit that. Somehow, the fact that the GOP’s domestic agenda flagrantly favors only the wealthiest Americans and disregards the needs of the poor isn’t enough to throw them out of favor and out of office.
The point here is that there is considerable popular misconception about Muslims and an unfortunate mental association for many with Islam and 9/11. Read the rest of this entry »