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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Obama and THE Mosque

Here is the first time I commented on this mosque debate:

I thought Palin was a lone wolf crazy lady on yet another issue. Turns out, 80% of America is with her this time. Doesn't make her right, though.

And now the President weighs in.

Muslims have the right to build it. But he's not commenting on the wisdom of it. So, is that him saying that it isn't wise? Or is he really saying that it's not his business to comment on the wisdom. I hope it's the latter. Because really, what's the big deal? Whose business is it besides the zoning committee in that area of NY? Who cares if there is a giant catholic cathedral or a mosque or a religious buffet squarely on top of Ground Zero (let alone however many miles from it)??

I just don't understand the opposition: "It stabs hearts." "It's an insult to those who died on 9/11." "It's pouring salt in our wounds." "It's a slap in the face."

Isn't this America? The place people flee to when they want religious freedom or freedom of expression? Didn't Muslims also die on 9/11? Why are we still lumping together extremists with a political agenda who were hanging out in a bar and not acting too Muslim (who rammed planes into buildings) with the majority of normal Muslims who generally have the same basic values as Christians and Jews?

And what about the other mosques near ground zero? Why are they no big deal? They don't have community centers. Is that the issue? If this one is such an insult, will we insist that these others be closed? Should Muslims be banned from Ground Zero, NY, the northeast, public office, the US?

When we talk about having a few already in Manhattan, so there should be no problem with adding one more, the counterargument is why one more? Why can't they go to existing mosques. I guess that would be an ok argument if you were prepared to apply it to Christianity and Judaism as well... If we want our rights/ freedoms/ privileges preserved, we're going to have to protect those of others. Or cease being a democracy and haven for free expression and freedom of religion. It's a decision one has to make.

Prevailing wisdom says that we have to attack "them" there before they attack us here and "they" attacked because they are jealous of our freedom. This is backwards. They are not going to be able to walk in and take our freedom; that is something we are free to give up. I have been arguing since 9/11 that those who are opposed to mosques or Muslims are actually doing the terrorists' bidding. That is what they (terrorists, not Muslims) want. They want us to hate them and attack, so that they will be justified in what they do. The best thing for us to do is to stick even more firmly to American values and allow Muslims the freedom to worship anywhere just like anyone else. The more we allow hate and ignorance to dictate our policies against Muslims here and abroad, the more freedom we give up. We become less American and more like those nations which inspire such hatred in these discussions. Today, we may eliminate freedoms for Muslims. That may be fine for you as a Christian or Jew- for now- but watch out. You may be next. In nations that are in the business of limiting freedoms, you have to worry about such things.

Stats are being reported as 75-80% of Americans oppose it and 25% support it or something like that. I was hoping most would say it's the residents' and zoning boards' business, not say- "Muslims. Eeew."

Despite all the opposition, one family member of a 9/11 victim had this to say, though:

The mosque is "in many ways ... a fitting tribute," said Colleen Kelly of the Bronx, who lost her brother Bill Kelly Jr. in the attacks. "This is the voice of Islam that I believe needs a wider audience," said Kelly, who is Catholic. "This is what moderate Islam is all about."

A point was brought up on NPR's Talk of the Nation that everyone (or at least many groups) has been an outsider in this country at one time or another and it is part of the awareness and becoming American. I thought that was an interesting idea.

Another point on the same program, TOTN, was that more mosques mean more discussion among Muslims about the "radical" and "moderate" interpretations and less radicalization rather than more, so allowing mosques is probably more beneficial than banning them. There was an example of an imam in Virginia being kicked out as a result of this process and discussion. Food for thought.

And some satire on this from Jon Stewart if you like:

And CNN's Fareed Zakaria returned his award from the ADL over this. Go Zakaria! It's easy to see why- it was a First Amendment Freedoms Prize- and you can guess the ADL's stance on this issue.

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