America, tolerance, and our future.

I like to think that, given the years I’ve lived and the times I’ve lived through, that I’m not easily shocked. Well, I hereby stand corrected. You see, I’ve been watching the furor over the proposal to build a mosque in downtown New York City, and I honestly can’t think that any reasonable person would not be shocked by the way the entire sad event has played out.

Here are the facts: a group proposes to tear down an old textile warehouse and replace it with a mosque and community center. That it would face some resistance is almost to be expected, given the level of opposition that has been present in America to the Muslim faith since 9/11. That the location is within a few hundred feet of where the World Trade Center once stood, however, seems to have crystallized and focused all the resentment, the anger, and yes, the hate for Islam and the Muslim faith into this one site.

Now for the fallacies: there are people who claim this complex will be built on the “sacred” site of Ground Zero. That it is an “insult” to those who died in the fire and collapse of those twin towers after the aircraft crashed into them. That it represents a “victory” for the “enemies” of America.

These statements are all lies, no way around it.

That many people died on 9/11 is not a thing I dispute, nor that the place they died should be held in high regard. But the complex will not be on the site of the World Trade Center, but around a corner, not even in sight of the entrance to the structure itself. More troubling to me, though, is the fact that such a claim ignores the fact that among the people who died as a result of those airliners slamming into the World Trade Center were Muslims working IN those same buildings. Were they not victims too? Do they not deserve to be remembered? Would not the “insult” be to use the fact that those who killed them held a twisted version of their religion?

Perhaps the most insidious charge is the final one, that building a place where Muslims would be free to worship and to communicate with others is somehow a victory for the people who organized those terrible attacks. Perhaps the thing extremists like those who carried out the 9/11 attacks fear most about America is our freedom. In their world, everyone would follow one religion, there would be no questioning it, and the punishment for any transgression would be swift and terrible. America scares the hell out of that sort of person. Here, not only do people not have to follow a single religion, if they want to, they don’t have to follow ANY religion! How can they go around, telling folks how important it is to follow “the one true religion”, if in the richest, most powerful and most successful nation in the world, people can tell any religion to go to Hell? And, more to the point, nobody can say “Boo!” to them if they do. We, in our ideals, show the world the fallacy of the idea of “religious purity”. What the folks who are running around, foaming at the mouth and howling at the Moon over this “terrible idea” don’t seem to realize is that they are THE perfect recruiting tool for extremists! When we, as a nation, decide to trample on the freedoms of one group for the excesses of a few, we betray all the things we like to say we stand for. Someone once said that democracies never fall to outside forces, but those from within, I think they had people like the folks protesting this complex in mind. If we let them take fear and anger and shape it into a weapon to be used against people who want nothing but the same freedom we say we cherish, then we deserve to fail.

I hope we don’t. I hope we see through the fear-mongers, the hate spewers, the folks who need an enemy, a group to look down on, to make them feel superior. I guess I hope we will see that every group in this nation deserves the same respect we all take for granted. I also hope the scared folks who are listening to these headline-grabbing, self-serving demagogues see where they’re being led and turn away from those dark ideals these people preach. We are a great nation, but the more of us who don’t see that, the weaker we become. Here’s to a strong, freedom-loving America, long may it endure.

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One Response to “America, tolerance, and our future.”

  1. Igor Says:

    “What the folks who are running around, foaming at the mouth and howling at the Moon over this “terrible idea” don’t seem to realize is that they are THE perfect recruiting tool for extremists!”

    O hate the clam many on the left, that somehow we are responsible for Muslim extremism. First, what people say has very little to do with what most recruits actually hear. They hear what they are told by manipulative men. Second, the primary reasons for people joining fundamentalist causes are 1) lack of education 2) treating religion in general as exempt from harsh criticism 3) poverty 4) lack of parental guidance 5) for those smarter and more educated, early indoctrination, and sometimes people are just bad people with overall bad intentions.
    Okay, now let me see if I’ve got this right: all of the above is true, but you’re saying that giving those same people pictures of Americans ranting and raving about the “evils” of Islam does not help them in their recruiting efforts?
    Why do I doubt that????

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