On the “Mosque” Near Ground Zero.

I think that I understand both sides of this issue.  For those who oppose the building of an Islamic community center near ground zero (it’s closer to being a YMCA than it is to being a mosque), their most vivid memory of Muslims is the attack on 9/11.  They feel that it is insensitive of the builders of the community center to remind them (and families of those who were murdered on 9/11) of this attack on the World Trade Center by building the community center so close to ground zero.

For Muslims, they are sensitive to being conflated with those who destroyed the World Trade Center on 9/11.  They are also sensitive to the many lies that are being told by those who oppose the community center.  (Contrary to the false claims, it is not a mosque.  It is not on ground zero; it is two blocks from ground zero and not even visible from it.  Imam Rauf, who has advocated the building of the community center, is a moderate Muslim who traveled with members of the Bush administration to improve relations between the Muslim world and the US. )  They are also sensitive to the anti-Muslim hatred that is being revealed in so many different parts of the U.S.

So, on one side, there are the sensitivities of those who have so little personal knowledge of the Muslim religion that they automatically think of 9/11 when they think of Muslims.  They don’t even think of the 10s of millions of Iraqis or Afghanis for whom we are fighting, let alone the Muslims who were among those murdered on 9/11.   On the other side, there are the Muslims (especially, moderate Muslims) who are sensitive to being constantly compared to terrorists.

I think that the Muslims have a much better case on this one.

The solution is not to treat both types of sensitivities as morally equivalent.  Rather, Americans should try to understand their Muslim neighbors better and overcome any misinformed associations that they may have.  With 1 billion Muslims in the world, it is possible (and preferable) for Americans to have a much more nuanced position than to think that all Muslims believe the same thing.   We especially should not associate Muslims with Al Qaeda, which is hated by a majority of Muslims around the world.

As for politicians who have deliberately inflamed this situation for narrow personal or political interests (Newt Gingrich, I am especially referring to you), they provide support to those radical Islamists who want to convince others that Americans hate Muslims; and they have made this world a more dangerous place.    They bring dishonor and shame to themselves and to the United States.

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4 Responses to “On the “Mosque” Near Ground Zero.”

  1. Trencherbone Says:

    ‘Religious’ tolerance?

    The privileges of being classed as religion should be withdrawn from Islam.

    If Hitler had claimed that ‘Mein Kampf’ was dictated by God, would we be forced to tolerate the Nazi Party as a religion? Islam is first and foremost a mind-destroying, totalitarian political ideology that spreads through the Body Politic like a virus.

    Winston Churchill gave the correct diagnosis over a century ago, when he compared Islam to a contagious virus or meme – ‘as dangerous in a man as rabies in a dog’ http://crombouke.blogspot.com/2010/01/islam-murder-meme-and-rabies-of.html

    Consequently, Islam should be reclassified from ‘RELIGION’ to ‘PUBLIC MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEM’ – a virulent contagious mental illness. It could then be contained by the methods used to prevent the spread of typhoid and other lethal epidemics: enforced exclusion and quarantine of carriers, eradication of foci of infection, immunization of the susceptible population etc.

    • jimorlin Says:

      I think that the Muslim religion has too many devotees that are intolerant of other religions, just as Christianity has historically had far too many devotees that are intolerant of other religions. (As someone who is Jewish, I am well aware of the historical Anti-Semitism.) But with 1.5 billion followers, Islam does not present a unified front, any more than Christianity or Judaism does. It is ignorant to put all Muslims in the same box. Your views on Islam are much more a reflection of your own prejudices and intolerances, and they ignore the complexities and realities of the religion.

      Incidentally, after nearly 1500 years and 1.5 billion followers, it is pretty clear that Islam counts as a religion. It would even count as a religion with far fewer followers.

  2. Sanjay Says:

    Jim – While in agreement with your post, I am struck by your assertion that Al Qaeda is “hated by a majority of Muslims around the world.” Not in the sense that it’s false, merely that I don’t know that it’s true. Can you point to supporting data?

    • jimorlin Says:

      Hi Sanjay,

      Perhaps “hate” was too strong a word. Here is a quote from Wikipedia:

      “According to Pew polls, support for Al Qaeda has been dropping around the Muslim world in the years leading to 2008. The numbers supporting suicide bombings in Indonesia, Lebanon, and Bangladesh, for instance, have dropped by half or more in the last five years. In Saudi Arabia, only 10 percent now have a favorable view of Al Qaeda, according to a December poll by Terror Free Tomorrow, a Washington-based think tank.”

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