We have to stop Pastor Jones from burning the Qur’an or risk the anger of the Muslim street. We have to build a mosque near Ground Zero or risk the anger of the Muslim street. We have to expand the mosque in Murfreesboro or risk the anger of the Muslim Street. Well, Pastor Jones didn’t burn the Qur’an and Muslims in Afghanistan decided to take to the street and call for the death of America anyway. So, honestly, do I really want to live my life in fear of the Muslim Street? And which street is that exactly?
There are hundreds of Muslim Americans in Murfreesboro, and they understand that Pastor Jones has a constitutional right to burn the Qur’an, just as they understand that they have a constitutional right to build their mosque. As distasteful and as horrifying as the burning of a Qur’an is (and make no mistake it is distasteful and horrifying) my Muslim neighbors are not going to riot in Murfreesboro’s town square because of it.
Even if they were denied a permit to build their new Islamic Center, and even if it were clear to them that this denial was fuelled by bigotry and hate, even then they would not riot, burn churches, or commit acts of terror. They would be angry, and they might protest, march, and pursue their case all the way to the Supreme Court because that is their right as Americans. But they wouldn’t do what their coreligionists in Afghanistan are doing. Why? Because they are Americans.
The Muslims in Murfreesboro are not the Muslim Street, but they should be. What Islam needs is more American Muslims; Muslims who know how democracy works, who embrace religious freedom and the separation of church/mosque/synagogue and state, and who could by their own example bring those Muslims trapped in the middle ages into the 21st century.
So let’s stop worrying about the medieval Muslim Street and start supporting the American Muslim Street. If Muslims in Muslim countries want to riot, or stone adulterers, why is that our concern? Haven’t we learned anything from the Prime Directive? If Muslim mothers want to mutilate their daughter’s genitalia, so what? Jewish mothers mutilate the genitals of their sons, and we send gifts. Unless or until Muslims and Jews come after your genitals or those of people you love, leave them alone. And in the meantime, let’s start supporting the American Muslim Street.