How far away from you does a terrorist have to live before a terrorist is no longer a terrorist? This is a question opponents of the “Ground Zero mosque” have to ask themselves.
On This Week with Christiane Amanpour my friend Daisy Kahn, wife of Imam Faisal Rauf the man behind the mosque, was asked if she would consider moving the mosque to another location farther away from Ground Zero. She seemed to say that this is a possibility. As readers of this blog know, I am in favor of the mosque. The Islam taught by Imam Faisal is precisely the kind of Islam Muslims need if Islam is to become a meaningful part of postmodern life. This is the kind of imam all Americans should support. Instead he is being demonized.
According to his opponents Imam Faisal is a terrorist who seeks to impose Sharia on America and set up a terrorist training center next to Ground Zero. While false on all counts, if this were true it would be no less true and no less objectionable if the imam agreed to move the mosque a few blocks farther away. I don’t want a terrorist training camp of any stripe anywhere in Manhattan, or anywhere in the United States.
So what happens to the mosque’s opponents if the decision is made to move the mosque? Will Imam Faisal suddenly be the goodwill ambassador to Muslims worldwide that the Bush and Obama administrations say he is? Will his terrorist ties suddenly melt away?
If they do, then the hypocrisy of those making these false claims is clear: they will say anything, promote any lie, simply to manipulate the masses to their cause. Fair enough. That is what passes for politics in America today.
But I suspect matters won’t end with a move. The haters of Islam are well funded, and smell blood. They, like their forebears Father Coughlin and Joseph McCarthy are using fear of the other (for Coughlin it was Jews, for McCarthy it was Communists) to promote their own political agenda. They craved power, and would step on anyone they needed to in order to get it. The next location will be too close to a school, or a church, or a synagogue, or a strip club to fit in with the neighborhood. Those who seek power through fomenting hate will not allow a change in locale to rob them of their Golden Goose. As soon as people stop fearing Islam and hating Muslims, their game is over. So move or don’t move, the fear mongering will continue.
Sunday, September 05, 2010
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This whole issue deeply disgusts me. That a mosque built near the site of the World Trade Center should be controversial at all bespeaks a conflation of Islam and terrorism that is simply rank bigotry. And it is just what Bin Laden wanted. The survival of his movement depends on the radicalization of the Muslim street; his real enemy isn't the U.S., it is moderate Islam.
To drive out the forces of toleration in Islam, Bin Laden needs the U.S. to act like the utter foe of Islam. And when we depict a moderate mosque as "hurtful," when we flush Korans down the toilet or burn them in public, when our political candidates denounce Islam and even the notion of coexistence, then we play the role Bin Laden has assigned to us.
I've stepped back and wondered why this is so controversial, other than the idiotic reaction so many are having to it on both sides.
There is the obvious for me: this is New York, the give me your tiered your poor spot, the one place in America where there is a national symbol welcoming everyone to our shores. A no brainer for me. Build a mosque, I thought it was a community center, but whatever, build it. What a better place than near the site where we welcomed all nations to trade. A symbol that we didn't let bigotry and hatred rule the day on 9/11. And while we are at it, build a church, a synagogue, whatever, the UN intercultural extension building...any place that says hatred didn't win the day. Plant a garden with specimens from the entire world ...anything to say we have made Teshuva and we are getting on with life.
The other problem and much worst for us is that somehow, certain elements in our society are trying to bring back the crusades. We have no idea what Islam is about. All we see is a bunch of crazy boys running around with bombs, trying to stone people. And we have to get the before they get us. It's disturbing.
Maybe, those who are trying to get this place built, need to do something that I kind of feel ashamed to say: Maybe they need to let us know Why. Maybe, the news media needs to stop pairing them up with pictures of falling towers and start showing them at interfaith prayer services working towards reconciliation and peace.
"Maybe, the news media needs to stop pairing them up with pictures of falling towers and start showing them at interfaith prayer services working towards reconciliation and peace."
Andrea, I could not agree more.
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