How DARE Those People Who Had NOTHING To Do With 9/11…

Build a mosque a few blocks away from Ground Zero.  We have heard all the reasons, seen the imassioned pleas from Americans to not build the mosque, or to block it from happening.  While some try and argue they are just trying to ask the people who want to build the Mosque elsewhere, the harsh truth is, I don’t think they want it built anywhere.  But a group with ties to Pat Robertson has started a lawsuit to block the building of the mosque.

And it blows my mind.  You know why?  Because all the reasons against it are…well…terrible.  The reasons given are pretty much all under this banner:

It’s too close to ground zero, where Islamic Extremists killed several thousand people.

That would be a solid argument if the mosque’s backer were Islamic Extremists who planned to build the Mosque to train terrorists to fly planes into buildings.  Yeah, that would be terrible.

But Park51’s mission is far more insidious than that:

Park51 will become a model for future institutions, with its inclusive focus, outstanding facilities and dedication to social needs.  To realize this mission, Park51 will:

  • Uphold respect for the diversity of expression and ideas between all people
  • Cultivate and embrace neighborly relations between all New Yorkers, fostering a spirit of civic participation and an awareness of common needs and opportunities
  • Encourage open discussion and dialogue on issues of relevance to New Yorkers, Americans and the international reality of our interconnected planet
  • Revive the historic Muslim tradition of education, engagement and service, becoming a resource for empowerment and advancement
  • Connect New York’s communities to global ideas and trends, bringing New York into global conversations
  • Commit to social justice, dignified human development and spiritual growth for all
  • Pursue the development of American Muslim identities, engaging New York’s many Muslim communities and promoting tolerance, dialogue and compassion for all
  • Build partnerships and relationships with key actors and institutions who share our values, to address shared needs and solve common problems
  • Establish a state-of-the-art green facility that will serve as a model and inspiration for sustainable space, helping to advance sustainable living in urban contexts
  • Empower our communities with the skills and knowledge they need to advance in their various life stages
  • Provide financial assistance for those in need, offering subsidies for our programming and scholarships to reach new audiences and further our vision

That runs counter to everything America stands for!

But seriously, the argument always gets to Islamic Extremists were behind 9/11.  So the entirety of Islam must pay the penalty.  I want to tell you a story.  It is, admittedly, fiction…but it is hardly outside the realm of possibility.

Imagine there is a Family Services Clinic…in this clinic abortions are performed.  There have been protestors, and harrassment of staff… then one day, a member of the Army of God* sets off a large bomb.  The damage to this clinic and it’s surroundings are devastating.  Doctors, nurses and voluteers are dead or horribly wounded.

Imagine, eight or nine years later, a young pastor and his church want to build their new church building in the same neighborhood.  As they layout their plans, they are met with protest.  Local politicians ask them to please understand how painful it is that they would want to build their church so close to this site of great tragedy.  They are asked, “Please respect the dead.”  Can’t these Christians understand that Christian Extremists killed people very close to where they want to build their new church?

Christians hate all being tarred by our worst.  Bring up Fred Phelps or Scott Roeder and instantly Christians will go on and on about how those guys do not really represent Christ or the Church and that it is unfair to swipe us all with such a broad brush.  And yet, this is the precise argument being put forth.  All Muslims bear the guilt of the 9/11 terrorists.  How generous of the critics of Park51.

All Muslim’s do not bear the mark of the 9/11 terrorists.  Members of the Islamic faith were in the towers and died on that day, they were victims of the Extremists as well.  Nine years later, we should be mature and strong enough as a nation to take a sobered step back and realize that Park51 not only has the right to exist in the proposed site…but that it should.  Religious Freedom is something that often can set our nation apart (a number of other free countries are outlawing various aspects of the Muslim faith).  Our willingness to overcome our fears and encourage our nation’s basic principals can be that beacon for the rest of the west…and allowing a Mosque dedicated to diversity to be built close to Ground Zero?  That spits in the Extremists’ collective eye.

Instead of caving to fear**, let us stand up strong.

*The Army of God is very real.  They are a “Pro-Life” group that believes they are at war, and that ending abortion through bombings and shootings is acceptable.  They raise money to support people who have shot doctors and clinic volunteers.

**And it is fear, not respect for the dead or any other such nonsense, that drives the opposition to Park51.

5 thoughts on “How DARE Those People Who Had NOTHING To Do With 9/11…

  1. I refuse to believe it’s fear that motivates most of those protesting Park51.

    It’s hatred.

    Hatred of anything different, hatred of anyone who dares not be a member of the same faith, hatred of Arabs as a race (because many of them are so full of hate they refuse to understand Arab & Muslim aren’t synonyms)

    Fear can be dealt with and educated out.
    I’ve had strong phobias I’ve gotten over due to education and time.

    But hatred is much harder to let go of, because no one wants to admit to themselves that’s what they’re doing.

    We make up tons of reasons we’re justified in it, instead of bothering to ever try to get rid of it.

    It’s not fear that motivates them, if it was they’d try to educate themselves and they’d grow less afraid.
    It’s hatred, hatred that refuses to educate itself because facts don’t matter to hatred.

  2. I think it’s a combination of hate and fear. The people motivated purely by fear may be more educable than the haters, but that’s not saying much. Prejudice can be one tough nut to crack.

    Worse, the haters often prey on the others’ fears, usually through lies and disinformation. In the worst-case scenario, some haters, like Limbaugh and Beck, have access to large audiences. Thus they manipulate fear to increase their numbers.

  3. Thanks for a thoughtful post, Thom.

    I think it is, well, hateful to accuse all people who are against the Ground Zero mosque to be full of hate. Isn’t that just repeating the same cycle of oversimplifying and demonizing which you are decrying?

    It is far too dark a picture of America to contend that the 67% of people against the mosque are just consumed in hate and fear. There is so much more going on here. Namely, pain. My mother used to say, “If you know someone has a sore toe, you should go out of your way not to step on it.” 9/11 is still much more than a sore toe. It is still a horror.

    I wish I believed that the mosque would be an interfaith community center to promote love and understanding. The truth is, the principle driver behind the mosque has refused to condemn Hamas. He seemed in one statement to excuse the attacks of 9/11 as something America had earned by her foreign policy. The truth is, a decade or so ago, a bunch of Muslims told us that they just wanted to learn how to fly airliners, so we taught them how. One of the hardest blows of the 9/11 tragedy was that they used our own open society against us. Dare we trust them again to use our own 1st amendment against us? Excuse me for being leery.

    I was terribly impressed four years ago to visit the Holy Land. Beside nearly every Christian and Jewish holy site, the Muslims have built a mosque. These mosques scream the call to prayer five times a day and make quiet meditation and celebration of the mysteries of our faith nearly impossible. There are seven in the Old City of Jerusalem alone. They go off in syncopated fashion during the day and almost made me crazy. A member of the Knesset noted to me that the mosques are a provocation, and in the minds of the Islamic faithful, they are a sign of Islam’s domination over its enemies. Part of me thinks that a mosque at 9/11 would be a way of giving succor to the millions of Muslims who hate us as the great Satan and cheered the Towers going down.

    I am less interested in whether Muslims have a right to build a mosque at 9/11. (And that they might is not as cut and dry and the appeal to 1st Amendment freedoms. There is loads of legal precedent for individual property rights being ceded to the common good. You can’t build a bar on your property if there is a school nearby. My grandfather lost our family farm so Waterville, ME could build an airport. (They never actually did.) The Supreme Court ruling in Kelo a few years back said that property rights could be voided if a town could make more taxes by seizing the land and dedicating it to another use….In fact, the City of West Hollywood recently denied my church from opening a pre-school because of what one Council member referred to as the Catholic Church’s pernicious views on the gay community. Really. We are appealing it.) But whether there is a legal right to build it, this seems to me to not be the moment. The terrible grief and horror is still too fresh. America has not even rebuilt on the 9/11 site yet. The Freedom Tower is still on the drawing board. The Russian Orthodox Church that was destroyed at Ground Zero is still waiting to be rebuilt. It seems to me inappropriate that a mosque would come first.

    It is too easy and even unkind to mistake the pain of our people for hate. The memory of those innocent people falling to the ground is still too raw.

  4. Certainly, not all of the critics are hateful (But when you have Eric Cantor giving the defense of “But Come on!” and Newt making Nazi comparisons? Hate is definitely involved.

    I realize that for others (mostly non-talking heads and non-politicians) hurt…but when does the healing start? Nine years later and some people still seem stuck in a 9/12/01 reaction towards Islam. I understood those feelings in the days that followed. But as I had time, I could separate the individuals.

    I don’t find the Imam’s comments regarding our foreign policy impact nearly as troubling as I find Christians blaming Gays and Atheists for 9/11. Those nineteen men on September 11th 2001 were not attacking to convert America to a Muslim nation.

    It concerns and saddens me that people’s hurt seems to have not had one iota of healing.

    Should the Catholic Church stay out of adoption because of the child abuse scandal? Should all Catholics be held accountable for the actions of their authority? At what point do we ask ourselves to step back and see a larger picture?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s