Recently, a group of 10 unarmed volunteers on a humanitarian mission to Afghanistan were brutally gunned down by members of the Taliban, who accused the group of spying for the West and proselytizing. When I heard the news, I thought, “My god. How barbaric.” Too bad I couldn’t also add, “Thank god that kind of religious intolerance doesn’t happen here.”
The recent outrage over the proposed “Ground Zero Mosque” (that’s neither at Ground Zero or a mosque—but hey, why bother with facts?) has made me come to hate my country just a little bit more. I thought we were the land of the free, where people were allowed to practice (or not) the religion of their choice. Wasn’t that one of the reasons why this country was founded — by religious groups seeking haven from persecution?
But apparently, that doesn’t apply anymore.
The proposed Cordoba House, which would be located not AT Ground Zero, but two and a half blocks away, and would be more of a community center than an actual mosque, has met with heavy opposition by people saying it’s an insult to build a mosque so close to where so many people died on that tragic day on Sept. 11, 2001.
OK. Um. How, exactly?
It wasn’t Islam that hijacked those planes that brought down the Twin Towers. It was 19 fanatical extremists aided by an equally fanatical sect. And since that date, Islamophobia has shamefully grown exponentially in this country.
I’m not that good with words. So many people have said it better than I have about how banning this house of worship would be so wrong. But I can’t understand why people, who claim to love this country and its Constitution, could even begin to think about not allowing a religious group to build a house of worship. I just can’t wrap my brain around it.
I’ve heard the “We’ll let you build a mosque at Ground Zero when churches are allowed to be build in Saudi Arabia” crap. Apparently, Christian churches are forbidden in Saudi Arabia. That sucks.
But we’re not Saudi Arabia. How do two wrongs make a right?
There’s also been major outcry over a mosque planned in Murfreesboro, just a couple of hours from here. And other protests around the country about similar planned mosques.
Do we want to become Saudi Arabia? Should we just scrap the Bill of Rights and become a theistic society? Which theistic society? Catholic? Baptist? Methodist? Certainly not Islamic or Jewish.
I used to believe America was a land of “us.” But I now realize, we live in a society of “us” verses “them.” I guess “love thy neighbor” only applies if you agree with your neighbor’s lifestyle.
How will we ever gain peace between peoples of faith if we allow fear and hate to fester and spread?
The world cried out when those four planes were hijacked by extremists on Sept. 11. Will we now sit by while our own home-grown extremists hijack this tragedy to suppress the rights of others?
Some seem to have forgotten that many American and non-American Muslims also died on Sept. 11. Many American Muslims have died in the years since fighting for the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan. How do we honor their sacrifices? By not allowing the Cordoba House to be built in its present location?
Not in my America.
But I’m starting to fear this isn’t my America any more.
(I wrote this before I saw last night’s episode of ‘The Daily Show.’ Jon Stewart says everything I wish I could say, and then some.)