President Barack Obama took a rather tepid step into the issue over whether or not an Islamic mosque should be allowed to be built close to the World Trade Center sight commonly referred to as ground zero. During a White House celebration meant to recognize the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Mr. Obama said that Muslims should have the right to build their religious institutions on private land as they see fit without any interference from government.
This might seem petty courageous on Mr. Obama’s part considering that, according to a CNN Opinion Research poll, more than two thirds of the American population oppose a mosque being built so close to what many people say is sacred ground. Less than thirty percent of the population supports the building of a mosque. But in typical fashion whenever Mr. Obama shows courage to buck popular opinion, he backtracks at the first sign of staunch opposition. The next day, while vacationing on some beach in Florida, Mr. Obama said that while he supported religious freedom he would not comment on the wisdom of building a mosque two blocks away from where 9/11 took on new meaning in the American, if not the global, lexicon.
During a local meeting held to gauge the public’s concern about the plan to build a mosque on private land, a woman who lost a loved one in that infamous disaster approached the microphone placed for people in the audience to speak and said that she didn’t want anything that has to do with terror, fear, fright and all she wanted was peace when she visited the place where her family member died. Another woman in tears begged the commission not to let the mosque be built. She gave no reason in the video clip that I saw. But as she turned away from the microphone, the audience gave her applause of support.
It’s understood that there are a lot of people still dealing with their losses of the World Trade Center disaster. A lot of emotions are raw. But the attack on America was not perpetrated by Islam. The Islamic faith is not at war with the United States and is not responsible for what happened that fateful day. To hold Islam responsible is to lump all people who share a similar faith into a single group and to hold all responsible for the actions of a few.
Prior to the attacks that happened on September 11th, the worst act of terrorism in the United States was Timothy McVeigh’s assault on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. He killed one hundred sixty eight people. Never in the aftermath of that event did anyone say that Christians or Catholics shouldn’t be allowed to build churches near federal buildings. When the white supremacist and Christian Eric Rudolph was convicted for a number of bombings, including the very high profile Centennial Olympic Park bombing, across the southern United States nobody said anything about putting restrictions on where any Christian churches can go.
Every day a lot of Christians commit crimes in the name of Jesus. I heard one crazy woman explain that she killed her children because Jesus told her to do so. But we’d never say something rather simple minded like Christians shouldn’t be allowed to do something because one or a few act in an irresponsible or socially unacceptable manner. Why do we go there when Muslims or the Islamic faith is involved?
Christians have a lot of nerve pointing a damning finger at other religious faith because of what a few non Christians may have done. Islam is not responsible for that awful day. To say that a mosque shouldn’t be built because of the fear of terror and hatred is pure prejudice. And simply because the majority of Americans want to surrender our principles of freedom and justice to some predisposition of bigotry and intolerance doesn’t mean that it’s right. The narrow mindedness of the majority doesn’t trump the law.
Although I have some doubt that it will be allowed to happen, I do hope that the mosque will be allowed to go up. Americans are fond of saying that we are willing to do whatever it takes to protect our freedoms. We will gladly go to war to protect the American way of life. According to history, we’ll even go so far as to drop nuclear warheads and incinerate hundreds of thousands to protect our principles. But, these are the same principles we’re ready to throw away at the drop of a couple of office buildings. If the destruction of our freedoms was al-Qaueda’s plan from the beginning then it looks like their strategy is working.