It's about our community and our spirituality!

Building Bridges

”Unless there is some additional symbolism to building the mosque [near the World Trade Center location commonly referred to as ground zero], this group would understand the geographic sensitivity of the location and decide on their own to build the mosque elsewhere. Certainly under the circumstances, if their objective is to “build bridges” with the non-Muslim community, then they’re off to a very bad start…”justinwashingtontheblogger

I have been going round and round with a visitor to my blog about the Islamic cultural center and mosque planned to be built about two city blocks away from the famous World Trade Center location made infamous by the horrendous happenings that occurred on September 11th. I had written an article a few days ago expressing my frustration with the majority of my fellow Americans who believe that they are entitled to dictate where Muslims should not be allowed to put their religious institutions. So much political posturing against Muslims has been made from all kinds of people simply because the hijackers on that fateful day were radical Muslim extremist.

Now, people like this commenter are content to label all Muslims as hateful radicals programmed to commit acts of suicide at the first opportunity to murder as many nonbelievers as possible. This supposition requires little support or evidence and relies on nothing but people’s prejudice and bigotry. Many of us feel justified to judge all Muslims as radicals because of the crimes of a few. A few Muslims in other places of the world are making the choice to blowing themselves up so it makes perfect sense that Muslims here want to do the same. We can stroke all Muslims with a very broad, condemning brush and demand that they prove their allegiance to the rest of America by requiring them to build a conciliatory bridge to us. Muslims can prove their desire to be part of our collective by submitting to the will of the majority by submitting to our intolerance for the Islamic community.

It’s pretty much the same thinking that was commonly applied to black people once upon a time. Black people were not allowed to live where they wanted. Black people had to prove their allegiance to the dominant community by submitting to the rule that black people were not welcome. Black people who respected white people’s desire to keep black people out of their neighborhoods were good. Black people who pushed against orthodox thinking and fought for the right to live where they choose, regardless of how others felt, were considered radical trouble makers who refused to recognize the natural order.

We recognized that rhetoric for what it was, and that was bullshit. While it might be true that some people still refuse to recognize black people’s right to live wherever they might be able to afford, we don’t allow people to blatantly say that black people aren’t welcome or advertise that housing is strictly for whites only. We proudly stand together and say such discrimination is unacceptable in the land of the free and the home of the brave. But we are quick to throw these high minded principles out the window when we it suits us to do so.

However, all is not lost. Muslims can become a welcome part of the American collective if they would just do the heavy lifting of building the bridge to our sensibilities. But in the immortal words of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, that’s a bridge to nowhere. We don’t require people to gain acceptance in America by surrendering their freedoms. That’s just plain stupid. America isn’t built on the principle of people giving up and acquiescing to the whole. America is built on the principle that all men are created equal with inalienable rights such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So why do so many of us continue to insist that Muslims tread softly down a different path of submission?

The people who want to build the Islamic cultural center two blocks from the World Trade Center location are not criminals. As far as I know, nobody there is making the suggestion that Muslims should don exploding vest and go out hunting for infidels to blow up. As far as I know, nobody associated with that organization has done any anything that requires the entire organization to submit to a condition that tries to deny these people the right to the property of their choice because of what somebody else may have done.

We don’t require other Americans to build bridges to all of America by surrendering their rights. I know that if I was part of the leadership of this organization, I would not care if the rest of America, an America that is known for its penchant for discriminating against certain groups of people who are obviously different, disagreed with my organization’s right to buy land and build on it according to the established law. My thinking would be more like, why doesn’t America build a bridge to me by recognizing the fact that the people in my organization has the some rights and privileges that other Americans enjoy.

The rest of America can build a bridge to the Muslim community, on a local, national, and even a global perspective, this community of people that we’ve been accused of unfairly attacking in our so called war on terror, by standing up for those American principles we like to say that we’re all about. We’re supposed to be about letting individuals practice their freedoms without the interference from others. We need to recognize the hypocrisy of this whole affair for what it truly is. Hypocrisy!

Saturday, August 21, 2010 - Posted by | Bigotry, Life, Racism, Religion, Thoughts


  1. I work 2-3 blocks from the proposed community center, and I only happened to walk by there the other day for the first time when I caught the last car of my subway train into the city, and so came out from a different subway exit. Oh. This is the site on the news, I realized. On the sidewalks in chalk were notices: “This neighborhood welcomes Islam.”

    The neighborhood is Tribeca, and the building has been vacant probably since 2001. The building is intact, though it may have been damaged in the attack. There are lots of Muslims who work in the area. They are designing and maintaining computer systems. They are working for the state or city government. They are teaching students. They are running restaurants and coffee carts. They own and manage shops. They are keeping books, creating advertising, managing a staff. They are practicing medicine. Some live in the area. At least one who sold sneakers on September 11, 2001, gave away his goods to secretaries in high heels and others in uncomfortable shoes who had to walk home that day. Many were killed in the Trade Center attack. This building 2 blocks away from the World Trade Center is not even visible from there, really, but it is a very convenient location for New Yorkers who might need a moment of solace in a stressful day at work, or who might be struggling with family problems or other issues that move people to seek the support of an organized religion. So I also say, welcome to the neighborhood.

    Comment by Betsy | Sunday, August 22, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback Betsy,

      So many people only want to remember the fact that some Muslims were responsible for the attack on that fateful day. Not enough people remember that there were other Muslims that were killed in the attack. There were other Muslims that helped in the immediate aftermath. There are Muslim Americans who are involved with America’s military effort to exact some kind of revenge against the people we hold responsible for the attack. People forget that there are Muslims throughout our society who contribute to the American collective everyday. But we can measure the entire Muslim community by the actions of a few. And that’s just shameful.

      If I ever get to New York, I hope to visit the location myself and offer my support. Hopefully, by the time I get there, the culture center will be built and I can pay my respects.


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Sunday, August 22, 2010 | Reply

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