The Ground Zero Mosque: A fight over America’s true identity

11 Aug

“As a mother and a grandmother, I worry,” Ms. Serafin said. “I learned that in 20 years with the rate of the birth population, we will be overtaken by Islam, and their goal is to get people in Congress and the Supreme Court to see that Shariah is implemented. My children and grandchildren will have to live under that.” “I do believe everybody has a right to freedom of religion,” she said. “But Islam is not about a religion. It’s a political government, and it’s 100 percent against our Constitution.”

Ms. Serfain is quoted in this NYT article talking about the rising number of conflicts between mosques in American communities, which maybe all be happening because of the controversial proposed new mosque near Ground Zero.

I think most people have heard about this issue as it has now picked up huge national news coverage. Basically a group of Muslims led by Feisal Abdul Rauf bought up some expensive building near ground zero at 45–47 Park Place with the intention of building a Muslim community center. The proposed community center, that will contain a mosque, bookstore, restaurant and other aspects of any religious facility. This would not only serve the religious and spiritual needs of its Islamic members, but Rauf felt that his community center could be a focal point for helping to mend the poor relations between Muslims and non-Muslims as a result of 9/11. Instead it has become a flash point showing the intense controversial of putting a mosque near ground zero.

First the name of this debate alone helps present the some of the inherent issues about this debate. This is now called the Ground Zero Mosque, instead of either of its two official names. Not only does this detrach from Mr. Rauf’s message, but disconnects it from the actual site and makes it more about the growth of Islam in this nation. The proposed building was initially called Cordoba House, in an allusion to the city of Cordoba in Spain where Muslims, Jews and Christians peacefully coexisted. The name was meant to help evoke images of understanding and communication, instead politicians like Newt Gingrich, who instead sees the name as a deliberate insult, referencing Cordoba as a center of Muslim conquest over Christians in the middle ages.

This kind of misinttreptation pushed the board to change its offical name from Cordoba Center to Park51, something less political they hoped. But alas, the national media picked up this story and ran with it. Soon polling data showed that most Americans thought this was a terrible idea. (A July poll shows 54%–20% oppose it, these numbers are pretty much the same except in Manhattan where  46% support it over the 36% who oppose it.) Then the politicians like the above mentioned Mr. Gingrich, had to chime in so they could dig into Muslims for not being “sensitive” to the victims of 9/11. Then the purpose behind the center is lost. And in the eyes of the people and politicans Islam is forever a linked religion with terrorism.

This really irks me. 9/11 was a terrorist attack done by 23 people, all trained by al qaeda, which while Islamic in message, is in many ways the fridge within all of the Muslim world.  They do not represent all of Islam, nor any state government. So any comparison of 9/11 to pearl harbor and the holocaust fails to distinguish war from terrorism. Did the Oklahoma city bombing make us forget terrorists come in all colors and origins, they are simply people who choose to use violence for their own political or sociological mean. This proposed community center is being built as a symbol of how we as nation can overcome these terrible moments and live above the clutter of vilifying all Muslims as a hateful.

The Anti-Defamation League, a jewish organization really went to far in their criticism of the building of this mosque. The ADL believes that more pain will be caused by the building of this community center so close to ground zero. They suggested that the builders pick another site.  As a reaction to this Fareed Zakaria, a wise scholar and jounralist at CNN decided the ADL has gone too far with their statements about Cordoba House. So he decided to give them back his award that was given to him for protecting the 1st amendment as well as the small monetary gift. He could not keep it in good faith and he went on to say:

” This decision will haunt the ADL for years if not decades to come. Whether or not the center is built, what is at stake here is the integrity of the ADL and its fidelity to its mission.”

First it is sad that an organization who goal is to “..to secure justice and fair treatment to all” seem to overlooked the fact that they are supporting the unequal treatment of these people because of their religion. Not only is this a double standard that the ADL supports but it is a shame that they have not seen this as a healing opportunity to mend the gap between Muslim and non-Muslim Americans.

So the sides have been draw for the continuing battle. They is some support for the construction of this religious center coming from some Jewish Organizations, a portion of 9/11 victims groups, many New York City politicians, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other scholar, including some Muslim thinkers. But it seems that religious freedom is not on the minds of the rest of Americans. The 1st amendment can be superseded by one tragedy. So my question is this, did those men and women who died in the twin towers die to preserve the ideal America where freedom is what is valued or did they die so we could have a country with less tolerance and freedom. I do not want to live in a country where we can overcome Muslim stereotypes and allow us to unify as a nation. If this was any other religious organization they could have built their temple or church without being bothered. Instead every American must weigh in the lives of New Yorkers and politicians must condemn those intensive Muslims at Cordoba House, without knowing their true goal. Now throughout the country people are protesting mosques, even here in Tennessee they have been active efforts to stop the growth of Muslim communities. I wish all this bigoted behavior was a passing issue in this country, but the more the war on terror continues, the more it reminds me of the Cold War. Still I hope we can overcome the fear of Islam before it become more McCarthyistic.

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One Response to “The Ground Zero Mosque: A fight over America’s true identity”

  1. David August 12, 2010 at 11:29 am #

    Well said, sir. And the sooner we ALL get over the superstitious, man-in-the-sky, from-the-ancient-desert, vengeful, watchful, judgmental god BS, the better.

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