"The sooner we separate the peaceful teaching of Islam from the behavior of terrorists, the better for all of us."
That’s what Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick said while voicing support for a proposed mosque near ground zero.
Our nation was founded on freedoms. The freedom to speak negatively about the government. The freedom to worship without the fear of repercussion for worshiping the "wrong" religion. We love our freedoms. We’re the first to chime in that our country is great because of those freedoms. We wouldn’t have it any other way. Until those freedoms allow something to happen that we’re not comfortable with, that is.
Support for a planned Islamic community center and mosque near the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack is scarce. Opposition is strong. One worship center has become the focus of a now national political debate.
It’s insensitive. It’s demoralizing. It’s disrespectful. It’s just wrong.
These are the excuses we’re hearing from the opposition — the same folks who would cry foul if the tables were turned and many were protesting construction of a Catholic or Baptist or Methodist facility in Lower Manhattan.
Why is it OK, why is it reasonable to oppose a religious facility near ground zero because it is an Islamic facility? Simple answer. It isn’t.
Those responsible for the World Trade Center attack were Muslim. Timothy McVeigh listed science as his religion. Charles Manson listed Scientology as his religion on a jail intake form, but he also spoke about how he believed he was the second coming of Christ. Adolf Hitler claimed to be a Christian. The hideous group that calls itself Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., claims to be a Christian organization, although its members picket funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, and they pray for more Americans to be killed in the wars. Point is, we don’t condemn a religion because of a few bad apples.
Would there be this much opposition to a Scientology center being constructed near the Oklahoma City bombing site? Probably not.
The men responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks do not define their religion. We’ve met many Muslims who love America, its ideals, its foundation. They wish no harm on anybody. On Sept. 11, they were as shocked as we were; they mourned like we did. They struggled with the questions of how and why the same way we did.
Now, many Muslims fear us for valid reasons, and many Americans fear a portion of their own population because of dress, language and skin color.
What are we gaining from that? Why are we moving backwards as a society?
It’s normal to fear a group of people because their goal is to hurt innocent people. On the other hand, it’s incredibly offensive to subject that fear to a whole segment of society because they "look" like the folks who crashed jets into buildings.
We take no issue with a mosque being constructed near the former site of the Twin Towers. And we hope, some day, the rest of America can accept it, too.