Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hatred and Fear as American Values?

I was in New York City when I first heard about the controversy surrounding the proposed community center at Park51. You know, the "ground zero mosque."

(Check out that link above, it's the official link for the community center. The more I read about it, the more I think it will be an amazing thing for the community. Unfortunately, it's getting off to a spectacularly bad start, thanks to its opponents)

I remember talking a bit about it with my friend, sort of shaking my head thinking how ridiculous it all was, and assuming it would disappear in a few days.

I'm truly dismayed that people are still talking about it. Bile rises every time I see someone posting on Facebook that they like "I do not support a mosque being built 600 feet from the World Trade Center." It amazes me that the same people who are always hearkening back to our founding fathers and the inerrancy of the constitution are willing to completely ignore the whole "freedom of religion" thing. Because, as Sarah Palin put it, it rubs people the wrong way. I watched an interview with her (never a good idea for my blood pressure) wherein she accused President Obama of being out of touch with what the American people were "feeling."


President Obama had just said that they have every legal right to build a center there, and she is talking about peoples FEELINGS. It's our government's job is to uphold the LAW (and in the next breath Palin accuses President Obama of swaying to polls... aka, public opinion, or "feeling." Please decide, which is it? Is he too swayed by peoples feelings, or not in touch with people's feelings?) It does not matter whether the President thinks (or FEELS) it's a good idea or not. His job is to uphold the law. And the law says that a religious group can build a place of worship on this piece of private property.

Do we, as a country, really want to get into the business of deciding where it is appropriate for a house of worship? To decide that one religion can be in this location, but another not? That is a very, very, very slippery slope. We are either for freedom of religion, or we aren't. If we start deciding that certain religions don't belong in certain areas we are beginning to sound a lot like Nazi Germany.

And here's the thing... people's feelings are hurt because a community center, to be run by Muslims (and that will include a place of worship), is being built near the site of the World Trade Center. The only reason people find this offensive is because they associate all Muslims with the terrorists responsible for the tragedy on 9/11. They can say all they want that they don't, but they prove themselves otherwise. And we cannot stand idly by while they make that horrible connection.

I hate to think that I, as a Christian, will be lumped together with extremists who bomb abortion clinics or carry "I hate fags" signs. (although I know that to some, I am lumped together with them).

The right wing talking heads continue to whip their listeners into a frenzy over a small piece of real estate that most of them will never come anywhere near in their lifetime. They speak only of a "Mosque at Ground Zero", and I've encountered people who think that this is somehow the nation's official memorial to to the victims of 9/11. Because that's the way it's being presented. That's the lie that's being perpetuated. That's the distraction that is keeping everyone thinking about something that should not have been anything but possibly a passing notice in the national news. That's the latest item in a long line of fear mongering

And it's appalling.


Chrissy said...

Yes, amen, and ME TOO. I cannot believe the bigotry and prejudice that people are spewing out right now. I have been biting my tongue to avoid getting into it on Facebook with people, but I must say it has surprised me how many of my acquaintances feel strongly against it. Ugh.

Also let's rant a little about the hypocrisy of "journalists" whose seem to be purposely stirring people up against it. The phrase 'Ground Zero Mosque' should be your first clue that your media outlet is not truthful.


Sarah said...


Kyla said...

Well said!

Alice said...

1. A religion did not create Ground Zero.
2. Freedom of religion.
3. American Muslims were murdered at Ground Zero.

sad, isn't it, the hate doesn't stop.

Unknown said...

Wonderful post. Did you see this (it's really good):

I just can't believe the hate out there, and the fact that it's building and building out of all proportion and beyond any semblance of fact or reason.

Do you know the poem 'the Hangman'? I think it's appropriate here. I feel like I need to step up and do something to show my support as a New Yorker and someone who worked off and on in both Towers for years, though thankfully not that day.

Catherine said...

Very well said! And, as I said in my last post, we need to put these "feelings" in their historical context. They aren't new.

MARY G said...

You're so right - and so eloquent. Well done.

karenebayne said...

The whole thing is just tragic. I cannot believe we (our society) is doing this to our fellow citizens. I cannot believe we (capital C Christians) are not upholding for others the right we so often claim for ourselves (freedom of religion!).

I hear people are exclaiming it is "insensitive" of Muslims to want to build there. Yes, because the tragic death of thousands is now best honored by the feelings of people not from NY, offended by what most represents life in the city. I'm from Manhattan, I'm baffled by our countries treatment of Ground Zero - we are favoring a sore muscle that would be better off with use. 2 blocks in lower Manhattan - even if we are being "sensitive" is actually pretty far. It's a not ground zero. It's not. There are strip clubs down there. What's holy is our memory of that day, what's holy is how we move forward in life, what's holy is our ability to put our own feelings aside in maturity and humility, bearing the fruit of the spirit with love, patience, kindness and SELF-CONTROL.

Jen said...

Beautiful post. I also am appalled at the "slap in the face" argument, but apparently that doesn't extend to some of the slimy businesses in place around that "hallowed ground" (sex shops, off track betting, etc.)

I don't understand folks who claim to stand by freedom of religion but feel it only applies to them and their belief systems. Yikes.

Anonymous said...

I despair for this country, really. I spend a lot of fantasy time thinking about moving away, somewhere where the problems are more real and less absurd.

Kelly @ Student of the Year said...

Hideous, isn't it? As much progress as we've made in this country....sometimes it feels like none at all.

A friend just linked to this humorous editorial addressing the 'controversy.' Sometimes I need to laugh or I will punch something.