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.