Ruminations on the New York Mosque

Yep, I’m going into this one again.

So now that the mosque being built near Ground Zero is all but a guarantee, the opposition to it has reached fever pitch, with the standard fare of arguments being made on both sides. Really there’s nothing happening here that would surprise anyone, but just because that’s how I roll, I’m going to try out a little point-counterpoint.

POINT: The biggest cry from Islamophobes is that Muslims need to craft a better image for the religion. Since their most publicized members are getting headlines by wearing C4-filled life jackets, the idea of building a place of worship and peace near Ground Zero is a damn fine way to extend an olive branch from the Middle East to the Frightened West.

COUNTERPOINT: Well that may be, but the fact remains that the towers were brought down by a bunch of men who thought they were doing their god’s work. In light of that, building a shrine to said god is almost like declaring victory, implicitly saying “we did it, Allah.” If they want to show solidarity against the terrorists, slapping a Mosque right near where people murdered in Allah’s name is a little like if we’d littered the Hiroshima crater with American flags.

POINT: The first amendment is at play here. Muslims have every right to build a mosque wherever they want. It’s important to remember that people have freedom of religion, not just freedom from religion. If they want a mosque on every street corner surrounding Ground Zero, the Pentagon, and the Shanksville memorial site, they can.

COUNTERPOINT: They certainly can, and no one’s going to say that Johnny Law should be swinging down and denying their claims. What we can ask for, though, is some sensitivity, or at least an acknowledgement that the last thing most people want down there is a mosque to honor the god that men killed in the name of.

POINT: But, again, these aren’t the same type of Muslims. We’re talking about peaceful religious worship, to prove that Islam can be a religion of peace just as much as any other.

COUNTERPOINT: Again, that’s all well and good except for the fact that perception is often just as important as intention. Let’s say I want to protest racism by dressing up in blackface and doing a Jim Crow performance to ironically highlight the problem with race relations in the United States. I’m still gonna get my ass kicked, and deservedly so.

So, I dunno. They have every right to be there, but I don’t think they should.

However.

The problem is that the protests are against Islam in general now, rather than simply against this particular mosque. If a bunch of New Yorkers, Teabagger assholes, and Rush Limbaugh’s team of drug suppliers and tit-carriers want to run around New York screaming at this mosque for being insensitive, I’d probably be right with ’em. It’s a boneheaded move, even if the intentions are good, and I would at least ask them to heavily, heavily reconsider their actions.

Sad thing is, instead we’re getting assholes who are using this as an opportunity to howl about Islam overall and arguing that it’s a religion of murder and terrorism and rape and subjugation of women and whatever else. This feeds into the terrorist mindset that the United States wants them eradicated, not assimilated. What New York should do is embrace with open arms any Muslims who want to show the religion’s gentler side, and then band together with them to denounce the violent ones. Throwing the exploding baby out with the bathwater is a poor plan indeed.

Or maybe it’s just me.

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