The “Ground Zero Mosque”.

As a person who was essentially stateless –  not legally but certainly within myself –  for the last few years, as well as counting many Americans amongst my closest friends I’ve taken up an interest in listening to and learning about the goings on in the land of my American cousins.

So I’ll probably talk about America-centric things at times, “you get that on these big contracts” and if anyone from any other nationality is reading here feel free to check out if it bores you.

The title issue has been all over the US media for a while now, and its shown its head in international reporting as well. Personally, I’ve found the ignorance and plain hypocrisy being touted concerning this issue to be pretty appalling. There have been a whole bunch of talking points raised by opponents to the Islamic Center at 45 Park Place New York City, ill jot my issues down with as many as I can think of here in no particular order and in point form:

* Its not a mosque, its a cultural center that has a mosque in it.

*Its not at ground Zero, its two blocks away, you cannot see it from ground Zero. If we are to start saying “ground Zero is wherever debris fell” then where does that end? Bits of the plane? Fuel residue? Dust?

*The Imam in charge is not an extremist, he is known as a moderate. There is no credible evidence linking him to terrorist groups. He has worked for the FBI and the Bush Administration in work against extremism and has flown international on state department funds under a Republican administration.

* The Muslims involved in this mosque are Sufis – a moderate form of Islam. For the most part, the Muslims who attacked the USA were Wahhabi.

*Saudi Arabia is Wahhabi. How’s that alliance working out for you?

*Muslims from Al Qaeda attacked the USA – Islam did not.

*Islam is not a monolithic whole, just as Christianity isn’t. Al Qaeda is not Islam. Al Qaeda attacked the USA, Islam did not.

* 59 Muslim Americans died in the Sept 11 attacks. Including one Muslim member of the New York Fire department who went back into the towers with his collegues to help rescue people trapped. He was killed when the tower he was in collapsed.

* You either respect and revere the constitution or you don’t. Muslim Americans are protected under the constitution and have a right to build. These rights are not negotiable. Religious freedom is one of America’s founding principles, you either have freedom to worship, or you do not. “Inalienable” means your rights cannot be taken away from you, and you cannot give them up.

*”They have the right, but shouldn’t do it” does not equate. This argument still lumps ALL Muslims into the one bag, once again: Islam did not attack America. There are estimated to be upwards of 1.8 – 2 million Muslim Americans in the USA today alone. Did they attack America too? If not? Why shouldn’t they exercise their constitutional rights?

* “2/3 of New Yorkers don’t want it there”. This is actually irrelevant.  If people don’t want it there because it violates the local aesthetics, looks out of place, blocks someone’s view, will make too much noise or will draw neer-do-wells and undesirables then you have a civic planning issue that can be handled like any other civic planning issue in any city, by the laws and statutes that govern said community. If it’s not wanted it because its being equated with  the people that attacked the trade centers out of some flawed and uninformed prejudice then it doesn’t matter that 2/3 of New Yorkers don’t want it, if their objections are based in prejudice and ignorance then their objections are, quite frankly, wrong.

Rights are not subject to majority approval and are not subjected to popular votes – there is a good reason for that. Popular approval of certain rights in some American States for example would have meant you had African Americans without the vote. . In the USA, rights are inalienable, they cannot be taken away simply because in the heat of passion and anger and fear the “mob” deems them inconvenient.

* Over 4000 US service people lost their lives in Iraq in a war apparently to liberate Muslims. Liberty matters then, why are American Muslims asked not to exercise theirs?

* There is no similar public outcry over the proximity of Christian Churches to Crime scenes and Murders committed by Fundamentalist Christians in the US. There is no outcry over the proximity of Catholic Churches to public Schools and Children’s daycare centers.. Why the discrepancy?

*”We wouldn’t let the Japanese build around Pearl Harbour”. From what I’ve read, there are at least 5 Japanese restaurants within walking distance of Pearl Harbour, if someone in Honolulu wants to confirm go for it.

* “How many Churches are there in Mecca? In Medina”. This argument means you are effectively using someone else’s intolerance as the benchmark for your own. As a nation that likes to take the high minded “American exceptionalist” line so often its interesting to see that American Exceptionalism goes out the window when mass bigotry and ignorance on the part of so many Americans needs to be justified. Be exceptional, be high minded, stand by your principles and the rule of law which as a nation you so ardently profess to believe in. If not, continue to let the intolerance of others be the standard by which you set your own behavior.



~ by benephobia on September 4, 2010.

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