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Ground Zero Mosque Opposition Confuses Sensitivity with Intolerance

08.04.10

Much has already been said surrounding the heated controversy over the planned Islamic community center and mosque being built near Ground Zero in New York City.

Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and others have conflated all of Islam with the small sub-sect of terrorists, suggesting asserting that they are one and the same, that all Muslims share the same beliefs as those apocalyptic, murderous fundamentalists that attacked our country nearly 9 years ago.

Their arguments are so egregious and blasphemous as to speak for themselves, but I have to address them briefly.  Extreme religious generalization and demonization is not cured by more extreme religious generalization and demonization.  The same groups that use the argument that, under Sharia Law, all Muslims consider all Americans”infidels,” that all Muslims follow the same exact doctrine and make the same leaps to violence and intolerance are themselves labeling an entire group of people as “the other” and are themselves makes leaps toward bigotry and intolerance.  Their arguments are as flimsy as basing all of Christianity on the Westboro Baptist Church.

The Anti-Defamation League has come out initially opposing the building of the mosque near Ground Zero — a move that seems to go against the very name of the nations’ self-described “premier civil rights/human relations agency.” Although, the stance makes more sense knowing that the ADL is also predominantly a Jewish organization, a group of people with a serious history of conflict with the Islamic world.

It gets more complicated than that, as one would expect.

NPR’s Steve Inskeep spoke with ADL Director Abraham Foxman, who helped explain their stance.  Foxman has a relationship with proposed NYC mosque’s imam Faisel Abdul Rauf, and has stood up for Rauf against character attacks that he has endured from those opposed to the Islamic center.  At the same time, however, Foxman then says:

“If he [Rauf] would say: ‘I do want to show the American public that there is an American Muslim Tradition.’  That would be a wonderful, dramatic beginning.  Rather than insisting: ‘This is where we want to heal. This is where we want to reconcile.  In your cemetery.'”

Foxman promotes the counter-productive and inflammatory “us vs. them” rhetoric by saying “your” cemetery.  As if no American Muslims died in the 9/11 tragedy.  (They did.)  As if only Americans died in the WTC attacks.  (Wrong again.)

The fact is that Ground Zero is the tragic site where thousands of people from many different nations, races, and with many different beliefs perished.  It doesn’t belong to any one person or any one group.  The healing is shared by any and all involved or affected, and yes, that includes people in the Islamic community.

Image courtesy of roberthuffstutter’s Flickr photostream

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2 comments

  1. Great post. I came over to this blog (again), as a result of your comments on my “mosque at Ground Zero”-related post. It’s all pretty simple, as I see it: some people, with a political agenda, made up some things about an Islamic community center, planned in lower Manhattan, near the former WTC complex (aka “Ground Zero”). Certain media outlets ran with those falsehoods, creating an emotional uproar around the country. For those who actually want to know the truth (which is: the Islamic community center is a genuine effort towards community and mutual understanding and respect among all Americans, and specifically NYC residents), the information isn’t that difficult to find – which is why the project has so much support (everyone from certain victim’s families, to well-known Rabbis and Ministers in NYC, to Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of NYC).


    • Thanks!

      Yup, this is definitely one that is quite explainable with fact. It’s too bad the perpetrators of these accusations have very little interest in fact and much more in riling up emotion and playing to base fears.

      Hopefully, more and more of the explanation of facts will eventually win out.



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