Posts Tagged ‘9/11’

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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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We Are Still In The Desert

09.11.09

Everyone remembers where they were on this tragic day eight years ago.  Everyone remembers those images of devastation and horror.  And everyone remembers the feeling of comradery and patriotism that ensued.  It was amazing to feel everyone pulling together for a common goal.

Yet looking back on it, I find it sad and depressing that the only way we could all be on the same page was with a sense of anger and revenge.  We were all only in arms together in the primal sense of survival, a basic human reaction.

And that didn’t last long.

In the past eight years, we’ve avenged the deaths of our loved ones in the World Trade Center attacks by losing over 5100 more men and women overseas fighting two wars, one of which was completely unprovoked and criminally unnecessary.  We’ve gotten more polarized as a country, to a point where a large section of society gets enraged when the president wants to speak to the students.  Have people really lost sight of real issues that should get us enraged that we waste our energy on something as benign as that?

How about the fact that we are still in Iraq?  And that President Obama is talking about a troop surge (sound familiar?) in Afghanistan while its government proves to be dangerously unreliable.  If you want to get outraged at him, that would be a really good reason.

My brother Dave lost his best friend, Pfc Levi Hoover, in Iraq on the day before my birthday two years ago.  Growing up together since they were kids, so many of Dave’s memories include Levi.  They went fishing together.  They went hunting together.  They fixed their trucks together (after they wrecked them together).  You’d be hard pressed to find any pictures of Dave without Levi right next to him, holding up a prize trout or next to a seven-point buck.  They were brothers.  And, now that he’s gone, my brother hasn’t been the same.

None of us have.

I wish I could at least take comfort in knowing that Levi had to be there, that he had to be fighting for our freedom, that he sacrificed his life for a cause that we had no choice in being a part of.  September 11th, 2001 changed our world.  So many people lost their Levis that awful day.  Tragically, thousands and thousands more have been lost since.

Never forget 9/11.  But, more importantly, never forget what happened after.  And that it’s still happening.