Just Keep Swimming

Serious Reheat: "Ground Zero Mosque": The Debate That Should Have Never Existed

(CS: I send my condolences to all the family and friends of the family that had several members murdered by the hateful and evil hit and run. When I am not not swamped by work, I may have some more profound thoughts on the subject but right now, I am just saddened by how much racism has been the driving narrative in the the past year and crushed by the toxicity and evilness of people with such disgusting views. If you want my thoughts on racism towards Muslims, here is a piece that I wrote way back in September 2010.)

I'm positive that I don't need to explain the "Ground Zero Mosque' to anyone, because this has probably been the hottest debate in the news and internet for the last month.  There has been numerous political and news figures who have depicted the proposed 'mosque' as an attack on freedom, America, and the 9/11 victims.  This has provoked countless discussions and blogs on the internet and numerous protests in the public.  It has also given me one of the biggest headaches and cases of inner fury in a long, long, long time.  This is not only a case of political posturing, but one of the worst examples of close mindedness and bigotry in the modern age.  People with far more power than they deserve (Hi Glenn and Sarah!)have manipulated conservative minded people into unifying against the building of the 'mosque' because according to them, it will not only dishonour victims but will be the first step towards the fall of America.  What was once (and should have always been) a civil issue has ballooned into a national dilemma (and actually, has barged its way into Canada as well).  The problem is that many people opposed to the 'mosque' are misguided, and even worse, many of the people originally stirring up this issue are filled with hatred and bigotry focused agendas.  

The first major problem with this whole debate is the title of 'Ground Zero Mosque' or the '9/11 Mosque.'  Because that implies that 1) it is being built on the ground zero site, and 2) that it is a mosque.  It is actually neither.  The proposed building is being built about 2 blocks away from where the 9/11 atrocity took place.  As for the building, it is going to be a Muslim community centre which is designed to cater to all citizens in the surrounding area (meaning, it doesn't matter your religious beliefs).  Yes, there will be a prayer room for Muslims, but it was also planned to have things like a basketball court, which last I checked was not a strictly Muslim thing.  Essentially, the thing that is causing people the greatest uproar -- "By Jimminy, they be building an Islamic religious thingy right where that big explosion made by the Muslims happened" -- is actually not even true.  But let's ignore all that because obviously its detractors have, and concentrate on the fact there is a semi-religious building for Muslims being built near one of the most tragic sites in American history.

The big argument for those against this 'mosque' is that the building is a huge slap in the face of the victims.  The assumption here, is that the 'mosque' is essentially honouring the maniacs who flew planes into the World Trade Center, rather than the poor victims.  Now it is true that the terrorists considered themselves Muslim.  It is also true that they did it with a misguided notion they were following the commands of Allah.  But just because a group of radical lunatics claim to be of a religion, doesn't actually mean the majority of the level headed and loving people in that religion agree with them.  

For example, the Westboro Baptist Church, lead by the raving lunatic Fred Phelps, consider themselves both Christians and Baptists.  As far as I can tell, they spend their entire time spreading the message of bigotry and hate, and do such reprehensible acts like picketing the funerals of soldiers and creating websites like 'God Hates Fags'.  The church and the man are absolutely disgusting.  But I am positive there isn't a single Christian I know, or almost any level minded and reasonable and loving Christian that would condone or support any of these actions.  They would probably go as far as to say, they wouldn't even consider Fred Phelps or his cult to be Christian.  I would agree with them.  But you see, this also needs to be afforded to all the loving and compassionate Muslims out there.  

I know a few Muslims that I would consider really good friends.  I can guarantee you that they don't condone the terrorist jihad of Osama Bin Laden or Al Quaeda. I also know they would not only consider them to be terribly misguided, but also not true Muslims.

The crime committed on September 11th, 2001 in New York was not done by Muslims.  It was perpetuated by sick, sadistic, vile maniacs.  If anyone happened to propose a monument to maniacs at the ground zero site, then I'd be the first to oppose it.  But they haven't, because that would be stupid.  Just like it is stupid and bigoted to claim it was all of Muslims that attacked America on 9/11.  

The thing is, Osama and his nutjobs likely don't consider the Muslims in America to be actual Muslims.  Just like I am sure the insane Ted Phelps doesn't consider Christians outside of his cult to be actual Christians.  Because you see, that is how maniacs think, and is why we consider them maniacs (they think they are right and their brand of crazy is the way to believe).  On 9/11 it was an attack against all of America, which included the Muslims who lived there.  I am sure these last several years have been just as hard, if not even harder (due to having put up with rising hatred and bigotry), for the American Muslims.  That day was just as much a tragedy for them, because America was their country too.  Unfortunately, this awful incident has cause some people to see this as a Us vs. Them, and the 'them' has turned into all practicing Muslims.  To the point, that I'm sure some of you have heard (either in person or in news clips), folks spout out that a female Muslim wearing a hijab or any visible Muslim are not 'real Americans'.  I am not claiming that bigotry was erased before 9/11, but I do know, that the attacks made life harder for those Americans (and I admit, harder for almost everyone).  Now, they have to suffer through being called a terrorist or a foreigner in the the very nation they were born in.  This most recent debate has now reignited these hurtful and ferocious verbal (and physical) attacks.

Another thing about 9/11, is people opposed to the 'mosque' seem to forget that America, and especially New York, is a rather diverse place.  I promise you that there was definitely innocent Muslims in the planes and the towers on 9/11.  This means Muslim families lost loved ones in that tragedy.  So, not only have they possibly had to suffer through accusations for years, but they've had to recover from the great loss on that day.  All Americans, no matter their religion, suffered on 9/11 and they all deserve to grieve.

The opposition to the 'mosque' like to ignore, that there is this thing called freedom of religion.  People have the right in America (and Canada) to practice any type of religion they choose.  As long as they aren't causing any harm to others (such as sacrificing their neighbour's puppy), then they are afforded the freedoms to practice their religions without persecution.  This means that Muslims have the right to build a Mosque in New York.  They have the right to worship in New York.  They should not have to be accused of jihad or of trying to destroy democracy by building a semi religious oriented structure.  

Despite what some close minded and hatred filled folks may believe, most Muslims don't have a world conquering agenda.  North American Muslims likely love where they live (at least, when they aren't being called 'towel heads' or 'terrorists'), and don't have too many plans to destroy the place they consider home.  Despite the numerous web sites and videos that may state otherwise, Muslims are not attempting to attack or overthrow America.  The Muslim community centre is not the next symbolic brick in their planned stronghold over democracy and freedom.  I am not denying there are forces against the west, but they're all maniacs and hate filled radicals.  Though the sad thing is not all of these hate filled radicals are from the east (like Osama and thugs), but they are actually living in America and claim themselves to be 'good' Americans.

I wish this proposal of this building could have been a non issue.  I wish that 9/11 and claims of 'attacks against America' weren't dragged into this discussion.  Above all, I wish that innocent and loving Muslims weren't once again painted as the 'other'.  I will forever remember the tragedy that was 9/11, and I hope to never downplay it.  But attacking a specific religion does not honour those victims or protect us from the threats facing the west.  If anything, the opposition continues to cause friction and tear a rift between Americans (because SURPRISE Muslims are Americans too).  It only furthers the damage done on September 11th, by taking away the religious freedoms and rights of a large group of people.  Hopefully, eventually the majority can truly see the damage being done by the opposition to this building, and the ideology that inspires it.