Monday, August 23, 2010

Mosque Debate

Noticed this Op-Ed in the New York Times today. I'll admit to some mixed feelings on the issue. Here are my ground rules and I'll let you all add or subtract as you wish:

1. If I knew that this mosque would become a symbol of American forgiveness and freedom of religion, I would support it.

2. If I knew that individuals in this mosque would gloat about how they managed to be based so close to 9-11, Ha, stupid Americans, I would oppose it.

3. If I knew that this mosque would inevitably wound the New York psyche, that it couldn't possibly be viewed by them as in #1, ever, then I would regretably want the mosque to be built elsewhere.

So in my view, #1 would be the ideal, especially if Americans could make that its meaning so strongly, even anticipating that there might be some who would opt for #2, that we proudly and defiantly made it be about #1. #1 could also overlay #3.

The problem is that people are people and the primal reaction is extremely strong: "kill anyone with any association whatsoever with my offender, even if it is only in my mind." It is the drive that inevitably justifies genocide. So some natives are nice to me, but then one of my kind slaughters some natives. So some natives slaughter some of my kind so then I feel justified to kill all the natives.

And given how people are--God doesn't make them change so we sure as heck can't--I find myself uncertain about whether the mosque should be built.

Your thoughts?


Mike Aubrey said...

I think Prof. John Stackhouse has already stated it best:

Ken Schenck said...

This bears strongly on my #2 above.

Ben Robinson said...

I think it's important to acknowledge that although the circumstances around the proposed Islamic community center ought to be considered, this is not an isolated debate. The building of Mosques or Muslim community centers has been opposed frequently in states as varied as Massachusetts, Wisconsin, and California. While the details of each situation inevitably also vary, the commonality among all the opposition to Mosque building is the conflation of Islam with 9/11 and terrorism.

Since 9/11 (and arguably before) Muslims in America have been one of the most vulnerable groups of people in the States. And while politicians use the New York debate to score political points and votes for the upcoming elections, it seems we are asking all the wrong questions and fueling all the wrong fires. "Muslim extremists" have long warned Muslims in "the West" that eventually America would turn on them, and target them and their sacred spaces. Just like the initial American response to 9/11 proved, "extremists" apparently have a pretty decent understanding of Americans.