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Two Cheers For American Tolerance


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Sarah Palin has not only revealed herself to be linguistically challenged in "refudiating" the proposed "mosque" near Ground Zero, but also emotionally overwrought. "It stabs hearts," she tweeted to her fellow mosque-bashers. But Palin notwithstanding, the way this country has comported itself during this controversy represents a damn fine moment for humanity. As a naturalized American, let me just say that if every country handled its hatreds as well as this one, this world wouldn't be a half-bad place to live in.

It is painfully obvious that opposition to the Cordoba House, as this structure would be called, is motivated less by a desire to protect the memory of 9/11 victims and more by a knee-jerk suspicion of Muslims. If it were not, mosque-bashers wouldn't have so much difficulty processing some basic but crucial facts about the structure. The "mosque," for instance, is not really a mosque but an Islamic community center--complete with a swimming pool, auditorium, bookstores and restaurants--along the lines of the many YMCAs or Jewish community centers around the country.

It will house a place of worship, but it won't blare muezzin calls summoning Muslims to pray five times a day, suggesting that it has a fairly relaxed attitude toward Quranic strictures. Nor will it be a Muslim-only place where members of other faiths are unwelcome; rather it will be open to anyone willing to pay its dues. Best (or worst) of all, it won't be "on" Ground Zero, but two blocks and a bend away at a spot not visible to World Trade Center visitors.

None of this is preventing some opponents from bizarrely suggesting that the center represents a surreptitious attempt to glorify Islamic victory on American soil. But a victory statement communicated through esoteric means negates itself because such means signal weakness, not strength. What's more, it is one odd victory statement when its alleged authors are not claiming any moral high ground for their putative side. To the contrary, the couple, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his wife Daisy Khan, who are spearheading the center, have "refudiated" the 9/11 attacks in particular and Islamic terrorism in general.

They have qualms about U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East that plenty of nonterrorist Americans would share. And they are Sufis, the moderate and mystical sect of Islam that is known for its refined music and art, not its militancy. In fact, by all auguries, they are modern and liberated Muslims who seem rather embarrassed by the hot-headed jihadis who speak for their religion. Their whole project was conceived in order to highlight the more benign, moderate side of Islam and build bridges with other faiths. Newsweek Editor Fareed Zakaria is absolutely right when he notes that, "if there is ever going to be a reformist movement in Islam, it is going to emerge from places like the proposed mosque."

It is possible that the center is really an elaborate ruse for some sinister anti-American agenda--just as it is possible that America's next president could be a Manchurian candidate installed by the Chinese. But to suspect such an agenda in the face of massive evidence to the contrary testifies to just how deep-seated the suspicion against Muslims is in this country.

Some perspective on the mosque bruhaha from Shikha Dalmia. The main issue here has been the location, but as far as I'm conerned, that's about it.
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The last sentence of the article is the most telling. Muslims constantly talk about the mistrust that America has for them, and yet, they will be so unfeeling about the site of the proposed mosque and what that place means to Americans. Most Americans, I believe, would be a bit more understanding in this case if we could hear some of these "moderate" muslims REPUDIATE the actions of the 9/11 hijackers, and extremist Islamofacist terrorists in general. Their unwillingness to do so is the main root cause of the mistrust that most Americans feel toward Muslims in general.


On the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy in Anapolis, MD stands a statue called the Tripoli Monument. This monument is a memorial to the American Naval and Marine veterans of the Barbary Wars (1801-1804), also called the Tripolitan War. This conflict was fought against Muslim sultanates who gave aid and comfort, even military support, to the Barbary pirates, the scourge of the Mediterranean. This was America's first foriegn war, hard fought and won by our forces. For years, Muslim activists have been clamoring for the monument to be removed because it is "demeaning to Muslims, especially Muslim sailors".


So, it is okay for Muslims to harbor ill will for over 200 years over an incident of their own creation, and yet WE are supposed to forget about what happened on OUR soil a mere decade ago.


This is just another version of the "Race Card", but there is no "White Guilt" to play it against.

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