“America, the land of the free and home of the brave.”
What do you think about when you hear that? Do you think of Corporate America, do you think of Obama, George Bush, or even George Washington? Do you think of white America? Or do you see a diverse culture with a blend of races and religion?
What I see is a collaboration of people, not color or religion, I see free people exercising their rights to be free and pursue their dreams. Growing up I was taught that people are human beings, and nothing more. The one distinction between us all was our unique ability to form an opinion different than one another. There has never been any other difference; our opinions mold our beliefs and who we are as human beings. Not our race, our religion, or our sexual preference. Those things have only become an issue in today’s society because of what one person thought, and the others who agreed with them!
If you take a close look, we all look different, but we have many similarities. The same can be said of religion. No one religion is exactly like another, but there are many similarities. Recently, I have seen many of my peers, friends, and family justifying why it is okay to support the extreme, right-winged Sarah Palin and other radical conservative republican’s in suppressing a Muslim Mosque from being constructed 2-3 blocks away from Ground Zero.
Before I get head deep in discussion, I’d like to point out several statistics and facts.
Population of Muslim’s living in NYC: 650,000
Number of Mosque’s in NYC: 200 (roughly)
The reason for the Mosque to be built in the now, very controversial area of NYC, is because the other two Mosque’s in the area (one 5 blocks away and the other about a dozen) are overflowing with Muslim’s looking for a place pray and worship in an area where they work and live. “Muslims now represent one of the fastest growing religious communities in New York City.” Said Peter Awn, co-principal investigator and Columbia University Dean of the School of General Studies.
The death toll of the 9/11 attacks was 2,995, including the 19 hijackers. The overwhelming majority of casualties were civilians, including nationals of over 70 countries. 2,669 were Americans of many races and religions. Here is a list of the names of the victims:
Now, if I wanted to find out who died in the year 2010 on the Internet, I could simply go to Wikipedia and search deaths in 2010. The information that I am able to view on that web page includes the persons name, their age, what they did for a living, the religion they practiced, and how they died. Now, not all entries are the same, of which a large majority shows the religion they practiced. But when I search the list of victims on 9/11, I am unable to view their religion, where they worked, or their age. This strikes me as odd only because of the 2,669 American’s that died, not all of them were white American’s. Many were Mexican, Australian, British, Canadian, and Islamic among many other nationalities who practiced many different types of religions. As do the 300,000,000 million American’s countrywide.
9/11 is a sensitive subject to talk about, but with the help of Sarah Palin, the hottest topic about 9/11 these days is about the Muslim Mosque looking to be built 2-3 blocks away from Ground Zero. What baffles me the most isn’t that some of the 650,000 Muslim’s living in NYC want to build a Mosque 2-3 blocks away from Ground Zero to meet the needs of Muslim’s who want to practice their religion, but rather our nations reaction to it!
Presidents like George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson defended the right to religious freedom. Jefferson wrote in his autobiography, “[When] the [Virginia] bill for establishing religious freedom… was finally passed,… a singular proposition proved that it is protection of opinion was meant to be universal.” However, not all politicians were pleased with the religious neutrality of the Constitution, which prohibited any religious test. Anti-Federalists in the 1788 North Carolina ratifying convention opposed the new constitution; one reason was the fear that some day Catholics or Muslims might be elected president. I wonder how they’d feel about Obama being our president today?
Out of that bill, came the 1st Amendment right to practice any religion we want, where we want, when we want. Without others telling us that we cannot, including our government. I’m sure many of the reader’s ancestors were trying to avoid political and religious oppression when they fled to N. America a few hundred years ago. Of that rebellion hundreds, thousands, hundred of thousands, and hundred of millions of people who now live in America practice whatever religion they please, except Muslim’s today in NYC. They’re being wrongly judged for their religion, linking them to the terrorist group who attacked on 9/11.
In a 2007 survey, 53% of American Muslims reported that it was more difficult to be a Muslim after the 9/11 attacks. Asked to name the most important problem facing them, the options named by more than ten percent of American Muslims were discrimination (19%), being viewed as a terrorist (15%), public's ignorance about Islam (13%), and stereotyping (12%). 54% believe that the U.S. government's anti-terrorism activities single out Muslims. 76% of surveyed Muslim Americans stated that they are very or somewhat concerned about the rise of Islamic extremism around the world, while 61% express a similar concern about the possibility of Islamic extremism in the United States.
What I am seeing today by many citizens of the “American” public is a discrimination against Muslim’s wishing to practice their religion, which reminds me of American’s believing that all Japanese people in America in 1941-42 were Japanese spies and held in Internment Camps. (Some 110,000 who resided on the Pacific coast and 150,000 who lived in Hawaii.) What happens if we (being the radical extremists against the Mosque) are successful in stopping it from being built? Are we going to ask that all Mosque’s in America be destroyed? Are we going to continue our hate crimes against Muslim’s because of an irrational and brainwashed fear from our government that all Muslim’s attacked us on 9/11?? Saying that this Mosque affects anyone is like saying that every Muslim was responsible for 9/11!
Now, in the aftermath of a tragic event that occurred 9 years ago, we are continuing the hate and discrimination of Muslim’s by telling them where they can practice their religion, or better stated, where they cannot practice.
The Islamic Extremist Group, Al-Qaeda, that attacked NYC, the Pentagon, and aimed at Washington D.C. were just that, an extremist group of individuals from a particular country and religion. They are an extreme group, just as the KKK and Nazi’s were an extreme group, just as Sarah Palin is an extreme Republican.
A peer of mine stated that, “How would the Japanese feel if we put up a Harry S. Truman statue in Hiroshima?” I believe that her comparison is like comparing apples to oranges. A Mosque isn’t a memorial to the 9/11 attacks, it is not a statue of Osama Bin Laden. It is nothing more than a place of worship, just like the many other churches, temples, and synagogues in the surrounding area of Ground Zero. It is ignorance and fear that breeds this type of thinking, just as comparing this Mosque to a Nazi memorial in Israel. It is embarrassing that fellow American’s believe that they are even remotely related.
It wasn’t Muslim’s that attacked America that day. Many Muslim’s live and work in America, many of them died in the 9/11 attacks as well. For instance, take Salman Hamdani. The 23-year-old New York City police cadet was a part-time ambulance driver, incoming medical student, and devout Muslim. When he disappeared on September 11, law enforcement officials came to his family, seeking him for questioning in relation to the terrorist attacks. They allegedly believed he was somehow involved. His whereabouts were undetermined for over six months, until his remains were finally identified. He was found near the North Tower, with his EMT medical bag beside him, presumably doing everything he could to help those in need. His family could finally rest, knowing that he died the hero they always knew him to be.
He worked alongside the total of 411 emergency workers who responded to the scene died as they attempted to rescue people and fight fires. The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) lost 341 firefighters and 2 FDNY paramedics. The New York City Police Department lost 23 officers. The Port Authority Police Department lost 37 officers, and 8 additional EMTs and paramedics from private EMS units were killed.
20% of American’s knew someone who died in the 9/11 attacks, so I understand the pain that they feel for their lost loved ones, friends, and co-workers. But I also feel as if part of our healing process is learning to accept and love our fellow citizens and unite our differences instead of dividing by race and religion.
Just to clarify, no mosque is going up at ground zero. The Mosque would be established at 45-51 Park Place, just over two blocks from the northern edge of the sprawling, 16-acre World Trade Center site. Its location is roughly half a dozen normal lower Manhattan blocks from the site of the North Tower, the nearer of the two destroyed in the attacks.
The center's location, in a former Burlington Coat Factory store, is already used by the cleric for worship, drawing a spillover from the imam's former main place for prayers, the al-Farah mosque. That mosque, at 245 West Broadway, is about a dozen blocks north of the World Trade Center grounds.
Another interesting aspect of the Mosque being built 2-3 blocks away from Ground Zero is the Non-denominational facility that is built within the Pentagon over the rubble left behind when the American Airlines Flight slammed into the Pentagon. “The men pushed back the altar for Christian services to make room for their large green prayer rugs’ then they moved the podium from one side of the room to the other so that the congregation would be facing Mecca. And it is impossible not to think of the terrorist attack in the chapel, as there is a memorial leading to it with a list of names of the victims. “United in memory, September 11, 2001.” Muslim’s, along with Christians, Jews, and Hindu’s have been praying at the chapel since 2002.
There has never been a debate about Muslim’s praying in the Pentagon as there is in NYC. No Muslim’s were killed at the Pentagon, but at least 27 Muslim’s were killed in NYC. According to Army statistics, of the more than 1 million serving in the Army, there are 1,977 active-duty Muslims, 603 Muslim reservists and 464 National Guardsmen who are Muslim. Six Muslim chaplains serve them.
I found an article about the construction of the Mosque, and I fondly appreciate the quotes from a potential 2012 presidential candidate and former House Speaker New Gingrich. To me, this just goes to show how naïve people are about Muslim’s, about 9/11, and how people like Newt use their power of influence over the general public of America to sway our thoughts to those of radical extremists, just like the Nazi’s, KKK, and Al-Qaeda.
“The folks who want to build this mosque — who are really radical Islamists who want to triumphally prove that they can build a mosque right next to a place where 3,000 Americans were killed by radical Islamists — those folks don't have any interest in reaching out to the community. They're trying to make a case about supremacy." — Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a potential 2012 presidential candidate.
(Hey Newt, triumphally is not a word, maybe you meant triumphantly! Don’t go all Bush Jr. on me!)
"Nazis don't have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington. We would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor. There's no reason for us to accept a mosque next to the World Trade Center." — Gingrich.
"There should be no mosque near ground zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. ... America is experiencing an Islamist cultural-political offensive designed to undermine and destroy our civilization." — Gingrich.
And the very lovely, Ron McNeil, a House GOP candidate had this to say,
"This religion's plan is to destroy our way of life. ... If we have to let them build it, make them build it nine stories underground, so we can walk above it as citizens and Christians." — Ron McNeil
I’m pretty sure that our forefathers are rolling in their graves at the disgusting acts of our political ignorance, our misuse of power, and misguided information. As a U.S. Citizen, it is embarrassing for me to learn what some of our leaders have to say about this issue. Not to mention that my fellow peers share these opinions!!
Since when are we to judge another person because of their religion? Should I judge all Christian’s based off of Ron McNeil’s quote? I could take the stance that all Christian’s believe Muslim’s are destroying our way of life. It would be absurd to do such a thing, if you ask me!
I recently posted a link to an article that showed different businesses the same distance away from Ground Zero as the Mosque would be, which included places like strip clubs, off-track betting, and bars. But what it didn’t list was the “other” places of worship in the Ground Zero area:
Less than 1 block away or sharing the street with Ground Zero:
-St. Peters Roman Catholic Church
-St. Paul’s Chapel
-St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church
Let’s move to 1-2 blocks away:
-Battery Park Synagogue
2-3 blocks away:
-St. Joseph’s Church
-The possible Mosque on 45-51 Park Place.
(I’m going to go ahead and guess that I’ve missed a few churches, temples, and synagogues and I apologize ahead of time. I was using google maps of the Ground Zero area to find the local worship centres.)
I will end with a few questions, which I’d like you to ask yourself and truly allow yourself to view this subject from all angles.
What if you were Muslim, a hard-working, honest, loyal Muslim? What if the attackers from 9/11 were radical Christian’s, Catholics, Baptists, Lutherians, Jews, Hindu’s, Atheists, Pagans, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, or Unitarians? Would you want to be discriminated against? Would you want to be accused of terrorism? Would you want hate crimes against you or in your neighborhood because you were a certain religion? Would you want to be told that you cannot build a place of worship because it means you are radical extremists who are rubbing your triumph of the deaths of American’s in America’s face?
Muslim’s didn’t ask to be racially profiled, they didn’t ask Al-Qaeda to attack America and NYC where they lived and worked, they didn’t ask to be discriminated against, and they sure as hell don’t deserve the treatment our country is giving them for the actions of few radical extremists.
Part of our Constitution allows us to be free. We’re the one of the only countries that has that kind of freedom, and we can’t let terrorists make us give that up! We aren’t really the home of the brave if we allow fear to guide our actions, be brave and unite as one country, one land of the free.
"The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don't represent peace. They represent evil and war." –George Bush Jr., stated after 9/11 at a Mosque in Washington D.C.