Thursday, July 29, 2010

My Thoughts on the Mosque Near Ground Zero

My thoughts on the controversial building of a Muslim "communication center" near Ground Zero, as paraphrased from an HP thread.

Let's put this situation in another context. Jews want to pray on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. According to the Jewish religion, that's where the site of the Temple was during David and Solomon's kingdom. However, Jews do not pray on the Mount itself because of Muslim rioting and violence that occurs whenever Jews go up there.  Do they have the right to pray on the Mount as free people? I think, yes. But they don't because they recognize the fact that living in peace with their neighbors is just as important if not more important than praying where they want when they want.  And that is for the holiest site in Judaism. There is no reason why this mosque cannot be built a little farther away from the WTC site, and changing the location will make a big difference for some people. 

Just because you have the right to do something, that doesn't mean you should do something.

I think in this case, a little give and take will go a long way. Many Americans believe that Muslims ARE "out to get them" and do want to "destroy America", you can see that on this thread. But I think rather than lecturing NYers who are uncomfortable with the mosque about how they shouldn't feel uncomfortable, the leaders of the mosque should acknowledge those feelings and really show their fellow Americans they respect their feelings. I think America takes the high road a lot and tries to live up to its values, but it would not kill the leaders of this mosque to meet us halfway just this once. 

The memory of 9/11 creates a complex array of emotions. But being told "you're a racist" or "you're a Islamophobe" when you try to express those emotions will not make those emotions go away, they will just be clamped down and left to ferment.

This is not a question about rights. No one disputes that Muslims have the right to build a mosque, or communication center, or whatever, in New York City. But it's not a question of rights. It's a question of whether building a mosque in NYC is a good idea from a neighborly point of view. I don't think the people protesting the building of the mosque are genuinely Islamophobic, I think they can't necessarily articulate why they don't want the mosque but they know it feels wrong somehow. If Muslims want to be tolerated in the US, they should respect how their fellow Americans feel about a mosque near Ground Zero. Yes, they had nothing to do with. Yes, they are as American as everyone else. Yes, they have the right to build there. But part of being an American means making compromises so that we can all live together in relative harmony. 

In this case, I think, there's nothing wrong with asking the Muslim builders of the mosque to compromise in the interests of the greater good. 

1 comment:

  1. Islam didn't attack the USA, it was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his henchmen. There's no good argument against building the site. All of them are based on pandering to people's fears. Once the site is built eventually the fear will die away and no one will care anymore.