Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Mosque at Ground Zero

Now that we've had two days to stare at the below picture of a tomato, we can move on to other, more weighty, subjects. First on my plate (and yes, I plan on getting back to Oliver Stone's comments which, unlike Mel Gibson's, more or less have been have been swept under the carpet), is the building of the Mosque near ground zero. On one hand, I'm reluctant to say I oppose it. This is because of religious freedom, the First Amendment, and other juicy reasons I, as an American, should lean on. But I'm also aware that some legitimate questions exist and transparency would do no harm in this case, transparency that does not seem forthcoming. There are also other legitimate concerns. Hence the main problem I have with the topic so far is the charges of bigotry, and - my favorite - Islamaphobia, against anyone not welcoming the building with open arms. As I recently responded on another site:

I would suggest “Islamaphobiaisn’t the best term. Phobia suggests an irrational fear. Since we spend so much of our time being told to be scared pantless over those Christian theocrats wanting to conquer our country because of such unthinkable measures as prayer in school or abstinence education (with continual references to the Crusades and Salem, MA to underscore why we should be worried), I’m having a hard time seeing concern about Islam as irrational given the not-too-long-ago slaying of thousands of innocent people and the destruction of world famous structures in the name of that religion.
The idea that folks concerned about those rascally Christians trying to take over America are good, enlightened, tolerant free-thinkers, while those opposing certain actions by Muslim groups are automatically bigots reveals an inconsistency that must be acknowledged. Yes bigotry may exist in some, but it should not be seen as the only reason for all concerns. Nor should it be seen as accounting for all the protests, unless we assume any and all protests against Christian ministries and organizations are the result of anti-Christian bigotry in America (or dare we say, Christophobia).

As for the details, I admit I'm out of the loop on the legalities, the fund raising questions, and the zoning details. Since most of what I know from that is a result of media coverage, that's the same as saying I don't really know. We'll have to wait and see as this folds out, and hope it, like so many issues, doesn't become so partisan that it is no longer possible to get to the truth.


I see on Bobby Ghosh has written an article, or editorial (I can't tell which) demonstrating my above point. It's actually the comment section that demonstrates it. Read them and notice there are few arguments, just accusations and comments that, if they were aimed at Muslims, would be considered bigotry or Islamaphobia. Perhaps it's not tolerance vs. bigotry, but simply one form of bigotry accusing another belief system of the same. Oh, and for a bonus, the precious 'Hitler was a devout Christian who proves Christianity is more violent than anything' fits well in my above post about the misuse and misunderstanding of Hitler. Not to mention the world of Tavis Smiley (see below).

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