Seems lots of people are up in arms over the proposed building of the Park 51 Community Center, aka the “mosque at Ground Zero”. Of course, this is far from surprising, considering the Islamophobia which has held much of the nation for the last decade.
The people wishing to build the mosque were no doubt aware of the furore which would ensue over this, and it cannot be denied that they were willing to provoke anger. Having said that, if after our near-demolition of Baghdad, a group of American missionaries attempted to build a Christian church there, we would see them as heroes.
Perhaps we should ask ourselves how we justify holding this moral double standard. The 19 hijackers actually involved in the 9/11 incident are hardly going to be worshipping at this mosque.
What would we say of the hypothetical missionaries above? “Despite almost crushing adversity, this brave band of people labored to build a place where Christians could worship in safety and tranquility, a place from which they could bring the local populace to understand that their purpose is not to maim and destroy but to foster peace and understanding.”
How many of our national news outlets are using language such as this to describe the builders of the Ground Zero mosque?
Let us consider for a moment the other establishments in the vicinity: an off-track betting parlor, a Starbucks, a strip club, a McDonald’s, and of course a shitload of street hawkers selling cheap plastic 9/11-themed tchotchkes. If this is to be considered ‘hallowed ground’, as Sarah Palin put it recently, let these also be removed from the vicinity.
Anything else is just pure Islamophobia.
This all comes back to our psychological tendency to see labels. We cannot look at a DeShawn or a Danisha without seeing ‘black’, at a Chihiro or a Chung-Tah without seeing ‘Asian’, at a Faroukh or a Fatima without seeing ‘Arab’.
If you assume a priori that a Mohammed is more likely to tarnish American society than a Masao, Malachi or even Mike, you’re in the label trap.
Regardless of what the President may have to say in favor of it, regardless of what the hysterical wing of the GOP may say against it, regardless of what Jews and Muslims at large may think of it… get out of the label trap and see for yourself.
Allow a small group of people to show you that Islam is not all about evil, and show them in return that you’re not all about prejudice.