Posted by: Inside-Out Peace | August 26, 2010

Support Park 51. It’s the American Way.

Ever heard someone ask, accusingly, “what are Muslims doing about terrorism”?  Here is just one answer: a summer camp that educated 1,500 young people from Europe and North America, on how to resist those who would try to radicalize them.  There is no more effective remedy than education of this kind.

A quick Google search shows there are plenty more Muslims who speak and organize against terrorism and extremists. They are not widely reported on in the US, however. The major networks prefer the sensationalism and ratings money they get from showing crowds chanting “death to America”. Doesn’t that make you wonder why? What do you think is playing on Al-Jazeera these days? Americans who are tolerant and accepting of Muslims, or the crowds shouting “No mosque here!” and carrying anti-Islamic signs?  Our news programs do not represent reality and until they do, the majority of people who rely on them for news will have opinions based on a grossly distorted view of the world. Such opinions can’t possibly lead to good decisions.

And why do we hold ordinary, average Muslims to a higher standard than ourselves? Plenty of Jews are against the building of new settlements in Israel, yet what have we done to communicate our collective opinion to the people in Gaza and the West Bank? Why isn’t anyone ranting that all peaceful Christians should do more to stop Christian terrorists who attack abortion clinics and kill doctors?

The bill of rights applies to ALL Americans. It doesn’t say we have “freedom of religion, except for Muslims near Ground Zero”, or that all religions must be equally represented in any certain area. Freedom of religion – period. It’s just as much the right of Muslim American citizens as citizens of any other faith. That’s what’s supposed to make America different from repressive Islamic countries. Yet there are people saying, “you can build a mosque when we can build a church/synagogue in Mecca”.  No one accepts the excuse “but they were doing it” from their child, so why do we accept it from ourselves?

And really, what do you think is more likely to alienate a young American Muslim and potentially set him on the path to extremism: having a community center in which to swim and play basketball, or being denied that community center just because it’s Islamic? 

There is more than one way that radicals can destroy our country: the obvious way, through direct attack, or a nearly-invisible way, by making us so afraid that, over time, we abandon our principles and ideals to the point where our country is no longer recognizable and for all practical purposes ceases to exist, becoming instead just like any other totalitarian state in history.  I’m more afraid of the latter.

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