Defriended Over a MosqueEssays, Featured — By Emily Timbol on August 5, 2010 at 8:00 am
My grandfather just de-friended me on Facebook.
He didn’t have a moment of confusion or senior dementia (he is annoyingly savvy with the computer for a 75-year-old), but he did it intentionally and with a touch of snark – writing “bye” on my wall right before electronically disowning me. Like most riffs in family, this one was caused by politics, as I am about as far from him on the left/right spectrum as possible. I like to think of it as the political equivalent of him being Team Edward and me being Team Jacob, mostly because that makes him cold-blooded and old.
After I made a few public comments about Sarah Palin that were ill received, or should I say, “refudiated”, the last straw for Grandpa was a post I made regarding the proposed community center and mosque that is scheduled to be built two blocks from Ground Zero in NYC. While I am firmly grounded in my faith in Christ and am (obviously) anti-terrorism, I see this proposal as a potentially good thing for the city.
Some people do not agree. For instance, Newt Gingrich who said, “”There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia.” And, “It is simply grotesque to erect a mosque at the site of the most visible and powerful symbol of the horrible consequences of radical Islamist ideology.”
Or Sarah Palin, who said, “To build a mosque at Ground Zero is a stab in the heart of the families of the innocent victims of those horrific attacks.”
And especially not the National Republican Trust committee who said in a television ad, “”On September 11th, they declared war against us. And to celebrate that murder of 3,000 Americans, they want to build a monstrous 13-story mosque at Ground Zero. A mosque at Ground Zero must not stand. The political class says nothing. The politicians are doing nothing to stop it. But we Americans will be heard. Join the fight to kill the Ground Zero mosque.”
It’s difficult for me to understand why we, as a nation, would choose to persecute an entire religion for the actions of some of its extreme fundamentalist members. Americans should be able to tell the difference between religion and people that use religion as a fuel and outlet for their hatred. After all, most Christians don’t go to www.GodHatesFags.com for their daily update on how to live a Christian life, since we can acknowledge that the WestBoro Baptist church is run by ignorant, hateful, despicable people who have no business calling themselves followers of Christ. And most Christians also don’t believe that just because we have a God who killed hundreds of thousands of people and commanded His followers to kill thousands more, that our religion is one of violence and hate. That’s because many have known how dangerous it is to try and understand the teachings of our religious text, the Bible, out of context. Context is everything.
While there is nothing wrong with disagreeing with the tenants of Islam, there is something wrong with deciding that Muslims cannot have a place to meet and worship. At least, it’s wrong if you claim to believe in the rights that America was founded on, which are the rights that set us apart from many other countries today: namely, in this case, the right not to be persecuted for your beliefs, even if others don’t agree with them.
I understand that people are afraid of what they don’t understand. It’s one of the reasons I am terrified of Sudoku, but that doesn’t give me, or anyone else, the right to discriminate. This center is a good idea because people can make it a place for both Muslim and non-Muslims to communicate with each other and learn from one another. People forget that the terrorists on 9/11 didn’t just take the lives of thousands of New Yorkers, they also affected the lives of millions of Muslims in the city who still today face discrimination and fear of retaliation.
It’s unfair for us, as Newt said himself, to recognize that 9/11 was carried out by Islamic extremists, yet lump an entire culture and people group into something that it is not. Just as I don’t decide to renounce Christianity every time I read a story about a Mormon minister who was sexually assaulting his young wives, we should not denounce a faith that millions of people carry out in peace.
The ironic thing is that the very freedoms that the extremists were furious at America for exercising, like the freedom of expression and freedom from religious intolerance, are the very freedoms that Americans who oppose this mosque being built are attempting to revoke. It’s almost fair to say that, if the opposition wins and construction on the mosque is halted, that the terrorists have finally won.