It's like Sex and the Suburbs and 30 Rock all rolled into one…
Because we’re Americans and because we live in New York State, perhaps the news that a mosque wants to open up in New York City becomes Big News. It trends on twitter. Local news stations, even like YNN, pick up coverage. It is controversial, opening up a center for peaceful prayer. Wait… is it? If a Christian or Jewish group wanted to open such a center, we wouldn’t bat an eye. If a Buddhist or Hindu group did the same thing, we’d be curious for a few moments, and then go back to our daily routines. No, the thing of it is that they are Muslims and it’s near Ground Zero. Yes, the mosque will be built as part of a 13-story community center a two blocks away from the World Trade Center site, revitalizing an old Burlington Coat Factory. (And here I thought people from Manhattan hated Big Box stores!)
I might be the only one not furious over the matter. When I perk up in discussions about this, people look and stare at me as if I just perhaps shit on the American flag. “But the Muslims did it,” one person exclaimed at me. “It’s Ground Zero,” another provided as if that was explanation enough. For me it’s not a matter of religion, but of fundamentalism.
Let’s be honest here for a minute – there is a great big difference between the KKK and most Christians. We recognize this, and we don’t let our disdain for that hateful group to affect how we view Christians in this country. It seems impossible to get elected in this country without some ties to religion, and for a long time that was the Christian kind. If you were to do one of those SAT word analogies, it would look like this: KKK::Christianity as Al Queda::Islam. It’s not the religion that’s the problem, it’s how the religion is interpreted and turned into a device to hate and a justification for murder. And let’s be even more honest, the Muslims working at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 didn’t get some Islamic memo advising them to stay home from work. They went to their jobs, and yes, they died too.
Let’s look at it another way. One of my friends said it would be akin to Oklahoma City banning any church or Christian charity near the Murrah Building because McVey was Christian. It would be like blaming all Jewish people for the crucifixion of Jesus. We don’t find either of these socially acceptable, and even go so far to shun people socially who think this way. And yet it seems as if hating on Islam is the new black. It’s okay to say untrue and horrible things about Muslims and their religion and people seem to get away with it.
It’s nearly a decade after the attacks, and for some, the hurt and pain of lost loved ones might still be very fresh. But Sarah Palin didn’t lose anyone to the attacks of 9/11; she was too busy banning books from the library. She doesn’t get to appeal to Muslims world wide to drop the desire to open up a place of peace near the final resting place of 2,976 people, of whom Muslims and Arabs are surely a part of.
It’s hate, pure and simple. Once upon a time we hated Jewish people and then that became impolite. Then we hated homosexuals because they were different than us. That’s becoming inappropriate. But it’s okay to hate Muslims still, because a few misguided angry people who twisted a religion killed a couple thousand people in a highly public display. Hate of any kind is the height of bad taste.