Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fear and the "Ground Zero Mosque"

I think by now the fact is known that it is not the Muslim people but Al-Qaeda who hijacked and then crashed our planes into WTC. That it is the Muslim people and not Al-Qaeda who wishes to build a mosque near Ground Zero. But people continue to argue and it is completely beyond me. They wish to equate the two and challenge the Islamic religion to do a litany of things to prove their religion is a peaceful one.

It's stupid. And much like those who cannot lay off the whole "Obama is a Muslim" card, this, too, is a political ploy. It, too, is lame and irrelevant. Too many American people--conservatives and tea baggers in particular--seem to be too goddamn lazy to actually look a the facts, a little thing we call a Constitution, their own values and morals or the compassion that's spoken of in their Bible to see that THIS ISN'T AN ISSUE. It's a distraction. There are more important things we need to be focusing on, and we're allowing idiots to turn too many heads for lesser and even nonsensical things.

That said, I know there are good American people out there who believe this is a huge issue with all their hearts. I get that. My father is one of them. But I think it's a matter of lack of knowledge or at least biased knowledge, the likes of which creates fear.

They say this is the Muslim people doing what they do, erecting a mosque at a place of victory over their enemies. But I say again: The Muslim people aren't responsible for 9/11.

A quote I like:

It doesn’t make sense, for example, that Islam would mark a victory over Americans at Ground Zero unless Muslims were terrorists celebrating a terrorist victory at Ground Zero. The word “Islam” has been preceded by the word “radical” so regularly in American media and conversation over the past decade, that “radical” no longer refers to an extremist subset of Islamic adherents, it instead qualifies the entire religion. - Political Labeling and the Ground Zero Mosque

But No Mosque at The World Trade Center Site insists, "If anything, it's a signal to them that they conquered the enemy and are planting their metaphorical flag in triumph."

I wasn't aware they had any sort of victory over us. Have we raised our little white flag? Have we given up? Are we still afraid? Are we under Sharia law? Are women required to wear burkas? Have they taken over our government and our Constitution and killing people here who don't swear loyalty to their religion?

But at least the Right has given up on the idea that building this mosque isn't the Muslim people's "right" to do. When that idea failed, the Right recanted and then worked to appeal to the sensitivity of "peace seeking Muslims" (gotta give 'em credit for acknowledging they exist, though the cynic in me senses a smidge of condescension). The same people--the Right--who laugh at our bleeding hearts are now pleading for "sensitivity."

That might not matter or be particularly relevant, but it makes me giggle.

But it's not about sensitivity or healing or any of that. The Christian people have a long history with the Muslim people. They are at odds, vying to fulfill prophecies and fighting to be right.

But the Right is afraid. And I think it goes beyond that--I think they're also afraid they'll be the minority in either the religious or ethnic sense. Afraid their values are under any more attack than they've ever been--even though our values have changed and for the better. We're a country of peoples who are told that if we are persecuted it is because we are righteous, not at all because we are wrong. They speak of sensitivity but they've little sensitivity to speak of themselves.

It's about being right, and they're too concerned with being right to consider even for a moment they may be wrong, even if just a little.

They don't know how hypocritical they are:

But for the near term, Wednesday night’s meeting indicated that the questions of neighborhood residents may take some time to answer.

Among them: “Is Sharia law better than democracy in your view?” “How do you feel about the role of women in society?” “What are your views on Israel?” “Can you point to any single statement in the Koran that you would consider to be incorrect?”

- Paul Vitello, New York Times "Heated Opposition to a Proposed Mosque"

I would ask these people if their Bible is better than democracy (how many laws are based on what the Bible teaches? slavery? homosexuality?), how they feel about the role of women in society, their views on Israel (a subject I am admittedly ignorant of), and if they can point to any single statement in the Bible that they would consider incorrect.

And truly, though our Constitution (6th article, I believe) calls for no religious litmus test for political office, there is an informal one. Hell be to the person who doesn't believe in the Christian god and runs for office. We want them to swear loyalty or we refuse to vote them in because we are scared of what unbelievers or those of other faiths may do. We may not physically kill those who refuse to swear loyalty to the Christian god, but we have our own methods.

They're scared--which is fine, totally forgivable. The unforgivable part is that they are so concerned with being right they make no effort to learn about these people and their religion. There's no reason to because they are convinced they are right. Further, it's easier to be angry and scared. Better to be threatened and persecuted. It makes them feel powerful. It makes them feel right.

And the scariest part is that there doesn't seem to be much we can do or say to quell these fears because they refuse to listen. If we yell, they yell louder. If we speak calmly and rationally, they dismiss us or fight back with more emotional rhetoric meant to make us cower.

It sounds a hell of a lot like the Church in far too many ways.

They work by fear. They may purport to not, claim to discourage fear, but ultimately they work by striking fear into their peoples' hearts, questioning loyalties. "If you're not with us, you're against us." "If you allow this to happen, the world will fall apart." They call you "anti-American"--an insult, indeed.

Fear is an easy emotion to feel, to spread--especially for those who don't know any better for whatever reason. This is why education is so incredibly important, and I don't see a lot of education in much of religion (note the qualifier "a lot"). The problem is that this brand of neurotic fear quickly spreads and becomes a disease. It has created the worst of atrocities. But we refuse to learn.

It's one thing to be scared of something legitimate--somebody sneaks into your home while you're there. You're Jewish and the Nazis are looking for you. But this, the Muslim people wanting to erect a mosque in Lower Manhattan? I've no reason at this moment to be scared of them. Anymore than we had reason to be frightened and suspicious of Japanese Americans following Pearl Harbor. Or the black people we enslaved by way of divide and conquer so we, the white people, could remain in power.

So these people want the Muslim people--those wishing to erect this mosque in particular--to jump through hoops to prove themselves. These people are treating the Muslims as outsiders instead of as Americans. But it wouldn't matter even if the Muslim people acquiesced, they would ask for more and then more, forgetting the idea that we shouldn't judge or fear a larger group for a few wild cards.

I would think all religions and unbelievers have their wild cards. Communities. Families.

We seem to prefer guilty until proven innocent these days. It makes us feel safer and in control, but it places us at odds with what Christ taught. We're putting justice before mercy.

These who claim to love our country and how it is set up don't seem to trust it enough to protect its people.

So we're scared. And it's not just with the Muslim people (though consider the past between Christians and Muslims). We have an innate need to be in power here--open up a history book and read about how this country began. What we did to have this great land of ours. It's not pretty, and we still haven't really learned that it's wrong. It's as if we need to learn this lesson over and over and over again. First with the Spanish, then with the Native Americans, the African people. Even the Mexican people. We enslave them ultimately because we want power. Because we are scared. Too prideful to be compassionate. To help. To understand.

There is no true power in this brand of fear. Just barbarianism.

Still, they puff up their feathers and tell these Muslim people that they --the so-called "Christian Nation"--are boss and that they need to answer to us. They create campy "six degrees" lists to link the imam of this particular mosque to terrorists--but like Jon Stewart illustrated, you can do that with most anyone including Rupert Murdoch.

Something smells of hypocrite here, but I can't quite put my finger on it.


  1. Lisa, if you wan't something even more infuriating about this how about the fact that the mosque has been announced since December 2009 and nothign started until Fox contradicted itself and decided to make it a crusade. read this for more -

  2. The Religious Right's fear mongering has been getting more intense over the past few years, and the Cordoba House controversy is a perfect example. Is it because the Religious Right fears that it's losing power? Is it because fear is the most effective tool in its toolbox? Maybe it's a little of both.