Last week I got in a heated twitter-debate about the proposed mosque on Park Place in New York City. Because months after this project was proposed the conservative wind–bags decided an election year would be a great time to denounce an entire religion and culture based on the acts of a select few. And the crazy thing is that people are buying what they are selling and re-preaching what they are saying. And it blows. my. mind.
I cannot believe that in 2010 we are giving credence to people who preach bigotry, hatred and intolerance. It’s insane to me that in this day and age not only that a church is planning a “Burn a Quran Day”, but they are getting coverage from major news outlets as well. [By the way, the lovely Karen Walrond is organizing a photobomb as an act of peace in response to this act of hate – please think about participating].
Look, I know that what happened on 9/11 was a tragedy of unheard of proportions. I will never, ever forget where I was on that day or the feeling of fear and helplessness in the weeks that followed. I can’t imagine what the families of the victims felt then or still feel now. So in the days after 9/11 I decided to arm myself with knowledge. I didn’t take what the news outlets spouted as fact. I picked up the Quran and started reading it myself. I saw for myself that just like the Bible, anyone can piece-meal verses together out of context and come up with a rigid (and mostly wrong) interpretation of the message. I observed prayer services at our local mosque and spoke with its members. I don’t claim to be an expert on Islam, but I feel very comfortable in my assertion that it’s a peaceful religion.
The way I felt on September 12, 2001 is the same way I feel today: it was an act of an extremist few who dislike the freedoms we enjoy in this country. The way to respond to the unthinkable acts of 9/11 is not to start eroding at those freedoms ourselves, but to extend those freedoms even further. I am a fierce defender of the separation of church and state and this usually means fighting the Christian church to keep its dogmatic rules out of our governing laws. But this time it means making sure the government protects the right for this church to be built anywhere it wants. And for that reason I am so glad that the mosque is one step closer to realization.