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Sarah Palin may be an unemployed, Facebook abusing, gaffe-prone idiot, but it seems as if she has, by accident and without knowing, stumbled across something she has a valid position on: the mosque proposal in New York City, close to Ground Zero .
Essentially, there’s been a proposal for the equivalent of a Muslim activity center – a mosque with restaurant, entertainment facilities, and more – to be built mere blocks from the site of the World Trade Center destruction, which has, as could be expected, received immediate, kneejerk reactions from both sides of the argument. Those of a conservative, oft-racist, persuasion have jumped on the fact that this is a Muslim center and not one of their own Christian brand, as if simply being of the Islamic faith was an affront to Americanism and disrespecting the lives of the dead from 9/11. Similarly, those of the liberal, oft-too-open, political flavor have done quite the opposite and used the proposal as a weapon of peaceful propaganda, claiming that it would cater to moderate Muslims, despite a valid argument that there is no such middleground option in Islam, and it would show that America holds nothing against those that did not declare war upon the nation.
The problem is that neither side is correct – both have legitimate and defensible positions, which is especially odd in the modern polar political climate.
In terms of arguing against the mosque’s existence so close to Ground Zero, there are mountains of evidence that Islamic centers of prayer, and those that run them, played large roles in the attacks of September 11th, 2001 and continue to do so, even within America’s borders. The 9/11 hijackers sought solace, solidarity, and support in various mosques, on both coasts, and the more recent terrorist attempts, such as the failed Times Square Bomber, have had similar aid – a careful reading of Steve Coll’s “Ghost Wars”, James Bamford’s “The Shadow Factory”, and a number of other investigative journalism efforts on the topic make this quite clear. Even now, a decade later, those that support the subjugation, injury, or death of non-Muslims, due to either American citizenship or Jewish heritage/faith, can find sympathetic persons for their cause across the country. Since the Islamic faith, if interpreted in a semi-strict fashion, allows for no religion other than its own and calls for the death of all Jews, this is a serious issue, especially as fundamentalism sweeps the ranks of Muslims worldwide.
That being said, not all Muslims are terrorists or wish harm upon the Western World – this is a fact that should be inherently understood by rational individuals worldwide. The terrorist attacks of September 11th were carried out by fundamentalist Muslims with disgruntled attitudes and a brainwashed perspective, and did not, nor do they currently, represent the opinions of all Muslims, just as the Catholic Pope does not speak for all Catholics. In a fit of panic, there were some unintelligent, embarrassingly stereotyping decisions made in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, but it can be argued that America has, on the whole, returned to its more rational state. Mosques are not the places of evil and fundamentalism that they are so often made out to be, most especially within the borders of the United States – they should not be pigeonholed as centers of evil to be banned, harassed, or discriminated against.
Thus arrives the crux of the problem: both sides of this argument have a point. A mosque so close to the ashes of the World Trade Center would undoubtedly send a message of tolerance and forgiveness to Muslims, but it could just as easily serve as an inspiration-by-proximity center fostering anti-American sentiment, so there is no easy answer to this permit request. None of this, however, was intended by the loudmouth embarrassment that is Sarah Palin – her words were simply meant in the racist, derogatory, and unacceptably judgmental manner in which she presented them. That she touched upon so salient a point by accident is a fantastic coincidence, but it does nothing to make the issue any less politically or socially relevant.
From Kyle Brady…
Kyle can be found on his blog, via email, or on Twitter.