As you know all too well, there is a mighty furor over a proposed Islamic community center five blocks from the site of the former World Trade Center. Right-wing “patriots” have taken to condemn the building of the community center so near “Ground Zero” as a slap against the thousands that died in the Trade Center’s flaming disintegration.
While I mourn the senseless deaths of nearly 3000 people, what these fear-mongers do not understand is that a number of Muslims died alongside Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, and others. Yet, they purposefully choose to denigrate an entire religion for the fanatical beliefs of a very, very tiny minority within the Muslim faith.
I strain to understand the reason for the uproar over the symbolic significance of building an Islamic community center near a place that shook our national psyche to the very core, and I totally agree with upholding our constitutional rights, which have stood stiff scrutiny for well over 200 years.
Yet, I have an acquaintance on the East Coast who, like fellow EUR contributor Joseph C. Phillips, is a right-leaning reactionary. She believes pretty much everything broadcast on Fox News, reads The National Review and other right-leaning outlets, and intermittently sends off e-mail diatribes that tap into much of the inflammatory rhetoric espoused by the right. She is a “birther” who, to this day, believes that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States, despite ample evidence that he, indeed, was born on American soil. And, his mother was an American who birthed him in Kapi’olani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii, thus automatically making Obama an American citizen. Please check the records if you wish.
She also believes that, since the day he took office, President Obama is directly responsible for the continuing downward spiral of our economy, despite mounds of evidence that our collapse was caused by greedy and scurrilous financiers. She refuses to believe, that an unwinnable war was sparked by a massive military industrial complex/corporation (yes, war IS a business) in two countries, despite overwhelming evidence that it was falsely started, resulting in nearly 5000 American troops’ death – more than those lost in the Trade Center collapse. Worse, she agrees with congressional Republican stalling tactics that block pretty much any bill which would concretely put our country back on track.
I had a boil-over with her in 2009 when she questioned the international hoopla over pop singer Michael Jackson’s death, while the press practically ignored actress Farrah Fawcett, who as you know, died the same day from cancer. I wrote an extensive missive pointing out Michael’s huge international impact – but I did not send it. Why? Blame it on an urge to save my wife’s fragile relationship with her friend. But numerous e-mail beat-downs of Obama from this woman, leading up to the Islamic community center’s attention, led me to finally answer back. Here is her e-mail, in italics with misspellings intact, followed by my response:
I hope you are in the growing numbers of good hopeful people who “get it” about our dangerous Islamist president. Can you still ignore the signs or have you seen and heard them for a while?
And now a mosque at ground zero?? Can you see it as the subject of billions of photos, just as the twin towers were, and become the symbol of New York? And America. Picture that. It is symbolic and so much more. Creeping, fanatic, Sharia, and burkas for our daughters, neices and daughters’ daughters. Really. If we allow miscreants and slick despots with harmful agendas to misuse our consitution and mock our lifestyle of freedom we will lose that life and those freedoms.
The time to speak out and not be silent is NOW.
“I am very shocked that you sent an e-mail filled with vitriol that continues to try to denigrate pretty much any and everything that President Obama ever attempts. You sound so much like Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, etc., that I must question your motives. Pretty much EVERYTHING you wrote is a knee-jerk reaction to rabid conservative, extremely right-wing ideology hell-bent on total distortion of facts. You have jumped aboard a freight train of hate, twisted, contorted knowledge that has no basis in fact. You use such catchphrases “ground zero” and tired references about burkah-wearing daughters, nieces, etc., in an attempt to scare a reader into thinking that is what is going to be. That is SO insensitive that I am forced to question your logic in even sending out such diatribe.
First, there is no “mosque” being built at the ground zero site. A COMMUNITY CENTER is planned to be built five blocks away and nowhere near any visual proximity to the site. As a matter of fact, there is a strip club – A STRIP CLUB, DAMMIT! – across the street from the World Trade Center. So that’s okay with you, eh, that your daughters and nieces are free to strip naked, but to build something that – exactly like a Jewish Community Center – will contain a basketball court, rooms to learn, read, dance, cook and – most importantly – enlighten Islamic tradition – not terrorist planners – is too heart-wrenching to allow. And did you know that quite near the Trade Center is an Islamic PRAYER site that has been there since BEFORE the Trade Center was built? Still there, yet there is no uproar heard about that.
As far as President Obama is concerned, I saw the entire Q&A about what you believe is his so-called “endorsement” of the Community Center. He is absolutely correct in explaining – quite accurately – that this is a First Amendment protection allowing for religious freedom that is so precious to those that wish to worship whatever they want in this great country. You cannot deny that that is what it is all about. You and others like the aforementioned commentators fail to realize that America was founded by those wishing to escape religious persecution. Now, you and other “protectors” wish to deny that to people whom you KNOW have no wish to train terrorists in any way whatsoever. It is a community center that will be available to any and all. If there were a denial to build a Jewish, Baptist, Catholic, Presbyterian, Buddhist, Hindu or any other community center, there would be an appropriate uproar.
Now, like 1930s Germany, you choose to side with mindless hoards of people who think they have the right to deny the building of a community center. Then what is next? A synagogue? A church? An ashram? You are stoking enmity toward a religious group much like Nazi Germany did to millions of Jews. By using the words you send out willy-nilly, without stopping to think of the consequences of your action toward millions of Islam worshipers who abhor what went down in 2001, is absolutely frightening to any and all who hold freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution above all else.
You are stoking fear and hate – just like Nazis, KKK and others like them against any group by using such hate-filled vitriol. If we/I are to believe what you are saying, then, okay, let’s haul each and every burkah-wearing, “towel-headed” person into concentration camps, steal or burn everything that they own and, while we’re at it, get them rounded up for a train ride! I am ashamed of you, an educated person, falling for such scare tactics espoused by the Becks, Limbaughs, Palins and O’Reillys of the Fox News “universe” with nothing – nothing – on their agenda but to stoke fear and mistrust throughout the land. “Fair and balanced” – HA!
Believe me, there is no “Ground-Zero MOSQUE” being built anywhere near the site. A community center will be built five blocks away. But how far away do you want any religious community center to be? I, for one, am looking forward to seeing the building of that center, much like I looked forward to attending Jewish community centers in Boston and in Los Angeles. I want to play a little basketball, learn about – rather than fear – another religion, and then decide whether or not it is evil or good. I refuse to believe that all Muslims are terrorists; in fact, that is an extremely small minority of fanatics, much like those who are fanning the flames of prejudice and fear. It is their choice – and yours – to practice whatever religion they so desire, to spread the good side of their religion, which is the true purpose of the community center. That is truly what makes America a great country.
Religious persecution seems to be your aim, and that is shocking to me. I refuse to follow along a path that condones a beat-down of freedoms without checking the facts thoroughly. As a trained journalist, that is what I do, and that is what is necessary for you to do. Just think of the consequences of stifling any religious practice in a country that stipulates, quite clearly, that religious freedom is an inherent right. Stop one – others will follow. That is a guarantee. Any deviation from that path, and we are truly headed down the road back to McCarthyism, Nazism, etc. Yes, President Obama revealed his true colors – and they are red, white and blue. Figure it out for yourself. Don’t be a part of a pack that sees just black and white with nothing in between being acceptable. I surely don’t want to live in a country like that, and most importantly – I don’t.”
Gary D. Jackson is a freelance writer based in Southern California. Contact him at: [email protected].