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Monday, June 7, 2010

Proximity Issue

It's not "just" a mosque, it's a 13 story structure that "includes" a mosque. Most people aren't reporting that.

What's happening: The community board in lower Manhattan has endorsed, by a 29-to-1 vote, a plan to build a mosque and Islamic cultural center about two blocks from the former site of the World Trade Center. Predictably, outrage has erupted. If you type "mosque" into Google, the first suggestion is "mosque at ground zero," which gives a sense of how quickly this has moved into the popular consciousness.

The imam in charge, Feisal Abdul Rauf, is consciously moderate, and has described combating radicalism as his personal mission. Nor is he jumping on the chance to get in the neighborhood to make some point: The mosque is already just a few blocks away, in Tribeca, but has overgrown its current space. Rauf says that he hopes that having a moderate mosque so near ground zero can send a message of tolerance and peace.


When mouth-agape conservatives hear the word Islam, they are likely to immediately think of the word "terrorist". This isn't surprising, as virtually all media coverage ( particularly from Fox"News" ) paint every single person of Islamic heritage as a terrorist.

The imam in charge, Feisal Abdul Rauf, is consciously moderate, and has described combating radicalism as his personal mission. Nor is he jumping on the chance to get in the neighborhood to make some point: The mosque is already just a few blocks away, in Tribeca, but has overgrown its current space. Rauf says that he hopes that having a moderate mosque so near ground zero can send a message of tolerance and peace.


Unfortunately, for Imam Rauf, there is no such thing as understanding, much less tolerance that comes from the conservative realm in America. The Tea Baggers are the loudest voice of what essentially amounts to a white/christian/gun owning America.

Mark Williams, a Tea Party leader and Fox News commentator, wrote on his blog, "The monument would consist of a Mosque for the worship of the terrorists' monkey-god." He added, "In the meantime I have a wonderful idea along the same lines as that mosque at Ground Zero thing… a nice, shiny new U.S. Military Base on the smoldering ruins of Mecca. Works for me!"


Lest you think it’s just anonymous trolls producing this stuff, though, check out Pamela Geller, the head of the group "Stop Islamization of America," talking to Joy Behar on CNN. According to Geller, instead of a mosque, the site should be host to a monument to the "victims of hundreds of millions of years of jihadi wars, land enslavements, cultural annihilations and mass slaughter."

You’d think someone who runs a group with "Islam" right in its name might know that the religion is about 1,400 years old -- not "hundreds of millions." I know that all that desert stuff seems super-ancient -- "sands of time" and and all that -- but honestly. "Hundreds of millions"? That’s way, way older than homo sapiens as a species. (Maybe that explains Williams' "monkey god" reference?)


And while I will offer the caveat that it does present somewhat of a sense of unease at first blush - that is until you actually get the facts about this building and it's intended use - the very fact that conservatives are misinforming the public that this is literally on top of Ground Zero is completely preposterous and without merit. But it's all about proximity when it comes to these issue.

I'm not fool enough to think that conservatives are going to try and understand what the bulk of Islamic people are like, that would be asking far too much for a people that are steeped in reflexive hatred and a wonderful inability for reasoned thought. But I do believe it is the duty of all Americans to do your research and find out about varrying issues rather than relying on media that is there more for the desire of sensationalizing a story than presenting you with hard data.

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