Blacklist: 2010 Edition

I’m so sick of hearing about the “controversy” surrounding the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque.”

For the record, it’s not only a mosque – which has been there for over a year in an abandoned retail space – but a community center that is not even on the Ground Zero site itself but rather blocks away. “Park 51” or “The Cordoba House” is the proposed name for the facility by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.

Of course, all sorts of people have come out of the woodwork to protest the project. Halting construction of all mosques in the US and carrying offensive signs has become all the rage with these xenophobic fringe groups.

Pat Robertson has declared that all Muslims intend to take over the nation and there’s even a fundamentalist pastor in Gainesville, Florida who is planning an annual “Burn a Koran Day” on the ninth anniversary of the attacks.

Playing on prejudice and extremely negative stereotypes, men like Robertson and the Gainesville pastor are helping create a toxic atmosphere where equality and reason are not present.

This kind of bigotry and intolerance represent a common theme that has remained throughout American history: scapegoating an entire group of people when times are turbulent.

Jews, Catholics, Blacks, communists, socialists and gays are just a few of the more notable groups to be stigmatized and bullied in American history. Now, Muslims have joined the blacklist.

The United States is the best country on the planet. We should all take pride in the fact that our democratic republic is the longest-surviving in history. With over 300 million citizens, we’re a melting pot of tradition, art, religion and language. We’ve sent men to the moon and cured diseases that once devastated countless lives.

We don’t always agree with each other and that’s one of the most beautiful things about this country: We’re free to disagree and protest amongst ourselves and our government.

However, when irrationality and bigotry cloud one’s judgement, the end result is ugly. Instead of peaceably having an enlightened discussion, some resort to name-calling and prejudice and while we do have the freedom to protest this way, it doesn’t change the fact that behaving in such a manner is an embarrassment to the nation.

While many are using fear and an “us vs. them” argument, my hope is that those who have remained silent during this controversy will speak up. Together, let’s drown out the ignorance.

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Correction to my post on the “Ground Zero” mosque

On my last post, I expressed my personal view of the supposed “Ground Zero” mosque that has been all over the news recently.

I must correct an embarrassing error: The mosque is actually not on the Ground Zero site itself but a few blocks away. And not only is a mosque planned, but an Islamic cultural center as well.

In the light of this updated information and after giving the issue some more thought, I have to say that my opinion has changed.

Peaceful Muslims are trying to bridge the vast gap  between two different cultures. In a way, they are showing that they are not only sorry for the extremists who murdered thousands of Americans but also very interested in showing a brand of Islam to the American people that is frequently forgotten: A peaceful religion that is able to coexist with Western society.

In the name of peace, I hope that this works. I have nothing but disdain for the violence and brainwashing that fundamentalism and extremism preach…and that goes for all religions. Whenever the Mother Teresas and Benazir Bhuttos of the world speak up and make a difference, progress is made. In order for the world to move forward, the twin demons of extremism and fundamentalism must die out like the dinosaurs.

That’s my two cents.