Some people are not too fond of mosques, it seems.
"Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn't it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate." --Sarah Palin
It's not about bigotry, say these bleeding hearts. It's about sensitivity. That's why they oppose a mosque two blocks away from the place they call "Ground Zero." "We are not bigots!" they insist. "We're sensitive!"
But what is sensitivity? Who are the sensitive, and why are they sensitive? Does their sensitivity have the morality of reason behind it? Or is it based on the fundamental lie that bigots use to rally the weak-minded to their cause?
Let's establish the facts. The mosque may be near the site of the World Trade Center, but it is not within eyeshot. Tourists visiting the site of the largest terrorist attack on American soil will not see Islamic flags or symbols through their camera viewfinders. People will also not hear any Muslim call to prayer-- a common sound around mosques worldwide: there will be no loudspeakers or minarets attached to this mosque. Much has been said about the center's "15 floors" and amenities, but the truth is, all will be contained withing a rather non-descript Manhattan building (so un-notable, it was rejected for landmark status). The fact is, if there were no news articles about the mosque's existence, no visitor to the 9/11 memorial would know the mosque was there.
The other fact is that those behind the mosque, and those who will pray in it, are undoubtedly not terrorists. Can we say this with 100% certainty? No. But we don't shut down Catholic churches because Eric Rudolph bombed abortion clinics. The truth is, there are millions of Muslims in America, and if every one was a terrorist, we would have certainly been all blown to hell by now. Terrorists are a minority which can exist within any religion or political persuasion. It was not so long ago that communists were all terrorists. And before that, it was Japanese people. And before that, it was the Irish. Americans have a way of branding a whole group for the actions of very few members.
So on what premises are the builders of this mosque supposed to be sensitive? Are they supposed to not build their mosque because people associate the Muslim religion with the terrorism that happened nearby? The people who make that association are unable to draw distinctions between the millions of peaceful Muslims and the hundreds of bad ones. What do we call people who can't draw a distinction between the good and bad members of a race, creed, or religion? What do we call people who believe that all members of a group fall in line with the worst, most vile stereotypes?
Do we call them sensitive?
I think not.
Palin calls for "Peaceful Muslims" to "refudiate." Her twitter statement should draw laughs, but not for the new word she created. We should instead chuckle at the contradiction. If Palin honestly believed any or most Muslims were peaceful, she would reject arguments against the mosque being built. In standing against it, she either supports the fundamental basis behind the "sensitivity," or believes that the center would be a tribute to terrorists. Who are the "Peaceful Muslims," Ms. Palin? Because if they're not the ones that currently live peacefully in and around the New York City community, then I don't know where else they could be.
Let the mosque be built. You'll never see it. You'll never hear it. The only ones who will are the Muslims: Muslims who are seeking a place for prayer, not a place for terror.
Nice thoughts from NYMag on this issue, here.