Sunday, August 22, 2010

A debate mislabeled

The debate over the planned mosque near Ground Zero in New York City is not over religious freedom in my opinion. It’s more simply about Islamic proponents planning a poke in the eye of America. Right after the 9/11 attacks, then President Bush went out of his way to emphasize that our fight wasn’t with Islam, it was against those terrorist groups who hated America and wished to destroy our country. President Bush included Islamic clerics in the memorial service planned for that attack. His continued statements supported the concept that we were not fighting Islam but instead those who waged terror against us and those nation groups which supported those terrorists.

Even at the end of his administration, Bush continued to emphasize that Islam was not our enemy.

As President Obama begin his term of office, he too continued the same theme that President Bush had begun. At times, there have been statements coming out of the Obama Administration that seemed quite strange to many, such as the statement that NASA’s primary mission was outreach to Muslims. Yet, that too was generally somewhat dismissed as so much, relatively harmless, administration rhetoric.

Yet, now the planned mosque to be built where the old Burlington Coat Factory building sits is controversial. Debris from the 9/11 attacks fell upon the roof of that 13-story Burlington Coat Factory Building, a collateral physical victim, so to speak, of those devastating terror attacks. We lost almost 2,900 Americans in the attacks on New York, the Pentagon, and Flight 93, so yes, there is a sensitivity to raising what some find to be that strange poke in America’s eye, especially as an Islamic outreach effort.

The Pentagon has provided a Muslim prayer room where the Pentagon was attacked by Flight 77. This is a low key effort to provide some comfort to Muslims working in the Pentagon and because our government, in effect, provided this space, and did it quietly, little or no cry has been raised about this prayer room. Would it be more appropriate to say this is a Muslim Chapel?

Flight 93 was downed near Sharpsville, PA, and there’s a memorial planned for the impact where that civilian airliner was crashed. Of course, there too is something related to Islam planned for that memorial. Part of the landscaped memorial is in the apparent shape of an Islamic Crescent. There’s been periodic outcries against having that crescent laid out in the memorial yet that plan seems to go forward.

I personally have not heard any major commentator, except those in the main stream media, mention objections per se to building a mosque in New York, which already has many such Islamic places of worship. Building a mosque where the Burlington Coat Factory stands is more, in my opinion, a strong statement that some proponents of Islam feel they are at war with America’s culture. Speaker Pelosi is raising the temperature over this Ground Zero Mosque by demanding an investigation into those funding the objections to the mosque; she then changed her stance by demanding an investigation into the mosque funding; perhaps she’s starting to do a “flip-flop” of her very own on this topic.

President Obama, of course, weighed in to say that the mosque should be built, then weighing in to say he wouldn’t comment on that topic; too late, sir. But, President Obama seems more than willing to weigh in against what he’s termed the bitter clingers, holding onto to their firearm and Christian religion. Well, what is Imam Rauf doing but holding onto his religion with all his might, and State Department Funding for his mission of outreach to those of the Islamic faith, as he goes forward with his mosque building plans near Ground Zero.

Would Imam Rauf support a plan to build a church, or synagogue, in Saudi Arabia, in Medina or Mecca? He might say that’s different because the Kingdom holds the two Muslim holy cities and that no infidel is allowed in those two holy cities. He probably would say, also, that even planning such a venture is an insult against Islam; I’d give him that. Yet I’m also certain that Imam Rauf would declare that his planned NYC mosque is an effort of outreach to Americans. I don’t understand how that could be, but his words as to his intent, and they are his words, are what they are.

Let Imam Rauf build his mosque anywhere else but on or near Ground zero and the controversy will go away.

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