Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What does Religious freedom mean really?

If you have followed the furore over the proposal to build an Islamic center 2 blocks from Ground Zero, you probably have already formed an opinion. Such worthies as Obama and Palin have weighed in on this debate, so naturally , so must I.
I get a queasy feeling in my tummy, it could be the street meat I had for lunch , but more likely its actually agreeing with Palin on something. Clearly her motivations in taking stand against this proposal are political, mine however are not.
This has become a debate about religious freedoms , which it clearly is not. The choice of location, for the Islamic Center is odd to say the least. There are only 2 possibilities , either this is the best location for the price they could find, or its been done for the symbolic value. I find it hard to believe an alternate sight could not serve their purposes just as well.
The defenders of this proposal are right in saying , a mosque should be allowed to be built anywhere in the country, not just because the Constitution protects, religious freedoms, but because of the overall, pluralistic character of the nation. But surely some quarter should be given for the emotions such a move would generate.
If the intention of the proposal is to show the Islamic World(as if there is such a uniform monolith), how Kind and accepting America is , such intentions are doomed to failure.
People who not favorably disposed to the US are not going to change their opinion based on the construction of one Islamic Center.


Noam said...

Seriously, a good rule of thumb in life is that if you ever find yourself agreeing with Sarah Palin, you know that something is seriously wrong.

All evidence is that they chose the site simply because it was the best location they could find. You ask, if that’s the case, why don’t they move out of concern for the emotions evoked?

The only reason anyone would be upset by the mosque is if they equate Islam with terrorism, that is, sheer outright bigotry. Muslims living and praying in New York have nothing to do with those murderous killers, and to discriminate against them on the basis of religion is disgusting. Why do people not say that it’s a great location, to honor the Muslims who died in the attacks? Or to honor those who risk their lives fighting al-Qaeda while serving in the US army, or while serving as our allies around the world? Do you know how insulting it is to ask them to move? Or do only the emotions of Christians matter?

I don’t think the attacks were because of Islamic extremism. They were because of religious extremism, and Christians have plenty of blood on their hands too. So, out of respect for the non-believers who see things my way, should no religious buildings be built near the site?

Noam said...

I can’t speak for the people building the mosque, but if it were me, to back down in the face of bigotry is to encourage bigotry. If someone told me not to move into their neighborhood because people don’t like Jews, should I respect their sensitivities, or stand up for my right to live anywhere I want? I think I do society no favors by shirking.

I mean, for Chrissake, it’s not even near Ground Zero. It’s two blocks away, not at all visible from the site, in an old Burlington Coat Factory. The entire controversy is manufactured for political reasons. It’s really disgusting, capitalizing on people’s prejudice like that. I really hope they build it there, as a monument to the fact that we are a country that doesn’t judge people by their religion, and we are not at war with 1.5 billion Muslims. Unfortunately, the bigots out there have already showed the world that neither of these facts is true about America.