The proposal of the building of a Mosque near the site of the 9/11 attacks has stirred up a huge amount of controversy. What began as a proposal for the Muslim community to practice Muslim teachings has become a large and overblown ideological mess of arguments from both supporters and opponents of the mosque. The heated debate is everywhere, from constant news briefings to protests to Ted Nugent editorials. Memories of the 9/11 attacks are running more rampant than ever, and everyone has an opinion. At first, President Obama appeared to be in favor of the mosque. A day later, he distanced himself in an attempt to back away from the furor.
The controversy should be nothing new to Americans. After the official end of the Iraq war, we find ourselves embedded in a new history of tensions between the Muslim community and Americans. The 9/11 attacks made Muslims an unfortunate target, many ready to call any Muslim out for what so many didn’t have any part of. The Muslim community as a whole became almost ostracized entirely, and anyone supporting them were immediately labeled “anti-American.” It became as if standing up for the original foundations of American beliefs was unpatriotic, making the “melting pot” mentality treason.
The ensuing war in Iraq only made it worse. Instead of American soldiers being embraced for standing up to their attackers, they were led to a war that made them the enemy of much of the world. We became the bad guy we set out to attack. Instead of going after the Taliban, Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, we went after Sadaam Hussein and his regime in Iraq, to undeniably complicated results.
While Hussein was indeed stripped of power and later executed, our reputation to many as the enemy of the Muslim community became stronger than ever. Amidst suicide bombings and civilian deaths and criticism around the world, sentiment for the American way became strongly negative. Since 9/11, we have more than anything become anti-Muslim, sending innocents to Guantanamo Bay for endless, years-long persecution, signaling out Muslims at airports, and proclaiming the American way of life as the good, only right way of life in a way that made us more isolationist than ever. All while fighting two wars in predominantly Muslim countries. All while apparently fighting against the terrorist regime.
While we would like to still call ourselves a “melting pot” of a country, our actions of late prove otherwise. How do we expect to ease tensions with the Muslim community if we keep on finding ways to shut them out? Perhaps instead of looking at the mosque as offensive because of its proposed location, why not look at it as a sign of peace? Muslims can be peaceful Americans too; there’s no reason every single Muslim is looking to attack our country because they want to practice their religion anywhere here. The opposition is based on the actions of a small, zealous few — to call out the entire community as a whole because of those who committed actual terrorism is baseless and hateful. We aren’t going to make any friends or any progress if we keep on pushing allies away.
It’s absolutely contradictory; our reputation is that we provide a strong influence around the world, and when we have a chance to do that in good faith, we balk. We run toward prejudice and bigotry the second anyone wants to notably be different. To abhor other people for their faith and culture is to be un-American. If only we’d see that.
Doug Bandow, “America, Home of the Free– Except for Muslims?” the Huffington Post
Ted Nugent, “NUGENT: Muslim mosque-teers”, the Washington Times
Ryan Creed, “President Obama Supports Building of Mosque Near Ground Zero”, ABC News