Thursday, September 23, 2010

Some Thoughts on the Mosque Near Ground Zero

ShiranianPuppy1205thru0206024.JPG (350×374)The proposed Islamic Community Center in New York (better known as the Mosque near Ground Zero) has been on a lot of minds lately and I’d like to share a few thoughts on it. If this stresses you out, let the crazy adorable puppy console you.

Fortunately, no one is debating the right to build it as such rights are guaranteed under the law and the US Constitution.

Instead, some are saying that they have a right that isn’t right—that they are being insensitive or cruel to survivors of terrorism. To me, that is just ridiculous. I will explain by talking to myself.

Are Muslims terrorists?

Of course not. That’s just as silly as asking if priests are child molesters and if blondes are dumb—each of these has endless counterexamples of non-molesting priests, non-priest molesters, brilliant blondes, and idiotic gingers.

So if Muslims aren’t terrorists, what’s the problem?

Well…some people think that Muslims are terrorists…

OK, so we should oppose it because some people are idiots?

OK, I mean, I know that all Muslims aren’t terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims!

But they’re not! Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people in the Oklahoma City bombing, the second deadliest terrorist attack in the US behind 9/11. Should we rally against McVeigh’s Catholicism (this is made an even better example because he wasn’t much of a catholic anyway)?

Here’s a good rule of thumb that covers the top world religions: if a group distorts their religion to the point of terrorism, that group is no longer operating within, or on behalf of their religion. It’s probably worth pointing out, too, that Islam is the world’s number two religion, covering more than a billion and a half people. That’s a billion with a “b”. That’s 10 freaking digits. Like 1,570,000,000 people are totally into Islam. Here’s a nice info graphic that illustrates this pretty well:

tumblr_l7py0hxcyx1qblt18o1_1280.jpg (886×730)

I’ve really been struggling to understand the outrage on this so I did some digging and found this interesting analogy:

Near the neighborhood I grew up in as a child there had been two families, one with a little girl and the other with a little boy.  The children were of approximately the same age and were friends and played together often.

One day the two children were playing at the boy’s house and he got into his father’s gun cabinet.  In a cruel twist of irony, the boy’s father was a gunsmith.  I don’t know if he regularly kept his cabinet unlocked, or that on this particularly tragic day he just failed to secure it.  But the gun went off and the girl was shot.  She lingered in the hospital for a bit, but infection set in and she later died.  It breaks the heart.

Shortly afterwards the boy’s family moved away.

They did so not because they didn’t have a right to live in that neighborhood.  They did so not because the rest of the neighborhood was in their yard with torches and pitchforks.  They did so not because the little girl’s family demanded they leave.

They did so because they knew what their ongoing presence in that neighborhood would mean to the little girl’s family.  Nothing was ever going to bring their little girl back, but every time they saw the boy’s parents or the boy himself, it would be like re-living that awful day again and again.

This story is certainly compelling—playing the “think of the children” card is usually a sure bet—but I think it misses the mark. In this analogy, the boy who accidentally kills the girl moves away to spare the girl’s parents ongoing agony. If this were an accurate analogy to the Mosque kerfuffle, all little boys would have moved away.

Alright so I’m still pissed about this Mosque, so what now?!

I totally get that some people’s initial, emotional reaction is negative. What I can’t understand is how, after consideration of the obvious facts, people can stick to their initial prejudices. On most issues like taxes, health care, war, etc. I can respectfully disagree with differing views, but I just can’t get there with this one. Put on your big boy underpants and grow up.

For more thoughts on this, Cracked has a nice, common sense article, too.