I’d appreciate it if everybody took a step back and got off the President’s nuts for like two seconds. That should be enough time for us to really look at the issue of the proposed Ground Zero Mosque and fully realize that awfully handsome man is just doing his job, DAMN! Upholding the Constitution…that IS why we pay him the big bucks, right? This country was founded on freedom of religion. Period. Not just the religions we like. All of ‘em, even the altogether absence of ‘em. The most dangerous precedent we can set is to withhold the rights of an entire group of people for the behavior of a few. And I’m not just saying that to dissociate myself from Flavor Flav. (Although, in all honesty, it is also a desired outcome.)
Don’t get me wrong, I see the challenge. In this country, we’ve always suffered from a cognitive dissonance between the America our Constitution says we are and the America we actually live and believe. Somebody betta tell the mama that the baby is ugly. The great foundation that our forefathers built for us would be rocked to the core by the premise that we would prevent someone from exercising their rights because of their religion, if emotions run high enough or if someone’s religion is scary enough. The moment we cross that line, we cease to be true Americans. I don’t know about you but I’m not willing to give that up. I live, die and bleed red, white and blue. I believe that America is the greatest country on earth and the Constitution the greatest written work ever thought of by man. My strange allegiance to Liechtenstein and Right On! magazine notwithstanding.
So, instead of crossing that line, let’s deal with the real issue. It’s ugly but somebody needs to say it…we, as Americans, are still struggling to forgive Muslims, all Muslims for 9/11 and for the numerous acts of terrorism that followed, whether they were perpetrated by radicals or by states. We also overlook or forget or simply don’t know what it means that many Muslims are also Americans. That’s right, many of our fellow countrymen – patriotic, loyal and sincere – are Muslims. Denial is a bitch – a big, hairy, nekkid bitch with morning breath. Because while we talk a good game about embracing Muslims, we’ve been talking that game out of both sides of our mouths. In other words, we been talkin’ shit, folks.
The overwhelming majority of Muslims are no more responsible for 9/11 than the overwhelming majority of Americans are for all of the warmongering that has taken place since. Yet they’ve become a pariah for polite company. In hushed tones, we exchange knowing glances and phrases like, “one of them…you know what I mean.” Somehow, it’s become okay to “know what folk mean” when they cross the lines of respect and equality for Muslims. Americans get all behind equality when you mean that an Irishman is no better than a German. But throw some colored folk in the mix and all of a sudden them tones become hushed and them glances become knowing. There’s still a good deal of healing and tolerance that needs to take place so that we can even begin to seek real reconciliation with the Muslim world.
At the end of the day, the person who we should be saving all our sass and moxie for is the damn Imam who’s kicking America straight in our nuts by trying to put the mosque at Ground Zero in the first place. He claims to be seeking reconciliation and perhaps his strategy is to rip the bandaid off aggressively but really what he’s doing is shining a very uncomfortable light on America’s intolerance while blatantly slapping the victims of 9/11 in the face. I’m all for rights but I believe that, in America, one way we respect one another is by collectively honoring those events and places that are historically painful for constituent groups. A mosque at Ground Zero is perfectly legal, may even still be ethical, but not at all sensitive to the loss of life and safety that Americans suffered that day. It offends my sensibilities as an American and I am wholly and entirely against it. Not because it’s wrong but because it hurts.
Wherever the boundaries of sensibilities lie in this situation, the positive note is that we can use this lack of judgement of one leader’s part to catapult us toward the reconciliation between the Muslim and western worlds that eluded Bush and continues to be beyond Obama’s reach as well. I pray to my God, just as I’m certain that both devout and moderate Muslims pray to theirs, for an end to the violence and the warfare that has plagued this world since our brotherly progenitors parted ways centuries ago. Surely, if Jermaine and Tito can work out their differences, we, the children of Isaac and Ishmael can work out ours.