Monday, July 19, 2010

The Really Scary People

Image credit: National Park Service

Incredible as it might seem, nearly ten years after the destruction of the World Trade Center at the hands of religious fanatics, we're still discussing what to do with the site. What's perhaps even more amazing is some of the people whose opinions are being taken seriously enough to print them:

Sarah Palin, never a stranger to controversy, decided to weigh in on the one raging over the plans to build a mosque near Ground Zero -- that is, a mosque and community center two blocks north of where the Twin Towers used to stand.
[quoting from Palin's Twitter post]

Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn't it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate.

Sarah Palin Calls On 'Peaceful Muslims' To 'Refudiate' Ground Zero Mosque

If anyone were to ask my opinion on what ought to be built near Ground Zero, which thankfully no one has, I'd have to respond that my most basic requirement is that it be what New Yorkers wanted. After all, it's their city. But assuming I had input on the idea, there are at least a couple of thoughts regarding religion.

The first is that I'd prefer there be no religious symbols there at all. I know that this is an almost impossible thought, given that what strikes me as the most important role of religion is to somehow ameliorate peoples' fear of death. Given that it was religious fanatics who did this, however, that strikes this atheist as the best idea.

The second is that, failing the first, everyone who wants to should have his religious beliefs represented. That includes atheism and agnosticism, by the way. The principles I've learned, both as a progressive and as an American, say that everyone's views on a subject must be accommodated as well as can be done. Certainly, the religious beliefs of the victims of 9/11, and their survivors, should be taken into account.

Islam is one of the world's major religions. It has adherents all over New York City, and all over the United States as well. That anyone would think they should be deliberately excluded strikes me as so un-American that it's appalling. Yet here is a pig-ignorant bigot given a national forum to rage against the construction of a place that clearly isn't meant to promote radicalism:

The effort is being spearheaded by a longtime local imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf, who has said the center would "bridge and heal a divide" and has said it's his mission to fight radicalism. A local community board voted this week by 29-1 to support the project.

Planned Muslim Cultural Center Near Ground Zero Prompts Massive Right-Wing Freakout

There you have it. It's intended by local Muslims to be a place to promote peace. It was approved overwhelmingly by a local community board. That ought to be the end of it.

Yet it's not. Clearly, there are more people than just Sarah Palin who believe the ungrammatical nonsense she writes. That's what's really frightening.

Compared to those people, Islamic terrorism doesn't seem terribly frightening at all. Terrorists can never take from us what we are. Americans are the only ones who can do that. What we need to remember from this is that there are clearly a group of Americans who want to do exactly that.

They're the really scary people.

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