Setting the example of tolerance



As I am sure many of you have heard this summer, there is a plan in place to build a mosque near Ground Zero in New York.   The proposed Islamic culural center would stand about three blocks from the site of the 9/11 tragedy and include a mosque.  

When I first heard of the idea, my gut reaction, admittedly, was one of anger.  Why there? Why Ground Zero?  They could build a mosque anywhere else and have avoided stepping on the toes of the families of 9/11 victims.  The 9/11 tragedies are a wound just recently scabbed over and the idea of picking at that scab didn’t seem logical. 


But when I really thought about the issue at hand, I came to a different conclusion.  There is no real reason a mosque shouldn’t be built there.  In fact, there is no better way for America to show off its often-bragged-about religious tolerance than to allow the mosque to be built.  


It is time to put aside the misplaced anger Americans feel towards members of the Islamic faith.  The mosque would send a message of acceptance and open mindedness to the rest of the world.  It would show that America doesn’t hold an entire people responsible for the actions of a group of radicals. 


Yes, the links in many people’s mind between Muslim and “bad guy” is a close one that has been in some ways made stronger by media outlets and influential public figures, but that doesn’t make the link right or acceptable. 


The protests at the construction site and the anger shown towards innocent workers are disturbingly reminiscent of anti-American protests I have seen shown on the news.  How long before protestors start burning the Quran like Islamic radicals have burned the American flag?  


After seeing the disgraceful way some my fellow Americans have acted — vulgar shouts, insensitive signs, and harassment of innocent construction workers — I was incensed.  


The Muslims that would be worshipping at the mosque aren’t the ones that brought down the World Trade Center buildings.  Most of them would be American citizens.  


Religious tolerance and freedom can’t be touted and then abandoned when a true test of that tolerance comes along.  That’s hypocritical.  


Build the mosque.  Let American Muslims worship as they please, where they please.  There is a reason freedom of religion is the First Amendment.  Let’s actually be the example for the world that we always say we are.