Thursday, August 5, 2010

And Crown Thy Good with Brotherhood

I am definitely in favor of allowing the mosque to be built near Ground Zero. Far from dishonoring the 9/11 victims, I think allowing and even, dare I say, welcoming the mosque profoundly honors them by honoring what America truly stands for and making a bold, bright statement to any would-be terrorists out there, as well as to everyone else, that what the United States of America stands for will never be weakened or turned away from for any reason, let alone due to a violent, cruel, downright evil act of terrorism such as what occurred on 9/11.

What do we stand for? We stand for freedom, tolerance, pluralism and respect for diversity. Of course a mosque should be allowed to be built near Ground Zero, as should a church, a synagogue, a Buddhist temple, or any other house of peaceful worship and/or community/cultural outreach that any group desires to build. I think it deeply honors the victims of 9/11, as well as our country, to say to the terrorists: you haven’t stopped us, and you won’t stop us. You will never stop America from being America. You won’t stop us from upholding religious freedom, from respecting and celebrating each other’s differences, or from being the marvelous, remarkable, pluralistic, free country that we are. Just because you hate us, does not mean that we, in turn, will choose to hate anyone who happens to be a member of the same faith as you were, any more than the actions of Timothy McVeigh made us hate all Christians. Just because you, 9/11 terrorists, had hate and violence in your hearts, doesn’t mean that we, Americans, will let go of the tolerance, respect for diversity and our most cherished values like religious freedom that we have in our hearts and in our constitution, and that define who we are as Americans and America. Just because you were small-minded, doesn’t mean we will become as you were. We’re Americans: we welcome a house of worship, of whatever faith, to be built near Ground Zero.  We stand for religious freedom and pluralism.  The violent, evil, terrorist acts of 9/11 have not, and will never, change that.

I myself am a Unitarian Universalist (and I’m also Jewish--complex, I know, but that’s a topic for another blog sometime), so I don’t say this as someone who practices Islam myself. No, I say this as someone who cherishes what my country stands for. I will strongly defend the right of any religion to practice freely, and if this particular group is allowed to do so near Ground Zero, to me, it very powerfully honors and reaffirms what our country is all about and therefore honors the lives of the 9/11 victims. What would dishonor them and us as a country would be for us to become intolerant, like the 9/11 terrorists themselves. What would dishonor them would be to harden our hearts and turn our backs on one of our most fundamental tenets, that of religious freedom. For to do so would mean giving up what we are and becoming like the terrorists. By contrast, if we allow the mosque to be built, we are affirming what we are—a truly free, tolerant and diverse country--and making a statement that nothing has changed that, nothing has changed us, and we will never allow anything to change or compromise what America stands for.

The terrorists could not take away what we quintessentially are as a unique, admirable nation. Only we can choose to give that up. I say we choose instead to embrace and confidently reaffirm our most inspiring, precious founding values! I say allow the mosque near Ground Zero to be built. What a powerful, beautiful message that sends! It says: America is still America. America is still the tolerant, free nation we have always been and always will be.  9/11 didn’t change that. What could possibly honor the 9/11 victims more than making that glorious statement?

No comments:

Post a Comment