By Mario Carter
On a cool crisp Tuesday morning nine years ago, the United States faced its worst and most debilitating attack. Hijackers from the once obscure terrorist organization Al-Qaeda, boarded four planes, and in rapid succession carried out suicide missions by intentionally crashing three planes into the Pentagon, two in the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and one accidentally in Shanksville, Pennsylvania that was intended for Washington, D.C. This attack was by the most debilitating attack that this nation has suffered physically, financially and emotionally.
However, there was one ray of light that could be gleamed from the sea of darkness that had seemed to envelop us all. That was the Phoenix-like rebirth of patriotism that rose from the smoldering wreckage. It felt as if all of the tensions surrounding race, gender, religion and creed had evaporated to be replaced with a unified oneness for our beleaguered nation. If black New Yorkers, who before would not have been caught dead wearing an NYPD hat, were now sporting them after September 11th was not enough proof that all Americans now had a renewed sense of patriotic unity, then nothing would suffice.
But alas, that sense of togetherness soon transformed into a wave of hatred for all things Islamic.
The anti-Muslim backlash that began mere days after the attacks has recently hit its zenith during the debate over whether the Cordoba Initiative, an organization of moderate Muslims, should have the audacity to exercise its Constitutional rights in determining where it should have its Islamic cultural center.
Returning to why Muslims should not be able to exercise their constitutional rights, we have to ask ourselves what would be the problem with allowing Muslims to practice their faith in that particular location. If we allowed Muslims to open a cultural center, then that would be the clearest evidence that the evils of Islam had finally taken down America. Did we forget that Muslims died on 9/11 as well?
Depressingly, a majority of New Yorkers and Americans have said that they are against the cultural center being so close to where the towers fell.
But are there any legitimate objections?
The answer is obviously a clear and definitive no. Any argument against the center is a cloak for nothing but pure Islamophobia.
Firstly, opponents have managed to frame the debate by painting a picture of a mosque that will be sitting adjacent to the Ground Zero site, in which beheadings will be taking place on a daily basis.
However, the actual building would be sitting two blocks away where it wouldn’t even be visible. Not only that, there’s already a mosque that sits four blocks away from the site and if we can allow a mosque that sits four blocks away, then why can’t we allow a cultural center to be two blocks away? I suppose if logic must be thrown out the window, then it must be thrown out.
Secondly, the Cordoba Initiative should disclose where it is getting their funding from, but that should be the case for any group.
Just becauseit has not done so, does not mean that it should be denied from having that particular location. Could you imagine people demanding that a church or a synagogue be denied because its finances were not made public?
The outright double standard truly knows no bounds.
Thirdly, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has unfairly been run through the ringer as an Islamist who is hell bent on bringing down America. And might have a point.
Only Islamic radicals would assist the FBI in catching terrorists. Only a Muslim extremist would say at a memorial commemorating the life of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, “I am a Jew.” But he has a Muslim sounding name so he must want to blow something up, right?
Rauf has made some comments that could concern such people, such as when he said, “The Islamic method of waging war is not to kill innocent civilians. But it was Christians in World War II who bombed civilians in Dresden and Hiroshima, neither of which were targets.”
However, it would be ridiculous to call him unpatriotic based on subjective comments such as these. Since September 11th, he has consistently proven himself to be a bridge builder of all faiths and one who espouses American values.