The debate over whether or not the Cordoba House Project should be allowed to build their community center two blocks from Ground Zero, which would include a Mosque, gym, performance art center, swimming pool as well as other public areas is a debate which makes my heart ache for both parties involved. As an American woman who woke up the morning of 11 September 2001 and turned on the television just in time to watch the second passenger jet smash into the second World Trade Center Tower, I understand completely the horror in which my fellow country men & woman felt. I continued the day in shock and fear of what could happen next.
Everything stopped, everyone glued to television and radio in the workplace and at schools. I went to my University that day and had to hear students and professors calling frantically to find out where their loved ones were in NYC or if their family and friends that had flights that morning were on one of the fatal planes that were used as makeshift bombs. It was uncomfortable, unstable and the air was filled with tension and fear.
It has been nearly ten years now. Since that horrific day, we have all watched as the U.S. took occupation in Afghanistan in an effort to disband the Teliban. I then watched in dismay as we falsely associated Iraq with the September 11th attacks and used it as a means to gain control over their oil reserves and fill the pockets of large corporations that form the military industrial complex. Yes, I know, Suddam Hussein was a tyrant at best and he had many human rights violations but so does Kim Jong Il and many other dictators around the world. It is undeniable the War on Iraq had more to do with financial gain than it did with protecting the American people or the World at large.
This leads me to what I believe is a smear campaign against Islam and persons of Arab descent. It is now commonplace and generally acceptable to make jokes about Muslims and Arabs being associated with bombs and terrorism. Yes, they do have suicide bombers that claim to be inflicting violence in the name of Allah, but like any other religion or culture there are extremists. Jokes and skits are made regularly on popular movies and television series such as South Park or Family Guy. There are news broadcasts of extremists and their scary behaviour shown regularly but the good things that Muslims do are forgotten and not publicized. While I have found myself chuckling at some of these jokes, it doesn’t take away from the fact that this is inappropriate stereotyping and it has a direct affect on the quality of life for Muslims and Arabs around the world.
I am going to make an assumption and say that the majority of Muslims are not involved nor do they promote terrorism. It is a small, isolated population of extremists that are ready to suicide bomb or promote the killing of innocent westerners. Therefore, I find racial profiling and the acceptance of banter regarding Muslims and terrorism to be extremely disrespectful, if not racist.
By letting emotions and not rationalization control our decision to allow a Muslim Community Center and Mosque near the World Trade Center site we are further promoting the idea that Islam is synonymous with terrorism. I believe that it also puts power in the hands of the extremists by inciting anger and creating divide and isolation of the Muslim American population. By fighting the Muslim Community Center, we are encouraging prejudice against an entire population in the name of a few disgusting individuals that promote terrorism.
Strength is in numbers and by uniting with the Muslim Community and recognizing that the majority of them are genuinely good people with similar values and morals; we take something ugly and turn it into something beautiful as well as something to be proud of. At some point, everyone needs to realize that this divide is only going to further promote terrorism by inciting anger and alienation. Retaliation, prejudice and anger will only further promote this cycle of evil.
“An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind”