It's sad to see a thriving community that could fit nicely into American society be ravaged by the outlandish, cowardly perceptions of fearmongerers.
Enter Islamic Americans.
Muslims have been identified as a fringe religious group ever since the day that Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali, and stood up against the Vietnam War. Ironically, a religion once associated with a peace movement has now been tarred with the brush of ultraviolent.
Nevermind that every religion (with the possible exception of Buddhism/Hindu) could be tarred with that brush at any moment in history. Nevermind that the United States committed what amounts to genocide in Iraq of Muslims, detracting powerfully from the good works done in the oppression of Muslims in Bosnia. Nevermind that Americans...Christian, Jew, atheist...stand in opposition to the opening of a goddamned social hall in lower Manhattan, detracting mightily from the message of freedom we pretend to promote.
No, it is Islam that is in the wrong, at every turn.
No one is denying that some branches of Islam, like the Wahhabists, are radical, and behave radically. And not much differently that radical Christianity, who teaches that the Pope is the AntiChrist and will at Armageddon be exposed as the instrument of Satan. Or much differently from even moderate Christianity which until not too long ago taught that Jews were held responsible for the death of Jesus and condoned the elimination of Semites.
We forget ourselves in protesting the Cordoba Center. And you'll note that I'm not even looking at past grudges. The Crusades were centuries ago. We can assume that's water under the bridge, even if the very word raises hackles.
I'm looking at current affairs. I'm looking at the state of Israel which has all but turned a blind eye on Jews establishing settlements on the West Bank, despite the acknowledgement that they shouldn't be there, with all the baggage that implies. I'm talking about Muslims launching missiles from the Gaza into Israel, too, lest you think I'm defending Islam.
I'm looking, in other words, objectively.
It's weird. Each generation of America has its bugbear, its "not in my backyard" ethnic group that is ridiculed, harassed, even assaulted, all in the name of cultural purity. It's not just the blacks of the 50s and 60s. It's the Irish. The Italians. The Jews. The Germans. The Japanese. And that anyone with any of these bloods flowing in their veins stands against the assimilation of Muslims into American culture speaks poorly of their own heritage, much less their cowardice.
I say "cowardice," because there is not one single logical argument to be made against inclusion, from the building of the Cordoba Center to the right of a Muslim to earn a living as a cabdriver without fear of reprisal. When logic breaks down, when you cannot prove a case from facts, then all you are left with is abject fear.
This is America. We are stronger than that. We are better than that. I watched those buildings there fall. I'm not afraid of the cultural center, anymore than I'm afraid of the next cabdriver I talk to, the next halal vendor, or my friends like Richie and Yasamin. Why should I be afraid? American history tells me that we change other cultures more than they change us, and that the changes they bring are almost all good.
Indeed, the worst thing we can do to a minority in this country is isolate and outcast them. Just look at the history of the Native American population for an object lesson in what happens when we lord it over a people.
This Saturday, September 11, there is supposed to be a huge rally down at the cultural center site. Pamela Gellar, the shrieking harpy of hate, has decided to take what should be a sacred day, if she considers Ground Zero sacred ground, and defile it with anger, and hate.
She should remember from where she comes.