Metro Weekly

American Mosque

Attacking an Islamic center at Ground Zero is an attack on American values

Islam is no friend of mine. Actually, no religion is really a friend of mine. I don’t claim any. And I could possibly even consider Islam my enemy, looking collectively at Islamic nations’ laws against gay people.

So why, when watching the debate about putting a mosque across the street from Ground Zero in Manhattan, am I not bothered? It’s not as though I don’t consider that sacred ground. I think it’s paramount to America’s psyche that this gaping wound is once again the site of a tower that serves to remind us of our national will.

I am not bothered because I’m an American and I believe that this country’s unique and unequaled position is thanks to its diversity and its progressive Constitution.

Put another way, what does bother me in this debate is a position such as Newt Gingrich’s. He writes: ”There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. The time for double standards that allow Islamists to behave aggressively toward us while they demand our weakness and submission is over.”

Come again? How much more anti-American could you be, Mr. Former Speaker? Not much.

There is a double standard, and America comes out far ahead of Saudi Arabia. And that’s one ”ahead” the Saudis won’t be able to chop off. That the Saudis live under an oppressive, religious monarchy is of no concern to me. Were it not for the oil, the country would be entirely irrelevant.

Gingrich’s second un-American failing is to think that Muslims are some single entity – particularly American Muslims. We Americans celebrate both freedom of religion and individual liberty. That’s why we have all sorts of Muslim Americans – even gay ones! Even I with my nearly atheistic values can’t paint all Muslims – nor all Christians or Jews – with one broad stroke and call it a day. Fred Phelps and Sylvia Rhue may both be Christians, but that’s about it for similarities. There are even a variety of Gingriches – Candace told me so.

Sarah Palin has tweeted about the mosque, too. Presumably this is because she has more claim to Ground Zero than the Muslims who would be using the mosque. Am I just naive to think the mosque would attract more Tri-State area Americans than the number of Alaskans who have been to Ground Zero?

”Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts,” she passionately tweets. ”Pls reject it in interest of healing”

What the hell do ”peace-seeking Muslims” have to do with 9/11? Were all the 9/11 terrorists Muslim? You betcha yer burqa they were! So what? They were most certainly not ”peace-seeking.” Rather, they were unstable fanatics who quite likely would’ve benefitted greatly from a Zoloft prescription. Should we make desperate pleas for therapists not to open practices near Ground Zero, as they’ll likely attract just the sort of unstable, anti-social, fanatics who carried out the attacks?

At the very least, these arguments against the mosque are very telling. What they say to me is that the people making them don’t understand what makes America so wonderful. It also tells me they can see the forest, but not the trees. I don’t imagine Palin would want me to sum her up as a beauty queen and leave it at that. Or Gingrich as an adulterer, no more no less. But someone who can look at the billion-some Muslims in the world and cast them all as ”creepy other,” would likely have no problem doing the same with LGBT people.

Because I do not share Gingrich’s desire to emulate Saudi Arabia, and because unlike Palin, I think a this mosque will actually aid America’s healing, I welcome the mosque to Ground Zero. And because this is America, I’ll cross my fingers that an LGBT community center moves in next door.

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Follow Will O'Bryan on Twitter @wobryan.

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