A community of Muslims in New York wants to relocate their center to a location 10 blocks from their current center, which would place it just 2 block from ground zero of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. Some people are adamantly opposed to this, since it was a few Muslim extremists who launched the 9/11 attacks.
Now, to be fair, this proposed mosque location is not as bad as the Roman Emperor painting the Christian symbol of a cross on his army’s shields before entering Battle of the Milvian Bridge, a battle that destroyed his rivals once and for all. Nor is it nearly as bad as the Christian leaders who erected cathedrals in the lands they conquered during the crusades and other unholy holy wars. Nor is it as distasteful as colonists who would build chapels after slaughtering or subduing the native peoples.
Maybe it’s closer to the statue of Jesus weeping across the street from the Oklahoma City bombing, an atrocity committed by radical Christian, or to any of the Christian churches established in downtown Oklahoma City since 1995.
Although Timothy McVeigh, the OKC bomber, was a Christian, most American Christians denounce what he did. In fact, Christians were among those aiding victims of the bombing, and several Christian churches even held prayer vigils after the tragedy. They were very adamant that McVeigh’s actions did not represent the values and morals taught by their faith.
Of course, in this predominantly Christian nation, they had an easy task. Because they are in the religious minority, Muslims face a much more difficult task. While most people easily understand and accept that the violence perpetrated by people like Hitler and abortion doctor murderer Scott Roeder are not representative of all Christians, for some reason many struggle to extend the same understanding to those of other faiths.
Kris Kobach, the GOP candidate for Kansas Secretary of State, said that “if the Muslims involved decided to relocate their mosque, that would show Americans they are sensitive to the 9/11 victims and responding in a compassionate way.”
No, it wouldn’t. What it would show is that if bullies scream loudly enough they can get their way. Those who hate all Muslims are responsible for their own small mindedness, and a Muslim organization relenting to their pressure is not going to change their minds. What are required are a new attitude and a new way of thinking for those so full of anger and hatred that they cannot live at peace with thousands of their fellow Americans.
Near ground zero might, in fact, be the perfect location for a mosque and community center that promote peace, give back to the surrounding community, and represent an ancient religion much more faithfully than a few extremists.