Monday, August 16, 2010

United We Stand, Divided We Fall

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility…promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty.”

This is the America that the Constitution talks about. This is the America where everyone is free to worship what they want, when they want, and how they want. This is the America that promotes freedom of language, freedom of thought, and yes, freedom of religion. This is the America I live in. Recently, however, this America has been called into question.

There has been an increasing debate as to whether or not there should an Islamic mosque built near Ground Zero in New York. Many on both sides of the political aisle have issued concerns, yet some have seemed to forgotten the true meaning of what it is to be an American.

Some have argued that the building of a mosque would be insensitive to those who lost loved ones in the September 11 attacks. But as President Obama mentioned, “it is only insensitive if you regard Islam as the culprit as opposed to al Qaeda as the culprit. We were not attacked by all Muslims…There were Muslims killed there [Ground Zero]. There were Muslims who ran in as first responders to help.” We must never forget this.

For those that have criticized Obama for meddling in such an issue, let me remind you that the president, regardless of his party affiliation or political views, has a duty to protect the citizens he serves and defend the Constitution. The First Amendment guarantees the freedom of religion for everyone, including millions of American-Muslims. By preventing the construction of the mosque, we would not only be violating the Constitution, but would be equating the entire religion of Islam with violence and terrorism. This would make our nation more prone to violence and hatred at the home-front and abroad.

But would we be having this same conversation if a church or a synagogue were to be built? If the answer is no, then how can we progress as a society? How can we stand up for what we believe in and prove to the world that Americans are not prone to the same injustices we have fought against?

There is no better place for healing, reconciliation and understanding than Ground Zero. There is no better place to understand the basic principle of being an American:

United we stand, and divided we fall.

8 comments:

  1. It is important to respect the rights of muslims and it was a right move as a good person to support the building of a mosque. But there is difference these days between a good politician and a good person.

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  2. Really well written my friend. I totally agree with you and hope people can understand the distinction between being attacked by al-Qaeda and Muslims.

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  3. "But would we be having this same conversation if a church or a synagogue were to be built?"

    The answer to that is no. Of course we wouldn't be having the same conversation. In fact, there probably wouldn't be a conversation about it at all.

    What bothers me about this is not just the discrimination. It is the information that seems to be missing from the story.
    The building will be about two blocks from Ground Zero. Two blocks is more than a tenth of a mile. That’s two football fields. It will not be ON Ground Zero. It might not seem like much but two blocks is different than being “ON” Ground Zero. Yeah, it’s the same area and the building currently on the site was damaged in the 9/11 attack. However, it isn’t where the towers fell. I feel like a distinction needs to be made.

    On top of that, this isn't just a mosque. It is a community center. It will have 13 stories and a pool. In fact, because there will be space for musical performances and/or a restaurant it technically can't even be defined as a mosque since those things aren't allowed in a mosque.

    The project is called Cordoba House and yes, it will include a prayer space. But while it is being built by Muslims, it will be a meditation space for people of all faiths to come and pray.

    This project isn't a terrorism center or place for al Qaeda to meet. It is a place for Muslims to gather and a place for members of the community to come. Wouldn't you rather have your children in a safe place like a community center instead of roaming the streets of NYC?

    Like you said, Muslims didn’t cause 9/11. Muslims were killed, just like Christians, Jews, Atheists, etc. Muslims ran to the scene and saved lives, just like Christians, Jews, Atheists, etc. People from the Muslim faith were just as hurt as the Americans objecting to this community center. To group all Muslims as terrorists is the same as grouping all Germans as Nazis. It isn’t true and as Americans, a country created because Britain wouldn’t allow its people religious freedom, we should know better. What happened to that America?

    To me, this is a huge step backwards for Americans. What happened to freedom of speech and religion? We’re on the same page, Ashwani.

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  4. I read this article today and thought it was interesting.

    http://daryllang.com/blog/4421

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  5. Retired New York Fire Department Deputy Chief Jim Riches, who lost his firefighter son Jimmy on 9/11, said, "I'm not for all those buildings [at "hallowed ground"], but, you know, they didn't murder my son," said Riches. "Muslims murdered my son. That's why I'm offended at this being here."
    It is sad to hear that public workers who helped on 9/11 don't even know who else was helping right beside them. On that day Al-Qaeda attacked, and it happened to be that they were Muslims, but on that day Americans helped to save other Americans, and they too were Muslims. We need to stop the ignorance in the world and understand that the term "Americans" does not exclude Muslims.

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  6. Muslims have as much right as anyone else to build a mosque anywhere the wish. Not all Muslims attacked us on 9/11. There were Muslims that were killed in the attacks, and there were Muslims that helped with the relief effort, as well.

    It is also very disturbing to hear some Republicans, like Newt Gingrich, compare building a mosque at Ground Zero to Nazis putting a sign up at a Jewish temple. To compare the entire religion of Islam to Nazis is racist and should not be tolerated!

    And although the mosque will not be built at Ground Zero, but a little away from it, IT DOESNT MATTER. The mear fact that there is debate about this is un-American and racist.

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  7. This is a great example of what how our country should be:

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/mosque-controversy-skips-pentagon-muslims-gather-911-crash/story?id=11417673

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  8. I agree with everything that you said Ashwani! It is important that this mosque be built for a few fundamental reasons,which I do not understand why dissenters do not get it.

    1.Yes,by not allowing the mosque to be built,it is a clear cut violation of the basic right to practice religion freely,without interference.

    2.TIME magazine made an interesting point. It said that by not allowing the mosque to be built, the people who discriminate will only be reinforced. Discrimination will further be propagated, and negative stereotypes will continue to exist.This country is built upon a foundation of tolerance,faith,and understanding.If we do not understand another's faith, then we hurt peaceful coexistence. I think that the mosque can be used to teach others about the true peaceful nature of Islam. We should be able to live in a nation where there is no hypocrisy and where a temple,church,synagogue,and mosque can stand together and lead all to their path of spiritual enlightenment.Worship is one's own choice and no one has the right to say anything against that, because truthfully,all of us are seeking the same thing spiritually, and no one should stop anyone from doing that. Live and let live.

    3. Speaking against the mosque and its construction is a poor choice by politicians. We have dealt with racism in this country for years, and probably will for many more,so to get wholehearted support for the project will be hard.Even if they don't support it,they should not say anything against it.This is true not only because it would be a human rights violation, but also it may harm their legitimacy as it may alienate their Muslim constituents.

    All in all, the mosque should be built, prejudices should be put aside, and faith should coexist. Each faith is beautiful because it reminds of the existence of a higher being. We all look at it in our own way, and everyone should understand that and not make it personal.The mosque should be built to enlighten not only Muslims, but also to teach others about the truth about Islam. People must know that there is a difference between terrorists and Muslims. People should not believe the actions of a select few extremists who defile their religion, and make merry when others die, in a bat infested cave, with a flaming fire.

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Do You Agree or Disagree? Why? Please leave comments.