Think back to last year. Do you recall the following controversy at all?
Conservative activists were so angry that the United States wasn’t taking cues on religious tolerance from the Taliban. To them, erecting a cultural center (which Osama bin Laden would have wanted destroyed) no where near ground zero was somehow offensive. Their main opposition was that a Muslim prayer area was located on one of the many floors (despite being headed by an Imam known for his opposition to radical, Muslim terrorism). Anyway, how’s the “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy doing these days? Despite virtually no media attention, it opened over a week ago:
There was no sign of protest at the Park51 community center last night. It opened its doors to the public in lower Manhattan Wednesday, without the opposition that had surrounded the project for a year. […] The center was crowded for most of the evening — with visitors who said they came to see the new photography exhibition and others who were interested in the place itself. Brooklyn’s Jean Stevens said she’s not surprised the event went off without a hitch. “It seems like there’s not much of huge response to this reception or to the mosque anymore, and so I wonder whether if people have forgotten it now that its not such a hot topic.”
What happened, conservatives? Where are the hundreds of angry teabaggers holding offensive and inaccurate signs? Where are the Hitler comparisons?
Of course, this is just another fake controversy created by right-wingers in an attempt to use oppression to motivate their base. In fact, this type of faux-outrage is becoming quite a trend:
[…] the congregants of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro in Murfreesboro, Tennessee had been working for more than a year to gain approval for an expansion of the mosque and the building of an Islamic Center. While making their case for an expansion, these peaceful Muslims faced a vicious campaign of hate from far-right political activists in the state, which included Islamophobic accusations that they were trying to establish Sharia law in Tennessee, comments by the state’s lieutenant governor that Islam was a “cult,” and an arson attack.
Yet the mosque’s attendees overcame these trials, and the far-right political activists failed to convince Tennesseans, among whom only 28 percent objected to the expansion, according to polling conducted last October. Yesterday, the Murfreesboro Islamic Center finally broke ground on its mosque expansion, to the cheers of hundreds who came to celebrate, and without any controversy or threats.
When it comes down to it, having a mosque in a town or city provides the same benefits as having any type of institutionalized religious building, the vast majority of which are not radicalized. For the record, I’m an aganostic-nontheist atheist with an anti-religion streak, so I am no spiritual ally of theirs – but I am an ally of the facts. And, the evidence shows at Muslims in America are simply not radicalized. Polling from Gallup showed that American Muslims are, in fact, more peaceful than most other religious groups! Muslims, like all people, may commit atrocities, but that is not basis to judge an entire group of people. Take, for example, the recent arrest of a potential domestic terrorist from Massachusetts:
The Ashland man who allegedly plotted to fly explosive-laden, remote-controlled airplanes into federal buildings in Washington, D.C., was asked to leave a Roxbury mosque last year because of his radical Islamic views and suspected support of Al Qaeda, a mosque official said yesterday.
Or, rather than actually listening to pesky things such as facts, you could shut off your brain and just turn on Fox:
It’s really your choice.