It’s Not About Religion

Jerry Coffee
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Wednesday - September 01, 2010
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Faiza Ali, a supporter of the NYC mosque, speaks at a rally Aug. 25

Imagine, if you can, that your son or daughter, mom or dad, was killed in the crushing rush of steel and fire of crumbling Trade Center Towers on Sept. 11, 2001. Or imagine further that you are the mother or father of a son or daughter who, driven by fear and desperation, flung themselves from a window ledge to the pavement a hundred stories below.

Imagine that you are standing at the railing of the observation platform overlooking the yawning concrete canyon which used to anchor those majestic towers. You come here often, at early morning or sometimes sunset, to think about your loved one, to feel closer, to savor memories. You try to put out of your mind their last few terrifying seconds of cognitive life. You try not to think of the Muslim terrorists who flew those winged bombs containing literally tons of flammable jet fuel into each tower as they chanted “Allah Akbar! Allah Akbar!”

But wait! Suddenly your reverie is interrupted by the dissonant wail of a Muslim call to prayer drifting on the undulating breeze from a nearby mosque, a sound called by our president, “One of the prettiest sounds on earth at sunset!”

But not for you. And probably not for the thousands of surviving family members who share your mourning.

And yet, concerning the building of a mosque so close to “ground zero” our president says; “This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable! ... The country’s founding principles demand no less”

At a recent White House dinner hosting many notable Muslims in the community and held in the State Dining Room to honor the start of Muslim fasting period Ramadan, Obama’s remarks went on at length about Americas tradition and constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion, including; “As a citizen and as the president I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country”

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “Obama’s words are a clarion call for the defense of freedom of religion.”

Freedom of religion? This is the mother of all stinky red herrings! This controversy is not about freedom of religion. There are dozens of mosques in New York City. No ethnic or religious group enjoys America’s freedom of religion, or for that matter, more patient tolerance - given the circumstances - than Muslims. That’s one of the reasons they choose to live here: to celebrate the best parts of their religion while ignoring the worst parts

“OK, Coffee,” you may say, “if it’s not about freedom of religion, what is it about?”

It is about propriety - that which is proper and appropriate. It is about empathy and respect for the families and the victims of that Trade Towers tragedy. It is about not giving encouragement to our enemy who would interpret a mosque near ground zero as a symbolic victory.

After all, like it or not, we are at war. And it is about standing united, shoulder to shoulder for what is right. This has nothing to do with America’s so called “Islamophobia,” as a recent Time magazine cover headline (which went worldwide) suggested. It is not a manifestation of our “intolerance,” as some pro-mosquers would have us believe. Polls show that 70 percent of Americans “get” this. Too bad our president is among the other 30 percent who don’t.

No matter where Obama was born, where he was educated, where he has worshiped or what he says, he is not “of” America.

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