As a Muslim who enjoys religious freedom in this country, as an African American who has experienced firsthand racism, and as an American who truly believes in the principles of freedom that this country claims to support, it has been sickening to read all of these reports about the mosque that New York Muslims want to build 2 blocks away from “ground zero”, and how 70% of Americans allegedly oppose it.
First of all, I will use the term “racism” in my comments, only because there is really no good term to describe someone who has malicious feelings or even evil intentions against someone of another religion. ”Religist” simply isn’t a word.
The funny thing about racism is that it can hide in plain sight for years, and even the person who harbors it is unaware of its presence. We saw this when Obama ran for office, when people threatened him and at times even went so far as to question his citizenship. We saw it after 9/11, when anyone who even looked like he or she might be Arab was suddenly a potential terrorist in the eyes of many angry Americans. And if you spend enough time living in brown skin of any shade, you experience it routinely in the work place, with law enforcement, at stores, and elsewhere. Racism is far from dead. In fact, in some ways, it has increased, while only becoming more discreet.
Racism against Muslims, for lack of a better term, is apparently at an all-time high. Not only were Muslims responsible for 9/11, after all, but they are also the “enemy” of what is becoming the next Vietnam in Afghanistan, with no end to the war in sight. Just as Japanese were the “enemy” in WWII, with Japanese Americans being shunned and even sent off to concentration camps, so too have Muslims become the “other” suspiciously watched in America.
The difference, much to the chagrin of those racist Americans, is that Islam is much more prevalent in this country and Muslims are much more numerous. We have Muslims in Congress, and your doctor, police officer, judge, or even your nanny may be Muslim, and you may not even know it. There are generations of Muslims with names like mine, with no hint of Arab, Pakistani, or other middle-eastern/south asian blood. So, yes, even your librarian may be Muslim.
Does that mean you should freak out now because we’re “invading” America? No, it’s too late for panic anyway, but there’s nothing to be afraid of, people. Islam in America is not new. Muslims came over with Columbus (and even BEFORE Columbus). In fact, according to many reports, Columbus would not have even made the journey, if it were not for the sea navigation tools of Muslims.
Since that time, slaves and former slaves, farmers, factory workers, and all types of Muslim Americans, from sea to shining sea, have lived peacefully in this country. And yes, on September 11, 2001, there were Muslims who died as a direct result from those attacks. There was at least one Muslim prayer room in the World Trade Center itself!
Therefore, people like Mike Lupica of the NY Daily News who ramble off nonsense about “sensitivity to 9/11 victims” are simply finding ways to openly express their racism, without directly mentioning it. I mean, really, Mr. Lupica, what “sensitivity” is it that these victims, and apparently you also, have? Are they “sensitive” to having to look at brown people? Are they “sensitive” to the smell of ethnic food? Are they “sensitive” to seeing people dressed differently? What exactly is the “sensitivity”?
He did not answer it in his article, despite taking up two pages. Instead he danced around the issue, never quite mentioning what exactly it was that offends people so much. What about the mosque is so wrong? Don’t the families of Muslim victims of 9/11 also have “sensitivity”? Don’t they have the right to also honor their loved ones? Or is that right only reserved for white Christian Americans?
These are not rhetorical questions. I challenge anyone who opposes the building of the mosque to answer them. Please tell me you actually have some legitimate reason for opposing the mosque, other than outright racism, and I may very well change my opinion. I will say this. Mike Lupica is right. It’s not about “freedom of religion” at all. It’s about racism, plain and simple. They hate us, and they want us gone.