Time's cover this week asked a very good question - IS AMERICA ISLAMOPHOBIC?
That's a really good question.
I would have to answer with a very loud - YES.
I hate to even open up this can of worms on my blog. I try to not taint my "cyber pages" with hate rhetoric or taking it to such a controversial level that it would turn any of my readers off. But here's the thing - I am living with this and I need to share with you MY point of view.
Facts: I am a Christian. The oldest kind - 2,000 years to be exact - I am Roman Catholic. My husband is a Sunni Muslim from Egypt.
By marrying this man, I have inherited a hardship most Americans can only imagine... I am living in the middle of a holy war - a personal jihad - but with the thoughts of friends and co-workers I come in contact with. Here's the clincher - I am on the side of a better, safer America, but I will defend any "religious group" and their rights to live in peace.
It started quite innocently when I got married. Many people said, "So - what is HIS religion?" I would answer plainly, "He's a muslim."
Followed by.. "So, he does not live in America? How do you know he is not a terrorist?"
Yep.. that's where it all began.
Then during the Presidential election, I got to see people tear Barack Obama apart and claim that he is a muslim. My first reaction was, So WHAT? Is there a rule against believing something other than Christianity and running the country? But to answer the question, no - no he is not a muslim.
Then it was a matter of building a community center (not mosque) a few blocks away from Ground Zero. I would defend their zoning and 1st amendment rights.. then turn to some local muslims I know and ask, "Why isn't anyone standing up and saying anything? Apologizing?" Then one friend turned to me and said, "Why should I apologize for what someone else did - something I would never do, nor does my religion condone?"
Look - I don't know why GOD put me in this position to be married to such a devout muslim. Nor do I know why I was born with a mind that makes me want to protect human rights for freedoms that we, as Americans, take for granted. Yes, I do believe the basic doctrines of Christianity. But I also know that God gave us free will - and to force others to be just like you - is not what God had in mind.
I spend a large majority of time trying to sort through the muck of these religious and political debates. A clear "hate" line is forming, and it is such a sad sight to see. I fear for the future. I am going to share with you some of the comments I have received on various items on Facebook (where all good passive-aggressive debates begin. LOL)
I want you to read them with an open mind. Put yourself in my place for just a minute. Then tell me how you would react. Just so you know - this is the type of crap I have to deal with on a daily basis. Do I sit back and smile and listen to people say things like this? Or do I challenge them or defend?
Let's start with this one:
It all began with one of my friends stating he was not surprised that Obama said it is perfectly legal to build the community center. Now.. get ready for a long read - if that is not what you are in the mood for - close this post now!
At the end - I would like to know what your thoughts are on how many Americans are treating an entire religious group..
Now... go.... :
John Palmer haha! shocker!! he's on the wrong side of another issue...who would have thought?
August 13 at 10:42pm · Nicole Thurston Abdou :-( Are you saying muslims should not have the right to choose a place to worship freely? They have every right according to the constitution to own land and worship in any form they choose. Should all muslims be condemned for a fringe gro...up? I don't believe he said anything that was inappropriate. He was just stating the laws of the land. Would it be better if it were a church? Because Trinity Church is just around the corner from Ground Zero? Should it instead be a Jewish Temple? I think by showing acceptance, we heal. Nor do I think innocent muslims have to apologize for a group of criminals. See More
August 13 at 10:48pm · · John Palmer Nicole, are you serious? Or is this a "devil's advocate" response?
August 13 at 11:33pm · Chad Gibbs Nichole - you know that I believe in freedom of religion, for all religions. Americans are always expected to be "sensitive" to others, hence the rise of this overbearing emphasis on political correctness. Why doesn't that apply to ALL Am...ericans? It seems to only apply to Americans who aren't in a minority. I know there are good Muslims who mean no harm to anyone, but this is so obviously a slap in the face of most Americans, and certainly "insensitive" to those who lost friends and family on 9/11. Why can't this Muslim group be a little more "sensitive" and find a more suitable place for this mosque? There are certainly areas that are less expensive, have better parking and easier access than right there at the site of the worst attack on our country - an attack was orchestrated and performed by Muslims. That is just a fact. I know you're married to a Muslim and I know that he didn't fly an airplane into any buildings, but that doesn't mean that the ones that did can rub our noses in it. Muslims historically build mosques and monuments at the site of great victories. This is a continuation of that practice.See More
August 13 at 11:51pm · LikeUnlike · 1 person
Janet Zarecor As someone who lives in and New York and breathes it, lives it and begs for it everyday, there is much more to this than can ever be discussed or sorted out here. It's not like Obama is the "bad guy". Because you have suddenly been made a...ware of it, he had to comment on it. What you have been seen five seconds of has been discussed and dissected and put back together and dissected again on our local news every morning for a very long time. The decision was made WITHIN NEW YORK CITY before he weighed in. So if you are looking for someone to blame, start looking somewhere else. As for New Yorkers opinions, well frankly you would not be surprised where their hearts are but you would be about the actual vote based on the laws of our country and the history of this city.
August 14 at 12:22am · LikeUnlike · 1 person
Nicole Thurston Abdou John Palmer - I am very serious. Chad - I don't expect you to agree or even understand where I am coming from. I just wanted to state the facts. Janet, well stated.
August 14 at 12:29am · · Chad Gibbs Would you support the KKK building some sort of assemly hall or monument in Selma, AL? It would be their right to do it. Just sayin... But for the record, I wouldn't be in favor of that either.
August 14 at 12:32am viaChad Gibbs Janet - I don't quite follow some of what you said... I am not "just aware" of this story. I've followed it for weeks and weeks.
August 14 at 12:33am NicoleThurston Abdou Islam is a religion and not a hate group.
August 14 at 12:34am · · Janet Zarecor Its been going on for almost a year if not longer.
August 14 at 12:35am · Nicole Thurston Abdou Are you seriously comparing Islam to the KKK?
August 14 at 12:35am · Chad Gibbs I didn't compare anything to anything. You know what I meant. And all of Islam is not a peaceful religion. There IS a militant, extremist arm of Islam and to ignore that fact is naïve. My only real point is that there are plenty of places (better places) to build this mosque. Just for giggles, I wonder what would happen if a baptist church were built next door to this mosque? Who would exist there peacefully? Good night ladies. I love both of yous. Seriously.
August 14 at 12:43amPalmer This is not a complicated issue. Nicole, as a Muslim wife, certainly you understand the intention of any project titled "Cordoba". That name was not chosen by mistake. The intention of this mosque is to celebrate the conquest of southern Ma...nhattan by Islamists and Sharia. Constitutionality has nothing to do with this issue. The Japanese would not be allowed to build a Buddhist Temple and Cultural Center in the middle of Pearl Harbor. They would be denied access based on local zoning laws. This mosque should be denied on the same basis.See More
August 14 at 8:27am · Nicole Thurston Abdou John I am married to a Muslim, I am catholic - thanks for sharing your perspective. I try to weed through some items that may be based on "anger" of a religion versus facts. No - I do not know the zoning laws of the area, however, if we wer...e basing this conversation on if it is right or wrong for Obama to support the Muslims in building a community center, then rightfully so and I don't see how what he is supporting is wrong. Honestly. If there are truly zoning issues - then I would agree. But apparently things are passing, and whatever is going on in NYC is left up to the people of that area. I think we all have to aware of whether our reactions are due to hate/fear/anger/sadness or out of facts. Here's the clincher, I may be married to a muslim, but I am a strong catholic. I have traveled and a majority of my friends are from other countries. I have hosted exchange students from every religious background. (Even an Iraqi.) I just think we need to be careful with our words and the motives behind it - that's all.See More
August 14 at 9:13am ·John Palmer Nicole, you being married to a Muslim has nothing to do with the issue...except that I thought you would understand "Cordoba"! Apparently I was wrong. Cordoba was the capital of the Islamic Caliphate in Spain during the Middle Ages. It is a... symbol to Muslims of the advance of the Caliphate into the Western world. Islamists believe that any land that once belonged to Muslims is part of the Caliphate and must be reconquered. That is why the mosque at Ground Zero was originally named Cordoba. The people behind this mosque are Islamists attempting to establish a beachhead for the Caliphate in America.See More
August 14 at 11:02am · Nicole Thurston Abdou Please do not insult my intelligence. I was referring to you calling me a muslim wife. Clearly you do not know me, and I will respectfully remove myself from this conversation. I do know what Cordoba was and was choosing not to address that. وسأواصل للصلاة من اجل لكم لتفقد جهلك.
August 14 at 11:05am · John Palmer Those of us who oppose the mosque do not do so out of hatred or fear. Those of you who support the mosque shouldn't do so out of ignorance. I don't care how much you've traveled or that you have an Iraqi friend. You obviously don't understand the issues in this case. I don't need to defend myself by listing all the countries I've visited or how many Iraqi friends I have. You should be able to clearly articulate your point in defending an Islamist takeover of Ground Zero.
August 14 at 11:05am · John Palmer If you know what Cordoba is, then you understand clearly what the building of this mosque means, and you're defending it anyway...by choosing not to address the salient points! That makes your defense of Islamist intentions even worse!
August 14 at 11:13am · Brad Gibbs I like cheese. It's good on so many things.
August 14 at 11:35am ·
Cherie Smith Carter LOL, Brad... you are too funny!!
August 14 at 11:48am · Michael Goddard Here's my position on the Mosque: People who are willing to kill people for making a cartoon of Mohamed, because they were 'offended', should do the right thing and put the Mosque somewhere else. Yes, they have the 'right' to put it there..., but it's not the 'right' thing to do. Where are all the people that think the Constitution provides us the 'right not-to-be-offended' on this, when there will be millions of people 'offended' by them building a Mosque next to where Muslims killed thousands of people?See More
August 14 at 1:13pm · Michael Goddard btw...who cares what Obama thinks? I care more about what my dog thinks than him.
August 14 at 1:14pm · Jim Burton Proud of Obama...yadda, yadda. Great example of tolerance...yadda, yadda. Can't say things better than Nicole did. Go get 'em sister. I'm too tired to type anything eloquent this morning. I'll get your back after I've had (more) coffee.
August 15 at 10:26am · Chad Gibbs Hi Jim! Good to see ya. Tolerance of what exactly? Why is it considered "tolerance" to support a mosque being built AT ground zero and "intolerance" to support a mosque being built a couple of blocks down from ground zero? Either way, N...YC muslims have a place to worship. Move down the block and everyone is happy, assuming the only desire in building the mosque is to have a place to worship. Is there some sort of significance in this exact location for those building the mosque? If so, I wonder what that significance is...? Could it possibly be a "flag in the ground" statement? Nah, it couldn't be. I mean, Obama has completely healed our relationships with Islamic Republics, so that COULDN'T be it... :)See More
August 15 at 11:17am via Gibbs You know what, I think I'll chime in (aren't you all glad?). I'm really more upset with the city leaders who haven't rebuilt the towers. I think the Muslims should build their mosque right there and then watch as we rebuild the towers and show them that they didn't defeat us. Let's get the NYC leaders off their lazy butts and rebuild the towers exactly as they were on 9/10/01.
August 15 at 11:27am · LikeUnlike · 1 person
Brad Gibbs And I'm with my bro on the use of the word "tolerance." It's a condescending word libs use to paint us in a certain light. Why aren't you guys "tolerant" of our views?? Why weren't you guys "tolerant" of Bush's policies?? I've met many a lib who were only tolerant to those who agree with them.
August 15 at 11:31am ·Jim Burton I do not use the word tolerance with condescension. I'm aware that some do use it that way, but nearly everything can be a weapon these days in public discourse. I make an effort to extend my idea of tolerance to all people. Tolerance doe...s not, however extend to "views" or "policies". It is perfectly natural to disagree with views or policies as wrongheaded, and still be tolerant of the people who espouse these views or policies. For instance, I do not agree with radical Islam's policies regarding the west, but I have to separate "radical" from "Islam". I am also guilty of intolerant and bigoted thoughts...I have to admit that I look a second time at someone wearing a headscarf boarding my plane...that's just human nature. Where we diverge from bare human nature is the rational quelling of those fears and the actions that are brought forth from this rationality.
I think the idea of the Mosque being a "flag in the ground" statement is rushing to judgment unnecessarily at best and at worst, fear-mongering. Remember, it wasn't Islam that brought about 9/11, but radical activists that happened to be Muslim and use their beliefs to justify their actions. Would we object to a church being built a block from the Oklahoma Trade Center because McViegh was Christian and used Christianity as a pillar of the belief system that brought him to bomb that building? It happens with all religions.
Further, to borrow a tenant of Christianity..."Turn the other cheek"...wouldn't this be an example of turning the other cheek? Doesn't that phrase have, at its heart, the idea that someone in a struggle has to be the one to relent and forgive? Wouldn't the open arms acceptance of this Mosque say something powerful to the Islamic people? Obama has taken a huge and brave risk in standing up for this Mosque politically. From the far right conspiracy theorists who believe he is actually a secret Muslim, to the moderate right who would charge that he's soft on national security, he has set himself up for political attack to, I believe, reach out for tolerance. One hopes that this tolerance is noticed and reciprocated. It was an incredibly brave move...this coming from a far left Liberal who is getting down on Obama lately for his lax positions on some of my core concerns...DADT, Gay Marriage, ect.
August 15 at 12:57pm · LikeUnlike · 1 person
Chad Gibbs Jim - would you agree that it would really go a long way for the peaceful followers of Islam to make a strong statement against the militant and extremist arm of the religion? I hear them say that, "Islam is a religion of peace", but I nev...er hear them continue with, "... and we denounce those who kill innocent people in the name of Islam." I will say it now, loud and clear, that I DENOUNCE Timothy McViegh and any other supposed Christian that would kill innocent people anywhere in the world. I will not stand for anyone to use the name of my religion to cause harm to others. See More
August 15 at 1:31pm · Angie Grant i wonder what the indians thought about the settlers first church?
August 15 at 2:06pm · Jim Burton I would agree about that, Chad. But I've heard countless examples of prominent Clerics and Imams denouncing the violent sects of their religion in the news. I'm sure that a simple internet search for this would yield many results. But to... put it more anecdotally, as you did, I have three friends, all Muslim, Anila, Aqksa, and Nur, Anila and Aqksa being from Pakistan, Nur being from Turkey, who all denounce violence in Islam. I had two students just this semester, Rula from Dubai (who also wore a headscarf) and Neda from Palestine who also were eager to engage in discussions of tolerance and understanding with me and the rest of the class. But I feel this is neither here nor there. Tolerance sometimes starts with one party. We shouldn't be tolerant just because someone else is or isn't...we should just be tolerant. I want to stress that this isn't only a moral issue, it's a practical one. Someone has to break the chain. Why not us?See More
August 15 at 2:20pm · Chad Gibbs Angie - I'm sure the Indians weren't very "tolerant" of those first Christian churches and the Indians were truly wronged in many ways as Europeans settled North America. 1. That's in the past and there's nothing we can do to change it no...w. The issue with the mosque is in the present and there's plenty that we can do to make this right. Two wrongs don't make a right. 2. Americans have, on many occasions, acknowledged that Indians weren't treated properly and have also apologized on many occasions.
Now, come back over and hang out. I need some Angie-time!See More
August 15 at 7:17pm · Jim Burton Okay, all. I have to retract something. I just learned that Timothy McVeigh was not a Christian and was not acting out of the tenants of Christianity when plotting the OKC bombing. I used this as a hypothetical in an earlier statement, a...nd only feel it right to retract that simile.
That is all. Nothing else to see here. See More
August 17 at 9:31am · Chad Gibbs Thanks for the clarification, Jim. I still denounce Timothy McVeigh on the basis of anything I have in common with him. I denounce him as a male, as a white person, as a fellow human being... etc. I was just wondering, if the mosque is b...uilt, will the Mulsims there be tolerant if someone opens a bbq joint across the street? Or a strip club? Or even a Christian Church? Or will it be intolerance on the behalf of the other party to do that? Is tolerance a two-way street or a one-way street? How do we determine, when two parties disagree, which is being tolerant and which isn't? I feel that we are already much more tolerant than they are. I mean, how many Christian Churches exist peacefully in Iran? I would bet that we already have more mosques in NYC than there are Christian Churches in the entire middle east. So, just because we don't prefer a mosque at ground zero, are we really being that grossly intolerant??See More
August 17 at 10:45am · Brad Gibbs LOL @ "Nothing else to see here." I always thought that was the case with the OKC bombing too, Jim, so don't feel bad! I guess the left-wing liberal media fooled us all, huh?? LOL
August 17 at 10:53am · Brad Gibbs I like the idea of a Southern BBQ joint right across the street! I have always wanted my own business, I love BBQ, I love political confrontations... What do you think Chad? Should we relocate to NYC and open "Pork-fil-a" right across the street? Anybody else have any good name ideas for our new BBQ restaurant??
August 17 at 11:12am · LikeUnlike