I'm not sure if this means that I'm getting more cynical, or perhaps less tolerant, or as my mother would probably point out, that I'm letting my brain get the best of my manners.
As everyone on the planet has heard by now, a group in New York wants to build an Islamic community center in lower Manhattan, near the former site of the World Trade Center. Folks have their panties firmly knotted over this issue, either vehemently for it or vehemently against it, and have extended the debate into utterly ridiculous conjecture over whether or not our President has Muslim leanings that we all should be concerned about.
To which I say, "Really? Really??? So nobody has a problem with the fact that we have a dildo shop, a couple adult book stores, a few nudie bars, three gambling salons, 17 salons that will provide a bikini wax on demand, and about three dozen pizza shops within two blocks of 'ground zero'. Oh, and about a dozen churches of various denominations, (including Catholic, which was the flavor of Christianity practiced by Timothy McVeigh). But if we put in a worship and community center for Muslims, suddenly, we're defiling the area??? REALLY??"
I made a comment elsewhere on the web today, that Al Qaeda is to Islam as the KKK is the Christianity. Hate is ugly, no matter who's spewing it. That includes the hate that we are hearing from those who so violently oppose this community center. There are those who would paint all Muslims as bad, because there were a few who chose to commit a truly heinous crime. But by the same token, the KKK purports to be a Christian organization, and those who do things like bomb women's clinics also purport to do so because of their Christian views. WE don't paint all Christians as terrorists. We don't ban Catholic churches within two blocks of the former federal building in Oklahoma City. Why not? Because we purport to be a "Christian" nation, and we "know" that not all Christians are terrorists. And never mind that terrorist groups are motivated by politics, money, and hate, none of which has very much to do with religion.
So I will suggest to all those who feel that a mosque within sight of the World Trade Center attacks is an affront to the dignity of the area: Let's follow our Christian guidance and ask ourselves,
What Would Jesus Do?
Do you think Jesus would march around with a poorly-spelled sign on His back? Or perhaps show up on Fox News and say that He is insulted that a group of people want to worship His father within sight of a building that was destroyed by people who have doubts that He was really the Messiah?
Here's a news flash: I think that the Muslim community feels as much pain about 9/11 as anyone else does; If one of your neighbors, or friends, or distant relatives (or even one of your close relatives) murders an innocent, do you not mourn the death and wish to make a gesture that helps to heal? If a community is injured, and seeks to rebuild itself, is this an affront to God? This community wants to convert an abandoned Burlington Coat Factory into a space where the beauty of their faith (and the Islamic faith is as beautiful as any I have seen, despite what the radicals would have you believe) can shine and help to foster healing and love and understanding.
We should embrace that, in my opinion.
If you stopped to ask yourself "what would Jesus do?", I think the answer is that Jesus would view this as an act of love and community and understanding..and perhaps contrition, and would greet it with love and understanding...and forgiveness. Can we imagine Jesus doing otherwise? No? Maybe we should give His way a try.
So long as we respond to those who are different with hate and suspicion, those who foster hate will win. And hate really does defile the memory of those we love.