This blog post may upset as many readers as those who appreciate what I am about to say. It is about the Muslim Cultural Center that may be built a couple of blocks from the site of the terrorist attacks that obliterated the World Trade Center Towers in New York City on 9/11/2001.
I passionately support the creation of this center. I say this as someone who was born and raised in and around New York City, and who watched the World Trade Center being built. I say this as someone who was in the New York City area on 9/11/2001. I say this as the author of the Declaration of Global Responsibility, a treatise outlining ten principles for dealing with "fanaticism disorder" and terrorism that I wrote as part of my own personal recovery process from the 9/11 attacks. I say this as someone who is Jewish and who believes Israel has a right to exist (as does Palestine). And I say this as a proud American.
Why is this my perspective? For four extremely simple reasons:
- I Support the U.S. Constitution & its Founders’ Vision: Freedom of religion, to be specific. Contrary to attempts by some to rewrite history, the United States was not founded as a Christian nation. It was founded as a Deist nation: a nation under G-d that honors all of G-d’s names, not only the Christian one. The United States has long prided itself on being a beacon to the world in many ways, including fiercely proclaiming people’s rights to worship their religion freely and openly. Going a step further, universally respected founders of the United States such as Thomas Jefferson and John Adams openly spoke of Islam with respect and appreciation. In other words, religious intolerance is un-American.
- I Refuse to Confuse Religion With Insanity: Believing that fanatical Muslim nut-jobs are actually practicing true Islam is as nuts as the nut-jobs themselves. These are deranged individuals who are hiding behind sickly distorted delusions about their religion. I would no sooner punish Christians, Jews or any other religion by limiting their right to practice their religion wherever they wish simply because there are dangerously fanatical and violent individuals in those religions who have massacred countless people throughout history and all the way up to today. And make no mistake about it: there absolutely have been and continue to be. I will not punish people of a certain religion because of the insane acts of nut-jobs who have committed atrocities under the delusion that they were doing so in the name of that religion. Neither will I advocate that our government in any way tolerate those atrocities or spare any means necessary to contain anyone of any religion or philosophy whose intention is to harm Americans (or others!).
- I Oppose Double Standards: What if a bunch of Jewish or Christian fanatical nut-jobs blew up the WTC instead? What if, in response, people opposed building a Jewish or Christian Cultural Center in the vicinity of Ground Zero? Do you believe for even a split second that Americans would have the gaul to oppose that? I don’t. I refuse to punish patriotic Islamic Americans for the acts of insane fake-Islamic non-Americans.
- I Believe in Wisdom of Defiance: A friend of mine was incarcerated in the most notorious of all Nazi concentration camps, Auschwitz. Most of her family was incinerated in the ovens there. Her own life was saved only because she was a ballerina who was made to dance before Mengele the butcher and he liked her dancing. After she was liberated, she and her husband moved to the United States and she became a well-known psychologist and speaker. When a memorial was completed at Auschwitz she was invited to speak at its opening. She told her husband she could not go. Her husband said, "If you don’t go, Hitler won." She understood exactly what he meant. So she went. She defied Hitler by proving that Hitler had not defeated her. If I were to oppose an Islamic Cultural Center (it’s not even a mosque for crying out loud) a couple of blocks from Ground Zero (it’s not at Ground Zero for crying out loud), this to me would be the equivalent of saying to Bin Laden, "Okay, you win. We give you the power to control us so fully that we will abandon our own cherished American foundations of religious freedom for you. We give you the power to make us so terrified of our fellow Americans who happen to be Islamic (and who are as appalled by what you did as we are), that we will allow you to manipulate us into hating and limiting their religious freedom because of what you did, even though it has nothing to do with true Islam." I, for one, am not willing to allow Bin Laden and his ilk to dictate my beliefs, control my fears, or shape my behaviors. As an American I choose to defy Bin Laden, not allow his insanity to control me. I will not allow his insanity to manipulate me into religious paranoia.
Being so terrified of Islam that I oppose the creation of an Islamic Cultural Center is what Al Queda wants from me. It is not what I choose to support as a patriotic American who believes in my country’s Constitution. I support the creation of the Islamic Cultural Center a couple of blocks from Ground Zero as an act of defiance against Al Queda and as an act of patriotism in upholding my precious Constitution.
Disagree with me if you do. No problem. Anyone who knows me knows I welcome dialogue and knows I am passionate about finding wisdom within perspectives that differ from mine.
On the other hand, let no one dare label me un-American — or naive — because of my stance. In our wonderful country you’re as entitled to your opinion as I am to mine. But, if you do disagree with me, do not imagine for a moment that the rationale behind my stance is any less valid than the rationale behind your stance. My perspective stands on solid ground. And while I will happily and respectfully dialogue with you about the wisdom of our varying perspectives, I will not tolerate character assassination of any kind because of the perspective I take on this issue.
For nonpartisan fact checking on this issue from FactCheck.org click HERE.
I also encourage you to watch the following video clips on this topic, from The Daily Show:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Municipal Land-Use Hearing Update|
I could have done without the very end of this clip, but I appreciated most of the rest of it…
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|