In late August, I contacted Sue (whose blog is titled Helloooo...... Mr. President, are you listening??) and asked if she was interested in writing a guest post. She offered up the following about the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" controversy:
"Lose your ego, find your compassion."
If Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has a mantra it is this: "Islamic extremism for the majority of Muslims is an oxymoron; It is a fundamental contradiction in terms."
71% of New Yorkers oppose the building of a mosque in lower Manhattan.. Are they being reasonable or reactionary? Is this about first amendment rights or insensitivity towards 9/11 victims families? It's not the only mosque in Manhattan, so why all the fighting? Not because it's being built on hallowed ground because it is not. It's on a sight 2 blocks from hallowed ground. Peace loving Muslims did not fly planes into the twin towers on 9/11, Islamic extremists did. So I'm baffled by that argument.
So then, who is Imam Rauf?
Fearmongering conservative politicians have called him a radical Muslim, a militant Islamist, and unbelievably "the enemy". His project in lower Manhattan has been framed as a conduit for Hamas to funnel money to domestic terrorist operations.
For those who actually know or have worked with the imam, the descriptions are frighteningly unhinged from reality. The Feisal Abdul Rauf they know spent the past decade fighting against the very same cultural divisiveness and religious-based paranoia that currently surrounds him.
"Imam Feisal has participated at the Aspen Institute in Muslim-Christian-Jewish working groups looking at ways to promote greater religious tolerance," says Walter Isaacson, head of The Aspen Institute. "He has consistently denounced radical Islam and terrorism and promoted a moderate and tolerant Islam. Some of this work was done under the auspices of his own group, the Cordoba Initiative... This is why I find it a shame that his good work is being undermined by this inflamed dispute. He is the type of leader we should be celebrating in America - not undermining."
Just days after the 9/11 attacks, Bush had much to say about the need for religious tolerance even after Islamic extremists carried out the worst foreign attack in history on U.S. soil.
"The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam," Bush said at the Islamic Center of Washington in a speech that set the tenor for when he later sent U.S. troops to fight on Muslim soil in Afghanistan and later Iraq. "That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don't represent peace. They represent evil and war."
He went on to say millions of American Muslims "need to be treated with respect. In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect."
Passionate conservatism is dying in our country. The conservatives care only about regaining power in November. I don't believe for one minute this mosque debate will rage on after the elections, but the lasting effects are sure to harm our nation at home and around the globe. What this hateful rhetoric means to the terrorists is we are not tolerant of Islam and of our Muslim citizens. We are a country of bigots and if we keep this up we are allowing the terrorists to win. Muslim Americans are enduring hate and bigotry all over this country, more now than ever with the election of Barack Obama.
Things have surely changed in America. What happened to our "melting pot" country? We are bigots, we are hateful towards our Muslim brothers and sisters. I am embarrassed and ashamed of my country today....