What a wonderful world we Americans live in today. We live with the illusion that all those who reside within our borders just love our country to death, even all Muslim Americans. No pun intended.
We are fighting two wars in two Muslim countries, where radical Muslims are dedicated to killing and maiming our soldiers who have come to the aid of their fellow Muslims who have been brutalized by their dictatorial rulers. In many of these Muslim countries, including those of our alleged allies, Christians are treated with disdain and persecuted and Jews are, quite literally, prohibited.
Ironically, we are spending billions to protect ourselves from being slaughtered by Muslim fanatics. We, the most tolerant nation on earth, who welcome streams of legal immigrants and naively believe that if we do unto others nicely, they will do the same to us.
The fact is that we are becoming a gullible nation of liars. Mostly, we lie to ourselves. Just think of all the treasure and lives we are expending to prevent Jihadist atrocities within our borders. Muslim fanatics have made us unsafe. All of us, Muslims included, have to be searched at airports, watched by cameras, open to inspection everywhere. Even our domestic military bases are unsafe from trigger happy Jihadist wannabes. We live in what amounts to a virtual barbed wire enclosure to protect us from whom? No answer required. Worse, it is deemed politically incorrect to “profile” the potential perpetrators.
I suppose such remarks will be dubbed offensive, perhaps racist even by those who believe in the golden rule aforementioned. I was brought up in the era when “tolerance” was the operative word and we were taught to be kindly and accepting of all people and all religions in this vast wonderful American melting pot.
There was one virtue most of us believed in implicitly and that was empathy, meaning the ability to identify with and understand another person’s feelings and difficulties. Yes, it is true that not everyone understood nor practiced empathy. Many of our citizens were certainly abused by people who lacked empathy. No need here to list all those of different races, religions and persuasions who were treated badly by fellow citizens who lacked empathy.
There are those among us who continue to have a deficit in this essential characteristic although we have come a long way in our education about the meaning and practice of empathy.
Americans have spent two plus centuries learning to be empathetic. It is the bedrock of our communal enterprise. Indeed, without empathy for others among us, we can hardly lay claim to being a democratic state.
Which brings me to the core of this essay. Those Muslims who are pushing to build a mosque in the shadow of ground zero have no empathy. And those who support this project have no understanding of the meaning of empathy.
This controversy has nothing whatever to do with religious freedom or legality. There are mosques all over America, and lots of them in New York. Nor does it have anything to do with racism or religious discrimination or the separation of church and state. We revel in the constitutional guarantee that we are free to practice whatever faith we choose. And that applies equally to our Muslim citizens.
We assume that most American Muslims must, or should be, embarrassed by their jihadist co-religionists who are currently terrorizing the world as they call for the creation of a religious dictatorship controlled by those who ardently and fanatically practice their version of the Muslim religion.
Surely one can’t support such an outcome if one is truly a dedicated American citizen who believes wholeheartedly in our constitutional democracy. Ask our non-Muslim neighbors if they would like to live under such an arrangement proposed by fanatical Jihadists. Indeed, ask our Muslim neighbors if they would like to live under a Muslim religious dictatorship, including those maintained by our so-called allies among the Muslim nations. To most the answer would be a resounding negative.
The promoters of this mosque near the killing fields of ground zero have no empathy. They do not understand its meaning. It would be like placing a Nazi flag, with its detestable swastika symbol, among the colors displayed in the allied cemeteries of Normandy. Some would attempt to make the case that it would be a gesture of forgiveness. The very idea chills my soul.
Must we surrender to people who lack empathy? Must those who lost loved ones in the brutal attack on the World Trade Center be forced to relive the horror by having their sacred pyre insulted by those whose co-religionist undoubtedly cried Al-Akbar as they deliberately plunged their airplanes into the Trade Center skyscrapers.
One could suspect that the promoters of this travesty have another agenda but that is a suspicion fraught with conspiratorial implications. Where, for example, will the money come from to build this mosque? Is it meant to be a political statement? The promoters argue that this project is an act of apology and reconciliation. If so, it is far far too soon to make such a gesture. Why can’t the grieving of those who lost loved ones in that horror be respected. The wounds are too recent, too raw, too painful. The project insults their loss.
What makes it doubly insensitive is the cackling self-righteousness of our politicians and their coteries of sycophants who, it should be obvious, suffer from an empathy deficit as well.
Can’t these clueless fools imagine the outrage and insult experienced by anyone who lost a loved child, parent or spouse in this horror? Are there any among them who have experienced this loss?
Human decency demands a reversal of this insensitive and indecent proposal. Now, if ever, is not the time.