There’s been much heated discussion recently about the possibility of a Muslim prayer house being erected near Ground Zero in New York City, until September 11, 2001 site to the World Trade Center. Since it were Muslim terrorists who brought down the Twin Towers, building a mosque nearby would be close to an abomination, opponents allege. I beg to differ.
The propaganda which is espoused by Muslim fundamentalists and which inspires naieve Muslim youngsters to extremism, even terrorism, portrays the United States as a bulwark of intolerance and hatred, set to destroy Islam in favor of what they perceive to be barbarism. (We call it liberty.) Sadly, they’re not wrong entirely on at least one score: since 9/11, discrimination against Muslims has been on the rise, both in the United States and in the rest of the Western World.
The United States was founded by people who sought to escape from religious persecution in the Old World. They sought out a free haven to live by their own rules and express their own beliefs and they succeeded. For over two centuries, the United States has been home to many religions which, nearly always, managed to coexist peacefully. Quite a feat considering that religion has so divided people all over the world for so many centuries.
Muslim extremism poses a unique threat however. Unlike virtually all other religions and sects established in the United States, Islamic fundamentalism (though certainly not Islam as such) denies the very order which ensures religious freedom: one that is steeped in a firm commitment to personal liberty.
The extremists allege that the United States is a nation of excess. They claim that it fosters ignorance, intolerance and hatred; that it is imperialists because it has, at times, sought to impose its values and its will upon different parts of the world.
What better way to prove them wrong than by erecting a monument to the very religion which they believe cannot exist in harmony with the American Way of Life, near the very place where they launched so violent an attack against that way of life? What better way to prove to the world that in America, liberty always trumps tyranny, than by remaining true to the principles which have guided the country since its very inception? New York should build a mosque near Ground Zero because no terrorist act, no matter how destructive, may shatter America’s commitment to freedom.