Tuesday, August 31, 2010

American Ignorance Un-Mosqued

I have a rant today and I have to warn that I have a lot of emotions about this and I do not intend to hold back.  That said, if you are angry about the mosque being built in New York, please stop reading this blog and go straight to Hell.

I really thought that as a country we had gotten over the misconception that the tragedy of 9/11 was perpetrated by Muslims.  I thought people had gotten over the conclusions they had jumped to and realized how little sense they made.

I have to admit that I have heard of this story through friends and I don't watch the news.  This isn't a complicated issue so I feel comfortable writing about it.  What I'm hearing:  A mosque is being built near the site where the twin towers fell.  People are outrageously angry about this.  Who are these people?  A co-worker told me yesterday that she almost had to walk out of church because during the sermon the preacher was going off about this and basically saying that this was an evil action and surely implying that all Muslim people are evil as well.  What a kind and compassionate Christian perspective.  I'm sure if Jesus had been there, he would have agreed completely.  (You can't hear the sarcasm but it's thick!)

I have a few Muslim friends and they are among the kindest, most compassionate, gentle people I have ever met.  I have studied (admittedly not thoroughly) the Islamic faith and it is a very gentle path.  The only thing that has ever bothered me about it is that it is a very patriarchal faith.  This is NOT unique to Islam.  Have you ever met a female priest?  How long has it been that women could sit with men in Temple?  At it's core, Islam teaches the same loving message as any other positive faith.  Blaming all Muslim people for a tragic act committed by people who were clearly not following the tenants of that faith is ridiculous!  

Muslim people died in those buildings.  Can you imagine that?  So there were family members, friends who lost loved ones in this crazy act and then felt not only that loss, but a loss of freedom as everywhere they went, people began to look at them as if they were terrorists.  Then in the guise of protection, our government used this tragedy to systematically siphon off our rights.  We lost so much more to this tragedy that what was lost on that day.  We willingly gave up so much of our freedom and privacy.  We lost the cohesion some of us had worked towards.  We looked at anyone with dark skin and hair with suspicion.  We lost touch with what this country is supposed to be about.

The people who did this came from a very different place.  It is my firm belief that these types of actions only take place because of the unbalanced distribution of resources.  So people outside of the U.S. hate us?  I don't think they hate us personally.  I think they live in a place where day to day life is so difficult that it's easy to create hate towards a nation that seems to have everything dangled before them on a silver spoon.  I don't even think these people were intrinsically hateful.  I think they were taken advantage of and used.  They were fed anti-American propaganda and with the way we behave sometimes, we certainly give fuel for that.   I'm not saying that I am anti-American or that I condone terrorism by any stretch of the imagination.  What I will say is that we don't take responsibility for anything, as citizens.  I never hear people talk about what it must be like to live in the Middle East.  Why would we ponder that?  We have a tennis match to go to and then the kid's baseball game and a cook-out this weekend and the car payment and mortgage to attend to.  We'll think of other people another day.  Maybe next week, I think I have some spare time on Tuesday afternoon.  This is what makes me sick about the culture I've been fortunate enough to have been born into.

I don't wish I was somewhere else.  (Well, maybe Canada but they're not perfect either.)  I am so grateful to have been born here and I see the gift in it.  I know that it was luck, chance, that I could have come into being anywhere on this great round planet.  But knowing that, I think I have a responsibility to dwell in gratitude, to carry some compassion for those who were born into less favorable circumstances.

As a good Witch and a loving person I simply cannot abide the ignorance and hate I hear seething around me.  Anyone who holds these opinions should be ashamed of themselves.  To me, building a mosque in that area is a great way to bring healing.  This is a place of worship and of peace.  These people want to come here to pray and express gratitude.  Would anyone have complained if someone had opened a gun store nearby?

What really bothers me about this is the anger it causes in me.  This is not helpful.  I have shame over the way my country-mates are acting.  I am so pissed off that these hateful, ignorant opinions are being sent around the world in the name of the country I live in!  I don't want to feel this anger.  I want to be able to forgive people for being such assholes.  Maybe tomorrow.


  1. I am neither muslim, christian, hindu or jew. I am just a being...... We seem to have forgotten that the division has been created by us human beings. We have taken upon us to label each other.... What a shame.
    I hear you on this......

  2. Thank you so much! When we start to try to group people into these "categories", we've really lost the way. I'm truly grateful to know I'm not the only one feeling this.

  3. I hear your passion. Like YogaSavy, I have no religion per se, and I regret that sometimes we think we are so separate and different from some particular groups. We are not. I've heard we are all One.

  4. I've heard that too. I wonder how many other people have heard because we seem to have forgotten. I'm so glad to get a little support for this post because I was a bit nervous after putting it up. I stand behind my unpopular opinion, though.

  5. What a powerful, righteously-angry post. Thank you so much for writing this and for being. Yes, just for "being".

    I know it's a tired, old saw, but I locate most of the hatred and bigotry we see here in the US in the American brand of capitalism. A system that is predicated on exploitation and on the notion that we are all in competition with one another makes it nearly impossible for us to see each other as kin. Further, add to this economic system all the various ways that those in power work to keep us divided--with "culture wars" over race, abortion, sexuality, and, yes, religion--and you have a recipe for a society that is wracked with hatred and suspicion. This works very well to keep people from noticing that 20% of our population holds 85% of our wealth and leads to the most astounding reactions--people angry that factory workers might make $25 an hour, but perfectly accepting of CEOs who make $10,000 an hour, for instance.

    Anyway, I know I'm rambling and have gone off topic here, but I *do* think it's all connected--hatred and suspicion of Muslims is tied, I think, to the general tendency of Americans to view all "others" with suspicion and hostility.

    Take care of yourself, and keep feeling and writing--we need you :-)

  6. Wow, you're so right. I know deep down that the only thing stopping our world from being able to function as a peaceful, cohesive society is our instance on seeing people as different-than-me. It ties into bigotry, classism, greed- the fear that someone else might get more than you, all the hateful and separating -isms. If everyone finally realized, really understood that we all are connected, it would bring about a shift into a welling of compassion and selflessness. In this competitive world, so many of us don't even have compassion for ourselves and that can often be the root of our inability to feel genuine compassion for others.

    Thanks so much, we need you too!!

  7. Yeah, I've been talking to people about this for months now. It's a non-issue. A couple of facts: There is already a mosque closer than this, there are already people worshipping there, there are worse places, like a sex shop, closer than the mosque and they already own the land as well as having building permits.

  8. It's a non-issue? I don't understand why everyone is being so hateful and angry but it's because of that hate and anger that this is an issue at all. The issue I have isn't with the mosque, it's with the hate and anger.

  9. It's a non-issue only in that the people full of hate won't get their way. It is a mixture of political grandstanding and media manipulation that's doing it. They will not stop it from being built no matter how they protest.

  10. So sad that a lack of understanding combined with misunderstanding and paranoia with more than a touch of racism thrown in can cause all this hatred.

  11. Paul- Media manipulation is so heavy and really at the root of most ignorance in this country. If the T.V. said it, it must be true! It's sad that this place can't be built in peace, which is, I'm sure, what its purpose is.

    Petty Witter- It is so sad. What makes me even more sad is my response, no, reaction to all this hatred. It makes me so angry and then I have to question whether that's any better. Hate is hate. I don't hate the people who protest, but I have such huge anger. A ton of outrage that people can be so cruel and ignorant.