Thursday, August 19, 2010

Are we Americans? Or aren't we?

Okay, I've debated whether or not to write about this. It's controversial and a bunch of people are fired up about it. But ultimately, I feel I must. Because what is happening in my country right now is scaring the living shit out of me.

I'm sure you've all heard, unless you live under a rock, that there are some people who own property in Manhattan and who would like to build a Islamic mosque there. On the property they own. Given that this is a free country with churches, temples, mosques, synagogues and various other places of worship dotted all around, this is not in and of itself controversial. It's apparently all about where it's located. Some Americans feel that it is too close to Ground Zero, where radicals attacked our country almost nine years ago.

The key word there, my friends, is radicals. Extremists. Terrorists. The people who want to build a peaceful place of worship are not any of those things simply because they are Muslim. It doesn't work that way. And thank God it doesn't, because if it did I, and my family, would have to be condemned for being Catholic and there are crazy extreme Catholics out there who have killed innocent people in the name of Jesus Christ. I most certainly do not want to be painted with that same, broad stroke, and I don't think the Muslims in New York deserve to be, either.

A lot of people don't know, or don't remember, what the United States did to Japanese-Americans during World War II. It's appalling, and embarrassing that our brilliant country could let raw emotions so rampantly overrun our better judgement and basic beliefs in freedom and liberty. Just Google "Manzanar" and read about it. Given the continuing strife over the evils of slavery that we still deal with to this day, I'm doubly ashamed that our country ever reached the point of incarcerating its own citizens simply because of their culture and genetic background after slavery. Have we learned nothing?

And yet, here we go again. Condemning people, a lot of people, based on the actions of a few extremists who most certainly do not share ideologies. If we start telling people where they can and cannot build their peaceful places of worship based on unfounded and unreasonable fear due to the actions of a select few, well, then we're simply setting up Manzanar all over again.

For goodness sake, they have the constitutional right to build a mosque there. That should be the end of the story. Some people suggest that perhaps they should consider a different location until Christian Americans "become more comfortable with Islam." Yes, let's do that. Let's corral these people and not grant them the most basic of American rights because we don't know them yet. Because putting them over there while we stay over here is a great way to learn about each other.

We are not this country, this country wrapped up in fear mongering and hate and discrimination. God help us if we become that in this day and age, especially given our history.

In Germany, they came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was Protestant.

Then they came for me,
and by that time, no one was left to speak up.
-Pastor Martin Niemoller


Anonymous Amy Grzina said...

Great post. I'm glad you wrote that and had the courage to post it. I have never read the quote before from Pastor Niemoller and I'm glad you included it.

4:50 PM  

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