I issued the following e-mail to MSNBC’s Hardball that was providing debate on the building of a Mosque/Muslim Community Center near Ground Zero in Southern Manhattan. It must be understood that innocent Muslims were also killed in that senseless act of violence on 9/11. In the following communication I go through the exercise of having opponents put the shoe on the other foot by considering the violent acts perpetrated by a fringe holding fundamentalist Christian beliefs and whether that should be grounds for denying the building of Christian churches or community centers in areas where acts of violence have occurred.
August 31, 2010
In this country there have been 41 documented cases where abortion clinics have been bombed and numerous other instances of violent behavior directed at abortion providers that have claimed the lives of innocent people. These atrocities have been largely perpetrated by those with fundamentalist Christian beliefs who believed they were ridding the world of sinners and stopping the ‘holocaust of lost lives’ (the words of Eric Rudolph although he denied a religious motive). We have recently had a Christian militia in Michigan stopped before it could carry out its plans to kill a police officer so that they could slay numerous others who would show up at the funeral. Violent behavior by Christians in the name of Christianity has been around for centuries including the Inquisitions and the Crusades. Therefore, should we not prevent the construction of Christian churches or Christian community centers in the areas where these atrocities have been committed? (If one wants to make the argument that 9/11 was different because of the number of lost lives, what is the cut-off for when it does make a difference?).
The problem with the above is that it paints an entire faith by the actions of a few crazed individuals. Similarly, we should not be punishing all of Islam, nor coloring the perception of 1.5 billion Muslims world-wide, based on the actions of a misguided fringe, just as we would not punish all of Christianity because of the acts of a few. It simply takes putting the shoe on the other foot. In a similar vein, I certainly do hope that cooler heads prevail to prevent the plans of a Christian minister to burn multiple copies of the Qur’an on the anniversary of 9/11 – again, putting the shoe on the other foot, how would Christians feel about their holy book being burned en masse – such an action would play right into the hands of the extremists.