The majority of Americans oppose construction of the Islamic community center near the former World Trade Center. While they acknowledge its right to exist, they would prefer it not to. They consider it callous to build an Islamic site near the scene of a crime perpetrated in the name of Islam.
Their opposition has been dismissed as Islamophobic, but that label only applies to a prejudicial few that have seized the megaphone. Most Park51 critics do not harbor antipathy toward the Islamic faith and intend no insult to its practitioners. To lump these Americans into a single category is to engage in the same reductionist logic that equates all Muslims with jihadis.
Regarding those who oppose the ‘Ground Zero Mosque,’ I am less alarmed by their Islamophobia than I am by their cowardice. Jarred by 9/11, they are quick to disavow values of religious freedom and cultural tolerance – values which were repeatedly identified as the very targets of the attackers. We already erred when we repaid their violence with greater violence. Let’s not err again. Let’s be brave in the embrace of a free society.
I say: Move the mosque. Put it on the ground floor of the Freedom Tower, and raise a flag. One star. One crescent.