The Cordoba House/Park51 initiative is a visionary effort and a chance to demonstrate that Americans can understand and support moderate Islam and religious freedom.
Nearly everyone and their crazy Aunt Sarah in Alaska has blown an easy issue out of proportion. As every media savvy American knows, it’s 2 blocks away from Ground Zero, not on the site, so the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ moniker is misleading.
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and Daisy Khan, his wife, the leadership of this initiative have made every effort to distance themselves from the radical image some media outlets have unfairly tried to paint them with.
Of Park51, Khan says “We are law-abiding citizens. We are faithful people. We are very good Americans. And we need to project a different message of Islam, one of tolerance, love and the kind of commonalities we have with different faith communities.”
Also, there is an interfaith chapel in the Pentagon, in which Muslim employees meet to pray, with little media-manufactured controversy.
Even if it were being billed as a mosque instead of a community center, its right to exist and flourish, free of ignorant arguement, would be no less valid. Conflating moderate Islam with the terrorists’ beliefs is erroneous and unfair.
Islamophobia de-emphasizes moderate Muslims in favor of a focus on fundamentalism. Fundamentalism has never been a uniquely Islamic problem. History has shown fundamentalism to be a divisive element in many religions–but has the news media?
In mainstream American news sources, Christianity and Islam receive the most coverage. Westboro Baptist Church pops up with a publicity-mongering stunt every now and then, but largely, Christian fundamentalism is under-reported by mainstream media outlets and coddled to the point of cultivation by certain media personalities.
Mistaking the part for the whole is a common logical fallacy. In this debate, it would be a shame to let ‘errorism’ win.
Update: The New York Times recently profiled Daisy Khan, who had abandoned Islam because “it was too painful to always defend the actions of people that I couldn’t relate to,” until she began attending Friday prayers at Imam Rauf’s monastery.