In Defense of the "Ground Zero Mosque"
Just read the following article about the controversial "ground zero mosque" that's causing such a stir up in New York City.
The author makes a good point. The assimilatory ethos of the United States--we're centered on the idea of individual liberty and self-government rather than an ethnicity like the European states--helps explain why Muslims in Europe are more prone to extremism than Muslims in the United States. Muslims are less alienated from the dominant culture in the U.S. than they are in Europe, since our way of life is less specific to any one religion, ethnicity, or social class.
In fact, American Muslim leaders have been helpful to fighting Islamic extremism.
If American Muslims become alienated from U.S. culture, assistance like this will dry up. That's probably a far greater risk than American Muslims going off to join al-Qaeda or some other Islamist group, since non-action is easier than action.
Furthermore, let's remember that innocent Muslims (both foreign nationals and Americans) died on 9/11, including one who was an emergency medical technician who died assisting wounded victims of the attack.
Unless the mosque is allowed and a church, synagogue, or other house of worship is not, there is no reason to freak out. Remember, ours is a secular government that ought not play favorites in regards to religion.
The only good argument that the critics of the "ground zero mosque" have is that it is insensitive to the concerns of New Yorkers and the families of 9/11 victims, who may view the building of an Islamic center near the site of an attack committed by Islamist radicals as insulting. Incidentally, this is a view shared by some American Muslims as well as people like Sarah Palin and company. Perhaps it was insensitive for the backers of the "ground zero mosque" to propose the idea, but I do not see how forbidding the construction of the center is justified because of hurt feelings alone.
That is a far better argument than Newt Gingrinch's insistence that the "mosque" (I have heard it's something more akin to a YMCA, containing both worship facilities and facilities of other sorts, including a food court) not be allowed until the Saudis allow the construction of a church--the actions of the United States, a secular democratic republic, should not be held hostage to those of a semi-theocratic absolute monarchy, no matter how odious the domestic policies of said monarchy are. We are better than that.
American Muslims are Americans and have the rights and responsibilities of any American citizen.