We’ve been hearing ad nauseam from people who say they don’t have a thing against Islam, but it’s insensitive for Muslims to build an Islamic Community Center 2 blocks from “Ground Zero”. After all, it was Muslim terrorists shouting “Allahu Akbar” who hijacked airplanes and flew them into the Twin Towers, murdering almost 3000 innocent civilians in the process. We are told that for Muslims – no matter how moderate – to now build a “mosque” just 2 blocks away is like placing a Nazi sign next to the Holocaust Memorial! Who would be so insensitive as to do something like that?
When it’s pointed out that the Muslims behind the proposed Park51 Center in New York totally repudiate the philosophy and actions of those terrorists, and in fact do not recognize the terrorists as true Muslims (because they distorted Islamic teachings, and flagrantly violated some of the most basic Qur’anic principles), the response is made that we must realize that it’s a matter of perception. The beliefs, character, and actions of Imam Feisal Rauf and his supporters may be pure as the driven snow in actuality, but that’s not how they’re perceived by the hurting families of people who died in the 9/11 attacks. Those families, – and a large portion of US citizens in general, it seems – are not able to distinguish the moderate “American” Muslims from the terrorists; so such a building can do nothing but rub salt in the wounds of the victims’ families. It will be perceived as Islamic ‘triumphalism’ whether it really is or not.
So instead of going ahead with the project while also actively trying to explain and show to the American public the errors of their perceptions, truly “sensitive” Muslims should be expected to voluntarily back off of the project – or at least relocate it somewhere not so close to “Ground Zero”. (Never mind that everywhere else new Islamic Centers or Mosques are proposed – from Staten Island to California – they are just as vociferously opposed; so location must not be the predominant factor in the opposition).
Glen Beck and Sarah Palin are two of the leading proponents of such ‘sensitivity’. So what’s going on today (Saturday, August 28, 2010) in Washington, D.C.? Glen Beck is holding a big rally to restore honor to the USA, at the Lincoln Memorial; and Sarah Palin is a keynote speaker. Okay, so what? Well, today is the 47th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, also given at the Lincoln Memorial. So it’s a rather ‘hallowed’ day in US history, particularly to black Americans. Now Glen Beck and Sarah Palin are not exactly perceived by black Americans as being precisely staunch supporters of the philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 😆 In fact, I would venture to say that they are perceived as being more likely to have supported the ‘right’ of store and restaurant owners to refuse service to anyone they pleased (whether blacks, Chinese, Pakistanis, or Arabs; Catholics, Jews, Buddhists, or Muslims) rather than the right of all people not to be discriminated against. 😯 Whether that perception is true or false doesn’t matter, does it? Glen Beck and Sarah Palin are “rubbing salt in the wounds” of the black people of the USA, and in the ‘wounds’ of anyone who truly admires Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.!
Mr. Beck maintains that he hadn’t realized, when he first scheduled the rally, that the day had that historical significance. But it didn’t take very long for someone to call it to his attention. So why didn’t he immediately reschedule the rally, being the ‘sensitive’ person he is? As this Yahoo News article points out:
His own Fox News colleague, Greta Van Susteren, said he should move his event. She said he should do it for sensitivity reasons, much as both she and Beck argue that an Islamic Center should not be built near the site of the World Trade Center, where terrorists struck in 2001.
“It does not help the country on so many fronts if we poke a stick in eyes,” Van Susteren wrote on her blog.
Beck has said he wouldn’t have picked the date if he had known about the anniversary. But he rejected attempts to move it, arguing that what he will say is consistent with King’s “message of focusing on the content of a person’s character above all else.” King’s niece Alveda King is scheduled to speak.
Oh, I see: Glen Beck believes his message is consistent with Dr. King’s message, so it’s perfectly okay for him to go ahead with the event. And Dr. King’s niece is scheduled to speak also. But wait! Does the fact that Glen Beck is convinced that his message is the same as Dr. King’s mean that suddenly the black American population is going to perceive it that way? Will the fact that Dr. King’s niece has been persuaded to speak at the event be likely to change that perception? I doubt it very much.
Glen points out that he’s not literally speaking from the exact same step at the Lincoln Memorial as Dr. King occupied when he gave his speech. No, Mr. Beck will be two flights of steps down from Dr. King’s position! 😆 That makes it okay, doesn’t it? Well, wait a minute. The Park51 project is not “at” Ground Zero; it’s two blocks away. But that isn’t good enough for Glen and Sarah. So why should two flights of steps make any difference for today’s rally?
So, Glen and Sarah: where’s your ‘sensitivity’? I perceive that it’s just a flag you like to wave to exploit the feelings of some of the families of the 9/11 tragedy (some of those families actually support the Park51 project) for your political advantage. But when ‘sensitivity’ doesn’t work to your political advantage, that flag can be discarded. In other words, you’re just a couple of hypocrites! 😮
Now just to make my position clear: I don’t accept the ‘sensitivity’ argument for either the Park51 project, or Glen Beck’s rally. It doesn’t matter what you do, someone’s feelings are going to be hurt. If you hold a rally to honor and support US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, people who oppose US military engagement there are going to be offended. If you hold a rally opposing US military presence in those countries, the flag waving supporters of those ‘wars’ are going to be offended. Muslims holding a day of prayer in Washington offended many “Christians”. A Christian day of prayer in Washington would no doubt offend atheists, agnostics, and perhaps some Deists. The first Amendment in the Bill of Rights guarantees the freedom of speech, the free exercise of religion, and the right to assemble publicly even though such speech, religious exercises, or public assemblies ‘offend’ even the majority of people. It protects the rights of minorities, as well as majorities. (Majorities’ rights don’t need much protection, anyhow, as a general rule). Imam Rauf and Glen Beck both should be able to proceed with their plans unhindered; those who are ‘offended’ need to realize that ‘freedom’ applies to the ‘other guys’ as well as to yourselves. Diversity means that on occasion you will have to put up with things with which you don’t agree.
The only thing I find objectionable with Glen and Sarah holding this rally today is the hypocrisy of it. They now need to retract their ‘sensitivity’ arguments against the Park51 Center – because their actions have already repudiated that argument. (By the way, though I support the right of Glen Beck to hold his rally, I wouldn’t for a second consider attending it. But I sure wish I could meet and talk with Imam Rauf! 😀 )