Archive for August, 2010

Mosque at ground zero: a foundation of unity and trust

August 26, 2010

By David Farside

Aug. 24th, 2010

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid and his Republican challenger Sharron Angle finally agree on something. Reid broke ranks with President Barack Obama and said he is opposed to building a Muslim center near ground zero of the 9/11 Twin Towers attack in New York City. Angle agrees with him. Now we have two candidates questioning the freedom of religion guaranteed in our Constitution.

Reid said he personally feels it would be better to build the mosque somewhere else, even though he maintains he believes the First Amendment protects freedom of religion. How does he know the proposed site is not the “better place” for Muslims to study and practice their faith?

Angle also indicted herself with her own political stupidity in supporting Reid’s statement. Angle said we have a right and responsibility to use our property as we please. The responsibility is greater when you realize how much our country has suffered and what the proposed mosque site really means to the public. Then she added, “I think we have to give up our rights for the sensibilities of others, to be sensitive to their needs, especially right here in our country.” On the surface that seems more like a philosophical statement rather than political reality. We should never abrogate our rights in this country because of prejudice or anything else. But in Angle’s case, she’s pandering to her constituents with her usual hypocritical rhetoric.

But Angle’s not sensitive towards the suffering of senior citizens. She would deny them Medicare and Medicaid, ration their health care and eliminate other supportive services for the handicapped and elderly.

She’s not sensitive towards the needs of our children’s public education. She wants to eliminate the Department of Education and public assistance programs providing children with food, shelter and a roof over their heads. She proposes to cut education budgets so as to reduce the number of teachers, cut salaries and contribute to a higher unemployment rate. That doesn’t sound responsible or sensitive to me.

The president of the Northern Nevada Muslim Community put everything in perspective: “This is kind of sad because what the United States is all about is freedom, freedom of religion and being able to practice the religion of your choosing, whenever and wherever, as long as you are within the guideline of the law.”

The mosque can’t even be seen from ground zero because it’s surrounded by skyscrapers three blocks away from the site. The city of New York approved the site for construction and the Muslims have a legal and constitutional right to build their religious center on that property. So what’s the real problem? It must be religious hate and prejudice.

But maybe Angle has a point. Maybe, as Americans, we should be more respectful and sensitive towards the Muslims. After all, American Muslims were also murdered by their radical brothers on 9/11, just as the radicals kill peaceful, law-abiding Muslims in their own country.

We have spent billions invading Iraq to free the Muslims from the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Because of us, thousands of innocent Muslim women and children have been murdered in the crossfire of war.

We are spending billions in Afghanistan to rid the nation of about 2,000 anti-American militants we can’t seem to find, murdering a few more thousand Muslim civilians along the way. And we’ll spend billions more trying to build a Muslim nation based on trust, understanding and democracy embracing Muslims as our political and economic partners in the Middle East. But we’re opposed to them exercising their religious freedom in a mosque blocks away from ground zero in New York City. Sounds ridiculous to me.

Almost 5,000 Americans have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. What did they die for? They died for long-term peace, religious freedom and democracy, as did many Muslims who died for their freedom and their faith in our Constitution.

The attack on 9/11 alienated nations around the world. It divided the religions of the East and West and labeled all Muslims as terrorists because of a few militant extremists. It isolated the Muslim world to the shadows of fear and misunderstanding. Their faith became a face for terrorism rather than a spiritual symbol of belief in their God.

The mosque should be built where it is proposed. It can serve as a symbol of peace and a memorial for the innocent who perished at the Twin Towers, including innocent Muslim civilians. The temple will represent a private and public monument to our American heroes killed in combat, a new conduit for all religions to exercise their First Amendment right of worship and a symbol of freedom. It could end the religious war between the East and West, building a new foundation for unity and a never-ending trust in our Constitution — if we’d give it the opportunity.

Visit David’s website at