PRO

by Lucas Lebovitz, Senior

Our country stands at the edge of a cliff, leaning over the edge. I will say in no uncertain terms that to prohibit the construction of Park51 will mark the degeneration of our country’s values and the beginning of the next wave of hatred, inequality and racism.

As students we learn that our country has stood at this precipice many times before, often toppling right over the edge into bigotry and discrimination. Throughout its history the United States has marginalized minority group after minority group.

Now, peering into the abyss once again, our country has another decision to make: do we discriminate once again, persecuting Muslims this time, marginalizing an entire religion? Or do we instead progress towards equality, holding true to the values we have struggled to uphold throughout the lifespan of our nation? The answer should be pure and simple: To prohibit the building of this mosque would symbolize the subjugation of yet another minority in our already troubling history. We cannot allow Muslims to fall from equality.

We have heard the arguments against the construction of this Mosque and Islamic Cultural Center. We hear words such as “disrespectful,” and “offensive.” Sarah Palin tells us that, “to build a mosque at Ground Zero is a stab in the heart of the families of the innocent victims of those horrific attacks.” The September 11th attacks tore American families apart. That day took the lives of many innocent Americans of all religions, including Islam. Muslims were just as equally injured by that day as any other group of Americans, and it is unfair to prohibit just Muslims from repairing their wounds as best they can.

The crux of the issue arises out of the fact that the terrorists were Muslim extremists. Many associate the extremists who committed the terrible acts of violence with the Muslim citizens of our country, and therein lie the issues many Americans, especially New Yorkers who were personally hurt by the event, have with the construction of this building. This kind of generalization, grouping American citizens with extremist terrorist who both happen to be of the Islamic faith, is dangerous and cannot occur.

Islam, like any other major religion of the world, does not condone violence. The scriptures do not support nor defend the actions of extremists who twist the religion in order to serve their own ends. Islam teaches us peace, charity, and a unity with God. To generalize the millions of peaceful, law abiding Muslims in our country with terrorists is offensive to all those who practice Islam, not condoning the violent actions of the extremist minority. All religions have fanatics who manipulate scripture to justify their actions.

So long as they proceed in accordance with all local laws and ordinances, the builders of Park51 have every constitutional right to build the mosque. Disregarding completely the bigoted spirit of the idea, prohibiting the construction of this mosque violates the constitutional rights of American citizens. Critics must understand the line we cross, when we take those supposedly “inalienable” rights away from Muslims.

Park51 provides a beautiful replacement so that Muslims in New York City have an equal opportunity to worship as any other worshiper of another religion. Originally named the Cordoba House, after the ancient city in Spain where Muslims, Christians and Jews coexisted peacefully, Park51 is designed, according to their website, as “a nonsectarian community, cultural and interfaith spiritual center along with a Muslim prayer area and a monument to honor all those we lost on 9/11.”

The builders have every constitutional right to build, and any prohibition of Park51’s construction is a clear demonstration of taking away Muslim citizens’ rights. The mosque must be allowed to exist in order for Muslims to be treated equally in this country, and for our nation not to slide back into discrimination and racism.

CON

by Gen Baumann, Junior

Of the thousands of Americans murdered on September 11th, eleven of these heroes were Muslim. Twelve if you count Rahma Salie, who was with child.. My real question is: who were the perpetrators? Who caused this slaughter? Extremist Muslims: intent on proving a point. Intent on desecrating American soil. Intent on what else, perhaps? Intent on marking their territory. And they succeeded. No matter how we think of 9/11 or Ground Zero, the site and the terrorists who created it shall forever be linked in our minds.

As I stated before, eleven of our fellow Americans who were Muslim were killed that day in the World Trade Center. Eleven hardworking, honorable Americans were killed. They were Americans first, as we all should be. The values of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity all include love, generosity, loyalty, respect, and fairness. Such religious values are intertwined with our own American values. So you see the similarities.

But more than just 12 of these people were killed on that day. Over 3,000 people were massacred that day. And for what?  So the most despicable subset of people could assert themselves. Prove themselves. .

There are over 100 mosques located in the boroughs of New York City. Did anyone try to prevent those from being built? Was it a national issue? Of course not. This is not a matter of freedom of religion. This is more the measure of how good of a person you are and who these Muslims are. How affected you were. Can you still feel for those victims and their families, even though 9/11 happened almost 9 years ago? If you can how do you rationalize the construction of this mosque?

Who is trying to build this mosque? Who is that insensitive, that they need a mosque near Ground Zero? Not the thousands upon thousands of Muslims who peacefully worship God and still pay their respects to our fellow Americans every year on September 11th. Not our American-Muslims who have delayed the start of Eid, a holiday celebration that happens to fall on September 11th, for more than a week. In fact one Kabir Jeddy, the treasurer of the Muslim Association of the Puget Sound laments, “It’s out of respect. It’s not that we are putting our lives on hold altogether, but it’s not a day we want to be out celebrating.”

But some do want to be celebrating. This Muslim Imam needs to mark his territory. He is an extremist. He is uncompassionate to the thousands of families that lost loved ones to other extremists. Maybe he is not violent or a terrorist.

The extremist “Christian” in Florida is just as much at fault for threatening to burn the Koran. No one can stop him because that’s his freedom of expression. But any decent hearted person would put a stop to that. It is not about how we are impeding these people’s rights. No. Let them build this mosque. Let them justify it with their excuses. Let them try to reason their way through it. That it is their right. But if they were truly compassionate, kindhearted people then they would not insult America’s pain. They would not mark any more territory for the cowards who crashed those planes into our civilians. This is not a testimony that all Muslims are to blame. This is a sentiment that one group of people is to blame for September 11th, and a very different group is responsible for the insult that is this mosque. They both happen to be of the same religion.

It is for these people, who need to assert themselves as dominant, that that mosque is really being built for. It is for those Christian supremacists in Florida that need that Koran to burn. It is all for their own vain self-assurance. It is these people who give a bad name to Christianity or Islam. It’s not the everyday citizens who are capable of seeing what is actually important.

As for me, I say that the American spirit lives on in too many of our hearts, whether they are Muslim hearts or Jewish hearts or Christian hearts or atheists hearts, to stand by while yet another extremist is victorious in his quest in his “jihad bis saif.”

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