“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.” — Elie Wiesel
I realize that the debate over the building of an Islamic center near Ground Zero in downtown Manhattan may not be issue number one. Yes, and I’m fully aware that any attention paid to this debate plays directly into the strategy of right-wing politicians. However, unlike Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), we must not cave to the pressures of the noise-makers on the right.
To do so would be a compromise of our principles, ideals, and everything that we celebrate about America. And that would be, the very freedoms and rights afforded to everyone per the U.S. Constitution. The very same Constitution and American way of life that countless American-Muslims have died in service to the country with the utmost honor and sacrifice.
SIDE NOTE: While people protest the “Ground Zero Mosque”, nobody has said a word about the Mosque that exists within the walls of the Pentagon. Was that not also a target of Islamic extremists on 9/11? Are Muslims not allowed to serve in the military?
But don’t tell that to the people protesting; for only they know just what it is to be American. Don’t mention the fact that American Muslims lost their lives in the tragedy that was 9/11. Further, don’t mention to them that Islam is a religion of peace, that gets a bum rap due in large part to the political pandering and fear-mongering of politicians, and xenophobes alike.
Whatever you do, just like the words of the late great Howard Zinn suggests: “You cannot stay neutral on a moving train.” Hopefully you stand for what is right, and what is American; I know I am, and hell I don’t even do religion. I do however do politics because it impacts my life, and I believe in being as free as the U.S. Constitution allows the next man.