If you read the title of this blog post and immediately thought "Absolutely not. Over my dead body." then please read on, because you may be exactly the kind of person I want to speak to.
I recently had a debate with a family member about this very topic. Just after Bin Laden was killed, actually. His response was along the lines of: "That's easy for you to say - how would you feel if it was your family they had killed?" Well, that's my point, really: Who are "they?"
Well, "they" were Muslim Extremists. Not Muslims - Muslim Extremists. These are two utterly different things and one of the biggest obstacles to defeating Extremism is the failure by Western Judeo/Christian countries to be able to tell the difference between the two.
Hamas called the death of Bin Laden another casualty of the "War on Islam". In reality, there is no War on Islam. There has been a "War on Terror" (sic). (Let's not get into a debate about the folly of waging war on an emotion, that's another blog post.)
One of the biggest and, I believe, very valid criticisms of the invasions of Afghanistan and, much more so, Iraq, is that they are fueling the recruitment of more terrorists by giving extremists something to point to and say: "See? They hate Islam. They are at War with Islam." And they have.
This is what I'd like to ask: "What more effective way could there be for America to show that they are NOT at war with Islam than to build an Islamic holy building on the site of the worst terrorist atrocity on American soil?"
Seriously. Give me a more symbolic gesture to clearly say: "We do not hate Islam. We do not blame Islam."
Build a mosque at Ground Zero and the terrorist recruiters claiming the US is at war with Islam will have a much harder time. It would be a huge symbolic getsure and a huge victory over terrorist recruitment. It would be a huge step towards peace.
However, there are several problems which will prevent it from happening. First, too many people really do think Muslims are collectively responsible for 9/11. For example:
"Nazis don't have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust museum in Washington," former US House Speaker Newt Gingrich said. "We would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor. There is no reason for us to accept a mosque next to the World Trade Center."
A major American political figure who can't distinguish between followers of a peacful religion and extremist terrorists. (This is a man considering running for President, by the way.) Sadly, his attitude is not atypical.
For the record, Newt, the Nazis DID kill millions of Jews and the Japanse army, under orders from their government, DID kill hundreds at Pearl Harbor. Muslim Extremists killed thousands at 9/11. Not Muslims.
Equating Muslim Extrmists with Muslims is the equivalent of equating the Ku Klux Klan with all Christians. Are you happy with that, Newt? I suspect not.
First, America needs to understand that Islam is not the enemy, just as much as Muslims need to know that America is not at war with Islam. And those two things can only happen if there is a clear lead taken on exactly that front.
Again, though, what better way than to build a mosque at Ground Zero and use the discussion it will inevitably inspire to clearly make those points?
Sadly, it won't happen - certainly not soon. Obama can't do it - not before re-election anway. There are already too many Americans who suspect him of being a Muslim and, sadly, who consider that a problem with him being their President. If he hinted at doing this, he'd drop like a stone in the polls.
The real "War on Terror" should be a matter of waging peace wherever possible.
If we really want to conquer "Terror", first we have to conquer ignorance.