I Support the Park 51 Project
Monday, August 23, 2010

I pretty much stay out of political discussions. The hard part, for me, is that I can usually argue both sides of any disagreement. I don't get alienated until the extreme left or extreme right get involved, and once they are involved, things are too ugly for my non-confrontational brain. Even worse, the extremes of either side don't appreciate it much when you can argue both sides. It seems that they think there is only one correct way of doing pretty much anything. Frankly, that's just plain not true.

In my quest to be as annoying when it comes to political discussions as possible (really, people HATE it when you can understand where the opposition is coming from), I spent some time researching the Park 51 proposal. You may have heard it referred to as the "Ground Zero Mosque," but that's one of those things where there is no arguing that there are two sides. It is not a "Mosque" any more than a YMCA is a church (we all remember that "YMCA" stands for "Young Men's Christian Association," right?). It's also not located at Ground Zero. I'm vaguely familiar with the area as the company I work for is working at Ground Zero. I've been there. I can safely say that you can't see Ground Zero from where Park 51 is to be built, nor vice versa.

Anyway, through all of my reading and such, I happened to come across an interesting site that showed photos of various things that are approximately the same distance from Ground Zero as the Park 51 project. I tweeted the link because I found it confusing that some of the opponents of the proposal say that Park 51 is being built on "hallowed ground." Meanwhile, there are McDonald's and slimy street vendors and even strip clubs closer to the site than the proposed community center. There is no way you can convince me that a strip club is more respectful of the horrible things that happened on September 11th than a community center would be.  You just can't.

A little while after I tweeted the link, I got a reply:

Honestly, I was confused. Last time I checked, not all Muslims are terrorists, any more than all Catholics are (Timothy McVeigh was a Roman Catholic). Really, saying that all Muslims support jihad is even more ridiculous than saying that mommy bloggers are all money-grubbing whores who ignore their children all the time. So, I replied, "That's a lot of misdirected hate you have right there. Maybe you should try reading about what is really being built and by whom." See also: it's not a Mosque and it's not terrorists who are trying to build it.

Then I went to a meeting. When I returned a few hours later, I found a lot of replies.

I'd call that one, "valid." The person who wrote it has personal ties to the situation and is, understandably, emotional. All validity was lost with the next one, though:

Really? REALLY? Change that statement to include any ethnic group, any religion, anything at all. It is a statement of hate. It is a statement born of xenophobia. It's his (or her, frankly I don't know for certain since people can pretend to be whatever they want to be online) right to say that, absolutely. However, if you are willing to defend his (or her) right to free speech, then you also have to respect the rights of fellow Americans to practice whatever religion they may choose.

He continued on.

Remember, I wasn't near a computer while this tirade went on, so I wasn't doing anything to encourage or discourage it. I do, however, take issue with the statement that some countries should be turned into parking lots. Hating people simply because of where they live is absolutely not acceptable. Ever. Your address does not define you as a person.

(For what it's worth, the links pointed to videos posted to YouTube by an extremely xenophobic individual who calmly lays out a message of absolute madness.)

There was more:

There is a lot wrong with every single one of those tweets, but the first thing that came to mind is that we take our shoes off at the airport because of a (somewhat ridiculous, I think) reaction to the Shoe Bomber. His name was Richard Reid and he was a British citizen. Guess we should add Great Britain to the parking lot list because Reid was anti-white long before he ever stepped foot out of the country.

I blacked out the name of the Tweeter who said the horrible things because he later deleted every single one of his tweets. It seems that maybe he has a tiny corner of his brain that realizes it's not OK to hate people merely because of a label. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. However, unfortunately for him, Tweetdeck had already grabbed the tweets and I spent the night staring at them, willing the world of Twitter to @ me so they would go away as they were knocked further and further into my twitter history.

They didn't go away, though. And neither has the hate. Whether it's hate for Muslims or Christians, blacks or whites, Hispanics or Russians, women or men, none of it is OK.

All Americans are free to form an opinion, but at least do it without letting your personal hatred for anyone who isn't like you get in the way.

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