I’ll give her credit for one thing: at least she acknowledged that there are peace-seeking Muslims. Nothing makes my blood boil more than people who state that every Muslim is out to kill the infidels. That we’re bloodthirsty heathens who execute people for the merest infractions and love to do so in the most barbaric ways. (Another thing that makes my blood boil is that some Muslims do fit that profile, and that they kill in the name of Allah.)
But her plea for healing is one-sided: both sides need to heal from the events of 9/11. Non-Muslims just can’t seem to grasp the concept that Muslims have suffered as well. They’ve been profiled, reviled, marginalized and blamed for every misstep made by Muslims the world over.
Not only that, but healing only comes with understanding and forgiveness. Eradicating anything that reminds you of your pain doesn’t cause you to heal; it only pushes the pain underground. (As many have realized after executions of murderers—their deaths don’t make up for or ease the pain of the loss of those who were murdered.)
The only reason a religious center is ever seen as provocative is when there are already ill feelings toward the religion. Those who are protesting against the center may say that the center just doesn’t “fit in,” but what they’re really saying is that “we don’t want to have to deal with ‘those people.'”
What are we to think when Palin says that the mere thought of an Islamic center near Ground Zero “stabs hearts”? Does she feel the same way when she is in the presence of a Muslim? If she had her way, would she ban all Muslims from the area surrounding Ground Zero? Or all mosques from New York City?
What “stabs hearts” is the lack of communication between Muslims and non-Muslims. We fear each other precisely because we don’t understand each other. It’s easier to presume the worst about others than it is to try to see things from their point of view.
I think the Muslim response to non-Muslims’ concerns about the Cordoba House should be empathetic but firm: “We understand your feelings, but we believe that they are based on misconceptions. The Cordoba House is an opportunity to set the record straight: Muslims are not your enemies; they are your neighbors.”
[Side note: Kudos to CBS and NBC for rejecting an ad from the National Republican Trust PAC that crosscut footage of the 9/11 attacks with the sounds of Muslim prayer and this narration: “On Sept. 11, they declared war against us and to celebrate that murder of 3,000 Americans, they want to build a monstrous 13-story mosque at ground zero.”]