Normally religion is the one subject I absolutely will not touch. After reading Leonard Pitt's excellent column this morning about the protests against building a mosque near Ground Zero in Manhattan, though, I really must weigh in on this topic.
I understand how emotional this is for anyone who had a family member or friend killed or injured 9/11, and for those who are now fighting lung diseases because they tried to save people that day. Thus I understand when they vow to fight this mosque as an insult to those they loved.
On the other hand, it wasn't Islam in general that caused the attacks on 9/11. Islam is a peaceful religion. The terrorists represented a fanatical offshoot of that religion; today's terrorists have the same twisted view of Islam. Blaming all Moslems is the same as blaming all Christians when a Christian person causes mass death. You can't blame all Americans, for instance, because an American citizen blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City, can you?
One of the original rights we have enjoyed in this country is freedom of religion. That doesn't just mean all forms of Christianity plus Judaism. It means all religions. Moslems live all across our great nation and contribute to our way of life. Many are native U.S. citizens who bear absolutely no ill will toward the rest of us. They are as American as you and me. Our law says they can worship where they please.
I'm sorry the idea of a mosque so close to Ground Zero is so offensive to many people, but as Leonard Pitts wrote for this morning's newspaper, you can't have it halfway. Either we have freedom of worship or we don't. Letting them have the mosque where they plan should illustrate to the world that we really believe in our Constitutional right to freedom of religion.