This being my first Daily Kos diary, I apologize in advance if I fail to follow traditional rules of the road.
Like many of you, I've been closely following this "debate" concerning what has been labeled the "Ground Zero Mosque." Also, like many of you, I have been contemplating how it all fits in the big picture. My thinking, though, has been a source of great concern, as my conclusion does not bode well. That is, unless we are able to reverse the course of public opinion in this matter.
What is public opinion on this matter? As we know, CNN's August 11 poll has found that 68% of Americans oppose the plan, and the question was more or less fairly worded.
Of course, this is all a big distraction.
Why? Because one would have to ask why people are opposed to the center. I strongly doubt that a basketball court or swimming pool are offensive to folks who oppose it. So let's just cut to the chase. They are offended by the mosque part. But why? Well, since I also doubt that the generic act of building a house of worship in the neighborhood is offensive (a church definitely would not be causing any significant controversy), it's the Muslim part of it.
So, the fact that Muslims are building a house of worship here is worth opposing, if we're to trust 68% of Americans. The reasons for this opposition have been, really, not so varied. They've more or less fallen under the argument of offending the sensitivities of 9/11 victims.
Frankly, I don't care who claims to be offended by it. They're all wrong. Many have recently tried to argue that, like the Gainesville, FL Quran burning, that just because they have the right to do it does not diminish that it is wrong to do so. The problem is, Park 51 is not wrong in any way. The only thing that is wrong is choosing to be offended, and that fact has deep consequences.
Choosing to be offended by the generic fact that Muslims are buildnig a mosque near Ground Zero is failing to distinguish the hijackers from Muslims at large. Muslims, making up roughy 1/5 of the world population, are not responsible for 9/11 any more than Christians in general are responsible for bombing abortion clinics. People who twist their views and values no longer share views and values with those who do not twist them. Crumple a piece of paper. Is it still paper? Yes, but we can distinguish it from the rest of the ream of paper that remains uncrumpled.
This failure to make a distinction is a fatal flaw. If we, as a people (68% is no small number), refuse to distinguish between radical Muslims and Muslims in general, then we are saying every single Muslim is suspected of being the enemy, just as radicals are the enemy.
Why is this so terrible? We already see it with how loathsomely the media reports on civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even when it is reported to Americans, in print or television, it's barely given more than a statement of fact. We just don't seem to care. And that's when we are making a distinction. If we fail to distinguish who the enemy is, then 13 suspected terrorists and 7 civilians turns into 20 suspected terrorists.
We've got soldiers on the ground hunting suspected terrorists. If Americans think every Muslim is a suspected terrorist, then what is stopping us from demanding that our military hunt every Muslim? It would seem to me that the only thing is the failure of Americans to realize the consequences of their logic, and the hope that if they did, they would realize the error in it. I think H.P. Lovecraft said it best in the introduction to The Call of Cthulhu:
"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live in a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far."
"[T]he piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality..."