We started this great nation with values that did not exist anywhere else in the world. We have stumbled, we have made mistakes and we have faltered along the way, however we live another day with the hopes of perfecting our union. Yet here we are once again, at a defining moment that will test the strength of our freedoms and our commitment to our founding principles.
It is said in the yogic scripture that in or order to really change the mind of another person, you must first learn to love them. However, I must admit for me it can be a very frustrating process. There are many members of the more conservative sector of our society who are incredibly intelligent, compassionate and loving, but like some of my liberal friends, they suffer from delusion once someone challenges them with an opposing position.
What journalists like Michelle Malkin, Andrew Breitbert and countless other conservatives have made their money on, is the ability to distract their audiences from the real issue, by focusing on the most insignificant portion of the opposing argument. This is exactly what they did when I spoke on Larry King last week about the Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan, Park51, as they harped on a ten-second mistake I made from a twenty minute interview that was designed to promote love, compassion and the respect for our very First Amendment of the American Constitution. Michelle Malkin wants to give me, as she referred to it, a "Def History Lesson," on the subject of the hole that has existed directly across the street, outside my window since September 11, 2001. Well Ms. Malkin, here is a Def History Lesson, Part II, for all of the people who seem to be somewhat blinded by the deep hole inside their hearts, which many of my friends would call hatred.
After all of our previous mistakes caused by some Christians that were perceived by some Muslims as the cause of the 9/11 attacks, when the smoked cleared, we were in the greatest position this nation has been in since World War II to promote world peace. However, to my dismay as well as countless others, the exact opposite occurred. George W. Bush, our 43rd President, supposedly had a vision from God (I would assume his Christian God) to go on a "crusade," which history has now proven was laden with countless mistakes which helped create a cycle of negativity that erased all of the outpouring of love and sympathy that the world had showered upon our nation.
There was no question we needed a change, and in 2008 we got one. Our next Christian president, Barack Obama, vowed to make friends with like minded people around the world, despite their color or religion. The world applauded us and was willing to give us a second chance. He took advantage of that opportunity by reaching out to the Muslim world, beginning with his beautiful speech in Cairo, Egypt. As a leader he tried to represent the collective, which said we are after terrorists and not the beautiful faith of Islam.
President Obama was taking this country on the right path; back to one that respected the First Amendment, and most recently made a clear statement that the American ideal of religious freedom cannot be questioned. But when the bombs came from the Right Wing media and public opinion turned, I saw many Democrats, including Sen. Reid, former Gov. Dean and even Gov. Paterson turn political and become sheep to the growing American trend of Islamophobia. There is absolutely no reason to support negotiating a move for the community center located in Lower Manhattan, except for a FEAR OF MUSLIMS. If you really know the victims and their families were not attacked by Muslims then why (except for Islamophobia) support the misguided anger towards them? This country is masking its fear of Muslims with this groundless debate over a religious community center. They have prayed closer to Ground Zero, in a smaller mosque for forty years, before the twin towers were even erected and not one person in this country took notice. It seems that it might be easier for Ms. Malkin and her friends to just kick all of the Muslims out of the country. And why not follow it up with the Jews and then maybe they can send black people back to the Africa, too?
Even though the American White supremacy movement was founded in Christian fundamentalism, and even though George W. Bush claimed to have "visions" from his Christian God to go to Iraq and kill over 100,000 innocent Iraqis, even though Timothy McVeigh was born into the Christian faith, we would never think for a millisecond that Jesus Christ or any verses of the bible were the cause of these horrendous, stupid acts of men. Therefore it is un-American and against everything that we believe in as a country to associate the 1.6 billion Muslims or 23% of the world's population with the acts of a few, very evil men. I pray that all of the Muslims who might hate Christians because of George Bush's actions, or the blacks or Jews or non-Whites who might hate Christians because of the historical genocide of their people, or the Christians who might hate Muslims for the acts of Osama bin Laden and his culprits, I hope they know that the overriding theme of Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Abraham and Lord Buddha was to love all people of all races and all religions.
I conclude with this story. Recently the organization of which I am the Chairman of, The Foundation For Ethnic Understanding, held a twinning program where we had European Imams and Rabbis visit the United States and hold meetings at the White House, New York City Hall and the United Nations. At the UN in my speech, I mentioned a passage from the Bhagavad Gita, when Krishna tells Arjuna whether he knows him by the name Krishna or not, it is unimportant, as all he needs to do is follow certain principles and he will come to him. When I got off the stage the Imam from Geneva gave me his prayer beads, told me that he loved the verse from the yogic scripture and reminded me that the same sentiment about God loving all people, from all faiths, exists in the Quran.
Now that we have politicized Park51 and the world is watching, there can be no wavering of our support of the First Amendment and, in turn, the proposed community center. Build it.
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