The Islamic cultural center scandal in lower Manhattan, New York City, may be one of the least-engaging political misdirections of the last year. It isn’t based upon any sensible political principle whatsoever. How far away from Ground Zero must the center’s builders go to mollify political opportunists like Newt Gingrich? Is five blocks okay? A mile? Some claim the entire city of New York, or even all of America, was attacked on September 11th. Where does it end? Are Muslims welcome at all within these arbitrary political borders?
Those most upset about the religious center are neoconservatives. Would the neocons agree if Democrats accused all Christians of endorsing violence and aggression because a few refuse to condemn the murders innocent gay men like Matthew Shepard for their peaceful sexual and gender preferences?
President Obama came out on August 13th to correctly explain that America’s respect for freedom of religion “must be unshakable.”
Both the Holy Bible and the Quran at times endorse forms of violent retribution for now liberalized behaviors, but most modern followers of these faiths have discarded or theologized their way around textual support for such outmoded forms of “justice.” Using inductive logic from scripture to paint all Muslims or all Christians the same color due to the actions of the fringe is treacherous.
Unless one takes a consistent anti-theistic objection to all creeds with (often rejected) canonized anti-liberal positions, these monolithic and simplistic views of religious demographics tend to miss all nuance and feed individual moral virtue into the sausage grinder without making society any more peaceful or free. In addition, one can only assume that this scandal will end in yet another law to expand the power of the state over us all. In other words, no good can come of politicizing any of these engagements.
Politicians are driving another incredibly boring wedge between people to distract them from the major issues. The longer we talk about whether Muslims have basic individual property rights, as well as whether queer people can marry each other in the context of Prop 8, the more we think of each other as members of groups instead of as individuals, and the less time there is to talk about the state’s murder of people abroad and its criminal mercantilist manipulations of the economy and intrusions into our personal lives.