Mosque debate plays into the hands of extremists

Dina Temple-Raston reports today on National Public Radio that the protest against the proposed community center and (the so-called “ground zero”) mosque in lower Manhattan has been a boon for terrorism. The rise of bigotry and the erosion of Constitutional rights are only part of the story.

While the ugly debate goes on, there has been an “an altogether different view” on radical blogs and web forums:

All this controversy and vitriol are not only encouraged; they’re welcomed. Extremists and radical clerics posted a stream of “I told you so” messages: After years of telling followers that Islam was under attack by the West, the harsh reaction to a simple community center seemed to prove it.

The fact that extremists, even possibly violent ones, enjoy hearing attacks on the community center is not a reason to stop the dialogue about it, any more than the violence of a few is reason to curtail the religious freedom on which this country was founded or to actively disparage those who worship in different ways. But it is reason for all of us to reflect on our actions.

Just because something seems strange or uncomfortable doesn’t justify an uninformed attack on it, especially when doing so is exactly what extremists have been saying all along: “They (the West) are out to get us, they won’t listen, and they won’t accept our hand, even when we offer it generously. How else can we defend ourselves?”

You can read or listen to the story at Rancor Over Mosque Could Fuel Islamic Extremists.

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