Tuesday, August 10, 2010

To have a mosque or not have a mosque, thats the ?

So they want to build a mosque at Ground Zero, not near it, pretty much at it. And almost everyone in New York is up over arms about it, at least 5 to 3. Anti-defamation league on one end, Mayor Bloomberg on the other. The Mayor says,"We would betray our values and play into our enemies’ hands.." if we did not do this. Others argue the World Trade Center Ground Zero cite that it should be left alone as a grand graveyard honoring the dead, but the real estate is too enticing for any such noble gestures. There is money to be made here, a lot of it.

The proponents of the minority argue such an opposition goes against the very nature of our immigrant mentality and tolerance. Really ? Our history suggests as waves of different Europeans, then Asians, then Mexicans came such issues always flared up. Even the Jewish community with all its clout is not integrated into the society. We truly tolerate each other for fulfillment of our capitalistic dream. There is no kumbaayah of any sort. Birds of the same feather flock together, and they hate the other birds unless getting along means overall survival. We only care about us!

Now, the country allows for the freedom of religion and faith. Using those rules nothing should prevent the Mosque from being set up. In defence, they say the emams are moderate: he espouses peace. In the end of the day, the question is not about the emam, but about how the community embraces United States. Speaking from experience, the community broadly does not espouse the kind of values the emam has, or the intellectual integrity of a Fareed  Zakaria.  They are exceptions on one end, there are several moderates who want to keep their head down and try to achieve the dream so that their relatives can too down the road in their home country or here in the middle, and the un or underemployed radicalists on the other end. For this under-employed group with rich relatives, inclusion in this Muslim community is limited to finding an unanchored Causasian women (not African American or Spanish or Asian origin), lure them with stability, money, and marry them (and almost always convert them to Islam) to use that funnel to get blood relatives entry into this country-legally of course. For what: a shot at prosperity. However, the "kaum" (Arabic for the broader society/people for Islam) must go on.  Right or wrong, that does happen, and denying it, intellectuallizing it,  is pretty much letting your heads remain in the sand.  The education levels in the Muslim world, where most of the early influence comes from, will never reach a level where such moderate behavior and enlightenment will be achevied and prevail. It is true, that most of the community if employed are peace-loving more for economic progress, but bear deep resentments to the actions in the Gulf and elsewhere (lets face it: we may not like human rights issues in China, but we can't do much about it; but we can always lord over the Gulf, we need their oil, they need our money, at least for now). It is just how it is. America will never be first, "kaum" (قوم )  will be, when push comes to shove.

Memories in that subcontinent run thousands of years, ask any Afghan or any Arab, or any Pakistani, or any Palestinian - memories run long. A country with a memory of  400 years, with tons of problems of its own, slavery to start with, racism that still lurks with us, tries to take the high road (becasue otherwise it will look bad and somehow "help" terrorist recuirting) and expects everyone will understand - well, not really.  There lies the problem and disconnect. The hue and cry is more xenophobic, but the underlying problem is bigger - it has the same patterns of distrust as the other waves but none had religion mixed in, it was pure ethnicity, this time it has religion in the center of it. There is no denying.

The country is at a 'beggars cannot be choosers' stage, they want any country which has money to  buy our debt. Well, Arabs are one of them, right behind the Chinese. In the end, the prayer room will go up, the big money from outside is on it, there will be incidents around it, but eventually life will go on. This will not stop the extremists to recruit, that is not why they hate America. There are thousand other betrayals in the past, and there is no way to make them forget that, mosque no mosque. But, I do think in the future, it is quite conceivable that the next attack at the country may in fact be have roots at this site.  Particularly if some fool tries to demolish that structrure after its commissioned and built (ask the Hindu nationalists in Ayodhya, that grudge battle is still going on). That brings the most inconvenient question of all, while praying how many people praying at this mosque will be thanking the almighty for amity, peace to the world vs. thanking those "shaheeds" (شَهيد) who brought those towers down for all those atrocities in the name of oil. It hurts even writing this thought.
The best answer is that the Ground Zero be left "as is" as a shrine where people of all faiths come and offer their prayers for the fallen (much like the Wailing Wall in another sub continent) - but that will never happen. So all this posturing will continue.

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