What Did We Learn From The “Ground Zero Mosque” Debate?

By , August 24, 2010 10:39 pm
Sandor John speaks to a crowd of protesters during a rally held to support the proposed Muslim cultural center and mosque that would be built near the World Trade Center site in New York August 22, 2010. Supporters and opponents of a proposed Muslim cultural center and mosque near the World Trade Center site rallied in downtown Manhattan on Sunday, kept blocks apart by a heavy police presence. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi (UNITED STATES - Tags: RELIGION POLITICS SOCIETY CIVIL UNREST IMAGES OF THE DAY)

The heat and level of the debate over the proposed “Ground Zero Mosque” – that isn’t at Ground Zero and is more community center than mosque – has lowered and will probably stay low for some time. Protests were held on Sunday with supporters and opponents of the space that is now known as Park51. Everyone has chimed in on the issue: Obama, Palin, Newt, New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg (whose speech on the subject was powerful), and everyone else with an opinion or an election to win.

With the media and the public’s short attention spans, there are other things to report on – the egg recall, the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, plus whatever else comes up – and there seems to be nothing more to move the Park51 story forward. There’s not much left for talking-heads or politicians to dissect on cable news.

So, after spending several weeks listening to people talk about it, especially here in New York, I hope we have a better understanding of ourselves as a country. The debate touched on our basic rights as Americans as well as current issues the country faces: Freedom of religion, property rights, immigration, the changing racial and ethnic composition of the country, America’s relationship with the Muslim world, 9/11.

I hate to use the phrase “teachable moment,” but there must be a lesson here. Emotions have been high for several weeks now. Adding to the tension are the protests and opposition to proposed mosques in other parts of the country, and a recent poll showing about 1/5 of Americans believe that Obama is a Muslim. America showed some of its true colors in the last few weeks. There is clearly a strong, or at least vocal, Islamophobic streak here.

So, what’s next on this issue?

Is the controversy dead? Will it come up again as we approach the mid-term elections?

What about the issues that surfaced during the debate? What did we learn about ourselves?

Leave your comments below.

One Response to “What Did We Learn From The “Ground Zero Mosque” Debate?”

  1. Bea says:

    What did I learn? Ignorance trumps fact. First Amendment rights mean nothing in this country when religion is used as a political tool! J. Madison wrote in Federalist Paper 10 that religion would be a faction that could possibly destroy the country; unless it was controlled. Results from a recent survey determined that most people know very little about their own religion. And, with so little knowledge about one’s own religion – most people should stop making judgments about someone else’s religion until they spend some time learning about the beliefs and practices.

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