Anyone feel a little uncomfortable listening to talk about tolerance during the buildup to the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks? Does the rhetoric sound more like a demand? Americans are tolerant but we will not, under any circumstances, marginalize what happened on 9/11, or allow the memory of that day to be manipulated by those portraying America as a nation that fears outsiders, and rejects those who are different.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has talked about moving forward after 9/11, suggesting that the time has come to move on. The Muslim American community’s fears about Islamophobia have not prevented it from remaining in the spotlight created by the Ground Zero mosque, which recently cleared another legal hurdle that brings the project closer to fruition. A Pew Research Center poll tells us that 81% of Muslim Americans believe suicide bombings and violence on religious grounds cannot be justified, and that 81% also have a negative impression of al-Qaeda.¹ Should we regard this as a positive sign, or should we be appalled that 19% of Muslim Americans will not declare that suicide bombings are unjustified under any and all circumstances?
Americans are rarely given the credit we deserve for being as tolerant as we are. Members of Congress called for tolerance after the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords, using the actions of a lunatic as an excuse to stifle partisan discord (see: Congress Does Not Deserve Our Civility and Arizona Tragedy: Only Fools Make Sense of Crazy). The president has asked for tolerance to advance his ideas on dealing with illegal immigration, suggesting that we do not welcome immigrants because we fear them:
Each new wave of immigrants has generated fear and resentments towards newcomers, particularly in times of economic upheaval. ²
President Obama also defended the Ground Zero mosque, choosing not to damn the opportunism and headline-grabbing implicit in the project, and instead declaring:
As a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. (Applause.) And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.³
The president went on to say that “Al Qaeda’s cause is not Islam – it’s a gross distortion of Islam.”4 Is this statement true in America, or is it only a fact for 81% of Muslim Americans?
America’s proper role in a global society is a hot topic, and the Obama administration has done its best to let the world know how we have failed. The president and his enablers are intent on sharing the fruits of our society with all comers, deserving or not. Many of us have a different perspective on globalization and the Islamic world when we think about 9/11. We hear about suicide bombings and terror attacks, and death threats in response to cartoons and books construed as being anti-Islam. News reports tell us of countries that endorse the death penalty for apostasy, and practice stoning, beheading, and the execution of children. We saw blameful fingers pointed at America and our NATO allies when actions in Libya resulted in civilian casualties. We listened to the news that Osama bin Laden was hiding within the borders of Pakistan, a fair weather ally that costs taxpayers billions every year.
A decade after the 9/11 attacks we are still listening to demands for tolerance. That tolerance includes consenting to the Ground Zero mosque, which manipulates the permissiveness of our society and legal system to establish an Islamic beachhead at the source of unbelievable national pain. Americans are open, Americans are tolerant, and the constraints our society imposes are minimal. However, groups set themselves clearly apart when they demand our acceptance of actions that clearly cross the line, but are permitted when opportunism takes advantage of our open society. CAIR has no right to ask Americans, including Muslim Americans, to move on. It sounds too much like “get over it.”