So the Muslims want to build a mosque in Downtown Manhattan. That’s fine – let them. Not unexpectedly, many Islamophobic politicians and groups have come out in vehement opposition to establish a religious gathering place so close to the site of the September 11 tragedy. I would expect this from the likes of Newt Gingrich and the radical right organizations. But from the ADL? This is a group that I have admired for its courage and tenacity in defending the rights of all religions to worship the way they choose while maintaining the rights guaranteed to all Americans by the Constitution. It has been a beacon of light and hope in a world that still has pockets of hatred against Jews sixty years after the Holocaust that killed six million of us and countless gypsies, homosexuals, and other groups that fell out of favor with the German government.
This is the same ADL that opposes building the mosque – it claims that it is not due to bigotry, but it just “isn’t right” to have an Islamic center so close to Ground Zero. This rationale only serves to feed the mantra that all Muslims are somehow terrorists. Does the ADL feel the same way about building Christian churches near the site of Oklahoma City’s Murrah Building because Timothy McVeigh was Christian? The ADL, which once was an uncompromising bastion of tolerance, has started down a slippery slope.
We have two choices. We can welcome a Muslim house of worship and show that Americans are tolerant and inclusive – walking the walk that Thomas Jefferson eloquently inscribed in the Declaration of Independence and talking the talk that the Founding Fathers enshrined in the Constitution. Or we can continue the undermining of our rights that George W. Bush started shortly after 9/11 and make America a less tolerant society based on fear and not liberty. In that case, the terrorists will have won.