Values, emotion and Islam.

Although the clip above is about 10 seconds, it could possibly bring up a night’s worth of conversation. This was during the 2008 presidential campaign. At the time, some news organizations were broadcasting/printing misleading stories about then-Senator Obama’s religion. When Fox & Friends’ Steve Doocy shockingly stated that Barack Obama had been “raised as a Muslim”, I’m sure many people believed him. It was later revealed that Obama did not attend a “madrassa” or Islamic school, & Fox News had to retract & apologize for their previous statements.

You may be asking yourself, “Well what does this have to do with today, Nicole? I know he is a Christian.”

More on this later.

As we approach the 9th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, many of us will be in reflection. You probably remember exactly what you were doing, what your reaction was, & your feelings towards the situation.

Lately though, there seems to be a different atmosphere surrounding this event. A more polarized, and less united environment. This can be attributed to recent events; or one could say this has been building up for quite a while. I’ll explore both possibilities.

Do you know who imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is? Well, maybe not personally, but you probably have heard of him. He heads up the “Cardoba initiative”, or the proposed “Ground Zero Mosque”.

Over the past month and a half or so, there has been an intense debate taking place in the United States. There are many Americans who are starkly against any plans to build an Islamic center about 600 feet from Ground Zero. As a result, several politicians(some currently running & some out of office), have, in my opinion, seized an opportunity to take advantage of the situation.

Former house speaker Newt Gingrich stated that “It’s not about religion, and is clearly an aggressive act that is offensive”.

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin: “”Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland?”

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani: “Nobody would allow something like that at Pearl Harbor.”

Rick Lazio, who’s currently running for Governor of New York, released an ad questioning the Cordoba initiative:

I could go on and on. You get the picture. Opposition to this has been fervent, and certain politicians have decided to play a role in the ongoing debate. Honestly, I’m less interested in what they have to say. Most politicians have an agenda. As far as this proposed Mosque is concerned, I’m more interested in the opinions of the families involved. Like the rest of America, there seems to be a divide amongst them.

Herb Ouida, who lost her son, said: “To say that we’re going to condemn a religion and castigate a billion people in the world because they’re Muslims, to say that they shouldn’t have the ability to pray near the World Trade Center—I don’t think that’s going to bring people together and cross the divide.”

Rosaleen Tallon-DaRos, who lost her brother on that day, holds a different view:

Watching the video above, you can see the true pain & outrage coming from Rosaleen Tallon-DaRos. She, like many others, feel as if building an Islamic center so close to the site where over 3,000 Americans died is insensitive.

But why?

Islamic extremists were the perpetrators. Many prominent figures in the Muslim world will tell you that terrorists are NOT real Muslims. What extremists adhere to is a perversion of Islam. One that says they should kill others & be willing to die because of the “American way of life”. The majority of Muslims do not subscribe to this, and are in fact, peace-loving human beings.

Islamophobia has slowly crept into the American psyche in the years post-9/11. Guantanamo Bay detention camp, for example, has people imprisoned that haven’t been given the right of “due process”, which is something that is supposed to be uniquely American. Most of the prisoners have been detained on “suspicion” of terrorist involvement.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, many accusations were made about candidate Barack Hussein Obama. Many media pundits accused others of scare tactics when saying his full name.

But why?

Why would this be a scare tactic? If it was, could it be successful? Why should his middle name matter anyway? As I mentioned before, there was a lie spread about then Senator Obama having attended school at a Madrassa, which was later proven to be untrue. But even if he was, would his Muslim faith make him unelectable? Later on in the campaign, former Secretary of State Colin Powell brought up a wonderful point:

If American Muslims are dying alongside American Christians in the war on terrorism, who are we to say that there shouldn’t be a mosque built near Ground Zero? Why should it be considered “insensitive” when Muslim Americans perished in those same attacks on 9/11?

I don’t want anyone to think I am being inconsiderate of 9/11 families who oppose this. I understand why they feel the way they do, but ultimately, we as Americans have to face the facts of this.

The fact of the matter is, ignorance towards the Islamic faith is still very prevalent. There is a Pastor in central Florida (whose name I will not mention), that has threatened to burn the Holy Koran on 9/11 in order to prove his point: Islam is evil, and Christians are superior. While he has every right to sa what he wants under freedom of speech, this is dangerous; even if it is rhetoric.

Imagine being a young Muslim overseas, who hears this chatter. How will he or she form their opinion of the United States? It is important to understand that the Islamic extremists will believe what they believe; there is no changing their minds. But when stories like “Koran burning” or a Muslim cabbie being attacked in New York City gets attention worldwide, it not only hinders the dialogue, but puts a dent in the War on Terror. It gives the extremists ammunition and more motivation to be hateful towards the United States.

Back in 2006, the first Muslim U.S. congressman (Keith Ellison) was elected in Minnesota. A controversy emerged when he stated that he would use the Koran for his swearing in, instead of the Bible. In a country that has no official religion and celebrates religious diversity, this should have been embraced by most. Ultimately, he was able to use the Koran.

There is a bigger question we must ask ourselves: how do we deal with Islamophobia & religious intolerance in the post-9/11 era? The rhetoric being used in these recent stories is not only divisive, but a waste of opportunity. This could be an opportunity for unity, enlightenment and growth. Instead, it has turned into a nasty, emotional, and polarizing “I’m right, they’re wrong” debate. On BOTH sides.


The left photo was referred to by Colin Powell while speaking about Islam in America. This young soldier lost his life defending America and it’s values; some of which are being lost in the emotional discussion/arguments that we are having about Islam & religious rights in the United States. It is important to remember that Muslim Americans are making some of the same sacrifices that Christian Americans, Catholic Americans, Evangelicals, atheists and any other faith/denomination you can think of who happens to be serving in the United States Armed Forces.

In order to advance in this country, we must have a open, but civil debate amongst each other. One that is honest when it comes to our fears and takes some of the emotion out of it. A debate that is practical & fair to BOTH sides.

As we reflect on what extremists did to us tomorrow, take a moment to remember how united we were on the days following the attack. No soldier dies in vain; they fight for the same purpose, regardless of faith. Can we do the same?

3 Responses to “Values, emotion and Islam.”
  1. sixxer96 says:

    You are correct,everything that you mentioned in this post is correct,while I don’t agree completely with the Mosque my views are changing a little bit.The main point is that Americans need to realize that not all muslims are evil and need to change their views.

    • Nicole says:

      & that is fine. The mosque brings out emotions in a lot of Americans. It’s how we channel those emotions & come to a resolution. We may not come to point where everyone on both sides is happy, but at least we would’ve had the discussion.

  2. Maria says:

    There’s an old saying that says, “one bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch.” I think that really applies here. There have been so many bad things done in this world in the name of religion in general, not just Islam. I think it’s unfair to tar everyone with the same brush. It is actions of the individuals themselves that give a bad name to the rest of their faith. These.ones who want to build their mosque at ground zero may want to do so to help build a bridge. I say let them do it – after all I’m sure other religions would be allowed to

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