Right Now, We're the Problem
Since most Americans feel it's inappropriate to construct a mosque so close to the site of the 9/11 attacks, and since Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has said he is committed to bridging divides between Muslim and American cultures, why not show us of this commitment?
While there are always a few haters, Americans understand that it was the terrorist element of Islam that attacked us on 9/11, not those who cherish peace. The proposed spot for the mosque reignites the hurt felt by what the terrorists did, not the peaceful of Islam.
Mr. Rauf could recognize that distinction, sense that it's not appropriate to build a mosque so close to ground zero, take advantage of our religious freedom, and by using good judgment, build the mosque somewhere else.
By doing so, what a long way he would go to bridge the supposed divides about which he has professed such concern. What a wonderful way to show how the peaceful of Islam really operate and put out the fire.
That's not likely to happen, and part of the reason is that Rauf is supported by Americans who are pouring gas onto the blaze. Once again, legitimate and common sense debate over an extremely important issue has taken a backseat to political correctness, slander, name-calling and defamation.
A perfect example of this was presented to us on the Opinion page of Wednesday's Pilot, with the inclusion of the cartoon by syndicated cartoonist Stuart Carlson.
In this comedic gem, the message seems to be that if you disagree with President Obama's policies, or do not believe it's appropriate to build a mosque next to the crater that used to be the World Trade Centers, you are an ignorant bigot.
A man's head has been sliced open with a scalpel. It's then filled with various ingredients. The first frame says, "add news from only one source." Presumably, Carlson refers to Fox News.
Then add, "a dollop of fear ... a glob of anger and frustration ... a tincture of xenophobia ... and a big dose of ignorance." Then the brain is flipped closed, and the man utters the statement, "President Obama is a Socialist, Muslim, Terror Baby."
There are a couple of things about this. First, it is creepy when political satire from the Fourth Estate, in blind defense of a leader, turns its attention away from politics, or the issue at hand, and instead, hurls insults at a segment of the population.
In America, we have freedom of speech as well as freedom of religion, and while Mr. Carlson may not agree with those who disagree with either Obama or the proposed mosque, that doesn't make Americans ignorant bigots for the positions they hold.
Second, where does Mr. Carlson think American's anger and frustration originate if it isn't the result of cartoons and other commentary just like this? People don't like being slandered. But this is becoming the norm, whether on television, in newspapers, online, even in private conversations.
We have lost the ability to communicate with those we disagree with. We seem unable to respect another's views. Instead, we fling insults and defame character.
If there is to be a remedy, it's probably with our vote. Our vote matters more now than ever. We are losing our way, and it's in large measure due to a lack of leadership and integrity in our government.
It's more common now for our politicians to pander to their base and say or do whatever is necessary to further that agenda, and their own political futures, than it is to do what is right and honorable by all the American people.
For us to be honorable, to have integrity, to once again respect one another, we need to see it occasionally from those who govern.
So as November draws near, let's try to be more informed before we cast our ballots. Let's know the character and integrity of the candidate before we just loyally pull the lever for our party member.
Let's know if the candidate is part of the problem or the solution. Do they prefer insult over rational debate? Or do they avoid that type of thing in favor of our Constitution and respect for the American people?
Geoff Cutler is owner of Cutler Tree LLC in Southern Pines and is a regular contributor to The Pilot and PineStraw magazine. Contact him at email@example.com.
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