Last night me and my friend (Corey) got into a heated debate bordering full on argument about the mosque being built near ground zero. It started out with him reading this off his his phone. Then he asked me if I knew about the mosque being built near ground zero. I jokingly said yes and that he’s late. He continued to say that it’s fucked up and wrong that it’s being built which set off the debate. I’m sure this is only one of many discussions about this subject happening around the country right now.
Corey serves in the U.S. Army and did a 1 year tour in Iraq. His stance is that it shouldn’t be built because in Iraq mosques are where terrorists hid and planned. Troops weren’t allowed to enter. He also went on to say that the terrorists are Muslim and again that building the mosque near ground zero isn’t a good idea. Since my stance was 100% opposite, he accused me of not being affected by 9/11 as much as him.
I started out by saying this building isn’t a mosque, it’s a community center with a prayer room. Even if it was a mosque I’d still be defending it. He tried to fight that statement by saying its still a mosque and that mosque are huge. I then asked him do you see that tiny bathroom I’m pointing at? We live in a 2 story apartment, that one tiny bathroom doesn’t dictate whether this huge apartment is a one big ass bathroom (I apologize but at this point, it was no longer a debate). Imagine if 9 years after pearl harbor was attacked, a Japanese steakhouse was being built 2 1/2 blocks away. As a result of that the whole country went into a rage thinking its secretly a training center for kamikaze pilots. Sounds stupid right? Exactly.
Not all Muslims are terrorists. To categorize millions of people for the act of a group of extremists is fuckin ignorant (I dont write for a newspaper). Imagine if all Christians were categorized as being terrorists for the acts of Timothy McVeigh (Oklahoma Bombings). Ironically we were watching Dave Chappelles Block Party. I pointed out that both Mos Def and Dave Chappelle are Muslims and sarcastically said “oooh no they must be terrorists.” Corey’s response to that was that he served in Iraq and that I didn’t see what he saw. (side note) I do appreciate everything he’s done to fight for our country but i said it doesn’t give him a pass to be ignorant and discriminate against millions of people.
I believe that the community center should be built. Even if it was a mosque it should be built. 9/11 happened almost a decade ago. If you believe my stance is a product of me not being affected by 9/11 as much as the next person then your argument from this point on will be viewed as comedy. I’m looking at the bigger picture, I’m looking at history, I’m looking at the present, I’m looking at familiarities. No one bothers to look at history to assess the present.
The building will not only serve as a community center but as a symbol of our progression since 9/11. We said that we are a stronger nation after 9/11, well lets prove it. After 9/11 our country was united but at the same time divided due to hate crimes against Muslims.
A few months after Pearl Harbor was attacked The U.S. held 120,000 Japanese Americans in concentration camps. A familiar formula/ pattern: horrific event, leads to confusion and fear, leads to people thinking its a green light to discriminate and do whatever the fuck they want as long as they tie it back to….the horrific event.
Juxtaposition. As an artist, I’m obsessed with it. Two things that normally don’t go together. In this particular case we need it. It is the solution to anything or anyone that has ever been divided. You don’t become strong or fearless by running through something scary as life wearing a blindfold. Tell me what good has ever come from telling a group of people that they don’t belong. Placing restrictions on a group only causes more tension and pressure build ups. Sometimes a black woman sitting in the front of a Birmingham, Alabama bus is all you need in order to cure tension between 2 opposing groups. Or a sit in, in a whites only diner. So now tell me that defying ignorance and boundaries doesn’t work! Go to a diner right now with 3 friends and try to stage a sit in……no one threw a milkshake at you? No one called you at out of your name? you know what? I bet the waitress even asked you what you were going to order.
We are all living the product of past juxtapositions and defiance when it wasn’t the popular thing to do and people died for it. I’m not to say that this community center is being built for that sole purpose to united people. I’m saying that another formula/ pattern is happening right now with all the familiar beats and moments. It’s just a community center, not a terrorist camp. It’s just a building which has the potential to challenge us as a country that claims to have very high morals and values.