The “9/11 mosque” controversy refuses to die. Each day it makes me sadder, angrier, and irritable. And I’m not even Muslim!
Driving Javi to daycare today, I heard this NPR story about how Eid (the Islamic New Year) coincides w/ 9/11 this year. Muslim communities around the country are toning down their celebration because they’re afraid. The saddest part, the Imam interviewed was telling how he had to explain to his children why the mosque had cancelled the children’s carnival. Seriously. How do you explain to your kids that — in America! — you can’t celebrate your faith too loudly for fear of physical harm. In May, a mosque was firebombed in Florida, less than 100 miles from where a Florida church wants to burn Korans on 9/11.
Our culture’s short historical attention span never ceases to amaze me. Last weekend, I was at a Catholic wedding in upstate New York. After the ceremony, walking around the grounds, a family friend & I chatted about the building. It was an old, unimposing structure built facing the lake. He wondered at it, and we debated whether it was built that way on purpose (to be humble) or because the Irish immigrants who built it a century ago didn’t want to provoke their Protestant neighbors.
This friend mentioned something that stunned me: “At the very least,” he said, “you can tell they felt safe.” I was puzzled. He explained that he knew this, because the building had windows. In Philadelphia, the oldest Catholic churches apparently don’t have windows. Why? Because when they were built, anti-Catholic sentiment was high & it was common for good Protestant Americans to throw things through the windows. I guess they forgot that their grandparents had come to America to avoid attacks on their houses of worship back in England.
My mind raced to the news stories of recent attacks on mosques around the US. We haven’t gone much farther, have we? I wonder if any Catholic clergy or Mormon ministers will speak out, loudly condemning the new wave of religious bigotry. Sadly, I think they’ll keep quiet. Or, worse, join in.
Happy Eid, everyone.