For the past month, our national attention has been focused on how we feel about Islam. The controversy surrounding Cordoba Center ("the mosque at ground zero"), an Islamic community center planned in Lower Manhattan, has inspired some to engage in a vitriolic contest pitting Islamophobia against the principle of religious freedom.
Now comes the the news that Pastor Terry Jones at the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida has proclaimed that 9-11 will be "Burn a Koran Day." General Petraeus has warned that this would endanger our troops in Afghanistan.
It seems like burning the Quran is like yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. Afghanistan is the theater crowded w/ American soldiers.
This controversy also coincides with our nation's withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq after over six years of combat. Sadly, press coverage for that historic decision and moment has been eclipsed by the domestic fighting over the Cordoba Center.
There is little public joy in seeing an end of our combat mission. Instead, we seem to want to fight amongst ourselves about one of the largest and oldest religions in the world. (Islam is practiced by nearly 25% of the world's population and is the second largest in the world.)
It is ironic that the extreme rhetoric from some of those opposing the Cordoba Center plans undermines the very things that we've been supposedly fighting for in Iraq: Democracy and Freedom. Historically, in America, "freedom" has always included religious freedom.
9/11 is approaching and many Muslim communities across the country are feeling isolated or living in fear of becoming victims of violence.
What can we do as individuals and as a community of people to promote peace and understanding? What can we do to make 9/11 a day of unity instead of a day of fear?
For inspiration, check out how some 9/11 families have been working to promote peace and tolerance: http://www.peacefultomorrows.org/
Can you organize an event in your community to promote peace and understanding?
Can you write a letter to the editor expressing your support for the Muslim community and the principle of religious freedom?
Let's make 9/11 a day of unity instead of a day of fear and hatred.