Conservative Generalization of Muslim Extremism: Ground Zero Mosque

Should the United States consider and approve the idea of building a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero to promote religious tolerance? Or should the nation solidify it’s decision and strictly oppose the idea and further promote the hate-mongoring notion of ‘Us’ vs. ‘Them’? The debate has spread around the world, many writers, politicians, political/social experts, and the general public have started voicing their opinion on the matter.

The arguments on either side of the debate have been interesting in the least, but it is clear that a simple solution will not suffice.


The conservative view on the matter is that, of course, the mosque should not be erected because it will “stab hearts” of American people. (Sarah Palin) This view holds that the events of 9/11 are still too sensitive for people and building a mosque “is an insult to the Americans who were murdered there. It is a manifestation of a radically intolerant belief system that is incompatible with the freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution,” (Pamela Geller)

Over 3,000 Americans were murdered during the 9/11 attacks, but Pamela neglects the fact that the WTC attacks took the lives of many peace-seeking Muslims. The conservative side of the argument is stuck on the logic that all of Islam is violent and seeks to destroy the freedom of America; this attribution is not true for all Muslim people. Conservative thinking tends to rely on the generalization of violent extremism towards all Muslim people, and they are simply wrong in assuming that every individual who identifies themselves as Muslim are violent extremists who want nothing other than the destruction of America. Of course there is no doubt that some religious factions teach a doctrine of violence and intolerance towards infidels. However we should not ignore the responsibility of an individual who makes choices in which faction s/he associates with.

Western society should understand that we have our own beliefs, doctrines, and even extremist groups, and therefore we should not blame a whole religion for the choices made by specific extremist groups. If this were a valid method of associating characteristics towards entire populations, than the same could applied towards Christians. The Phelps family, who are Christian,  picket and solicit the funerals of American soldiers holding signs that claim “God Hates America”, and “God Hates Fags”. Do we make a generalization about all Christians based on this particular groups beliefs? No, we condemn the particular group because they are composed of individuals who assume responsibility for their choices and beliefs. Those who carried out the attacks on 9/11, those who planned it, and are still planning other attacks against the freedoms of America and its allies are solely to blame for the attack; but not every Muslim in the world.

On a smaller note, have we already forgotten about the Crusades, and the social and psychological effects these military campaigns had on Muslims? There is too much detail to cover in the time I have, but these historical events surely provoked a specific evolution of thinking for Muslim people, and they should not be ignored.

At any rate, a vote will be held to decide the outcome of the plans to build the now-labeled Ground Zero Mosque. The results will tell if Western thinking has developed to a point where it can accept and recognize the reality that not all Muslims are extremists, and that they have the right to express their religion as much as a Christian or anyone else; or they will show the level of intolerance most westerners have towards ‘Others’, and our incapacity to recognize our mistake in making generalizations about entire religions based on particular groups extremist beliefs.

There are many unexplored angles in this event, and of course it is a lot to cover. If you have any comments or opinions about the events surrounding the Mosque post a comment below.


~ by Peter on August 19, 2010.

3 Responses to “Conservative Generalization of Muslim Extremism: Ground Zero Mosque”

  1. I find it ironic and laudable that you claim that Conservatives generalize while placing all of us Conservatives in the same boat.

    I do agree that this will not have a simple solution.

    For instance I read that not all Muslims believe the mosque should be build there. ( There are already over 1000 mosques in the NYC metro area. The next closest masque is but 12 blocks away, and the Greek Orthodox church, the only church destroyed by the attack, was crushed under falling debris, is still not built in it’s new location because the city and port authority don’t like the ‘church look’ of the design the church leadership chose. Who knew that Greek Orthodox followers were such extremists!

    As for “Western thinking” being developed enough, when I see Islamic thinking developed enough to allow Christean and Jewish houses of worship in their holy cities, we can talk more about how developed we all are. Infidels can not step foot in certain cities, the entire city, even the airport tarmac, even Infidel pilots carrying people on their pilgrimage must sleep on the plane if the flight does not leave the same day, now there’s some developed thinking for you.

    You see, many of us still have vivid memories of seeing Al-Jazeera footage of ‘peace loving Muslims’ dancing in the streets after the announcement of the Twin Tower attacks. Many of us remember how ‘peace-loving’ Muslim religious leaders refused to take a stand and declare the attacks immoral and unjust. Even the future imam of the ground zero masque has stated the West must take some credit/blame for what has happened on 9/11, now there’s a generalization for you!

    Yes, you are correct, there are many unexplored angles to this topic.

  2. Sorry that laudable was suppose to be laughable. Didn’t catch that before I submitted.

  3. While the title of my post may suggest that I am placing all conservatives in one boat, in truth it is not my intention. I did write in the post that “Conservative thinking tends to rely…”. An apology that I made a poor choice of word and that my post lacks a clarifying sentence might not excuse me from your claim. The Mayor and the Governor of New Jersey (who are ‘moderate republicans’) have vocalized their opposition to demonizing and defaming an entire religion in the name of fighting its radicals. I ought to have mentioned that it seems.

    There is a difference between the issue of rebuilding a Greek Orthodox church and building a Muslim Mosque. This is due to the fear of Islam that the media, and other institutions promote due to the attacks of 9/11. We should not ignore this fact because it is still relevant to most of America, and the world. There is no fear of members of Greek Orthodox churches though. Other than a fear of ‘Otherness’ and difference from ‘us’. That aside, extremism in this instance is related to individuals who seek to destroy the freedoms and lives of Americans, and this is being associated to Muslims in general.

    If one group does not lead the way towards recognition, tolerance, and respect of other peace-keeping religions, and other people in general, we will never be able to abolish hate and violence towards Others. This has been going on throughout a majority of the worlds history. We need to work together as a society towards recognizing, understanding, and accepting of differences in people, so long as those people do no intend to interfere with anyone’s rights to food, property, and life.

    Thank you for the comment.

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