(This letter is in response to the “Hannon Opposes Mosques Near Ground Zero” letter from Senator Kemp Hannon that appeared in the Friday, Aug. 27 edition of the Levittown Tribune.)
Once again the platform of the right wing has infiltrated the platform of the National Republican Party. Senator Kemp Hannon’s recent letter opposing the building of a mosque in downtown Manhattan is an example of the Republican Party to run on emotional issues to garnish votes rather than developing party policies to improve our country during these difficult economic times.
The plans to build this mosque have been public for over a year but only now in the months running up to the elections are politicians making an issue of it. Senator Hannon’s statement of preserving the dignity of Ground Zero runs counter to the fact that the mosque is not being built in the area of the Twin Towers. Also, how is the developing of commercial buildings on the sacred ground not an intrusion of the memories of those lost? If building a structure “discounts the hardships these Americans have faced” then Senator Hannon should be opposed to any development other than a memorial to those lost in these attacks.
Senator Hannon’s concern for retaliation against the Muslim-American community may be honorable but it is rhetoric like his, as well as his Party’s eagerness to turn the mosque into a political issue, that has created the hostility that has already begun against Muslim-Americans. He seems to forget that it was the work of fanatical Muslims that attacked us. As Senator Jeff Merkely (D-OR) said, “The presence of a mosque is only inappropriate near Ground Zero if we unfairly associate Muslim Americans with the atrocities of the foreign al-Qaida terrorists who attacked our nation.” Has Senator Hannon forgotten that Muslim-Americans also died in the attacks, and that many responders who risked their own lives that day were also Muslim-Americans?
At this critical moment in time, all of us need to speak up and speak out to reject stereotypes and prejudices that lead to exclusion and even violence if we are serious about securing religious freedom and confronting hatred at home and abroad. We must defend that principle because it is what makes us different than our enemies. If we don’t defend our American beliefs of inclusion for all, we will become no different than our enemies who respect no religious freedom.