Well, Gary, you’re back and I’m glad we’ve got a little controversy on our hands (about the Mosque in Manhattan) and I suspect before we finish debating we may be disagreeing on more than just politics.
Let me ask – gingerly – three questions. Are all religions are equal? Should all religions be treated equally? Is there a tie between Islam and terrorism?
Are all religions equal? Most people I think would answer this question no. Moslems don’t believe Christ is the Messiah so in their view Christians are making a mistake by worshiping a false God. Most Christians, of course, look at it exactly the other way around. The point is one of these religions has to be right and the other is wrong – so it’s hard to see how they’re equal. Do we disagree?
Should all religions be treated equally? In America today we’ve already crossed that bridge and, I suspect, most people would answer this question yes. But that does tend to lead to awkward conflicts and the mosque is an example. To put it delicately, even if a fellow favors freedom of religion, if he has qualms about Islam’s ties to terrorism he may naturally wince at the prospect of a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero.
And that brings us face to face with the million dollar question. Is there a tie between Islam and terrorism? Perhaps you know the answer to that. I don’t. But, naturally, ignorance breeds doubt and doubt leads to suspicion.
For instance, I look around at the followers of other religions – for example, Hindus or Buddhists – and I wonder if they are as likely to commit acts of terrorism as Muslims. And a brief, unscientific glance at who’s murdering who these days doesn’t reveal a lot of Hindu terrorists. Of course, that doesn’t prove a link exists between Islam and terrorism. Osama bin Laden could be attacking the United States for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with Islam. But I suspect the plumb line in the debate about the mosque boils down to the answer to the question of the ties between Islam and terrorism.
I may be completely mischaracterizing your view (and I am sure if I am you’ll correct me) but it seems to me pro-mosque building folks answer that question one of two ways. They say: There’re good people and there’re bad people and Osama bin Laden is a bad person and his religion has nothing to do with it. He’d still be a bad person (and a murderer) if he was a Christian.
Or, alternatively, they reason: There are ‘bad Christians’ but that doesn’t prove Christianity is bad. So the fact there are ‘bad Muslims’ doesn’t prove Islam is bad. Therefore, the two religions should be treated equally.
That sounds fair and logical and open-minded but, of course, there is the possibility the first statement is true and the second false. After all, I think we’d agree a Christian blowing up 3,000 innocent people would be acting contrary to the teachings of Christ. But I guess it’s possible a Muslim doing the same thing might be acting in accord with the teachings of The Prophet.
So here is the question I suspect may take us far beyond politics: What do you think? Like many people who don’t know a great deal about Islam I wonder, Is there something about Islam that leads to the creation of terrorists like Osama bin Laden?