Good guys are always at a disadvantage. When you play by the rules, value life, and revere freedom, it’s tough to outmaneuver those who don’t.
As Americans, we believe individuals have the right to worship and express their faith as they choose. It is arguably our oldest and most fundamental value, the drive which pushed our Old World forefathers across the sea. To uphold it, we are willing to endure a great deal, and we have. However, our innate tolerance may be our undoing if we fail to recognize when it is used against us.
Adding his voice to the cacophony of frenzied debate over the Ground Zero mosque, Def Jam co-founder turned prolific leftist commentator Russell Simmons is quick to condemn any criticism of the Islamic center as bigotry. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s newly green-lit plan to build a towering mosque – the Cordoba House - overshadowing the sacred ground where the World Trade Center once stood has been widely condemned. At best, it is audacious and distasteful. At worst, it is a horrific declaration of victory in jihad. To Simmons however, it is an innocent expression of faith which Americans ought not question:
It is not insensitive to put a cultural center of any sort, that has a place of worship, anywhere in our city… We were formed as a pluralistic society and this means we welcome all religions. Islam did not attack the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, sick and twisted men did, who not only hijacked four airplanes but also hijacked a religion. Let us not stereotype the over one billion Muslims around the world because of the evil acts of a few. A decision like this one, to support or not support the construction of this center, defines who we are as a nation. It’s at the essence of our values, our freedom of expression, freedom of religion and religious tolerance.
Simmons is right about one thing. How we respond to Cordoba House does say something about our nation. As we face the Islamization of the West, our response will determine whether we are capable of rationally sorting actual religion from a coercive political movement, and thus whether our republic deserves to survive.