Are we letting our fear of jihadists get out of hand? We have shared this country with Muslims far longer than the time that has elapsed since 9/11. How much did we think about them? Not much I'd wager. Especially those who freely adopted western dress and U.S. law.
Then everything changed, exacerbated by the incidents at Fort Hood, the shoe sole bomber, the "underwear" bomber and the scare in Times Square. These are all valid reasons to be cautious, but to lump all Muslims residing on U.S. soil as no more than terrorists is no more right than lumping all blacks as violent gang members.
There are passionate opinions about plans to build a mosque a couple of blocks from "ground zero". "Why not," say some. "No way," say others. I ask why not some place else? Let's presume it is to be no more than a place of worship and set aside questions about funding and the Imam. Is it not, plain and simple, distasteful to build a multi-million dollar 13 story tall building? Photos of the architectural rendering are a bit flashy to say the least. A mosque is one thing; an in-your-face reminder that Muslims were in fact those who brought down the World Trade Center because they hate us is quite another. If the Muslims want to show they are sympathetic to what happened there, why should it not be them instead of us making the concession on the location? Not to mention the design!
On the other hand, in other parts of the country, from Nashville to Temecula, Muslims have been meeting ugly resistance to both new mosques and the expansion of existing ones. Once more a minority in our country is living in fear. Fear of us.
Yes, the Muslim population is growing and much of it is from immigrants that have been coming in since 1990. Legal immigrants I might add. Are they jihadists bent on our annihilation? Or could they possibly be Muslims looking for a better life than what they had in their countries of origin? Certainly there will be bad apples. But not necessarily barrels full.
These actions do no more than encourage the very thing we want to discourage. Radicalization!
I agree there should be no consideration of a parallel legal system bringing in Sharia law for the Muslim community. While some if it's dictates, like dressing modestly and forbidding adultery are of merit, their methods of punishment are not. If they, like everyone else, want the privilege of living in our country then they must obey our laws. Not those they left behind.
It's sad that we have become so suspicious of one another based on nationality, race and religion. It will take a special discipline on our part, collectively, not to let it destroy the very things for which we we stand. Prudence. Vigilance. And maybe the glimmer of an idea that man is a basically decent being.
I may be expecting too much.