(FinalCall.com) – After months and months of racist bashing of mostly Latino immigrants as this country’s “enemy within,” White Americans, led by politicians and nationally prominent conservatives have now shifted their sights into a hateful campaign against Muslims. The new campaign, which is spreading across the country like wildfire, was triggered by opposition to plans to build a mosque and cultural center in New York City, anywhere near “Ground Zero” where the Twin Towers were destroyed Sept. 11, 2001.
A leader of the American Family Association, for example put it simply. The United States should have “no more mosques, period.” This is for “one simple reason,” Bryan Fischer, director of issues and analysis for the group wrote on the AFA’s Internet site: “Each Islamic mosque is dedicated to the overthrow of the American government.”
Islam is not the source of America’s problems. Islam is the solution to America’s problems. If only Mr. Fischer and like-minded individuals and groups including many prominent Republican Party officials, leaders of the Tea Party movement, and the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith only knew.
“Permits should not be granted to build even one more mosque in the United States of America, let alone the monstrosity planned for Ground Zero,” said Mr. Fischer.
Cartoonist Tom Toles satirized this growing Islamophobic fervor in The Washington Post on Aug. 10. He pictures a protestor holding a sign reading “No Mosque at Ground Zero.” The protestor makes a statement: “Ground Zero is broadly defined as the Western Hemisphere…”
Sadly, the most compelling witness to the truth Mr. Toles’s modern humor is the 500-year-old history of European conquest of the Western Hemisphere.
When Christopher Columbus set sail in 1492–with the blessing of Spain’s Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand–using what proved to be flawed maps for what he thought would be a new route to the East Indies, Spain and Western Europe were already 14 years into the infamous Inquisition.
His voyage came at a critical time of emerging western imperialism and economic competition between kingdoms seeking wealth from the establishment of trade routes to the spice islands.
The Islamic control of Spain had already been overthrown and all “Moriscos,” or “secret Moors” who came under suspicion of holding on to their old religion were rounded up on orders of The Crown for religious penalties described in a handbook published in 1578: “…punishment does not take place primarily and per se for the correction and good of the person punished, but for the public good in order that others may become terrified and weaned away from the evils they would commit.”
The Inquisition’s aim was to stamp out all vestiges of Islam, and to be certain that none of their explorers or “Conquistadors” (conquerors) took or permitted any trace of Islam to sprout up in The New World–the Western Hemisphere. “…For the public good in order that others may become terrified and weaned away…” the inquistors engaged in a reign of terror. Not unlike, it would seem, the goals and the tactics of the haters of Islam in the United States today.
The targets of the Islamic hate campaign being waged in this country today are the well-endowed, wealthy communities of Islamic immigrants, often second and third generation worshipers who want only to practice their faith in peace. Their members are successful, often professional leaders of the mainstream society who are now shocked at the eagerness of so many of their fellow citizens to, it would seem, gather them up and toss them out of the American “melting pot,” directly into the flame.
To his credit, President Barack Obama has supported the right of Muslims to build the controversial mosque in New York City, while taking pains to point out that he was not expressing an opinion on the strictly local New York City officials affirming the mosque construction.
“But let me be clear,” Mr. Obama told a Ramadan Iftar dinner he hosted at the White House Aug. 13. “As a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.
“This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are. The writ of the Founders must endure,” said Mr. Obama.
But there is another phenomenon that is soaring in this country, well below the radar of the high-profile Islamic mosque movement. It began in Detroit on July 4, 1930 when the Nation of Islam was born in this country. The movement spread to every city and town, to every hamlet, and every borough in this country among the poor and neglected Black population, and it continues to grow.
The Nation of Islam never boasted of any grand places of worship–although Mosque Maryam, our headquarters in Chicago is as elegant as any mosque anywhere in this country or elsewhere.
No, as the Nation of Islam grew from meetings in the homes of Muslim converts, our public mosques were more often rehabilitated store-fronts, or theaters, or churches, or commercial buildings, like the building in tiny Greenwood, Miss. where the believers there recently won a zoning variance permitting them to meet and worship and to continue to spread the Message of human rehabilitation taught by The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and his National Representative the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. For 80 years now, that message has transformed the hearts of this country’s rejected and despised Black population, into God-fearing Muslims and productive saviors and redeemers of the remainder of our down-trodden people.
The Nation of Islam mosque movement is not immune to the anti-Islamic hatred surging throughout the country. The Nation of Islam is built not just of brick and mortar, but resides deep in the hearts of those who hear the Nation of Islam’s message of redemption.
That message of love, faith and unity has produced real change in Black America and in American society. It is an example of what building a mosque in a community can do.