Center Should Unite Citizens, Not Divide

by Ashley Carter
Columnist

Nine years ago, the Sept. 11 attacks brought our nation to its knees. Every one of us felt shaken; our sense of security was stripped away. And suddenly, as we came out of our shock and saw what had happened to our country, we all came together. That day, we were not just citizens of our cities, or citizens of our states; we were all Americans, all struck by tragedy. And yet, in the nine years since that day, we seem to have forgotten that passionate sense of togetherness, the sense that we are a United States of America.

This has never been more evident than in the last few months, which our nation has spent butting heads over the issue of a proposed Islamic community center in New York City.

It is perfectly understandable that emotions run high in regards to Ground Zero. However, there are quite a few logical reasons why we cannot, and should not, object to the building of the Cordoba Center based on those fears.

Obviously, many of the objections are due to the fact that the Sept. 11 attackers were members of a radical Islamic group. However, we cannot judge an entire group based on its most radical members. Claiming that all Muslims are like the Sept. 11 attackers is like claiming that all citizens of Germany are like Hitler — it simply isn’t true.
The backers of the Cordoba Center are all American citizens and have spent their careers working for peace and interfaith relations. Their plan for a community center aims to bring the entire community together — members of all races and religions would be welcomed.

So why has a community center with peaceful goals raised such a disturbance among Americans? Fear. In nine years, our nation has been through not only the tragedy of the Twin Tower attacks, but also wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. We have become scared of anything that could be connected to radical Islamic groups because we are essentially fighting a war against them.

It is difficult not to let our fear color our opinions. However, we must be able to distinguish between the radical groups that have caused such fear and anger in our country and the peaceful Muslims of America who have experienced the same fear and anger.

I understand why Americans are so up in arms over the idea of an Islamic center so close to where so many lives were lost. We, as Americans, should never forget the Sept. 11 attacks. However, we should remember that sense of brotherhood and unity. We should remember that, when faced with adversity, we banded together to stand strong against it. We should not let our fear and anger make us forget that, in the end, we are all Americans, seeking the betterment of our country.

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