Muslims Are Under No Obligation To ‘Reject’ Ground Zero Mosque

Yesterday, Sarah Palin tweeted:

Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing

As it turns out, near North Sixth Street and Kentucky Avenue in Waco, Texas, you can find the Greater Mount Carmel Church. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because the Mount Carmel Center in Waco became the home of the violent religious fanatic David Koresh’s Branch Dividians. In 1993, after the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms attempted to execute a warrant to investigate Koresh’s illegal stockpile of weapons, a 50-day siege unfolded that ended with the deaths of four federal agents and 76 of Koresh’s followers. I don’t honestly know if the Greater Mount Carmel Church in Waco is affiliated in any way.

But I do know that if any politician implored the Greater Mount Carmel Church to close its doors because its all-too-reminiscent name represents an “UNNECESSARY provocation” that “stabs hearts,” that politician would be unfairly and ignorantly projecting Koresh’s crimes onto a community of faith that saw its beliefs misrepresented and exploited by conspiracy theorists. It is not the responsibility of that faith community to change its behavior in order to reassure ignorant politicians who seek power and wealth through washing themselves in the blood of a national trauma. It’s the responsibility of politicians not to implicate entire communities of faith with the crimes of violent conspiracists.

Muslims died on 9/11, as 3000 Americans of every and no faith did. Muslim Americans serve their country in uniform, even after years of fear-borne ignorance by those who inadvertently buy into the sweaty worldview of Usama bin Laden. Would Sarah Palin dare to stop Marine Corps Sgt. Jamal Baadani from worshipping near Ground Zero?

Someone is indeed engaged in unnecessary provocation here, but it’s not those who want to build the Ground Zero Mosque. And if there’s something to be rejected in the interest of healing, it’s the guilt by association that Palin is peddling.

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Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman