9/11 Reflections on Xenophobia

“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Today is has been all about reflection. I debated about writing about this day. I have already done it several times and, of course, I will never forget. But, the one thing I do not want to do is talk about this day over and over every year.  I think we need to focus on lessons learned so that hopefully this will not happen again. However, on the 9th anniversary of 9/11, I feel that we are increasingly surrounded by ignorance.

There is so much animosity over this Mosque at ground zero. The people who are crying foul about this whole thing believe that it is disrespectful to what has happened and that quite possibly there is some ulterior motive in the long run. Of all of this just fans the flames of the man, Reverend Terry Jones, who originally wanted to burn the Qur’an because “Islam is a evil”.

This becomes a case where people do not know their history. So let’s set the record straight on a lot of things. I am, by definition, a Catholic and I have been recovering for some time now. But, I do know a few things about Christianity when it comes to violence and killing under the name of Jesus. I could use several examples on this. We can talk about how settlers of the United States felt that the indigenous people were too savage and either need Jesus or needed to die. Perhaps we can talk about slavery and how many of the slave owners used religion to oppress slaves in order to get rid of their heathen beliefs brought from Africa. However, I think the best example is the Jewish Holocaust under the hands of Nazi Germany. After all, Hitler was a devout Christian who was simply was killing Jews under the name of God (He used to also sanction the burning of books…hello Reverend).

Do the action of many people in the history of the world who used Jesus to kill others mean the Christianity and all its forms are evil? Clearly not so much. What people also do not seem to understand that Qur’an is like the next installment of the Torah and the Gospel. Muslims believe that everything in the first two testaments with the exception that Mohammed is their messiah. So if you think about it, we all believe in the same God.

Now, I will not lie and say that seeing a Arab on a plane does not scare me a little because it has. I was on a flight to California a few years ago and an guy whom I thought could have been Arab (he could have been Indian too) was sitting next to me. I remembered feeling shamed that I was hoping that he was not going to do anything that may result in my death. It sounds so messed up but we all see the images on TV and they do have an effect on the psyche.

It is those types of images that scared people after the attack of Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941. The xenophobia was at an all time high that many Japanese Americans were detained in internment camps. This type of fear and hatred is still possible in this country and the fact that Islamic Americans cannot even build a mosque near ground zero is a bad sign.

It is my hope that 9/11 does not stand for a day when we become more divided on issues of Religion because there were Islamic Americans who died in those buildings that day as well. Our movement to a global society gets hindered when people simply do not understand each other.

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