“All I need to know about Islam, I learned on 9/11.”

Via elephant journal
on Aug 25, 2010
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Freedom of Religion is American Patriotism. ~ John Spina

This country was founded on religious freedom.  Building this mosque is a great opportunity to show the Islamic world, including the millions living in America, as well as the rest of the World, that we are not fighting Islam—we are at war with terrorism and continue to be a nation of liberty and justice for all.

The recent controversy around the construction of a “Mosque” in downtown Manhattan, just blocks from the former site of the World Trade Center, is a perfect example of why some among the Middle Eastern populace hates us.

Obviously, I realize the concern around building a mosque so close to the hallowed area of Ground Zero, but give me a break. Islam is the second largest religion in the World with about 1.5 billion practitioners, and 99.99% of them are not violent fundamentalists as the exaggerated stereotype tells us.  The very fact that there is such a fuss over building a mosque (actually a community center that includes bball court, swimming pool etc.), is closed minded, ignorant, and exactly the type of behavior that gives Americans such a bad reputation around the world.

After all, our country was built on the principle of religious freedom.  Instead of fighting terrorism, it appears that we now fear Islam as a whole—a fear which the few Muslims who actually are terrorists can easily use as a recruiting tool.

From my recent studies as a political science major, I’ve come to the conclusion that terrorism is not created so much due to poverty—rather, it has its roots in the Western world not minding our own effing business.  We (the West) have had a major military presence all across the Middle East for centuries. We hide behind a veil of righteousness, throwing our might around the region in attempts to “civilize” them, but in actuality only rob them of their resources and bury them in debt.  Not only have we economically exploited the region, but we never stopped to think of the possibility that Muslims do not share our view of “being civilized” in the same way that we Americans, British, and French do.

Instead of attempting to spread prosperity and well-being globally, by generously using our economic and technologic superiority in humanitarian aid, open trade, reasonable loans, and strong diplomatic relationships, we have used these means as a way to strengthen those Western nations who share our same ideological bases, or that agree to drop their historical and religious values in favor of our “modern and liberal” ones.

Those countries that do agree to this “Westernization” ultimately end up to their necks in debt to the World Bank, with only their nation’s resources to pay it off.  This puts these already poor nations in a state of obligation and desperation. And so America’s presence no longer brings optimism or represents freedom.  Instead, violent fractions begin to control the country through illegal means, building a movement willing to do anything to be rid of American’s hegemonic influence.  However, we have such militaristic as well as economic advantages over these impoverished countries that the only way they could possibly fight back is through guerrilla, smallscale warfare.

You know, terrorism.

This country was founded on religious freedom.  Building this mosque is a great opportunity to show the Islamic world, including the millions living in America, as well as the rest of the World, that we are not fighting Islam—we are at war with terrorism and continue to be a nation of liberty and justice for all.

In addition, this sect of Islam and their leader, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, are a moderate and peaceful wing of Islam that is attempting to better educate the American people on Islam, help assimilate the religion into our nation’s culture, and at the same time, educate Muslims on the true nature of America. Building a mosque here would be a step in the right direction, asserting our peaceful goals and values as a nation, and hopefully making a statement to the Middle Eastern World.

John Spina currently attends the University of Vermont in Burlington where he will graduate with a double major in history and political science in 2011.  He writes sports for the school paper, the Vermont Cynic, as well as publishes weekly articles in the Mountain Ear, a local Nederland paper, and works as an Intern for the Elephant Journal. He loves spending time outdoors with his dog, McKinley, and being home in Colorado working for the summer.


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10 Responses to ““All I need to know about Islam, I learned on 9/11.””

  1. Tom Kavett says:

    Thank you for a very thoughtful and intelligent post. It's refreshing to see someone using logic and truth rather than the flood of hate and lies.

  2. Emer says:

    As a mark of everlasting and eternal respect for those that died in the vicinity because of the jihad it is inappropriate to build the mosque (and yes it is a mosque). In Europe the same respect was given to those who perished in Bergen-Belsen and other concentration camps. It is ground that is sacred to those who perished and those who loved and mourned them. Let them rest in peace. Members of an Isalm religion will not respect the souls of those lost and it is an essential kindness that the rest of the world do so in their place.
    When your studies of political science are less recent you may soften and join in this respect for the dead in this special place. Let the mosque be elsewhere – what difference will it make to the islamic faithful? Forget the political science and the terrorism and the jihad and the need to be right-on and use your forum to open hearts and minds to the suffering that has occurred.
    Just think of the British Government putting up a monument in Britain to the Irish nation on a site where 0.9% terrorists bombed the British people – laughable, and rightly so!

  3. elephantjournal says:

    via http://www.facebook.com/elephantjournal:

    Roger Wolsey and… all that many Muslims need to know about the U.S. they learned on on 8/19 i.e., August 19, 1953 (and called the 28 Mordad coup d'état in Iran) when the CIA overthrew the democratically elected leader of Iran and installed the Shah instead.
    9 hours ago · LikeUnlike · 4 peopleLoading… · ·
    Leigh Esposito wow
    9 hours ago · LikeUnlike · ·
    Roger Wolsey i.e. that we aren't really in favor of democracy, but only our own (oil) interests.

    Lisa: This picture makes me very, very sad.

    Karen: arrrggghhhh!

    Jill: Well said, Roger. It makes me sad, too, Lisa.

    Karen: It makes me sad how many people believe all Muslims are terrorists, yet don't realize not all terrorists are Muslim.

    Susan: Yes, Lisa – me too… ugh. And I love the caption "Freedom to Worship is American Patriotism"

    Emer: Most recognize the difference, Karen, I think, but respect for the dead in a sacred place has priority here.

    Marilee: it is not exactly on ground zero and not a ''sacred'' place and some of the dead were muslim as well, peoples of all faiths and nationalities died in the World Trade Center Towers

    Karen: ‎@Emer – I guess I don't understand how building a mosque (a religious place of worship) can be considered disrespect for the dead.

    Emer: Ask the families, I have asked many and that seems to be the feeling.

    The Taliban terrorists don't represent Muslim views any more than the KKK represent Christian views. All religious groups & those in favour of promoting peace, education & understanding, NOT hatred, lies & divisiveness, should be speaking u…p. I believe it would help America heal the wounds 9/11 caused & make the country better. Terrorism, xenophobia & bigotry thrive when people chose to believe lies & allow themselves to be manipulated for another's purpose. Look for common values; foster peace & understanding.

    Forest: really helps make up my mind about abandoning the usa, and fleeing to another country

    Emer: Exactly @Chris, foster peace and understanding without favoring any belief system. A multi-cultural multi-denominational approach and a place for all to mourn the dead.

    Lisa: ‎@Emer – I had a friend who was on the plane that went down in the Pentagon. Apparently there is a mosque in the Pentagon. No one seems to have any problem there. In my opinion, what is truly disrespectful to the victims of 9/11/01 is the use of their memory for political manipulation. It evokes a visceral reaction in me. Sensitivity to the victims' families sounds like the right thing but it's an argument that just doesn't hold up when you look at the big picture.

    elephantjournal.com Thanks for all the thoughtful, respectful comments on this thread. So much better than arguing, arguing.

  4. elephantjournal says:

    Two things: one, there's already a mosque that's been near Ground Zero since before the WTCs were built, and it's been without incident. And two, we're America. Freedom is our middle name. Freedom to worship. Freedom to assemble. The best way to defeat terrorism is to uphold our values. We don't need to be like "them"—countries or cultures that to not embrace diversity.

    Finally, obviously, and I know you agree because of other comments I've read of yours below, Islam is not the same thing as terrorism. As Jon Stewart said, allowing—nay, celebrating—this place for Islamic moderates to strengthen their community and lives is how we all win and help to prevent further tragedies.

  5. elephantjournal says:

    Thumbs up to your respectful comment, btw. ~ Waylon.

  6. Go F Yourself says:

    I wonder if you'd be so inclined to have a mosque at ground zero if you had friends or family killed in the 9/11 terror attacks?

  7. […] merely an interesting, passing thought. For some — particularly the type who say things like “All I need to know about Islam I learned on 9-11,” it was one more stick in the eye in all things American. Heck, Fordson’s mere existence as an […]

  8. Yogajunkie says:


  9. George Cook says:

    "The recent controversy around the construction of a “Mosque” in downtown Manhattan, just blocks from the former site of the World Trade Center, is a perfect example of why some among the Middle Eastern populace hates us."

    John, why don't you try building a church or synagogue in Mecca, in their own faith's hallowed space where they do not even allow non-Muslims. This is not a tolerant religion, and they do not hate us for our own intolerance; no, they hate us because we are not Muslims.