Ground Zero Mosque, Understanding, and a Cup of Coffee

I really want feedback on this post. I want rational, calm discussion about things. I like the Constitution. I like all those founding father guys. I love my country. I love my family. I love my Harley-Davidson. I like to think I have a great sense of humor. I have spent my entire adult life (more than 20 years and still going) defending the things I love, and everything good about America as a member of the military. However, I don’t wear that on my sleeve. I get to take that uniform off in a forum like this. I just want to talk. So…let’s grab a cup of friggin’ coffee and just talk. PLEASE!!!

In a short period of time I have talked to and gathered the thoughts from the most liberal and the most conservative. I have even befriended (as much as one can via internet chat) a vehemently anti-war, Jewish man on one site. I have done all of this by simply asking questions and being civil. I am not a “troll” looking to post “GOTCHA!” comments to point out perceived ignorance. I am not on a damn pedestal looking down my nose at anyone. I am your neighbor, your mailman, your kid’s teacher, your co-worker. I am just another citizen looking to get to the VERY ELUSIVE middle of the road. If you see the world in black and white, good vs. evil, then I probably won’t ever meet you in the middle. I really am sorry about that cause it is much nicer out here.

Does that make me spineless and unable to take a stand on anything? Nope. I’ll stand up for a great number of things. Hell, I’m in Iraq right now for the third time. I have been all around the middle east in uniform meeting folks who are just like you and I. I am here to tell you that the vast majority of Muslims could not care less about a Muslim community center in New York city. I have met people over here who don’t realize we put a man on the moon (which if you think we didn’t the “evidence” to support your claim is out there). A handful of statements from Islamic fanatics coupled with a literal interpretation, by a Christian, of the Koran does not a conspiracy to overthrow America make.

I have been joining the discussion (read “Troll” by some) on different websites (left and right-leaning) for several days concerning the various views on Islam itself and the proposed Muslim community center in New York (note the lack of hyperbole and “mosque on top of Ground Zero” phrasing). Whether bashing or supporting, most of the pieces and comments posted afterward have been missing something.

The big three, monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) are, by themselves, internally divided beyond most people’s comprehension. Can anyone reading this post name for me all of the sects of Christianity, detail what they espouse, and define the differences between them? How about the same for Judaism? I am willing to bet a month’s pay that there isn’t a reader out there who could do it for Islam either. Before you jump off in my butt, just think about that. However, if you can do it you deserve a TON of credit for trying to look beyond the sound bite news about the world we live in. To me these divisions are a vital part of the discussion about the proposed center in New York.

How can anyone presume to say that we are “at war with Islam” when a great many of Islam’s adherents are just like a “Chreaster” in the U.S. who claims “Christianity” on a poll, but only attends Christmas and Easter services and maybe prays once in a while? Get a damn grip on yourself in discussing religion and realize that Muslims are people too. I can promise you they aren’t all out to get us.

I have spent the past year in a Muslim society overseas. I have made many new friends. I have met with religious leaders and common citizens. The divisions in Islam go FAR beyond simple Sunni-Shia lines. Trust me. Shockingly, not all Muslims are seeking world domination either regardless of what is in the Koran. NOTE: I am not trying to insult anyone’s intelligence. I am just stating what I have seen and experienced in my interactions with muslims.

Does it matter in which country I have been? Sure it does. Is Saudi Arabia more rigidly Islamic than Syria, Turkey or a North African nation? Sure. Will the people of a more moderately Muslim nation necessarily behave differently towards a white dude like me? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Does the severity of the Islamic government and level of faith in a given country automatically spell doom for the white folks? How about if we took ten minutes to look at this from someone else’s perspective (and I don’t mean by reading a book). My point here is that there exists a whole other narrative to history out there that isn’t based on what happened beginning with the white folks who landed on Plymouth Rock.

While there may be some demonstrating “knowledge” in their postings about Islam by quoting the Koran and quoting open-source books (probably not written by a Muslim) off of the shelf, that IN NO WAY takes precedence over actual experience, on the ground, amongst Muslims. I posit that if one has that experience it would be impossible to denigrate the Muslim faith as some do. That is not meant as an attack on your beliefs. It is simply my belief based on a mile walked in my boots.

Dealing in hypotheticals is a dangerous business. I was asked if I would support, under the Constitution I defend in uniform, Osama Bin Laden buying up the site and installing an Al Qaeda training center. If I say “No” then I am a hypocrite for propping up the first amendment in support of the construction. If I say “Yes” then I am an Al Qaeda apologist and heretic in the extreme. Bully for you. I am in a corner I have painted myself into then. Why don’t we withdraw questions like that (which I hope anyone else would see as preposterous) and try to move forward logically.

Look y’all, I have a brother who is a Lutheran pastor. Another is a devout, Christian school teacher. Me? I am on the fence between Agnosticism and Atheism. I think the Atheism side has pretty green grass. If that makes me unworthy of participating in discussion on this site just say so. I have no need to hide behind my “rhinosaur” tag which is nothing more than the name of a Soundgarden song that I happen to like. I just like talking to people and learning. I am here to have my argument poked full of holes and to be challenged (with as much civility as possible). If y’all really don’t want me around, I’ll move on. No hard feelings.

My name is Doug by the way. I love what I do and I love my country as much as anyone else. I just want to talk. I’ll give my e-mail to anyone that wants it so we can do more than trade sniper fire on a comments page.