Like most political battles, the debate over the proposed mosque near Ground Zero in Manhattan is hampered by each side’s inability to recognize any legitimacy in the other’s positions.
Journalist Mary Jacoby explores this dynamic in a compelling essay on her site, MainJustice.com. The proposal’s defenders, she writes, fail to acknowledge that many American mosques are financed by foreign interests who meld a political agenda with their conservative religious beliefs, often squeezing out moderate Muslim voices.
Mainstream media outlets help perpetuate this dominance by ignoring the sullied histories of national Islamist groups who are treated as the voice of all American Muslims:
“If liberals would acknowledge the origins and nature of groups like the Islamic Society of North America, the International Institute of Islamic Thought and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, it would help diffuse the climate of intolerance that they deplore.
Conservatives wouldn’t be able to complain of a grand conspiracy of ignorance. And all Americans would become more sophisticated about distinguishing between Muslims who truly share values of religious freedom, and those who in some ways don’t – not to discriminate against anybody, but to more clearly define the debate.”