Thursday, May 20, 2010

Maybe the Carmelite Nuns should have threatened to Crusade...

In 1998, Jews protested the display of crosses around a Carmelite nunnery on the grounds of the Nazi death camp at Aushwitz. The nuns were moved to a new site and the crosses set up so as not to be seen from within the camp. Although many Polish Catholics died in the camp, including one recognized martyr, Fr. Kolbe, Jewish discomfort centered on nagging historical questions about the Church's contribution to anti-Semitism and lack of resistance to the Holocaust.

Today, Muslims are using Saudi Arabian funds to build an Islamic Center near New York's "Ground Zero," where the World Trade Center Towers and almost 3,000 lives were destroyed by Islamic terrorists. In fact, the building under consideration was damaged in that attack. But as a New York Times article shows, there is every effort to explain why a Muslim presence there is a good thing.

In the first case, the wounds of the Jews were given honor (rightly, in my opinion) over the symbolic presence of the Church. In the second case, a symbolic witness by Muslims seems poised to take precedence over a deep American wound.

There was nothing illegal about the Carmelite crosses, nor is there anything illegal about the planned Islamic Center. This is a question of freely practiced values and behaviors. The Church recognized that it was giving offense and moved its nuns; the Islamic Center, however benevolent its intentions, rubs salt in a wound.

It is a double standard based in fear. Nobody was afraid to evict a group of nuns, but many are afraid to criticize Muslims. Some of that is social fear - not wanting to be called names and marginalized as a bigot. But much of it is just plain primitive animal survival fear - the recognition that being on Islam's bad side can be a death sentence. In either case, ostensibly broad minded, Western liberal thought devolves into "might makes right."

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