The rally I participated in was the one that supported the Mosque. The museum presentation confirmed to me that this was a religious freedom issue. We should note that there are two groups objecting to this "Mosque." The first group are those who showed up at the anti-Mosque rally whose rhetoric implies that they are against the building of any mosque anywhere in America let alone the Park 51 Mosque. That is because they view Islam itself as both a terrorist threat and a threat to their American-Christian way of life. To them, Islam is bent on dominating the world and the more American mosques, the closer we are to Sharia law.
This more palatable opposition has difficulty dealing with charges of bigotry. For example, could I be considered a bigot if after being attacked by a Black man, I then thought of crime each time I saw a Black person? We could also ask my fellow Christians how they would feel if they were forbidden from erecting crosses anywhere because their crosses would only remind people of the KKK.
We see bigotry all over the opposition to the building of this Mosque but making the case for it is very difficult. That is because, and this is especially true with my fellow conservative Christians, we Americans have been taught to employ boolean logic in a world filled with continuous values. This means that either one is a 100% pure American bigot or one is completely free of bigotry. This kind of mentality prohibits us from being honest with ourselves concerning our own personal prejudices because bigotry exists along a continuum for most, if not all, of us. Thus, the fear of being labeled a complete bigot prevents us from acknowledging what is actually there.
The rally supporting the mosque was an improvement over past protests with regards to numbers and speakers. The number of those supporting the Park 51 Mosque was between 5,000 to 10,000, though I would guess it was closer to 5,000. Hopefully, this is an indicator that future leftist protests will draw more participants in future protests. In addition, the speakers were better than anticipated as there was less yelling and screaming and more rational thoughts spoken. Justice without regards to group affiliation was a repeated theme as well as the riddance of bigotry and hatred. The best sign of the demonstration read: "Our Grief Is No Excuse For Bigotry And Racism."
What about the protest against the Mosque? What about the sadder of times? There was less diversity amongst the people there than in the rally supporting the Mosque. In addition, the conservative habit of associating good and evil with groups rather than with keeping principles was evident. Their rally was about how we, Americans, are basically good while the other side is evil and we were attacked on 9-11. Thus we must oppose those who are evil, whether they are Americans wanting to build a mosque or foreigners wanting to commit terrorism. And that is the bone of contention between the Left and the Right because while the Right assumes that America is good regardless of its actions, the Left ties good and evil with universal values and justice and thus judges each group and country, including America, for actions that the Right overlooks or sees as necessary reactions to the threat of evil.
In addition, we need to give the anti-mosque protesters their due. They were out there exercising democracy along with us. The vast majority of Americans make up America's Idle and and they are the real threat to our country. It is America's Idle who either have embraced fatalism or escapism, both of which leads to a passivity that allows injustice to continue.
So 9-11 was a day to protest in New York. I had some reservations about being there because of past news reports that showed heated situations. But thanks to a heavy police presence, no threatening situations appeared even on the horizon. Now the question becomes, where do we go from here?