In his letter to the Oklahoma Gazette regarding a "mosque" at Ground Zero ("A call for nonviolent civil disobedience," Aug. 25), Rep. Wesselhöft misrepresents the actual plans and mischaracterizes the organizer of this project. Further, he warns that this project will embolden Muslims to "renew their jihadist war on Americans" and our values.
Wesselhöft is wrong. But the angry, clash-of-cultures rhetoric that has become commonplace and is exemplified by his letter does threaten our safety and our values.
The proposed "mosque" is actually a YMCA-like community center two blocks from Ground Zero. This has been widely reported by responsible news outlets. Wesselhöft calls the organizer of this project, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, a "documented radical" and casts aspersions to support his accusation, yet his accusation is belied by his omissions.
Wesselhöft fails to mention that this "radical" has made many speaking tours for both the Bush and Obama State Departments to promote tolerance in Arab and Muslim nations. His most recent tour, this past August, was to the Persian Gulf region to promote interfaith tolerance. Nor does Wesselhöft mention that Rauf provided cultural training to FBI agents after 9/11. Surely, the trust that is essential to form alliances with Muslims and Muslim nations (alliances that are critical to our security and national interests) is eroded when Americans, especially elected officials like Rep. Wesselhöft, vehemently denigrate prominent Muslim leaders that aid our country.
Wesselhöft also jeers liberals and progressives ("Gazettites" he calls them) that might accuse him of Islamophobia. Besides the obvious " fear of a Muslim house of worship (real or alleged) is Islamophobic " Wesselhöft fails to realize that this is not simply a matter of political correctness. His kind of rhetoric reinforces the terrorist recruiting propaganda that proclaims the U.S. is at war against Islam.
Wesselhöft calls this project a "dagger in our soul." Really? It seems that Wesselhöft is as confused about our soul as he is this project. In our nation's soul lies our freedom of religion that has allowed all our many faiths to flourish.