On Saturday, August 15th, in 1998, a car bomb exploded in Omagh, a town in northern Ireland. 29 people died, and 220 more were injured by the blast. This horrific tragedy was carried out by the Real Irish Republican Army - a splinter group of the original IRA - who were opposed to the peace process. This was one of the last massacres of the long-running division between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland, and helped unite the country to finally end the worst of the violence.
Strangely, I don't see any conservatives in this country condemning Christianity for these and other brutal attacks that have marked the troubles in Ireland. There is no doubt that much of this violence was fostered by one Christian groups hatred of another Christian group.
So why then do conservatives in this country still hate all Muslims?
It's quite clear by the current controversy regarding the building of an Islamic cultural center several blocks from ground zero in New York that American conservatives are much more forgiving of Christian violence then they are of any other religion. They will lump the troubles in Ireland under anything BUT religious titles. Terrorists; rebellion against British oppression; anything but Christianity acting with brutality and disregard for human life.
Yet they will immediately condemn ALL Muslims for what a small group of radicals did in the fall of 2001. Building a mosque, they say, is insensitive, it's the wrong time, it's showing support for a religion that teaches hatred and violence. A Christian center would be ok of course, because it was not Christians who fostered the attack on our soil. And they point out that the proposed name, Cordoba, was the capital of the middle age Muslim kingdom in Spain, a symbol of repression and torture to those who suffered during that period.
Never mind such wonderful Christian creations as the inquistion, or the Salem witch trials. Or the subjection of the natives of this continent when we white settlers took over, under the auspices of god's desire for us to rule here. Let's just ignore everything that's ever happened in Ireland of course.
The towers fell, and took with them people of every race and religion. Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and many more died that day. People of every religion stood on the sidelines and watched with equal horror at what had unfolded. We all of us banded together in support of getting the terrorists who had done this to us. But what they did was not a MUSLIM action. Nor was it a CHRISTIAN action. It was the action of hoodlums, of criminals, of evil men who wish to perpetrate evil. We've seen these people before, they come from every walk of life, from every background... and from every religion. To paraphrase a favorite conservative comment: religions don't kill people; people kill people.
Building a mosque/Islamic center a few blocks from ground zero is not a bad thing. It's a healing thing, a process by which people can see that Islam is not bad, it is people who are bad. You can support that, support people helping people understand, can't you?
Otherwise you're just getting drunk and punching at people for no good reason. Which we Irish can easily understand, it's a great way to spend a night. Just not a life.