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Collective guilt

August 17, 2010, 5:39 pm | Posted by Dan Nejfelt

Interfaith Youth Core President Eboo Patel had a telling exchange with an opponent of the Cordoba House/Park 51 Islamic Center and a CNN anchor Sunday night, which laid bare much of what’s at the core of opposition to the proposed center. The anchor, Don Lemon, suggested that the fact that the 9/11 hijackers were Muslims should preclude the building of a mosque in Lower Manhattan. Watch it:

Glenn Greenwald said in a Salon post about the segment:

This campaign is nothing different than all of the standard, definitively bigoted efforts to hold entire demographic groups of people responsible for the aberrational acts of a small percentage of individual members.

To me, this cuts to the very heart of it. The crux of the opposition to Cordoba House is collective guilt. The fact that the terrorists who killed thousands of people — including Muslims – on September 11th were Muslims themselves is used to argue that an entirely separate group of Muslims should not build a house of worship near the scene of the horrific attack. Patel responded:

The vile terrorists who attacked the United States deserve one name, and one name alone, and that is vile terrorists. And the American Muslims who are police officers and firefighters, who coach little league and serve on the PTA, deserve another name, an honored name, and that is fellow American.

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