Jeff Merkley's wonderful pro-mosque editorial

The Oregon senator makes the case for not thinking all Muslims are terrorists

Published August 23, 2010 3:24PM (EDT)

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)

Jeff Merkley, the Democratic junior senator from Oregon, joins the list of heroes making the obvious and surprisingly rare case for the construction of an Islamic community center in lower Manhattan, a minor piece of New York real estate news that has become a depressing national debate on the apparent limits of our religious tolerance.

In The Oregonian, Merkley asks, "what makes a mosque near ground zero offensive?" He points out that the premise that a mosque near the World Trader Center site is insensitive makes sense only if we hold American Muslims in some way responsible for foreign terrorists.

Such an association is a profound error. Muslim Americans are our fellow citizens, not our enemies. Muslim Americans were among the victims who died at the World Trade Center in the 9/11 attacks. Muslim American first responders risked their lives to save their fellow citizens that day. Many of our Muslim neighbors, including thousands of Oregon citizens, serve our country in war zones abroad and our communities at home with dedication and distinction.

There you have it, a junior senator from Oregon with more guts than almost every Democrat in New York. Senator Schumer, no one would mind if you cribbed from Merkley's argument for an editorial of your own. It would look especially nice in tomorrow's New York Post.

By Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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Jeff Merkley D-ore. New York New York City Park51 Religion Terrorism