This came from an old friend who I've been politically dueling with for the last 40 years. He seems to be part of a general hysteria in this country over the attempt to build a mosque near the site of the former twin towers in New York.
Americans of all political persuasions and religious stripes have had conflicting emotions regarding 9/11. Our present and previous administrations in Washington have gone to great pains to insist that our country's conflict is with extremism and terrorists, not the Islamic religion itself.
Despite that, a substantial portion of America — particularly red America — does not agree, and in American politics, constituencies always find champions. The Rush Limbaughs and Sarah Palins easily ignite audiences with the argument that the mosque would be a "victory monument" for the attackers and all who supported them.
For others, the proposed mosque tests the limits of one of our most deeply held values: freedom of religion. We look to the Founding Fathers and try to understand their intentions, we study our history to learn from our mistakes, and we weigh judicial precedent — all in an attempt to promote equality before the law.
I went to my friend down the street, Firoz, who is a Muslim. Together we attend neighborhood parties, play golf and have great discussions. Firoz has shown me passages in the Koran that are very much like passages in the Bible; he considers groups like Al Qaida and the Taliban to be perversions of his religion; and he doesn't think the mosque should be built near ground zero. He is as American as I am.