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Religious freedom - Martha Carr

Last week, President Obama supported the idea of a mosque being built near Ground Zero in New York City where 2,800 innocent people were murdered. The mosque would be built on private land and used as a religious gathering place.

There are a lot of hurt feelings, and controversy, surrounding the site -- and no wonder. It will sit near the largest mass murder in American history. The human beings who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, including the 125 people who died in the Pentagon and the 41 people who died in Pennsylvania, were not casualties of war, but victims of a massive crime formulated by a psychopath, Osama Bin Laden.

Bin Laden is a wealthy sociopath, who was cut out of the family fortune, grew bitter and resentful and started devising a plan for revenge. He is also a coward who chose to manipulate the minds of men who grew up with far less than he did, and directed them to do his dirty work.

He built up an enemy for them, the U.S. that stood for all that they lacked.

Bin Laden used their isolation and poverty to spin the story that would finally get 19 men to turn themselves into terrorists and fly planes into buildings and the ground of Pennsylvania without regard for human life, including their own.

You have to wonder how he got around the part when he was making his pitch about growing up in excessive wealth. There is nothing to admire about Bin Laden, or even pity, and there is still hope that someday he will face an international jury and finally be shown as that pathetic figure, and pay for what were his crimes.

Until then, we need to remember that Bin Laden used religion, specifically the Moslem religion, and twisted the edicts into something dark and violent in order to satisfy a personal and petty vendetta. That's nothing new. Small men, and a few women, with clever minds and no backbone have been using the same ploy for about two thousand years. However, what's really marked past atrocities in the long run has never been the act of the mad man, but the response of humanity. We didn't kick out all of the Germans after we found out about the Holocaust. We brought Hitler's henchmen to trial. Even when we got it wrong and placed thousands of Japanese-Americans in internment camps, we later realized we had been wrong and apologized.

The same is true of 9/11. A group of men lead by Bin Laden committed murder and should be brought to justice. That does not include everyone who practices the Moslem faith. If we fail to see the difference, then we begin to help Bin Laden accomplish one of his main goals, which is to divide by fear, and then conquer the ideal of democracy. Tyranny wins on that day.

The presence of a mosque so close to the site in lower Manhattan may be a painful reminder, but frankly, so is the empty space. We can use that reminder though in a way that Bin Laden apparently couldn't imagine. We can look at the mosque and remember, yet again, that we built this country on the idea that all men are created equal and can be free from religious persecution of any kind. We can be reminded that our belief in each other is stronger than the act of 19 terrorists.

We can honor all of those who perished by allowing those who own the land to use it to build a mosque and rise above the small and petty definition Bin Laden had for us. This is the best antidote we have to turn the impressionable minds of any other isolated and impoverished young men that Bin Laden and others like him are targeting now. It's also the best example we can set for the impressionable minds right around us who are wondering how to love their neighbors as themselves.

Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc., newspaper syndicate. E-mail Martha at: Martha@caglecartoons.com.