By, Adam K. Fetterman
The so called “Ground Zero Mosque” has stirred a quite a bit of debate in the recent months. False accusations, hyperbole, and real concerns have been voiced from every corner of the nation, as well as violence and a planned Koran burning. What people are upset about is that by building this Muslim cultural center near the site of the 9/11 attacks, Muslims are spitting in the face of the US. Unfortunately, a point that many people miss is that American Muslims were also victims of the attacks on 9/11, as they are Americans. While many American Muslims greatly condemn terrorism and embrace interfaith communities, they still wonder if they will ever belong. According to Laurie Goodstein, these feelings are stronger than ever. In regards to the cultural center near ground zero, it is likely that the opponents see it as a conflicting symbol to the national symbol of ground-zero, which is leading to the greater division of the real or imagined ingroup and outgroup.
According to Butz (2009), national symbols increase national identification and promote unity “at an unconscious level”, which can lead to increased outgroup hostility. Specifically, he states that these symbols may “tighten the boundaries drawn between ingroups and outgroups” (p. 786). After the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centers, the site of this tragedy has become like a national symbol. Since these attacks happened at the hands of Muslim extremists, the line that this specific national symbol has unfortunately seemed to have drawn is one between Muslims and the United States. However, it would be helpful, and possibly promote a bit more unity, if those that view this site as a national symbol would recognize that Muslims are a part of this nation as well. And, as Americans, they have the same feelings of national identification.