This week, we got just a little bit smaller: 

KENNESAW, Ga. — There will be no mosque in Kennesaw. At least not right away. The Kennesaw City Council voted on Monday to reject the request of a group of Muslims seeking to establish a worship center in the city.

Anti-Islamic demonstrators outside of Kennesaw City Hall made it clear that they believe an Islamic worship center is not welcome in Kennesaw.

The local Islamic group wanting to rent the retail space for their worship center agreed to every limitation that the Kennesaw city attorney wanted to impose, including a two-year only lease, no more than 80 worshipers allowed at a time and no more than 40 parking spaces could be used at a time.

We just get smaller and smaller.

It’s been happening for years, by the way, maybe forever: We take our shoes off in the airport, and go to war based on maybes, and march against health care, and rage against change. We view any acknowledgment of difference, any threadbare recognition of someone who does not work or worship or love or look as we do, with the violent repulsion due an invading virus.

We cut off this piece of ourselves: A 12-year-old boy has a gun, a toy gun, and police shoot him down.

We cut off this piece: A young man walks down a street in the dark, and another man stands his ground.

We cut off this piece: A man might be selling cigarettes, and a cop chokes him to death and watches while he dies.

We cut off this piece: A young man might have robbed a convenience store, and police shoot him to death.

We cut off all these pieces of ourselves. We say, Oh well. We say, he shouldn’t have been there, she shouldn’t have worn that, they shouldn’t act that way. We say, that’s the cost of doing business: Some innocent people get hurt. We say, that’s the price of a free society. We say that we’re a nation under the law, and this is the law, and that’s all we can say. And we get meaner, and more afraid. We get less safe, not more.

We get smaller and smaller. We have less and less room for the unfortunate, the downtrodden, the powerless. We have less and less room for outrage when outrage is called for, let alone when it isn’t.

We make our hearts a bowl of sugar, and say there’s only so much. As if care for others must be rationed, lest we run out, and have nothing left for the war effort.

And in the end, what are we? Some stunted thing, unable to move. What have we gained, by turning those worshippers away? By shutting our doors to the protesters, by closing our ears to the cries of the poor? What do we do now, that we are here, and we are this?


4 thoughts on “Smaller

  1. Can’t that be challenged on civil rights grounds?

    Also, how many of the protestors call themselves Christians?

  2. I agree with Carol Ann Bonner re: call[ing] themselves Christians. It’s almost like they view it less as a faith and more a function of tribal identity…Christ as totem…even though, um, the same Jesus is a revered prophet in Islam, which made the Faux News interview with Reza Aslan even more puerile…

    Anyway…also wanted to note that in the midst of all the cop shootings, this one apparently got lost in the shuffle

    Just saying..

  3. I hope someone has pointed the Islamic group to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), a federal law that prohibits this kind of disparate treatment of applicants seeking land use entitlements for religious purposes. And then I hope they sue the ever loving hell out of the city.

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