Don't be fooled by all the positive 'We are one country" sentiment of the Obama Inauguration: we still have a long way to go to accepting all colors and creeds and full partners in the American dream.
Case in point: As Islam expands in Sioux Falls, the faithful see the need for a second place of worship in the big city. But one man in the Garfield Elementary neighborhood, a couple blocks east of Kiwanis Avenue and Sherman Park, doesn't want their kind saying their prayers near his house.
Of course, Mr. Clinton Stickle doesn't express any outright racism or religious discrimination. Oh no, it's not that, really. He's just an upstanding citizen concerned about all the increased traffic and parking those Muslims will bring every Friday afternoon. Even worse, says Stickle, a Muslim house of worship will "flatten property values around here just like that."
Property values. Didn't folks use to say the same thing about blacks moving into the neighborhood? (Oh, darn, some people still do say it.) Even if Mr. Stickle has an economic point, lower property values due to an Islamic prayer center or some other outcropping of ethnic diversity only demonstrates the vile discriminatory attitudes the neighborhood and the broader society still harbor. The only reason an Islamic house of worship would lower property values is that the land-buying yahoos among us would say, "Eeewww, Muslims. I won't pay to live near them."
You know, it never occurred to me that the extra traffic and parking at the St. Thomas Catholic recreation center a half mile down the road from me here on Lake Herman was lowering my property values. And those darn Catholics are taking up good land that the county should condemn and sell to some good secular materialists like me who would build big houses and raise all of our property values.
Now I have a separate beef with discrimination in the name of Allah (check out the main Sioux Falls Islamic Center's blueprints for a new worship center, complete with separate and unequal worship spaces for men and women). But as Sioux Falls city planner Jeff Schmitt points out in the KELO report, Muslims "have a right to worship here."
President Barack Hussein Obama reminded us yesterday that Muslims are Americans, too. Guess we need more reminding.
It may sound impractical, but I'll make this suggestion: Muslim friends, if your Sioux Falls neighbors won't welcome you, come pray out here at Lake Herman. Heck, buy the lot next to me and build a big old mosque. Drive my property value down all you want and keep those Sioux Falls people from buying land near me. I think hearing the muezzin's call echo across the prairie and looking east to Mecca across Lake Herman to pray would be rather inspiring.
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