by Conor Friedersdorf
On a recent evening my girlfriend and I tried a Burmese restaurant on Sepulveda Boulevard, arriving just before 9 pm, and hungry as two foxes. A sign on the door noted that during Ramadan, the establishment would be closing an hour early. Disappointed, we began to leave, but the owner rushed out, insisted that he'd cook for us anyway, and wouldn't take no for an answer. Inside we interacted with his warm family as they took our order, and exchanged friendly glances with other patrons. As we left, the owner thanked us profusely for coming, and encouraged us to return.
This small encounter happened as I was writing about the controversy over the mosque near Ground Zero. It isn't entirely rational, I know, but interacting with this Muslim family, a small part of their community, and their small but intensely offered acts of kindness made me even more angry than before about the demagoguery of some project opponents. This anecdote isn't an argument for the mosque, any more than a story about a negative interaction with a single Muslim would be an argument against it. But just as I am sure that my Muslim friends cause me to picture individuals when I think of anti-Muslim discrimination, affecting the intensity of my writing against it, even a brief positive interaction with strangers at a restaurant wound up influencing my worldview in some small way.