SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
In the movie “1776” is a line taken from an actual quote about, ironically, the New York state legislature: “They speak very fast and very loud, and nobody listens to anyone else, with the result that nothing ever gets done.”
That translates well to the controversy over the so-called Ground Zero mosque. We’ve seen a lot of false accusations and name calling, and not any understanding to speak of.
First – and I can’t believe we even have to bring this up – there is to be a mosque, and it is indeed at the Ground Zero location. Is the construction to be on the footprint of the Towers? No. It’s a couple of blocks from there, or six “normal city blocks” as described by some proponents, where a building was hit by the landing gear of one of the crashed planes. Is that close enough for ya’?
Supporters describe the proposed building as a “cultural center”. Well, sure, there’s room there for a cultural center, and an auditorium, and an indoor swimming pool – the thing’s planned to be 13 stories. There’s also room there for, yes, a mosque.
Opponents believe that, since the 9/11 attacks were perpetrated by extremists in the name of the Muslim religion, it would be disrespectful to the victims to build a mosque there, whether the Muslims involved in the actual project are extremists are not. It would be, they say, the equivalent of building a Hitler museum outside a concentration camp site: Only a small percentage of Germans were Nazis, but that doesn’t make it less inappropriate.
A more accurate comparison might be if a group of right wing Christian extremists bombed Mecca, and moderate Christians responded by building a Cathedral down the road from where the bomb went off. I think it’s safe to assume that might give even moderate Muslims pause.
Proponents protest that America is a nation of liberties, including religious liberties, and that the builders have a legal right to put a mosque there.
But do they have a moral high ground?
Especially considering the fact that the American Society for Muslim Advancement refuses to reveal where the money for the project is coming from? That its head, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, once suggested that the US itself was at fault for policies resulting in the attack?
Rauf pointed out that “it was Christians in World War II who bombed civilians in Dresden and Hiroshima, neither of which were
The ware against the dictators of World War 2 was not a religious war. Besides, weren’t we battling nations that attacked us first, and that in fact had been invading neighboring countries and killing their people for years before? When’s the last time a group of Christians hijacked an airplane and crashed it into a nation that hadn’t declared war against them, in the name of their religion? Oh, yeah – never.
Is this seriously going to turn into a “you broke my toys in the year 1214, so I’m going to break yours now” slap attack?
I digress because I don’t have a choice: People really are trying to derail the issue with these ridiculous arguments.
Another attempt at derailment is the scream of “Islamophobia”, often by the same people who scream “racist” whenever someone criticizes President Obama. Are there bigoted people in the world? There sure are: A group of them killed almost 3,000 people on September 11, 2001. Does that mean everyone, or even most people, who oppose the Ground Zero mosque fear or hate Islam?
If that’s so, then isn’t it okay for me to say that everyone who disagrees with my views on politics automatically hates Christians and white people?
There are worries about the ideals behind the building of this mosque, and in light of the aims of fundamentalist Islam – to convert every man, woman, and child on Earth to their narrow definition of the Muslim faith or see them dead – it’s easy enough to see where that comes from. The fact that most Muslims would rather live in peace with their non-Muslim neighbors doesn’t change the fact that Ground Zero was the site of an attack by those fundamentalists, an attack against the United States and an attack against the free world. (Let’s not forget that citizens of more than 90 nations died on 9/11.)
Therefore – whether they have the legal right to do so or not – placing a mosque at or near that site is a slap in the face to the victims, their friends and relatives, the emergency responders of the world, and everyone who believes in and fights for freedom, including moderate Muslims.
But shouldn’t we promote multiculturalism, and freedom of religion? Absolutely. However, there are already more than a hundred mosques in New York City. There’s an existing mosque just five blocks from the WTC site, begging the question of whether this new one is to meet a need or make a point.
With the number of mosques in NYC growing, by some counts, from less than 10 to about 140 in a few decades, one does have to wonder what the point of this new, towering edifice is. To “bridge the great divide”, as Rauf claims? Or as a symbol of something else?
Here’s the compromise, and it’s a pretty simple one: We, as Americans, welcome diversity in our society, as long as it’s diversity that respects our laws and liberties. In return, we should ask only that others respect the feelings of the American people.
And on this matter, our feelings are strong.
There should be no new mosque at or near Ground Zero, certainly not on any property impacted physically by the attack. Not because it’s illegal, but because it would be disrespectful to the American people, and to those men and women in every color of uniform who protect the America people.
If those planning this project truly want to bridge that great divide and peacefully coexist with the free world, they should use common courtesy -- and build this cultural center somewhere else.