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Build the Mosque

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“Yes, how many years can a mountain exist
Before it’s washed out to sea?
Yes, how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?
Yes, how many times can man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn’t see?
The answer my friend, is blowin in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.”
— Bob Dylan, “Blowin’ in the Wind”

Who are we? One of the things I’ve always loved about being an American was our insistence on doing the right thing, on adhering to our principals of being the country that, most of the time, walked the talk, but somewhere along the line our talk got loaded up and tried to walk the walk with one too many of the hard stuff running through our veins. Instead of walking that straight line, we sort of stumble around these days from side to side.

Like the mosque being built near the site of the World Trade Center. Two blocks away, 600 feet from Ground Zero to be exact, on a lot that currently houses a 1850s Italianate building damaged in the Sept. 11 attacks.

The nation is flat-out up in arms. “How dare they!” the cry goes out across the land.

How dare they what?

“How dare they build a mosque so close to the site where those terrible brown men in turbans and rags flew planes into the World Trade Center and killed so many Americans!”

How dare they indeed. How dare a moderate Muslim leader do exactly what this country has been begging moderate Muslims to do – stand up against the fanatical wing of their faith and take a stand.

At the center of all this controversy is the Imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf, accused of all manners of nefarious dealings. Most of the accusations leveled at the man stem from his statements linking American foreign policy to the horrendous crimes of 9/11.

It’s a simple law of physics really – for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. We, as Americans, cannot afford to be so blind as to think that our actions on the world stage take place in a vacuum. That there are repercussions for the things that we, as a country, do and there are outcomes — good, bad, foreseen, unforeseen, intended, and unintended. To do anything else is to be the proverbial ostrich that sticks its head in the sand and pretends that everything around them is just fine.

Is this to say that anyone of the more than 3,000 people who perished that day deserved any of the horrors committed against them? Or is this some sort of nod to the so-called “Blame America First” crowd? Absolutely not, and anyone who would suggest otherwise is cow towing and catering to the worst kind of fear-mongering there is today.

No, we as a nation should be behind this group of Muslims that want to build a place of worship that, beyond being a place of worship for Muslims, is led by a man who has fostered peace and understanding between the religions.

We need to stand at that sight, arms locked with our fellow citizens of all faiths, and challenge the extremists who brought their brand of hate to our country. “Here we are,” we should scream. “Our way accepts all. Your way kills the innocent. Our way draws a line of distinction between extremists and those of moderation who we can all work with to live together in harmony. Your way accepts only those who believe as you and destroys the rest. Ours is a culture of peace, respect, and understanding. Yours is a culture of fire and death.”

Because in the end, we are better than the terrorists, the extremes of a religion who flew those planes on that fateful day. We have to walk the walk. Freedom of religion means all religion.


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About Mr. B

  • Here is what’s happening, boys and girls: In case it’s slipped your mind, there is an election coming up in November. In the last few months the Republican party has been in the process of imploding (and it’s been so much fun to watch, too!) As I predicted over a year ago, the so-called “Tea Party” would end up being an albatross around their collective neck. Sure enough, the mindless extremism of these jokers is starting to scare the heck out of that mysterious segment of the electorate who describe themselves as “moderate”. What to do? Find an issue – any issue – that will distract the people. After a desperate search that took them weeks, they found that issue this week in lower Manhattan. Think about the real issues:

    The economy
    Two wars
    Massive unemployment
    A multi-trillion dollar debt
    An environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico….

    ….and what are we talking about? A non-existent “mosque”. Don’t forget that it’s a cultural center. The “mosque” (if that’s what you want to call it) consists of a single prayer room. If your prime source of information is FOX Noise, you’ll be forgiven for believing that the proposed center is smack dab on the site of the late World Trade Center – or across the street. It isn’t. It’s location is not even visible from the ground zero. In fact it’s about a five minute walk. And you wonder why America is the laughingstock of the planet?

    Tom Degan

  • Well said, though I’d like to avoid the us versus them rhetoric towards the end, even though I understand what you mean! We need to remember that terrorists don’t just spring out of a particular religion or culture — all religions and cultures have the capacity to foster both moderate and extremist views and proponents — but are created by desperation, by alienation, by poverty, by geopolitics, etc.

    Inclusivity allows for dialogue and cooperation and thus to moderation. Isolating, villifying and/or bombing extremist groups and not letting their grievances be heard, many of which are, at base, quite legitimate, simply breeds more extremists.

  • John Wilson

    A mosque in lower Manhattan!?

    But then they’d push aside some of the porn palaces and strip clubs in the area! And that (gasp!) would interfere with Free Market Capitalism!!!

    Stop the mosque!

  • I’m just asking here, if anyone knows… Is there a church in this “cultural center”? Is there a place for hindus or jews or atheists for that matter?

    Didn’t think so.

  • Benjamin

    Well seeing as all building of a religious nature are built through private funds, I would have to imagine if the atheists, jews, hindus or whatever wanted to purchase some land and build there wouldn’t be much problem.

  • Yes, private funds that should be taxed! again, a corporation acting as an individual.

  • Good article, Benjamin. 🙂

  • @Benjamin (#5 comment): So, this really is ore than just another “cultural center” with a diverse and including base – it’s a muslim cultural center (yes, just like there are christian such)?

    I think we need to be more clear on what this actually is – no, it might not be the “Mega Mosque” that FOX Noise is blabbering about, but it’s still not just a “cultural center”.
    I’m not saying that it’s wrong to build it there, I’m just saying that I’m still on the fence here, and I think it’s important that those who claim to know or have strong opinions on the subject are clear about what we’re all talking about.

  • Jordan Richardson

    But clarity has no place among those trying to sell a point of view, which is why the “information outlets” are never going to give you all of the facts.

    What’s wrong with a Muslim cultural centre? All “cultural centres” celebrate or feature a particular culture, so they are by definition “just cultural centres” unless the qualifier of it being a “Muslim” cultural centre is meant to instill fear or paranoid. Obviously it is.

  • Jordan Richardson

    To expand, imagine if it were a Muslim restaurant. Would that not be “just a restaurant?” To some it would be, but to those looking to leverage this for some sort of advantage (political, religious, other) the Muslims restaurant isn’t “just a restaurant.

  • @Jordan; When it comes to restaurants, I know I at least would try to emphasize that my restaurant was not just a restaurant, but something special, better than the others and catering to a niche. But maybe that’s just me.

    My point about clarity is that while we may not hope for it from mainstream media, maybe we should strive to have some of it here on BC? I may be wrong.
    It’s not my intention to emphasize the muslim qualifier in order to instill fear or paranoia. The word “muslim” should never be equaled to “terrorist”, and that should be clear to everyone. In this case, however, the controversy springs from the fact that this building, or site, is loosely affiliated with WTC, which was destroyed by individuals claiing to be affiliated with the wishes of the deity that muslims and islam centers on. That’s the point.

    Maybe it would be in bad taste to build a cathedral on the site of a witch-burning mass grave, or maybe it would be a mistake to build a synagogue on a site where a large number of early christians were executed?

    Not all catholics are bad, not all jews are bad, but still.

  • Jordan Richardson

    But the word Muslim is being equated with the terrorist actions of 9/11, that’s the point. You yourself say so when you say that “this building…is loosely affiliated with” the events of 9/11.

    By that rationale, it would be in bad taste to eat bratwurst in front of a Jew. Call me crazy, but I think we’re a little more sensible than that.

    By extension, we should be barring Egyptian, Saudi Arabian, etc. food and culture from the neighbourhood as well. Anything Middle Eastern within a few blocks of the WTC site could be construed as problematic too, so why not eliminate all Arabs from the city?

    Westerners have already been making them villains in entertainment, why not go the next step so that we don’t have to “deal with their presence” at all lest it “remind” us of 9/11?

    Do you really want to live in a society that is so held hostage? And then to call it “bad taste?” I know I don’t want to be held captive by history.

  • @Jordan;
    I think you should read my comments again. And read all of it. Now you’re just trying to pick a fight, and willfully trying to misunderstand me.