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The Mosque at Ground Zero and Selective Sensitivity

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The building of a mosque at Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan is a difficult subject to take a side on. Political wisdom would have dictated a neutral stance on the issue for President Obama, but either principle or political naiveté required him to make a statement on the matter. I tend to believe it was principle. At least I hope it was.

Frankly, Obama’s statement in “support” of the mosque is correct. Muslims have a right to build a mosque at Ground Zero in accordance with the laws of New York City. There’s no doubt about that, but is it the wisest and most sensitive move on the part of the Muslim community? Probably not.

If I were to build a Honey-Baked Ham store next to a synagogue in Tel Aviv, or a mosque in Mecca for that matter, would it be a poor idea? Probably. Why? Because according to their respective religions, Jews and Muslims are opposed to the consumption of pork. In fact, protesting a pork market next to one of their houses of worship might actually create a rare moment of harmony between the two communities, but would it be legal for such an establishment to exist in that type of location? As far as I know, yes. 

The apostle Paul once said in 1st Corinthians 6 that “everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial” (NIV). That’s the way I personally view this situation. Now I know a New Testament reference may not mean much to the Muslim community, but I like to think that the principle is universal. Just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean it’s wise or right.

But beyond my personal views on the matter, I still have to question the support for the mosque on the grounds of consistency. On 9/11, a four-story Greek Orthodox church was destroyed near the base of the World Trade Center towers. But in spite of the fact that such a building was actually destroyed (by radical Islamic extremists), the Port Authority will not allow it to be rebuilt at its original location, or even at a spot 100 yards away from it.

Even if the Cordoba House mosque is to be built at the proposed location, would it be unreasonable for the Port Authority to allow the Greek Orthodox church to be rebuilt first? It seems only fair considering that the Greek Orthodox church actually lost their church on 9/11.

At this point, it appears that the developers of the mosque are adamant about the location. They have rejected a meeting with New York Governor David Patterson concerning the possibility of moving the mosque to state-owned land, an unusually generous offer which I doubt would be extended to any church or synagogue. So I have to question why these developers insist on this specific location. There are already over 100 mosques in New York City. Why does there need to be one more at Ground Zero?

The prevailing reason from supporters of the mosque is that it would be a symbol of tolerance and acceptance of religious diversity, but if the Muslim community is so earnest about proving their ability to peacefully coexist with Americans, why would they jeopardize that by insisting on locating the mosque in a place that most Americans would consider to be offensive?

However, it’s possible that David Frum could be right and that this is all a publicity stunt for the developers of the Mosque. For once, I hope he’s right. As for Obama, however ambiguous he wants to appear on this topic, he may want to consider that 24% of Americans believe he’s a Muslim. Even though I personally don’t believe that to be the case, I’m sure his recent statements won’t do much to bring that number down. 


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About Braden

  • Braden,

    You wrote a very compelling argument as to why the, Greek Church should be built first. I didn’t even know about the church at all until reading this article.

    Why wount the Port authority allow them to build?

    Of course, I have to mention this, “So what, if President Obama was a Muslim?”

    : ) “Hello, long time no see.”

  • Jamison

    I agree, so what? But have to say it does seem unfair that the greek church that got destroyed will not get permission to rebuild. And furthermore, with regards to the state of NY offering “state” land to the religious building, I thought the liberal state officials in NY were all for separation of church and state. Guess not… anyone for having a boy scout jamboree in central park? No?

  • christian

    I think its a bad idea. We need to put religion aside, and honestly leave our consideration apart. How many people really do everything they are suppose to do when they are so called religious? not many, or any at all. Its silly how religious people demand respect, but they can’t respect themselves, or religion. Why build such thing there, near by when we were attack in such matter.

  • Hudson

    While I personally believe President Obama would have done himself a great favor by keeping his opinion out of this matter (it’s really is an issue for the state of NY and not the Federal Government), the fact remains that his comments accurately reflect the laws of this country and the rights of her people. Not even true constitutionalists can debate this fact.

    One of the first things we learn as children is that the pilgrims came to America to escape religious persecution and that this country is built on the freedom to choose our own individual beliefs. It’s one of the most basic fundamental civil rights afforded to our citizens. Any spiritual beliefs, outside of those practiced by Native Americans, are in fact new to this country, including Christianity.

    Do I think this mosque should be built? I do not. I personally do not believe it’s worth the controversy. But, regardless of what I think, there are no laws preventing the erection of this community center, and that’s all the President was saying. To compare the this Muslim community center to a pork store being opened next to a synagogue is really saying that you believe the mosque’s congregation to be not just Muslim, but Al-Qaeda.

    That’s the worst part of this for me; seeing how an entire population is being blamed for the horrific acts carried out by one radical faction of an otherwise peaceful religion. People are far to quick to judge a collective group by the actions of their individual members. I also think it’s unfortunate that many of the same people who are screaming for the government to put a stop to this building are the very same people telling the government to stay out of their business. Imagine what would happen if the president or anyone else tried to tell them where and when and how they could do something with land that legally belonged to them.

  • Ruvy

    It is entirely unfair to blame all Muslims for what happened on 11 September 2001. Wahhabi terrorists did the act – with likely help from the Bush administration, which stood to benefit by having reason to rush a civil rights cancelling “Patriot Act” through Congress.

    But this circus of kissing Wahhabi butt while spitting in the faces of Christians whose church the Wahhabi had destroyed lets the cat out of the bag. What an awful, smelly, cat! The stink of fascism, the stink of religious overlordship from the thugs in Riyadh. Looks like the Ottoman Empire all over again. Boy, am I glad I moved to Israel!!

  • Zedd

    Im pretty sure everyone is too Ruvy.

    You can stop saying it, any day now. Looks like you want someone to beg you to come back. Probably wont happen.

  • James

    An Israeli Truther! Look mom!

  • justsaying

    The article really hits the nail on the head. Sure, there is a right to build a mosque there. But that doesn’t mean that it’s the right thing to do, or more particularly, sensitive.

    If I have a neighbour, and I know that a specific song makes him sad, it might be my right to play that song, but that doesn’t remove the fact that I know it hurts him.

    If I have a neighbour who had a son die on a plane, it might be my right to build my plane right beside her property and remind her every day of what she lost, but my right to do so doesn’t make my decision any less insensitive.

    This is just as much about Muslims expressing understanding to Americans as it is about Americans expressing understanding to Muslims.

    I might have a right to be a total asshole, but that doesn’t make my choice to do so “right.”