Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Why the Ground Zero Mosque Should Be Built

The proposed building of a Muslim mosque two blocks from Ground Zero has created a firestorm of anger and emotion not just in Lower Manhattan, but all over the country. The public outcry over the $100-million, 13-story Islamic community center and mosque has mostly centered around 9-11 victims' families, locals and Republican politicians, who view the site as sacred ground. At the heart of the controversy is the belief that the mosque would be a monument to terrorists, and that it might even be funded by terror organizations, as Long Island Congressman Peter King has asserted, calling for an investigation.

The building--which had housed a Burlington Coat Factory until 9/11, when one of the planes' landing-gear smashed through the roof after hitting the World Trade Center--would cost $4.8-million to purchase, and would also include a swimming pool and performance space that would be open to the public. Muslim officials have said that the mosque would be a way for them to help rebuild the community.

Let me be 1000% clear on something: What happened on 9-11 was horrific and serves as a constant reminder of how vulnerable we are to enemies who seek to destroy us. We must do everything in our power to proactively protect our citizens from further attack. I live just blocks from Ground Zero, and have a personal stake in this tragedy as well as its aftermath and place in history. But we will as a nation be destroyed if we allow the 9-11 attacks to turn America from the great melting-pot and land of opportunity into the land of religious discrimination, fear and retribution. If so, then the terrorists have struck us again.

Yes, Ground Zero is sacred ground. No one should or would ever dispute that. But that can mean different things to different people. Perhaps in the interest of healing we should honor it and those killed by not using it as monument for more bias and vitriol. Wouldn't religious tolerance and acceptance be a far greater legacy for that site than one that perpetuates the kind of wholesale hatred and intolerance that was at the root of the very attacks themselves?

Interestingly, King was asked over the weekend if he'd support the mosque if it were built at another New York City location and he replied yes. That would clearly indicate that his opposition was more a product of political posturing, and of a sweeping indictment of all Muslims not just those who attacked us on 9-11, than actual fear of terrorist funding and sponsorship. If his concerns that terror organizations were behind this particular mosque were genuine wouldn't he be opposed to its existence anywhere?. Which is why we cannot allow this sacred ground to become a breeding ground of hate and revenge, or to become a political pawn for rabble-rousing legislators.

And if people still need a reason to believe the mosque deserves to be built on that site, consider this: Sarah Palin is against it (she recently Tweeted that Muslims should "refudiate" it). I can't think of another reason to support something than the fact that the grammatically-challenged Mama Grizzly is against it.


Lee Levine said...

And don't forget that Palin has asked us to "refute" the site! Peter King has always stooped to the lowest red-baiting; so those posturing against the mosque give us plenty of reason to support it.

But Andy, your heart-felt words are the best explanation for why it's important for all of us to rally around the mosque.

Lee Levine said...

Yikes! I just read Clyde Haberman's piece in the Times and I apologize for referring to the Center as a mosque. But I would like to add Kerik to the esteemed list of King and Palin. What a rogue's gallery!

Reid said...

I couldn't agree more, Andy. I really appreciate you having the guts to write this. And don't forget, it isn't just happening at Ground Zero. Something very similar recently happened in Staten Island. Some Muslims made a deal with the Catholic Church to buy a building for a mosque and the Catholics backed off due to the furious outcry from the locals. This is scary stuff.

As a Jew, I think that all Jews should look back to our own history and "refudiate" this with everything we've got.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if women would have to wear burkas in the swimming pool. Or, would they be allowed at all. If not, what kind of melting pot do we have here in the USA?

Ayatollah Ghilmeini said...

You can be against the Mosque and rational about it. The folks building it are ultra-religious Muslim zealots.

Women are property, no tolerance for other faiths (this thing will get built, try holding a Christian, Jewish or Hindu ceremony in their "interfaith" outreach room and see what happens). Put up handbills advocating a two state solution on Is-Pal and it will get ripped down.

You have been played. Islam looks at the core values we revere, free expression, universal emancipation and equal rights and substitutes Sharia law as their proposed response/solution. These guys are not Arabian Buddhists.

They talk a lovely game about inclusion and then lie and tell you hundreds of Muslims died on 911. If they can't be honest about that, they are not being honest about their intentions for this Mosque.

It is not that the Mosque can't be built there (that would be against the law), it is that it shouldn't be built there. There is something known as community standards and this does not fit in.

I can't defend some of the people and the tactics used to oppose the Mosque, so I don't but a lot of 911 families are offended by this thing and we would all do well to ask where the money to build it is coming from.

Anonymous said...

All religious practices in our country must comply with the laws of the United States of America. If you don't "get this", we do not allow the sacrifice of virgins, for example. We all "melt" together to become American citizens, who are vound to follow the laws of the country. Religious freedom or any other freedom does not mean a person, organization, or any other entity can "freely" do anything illegal.

Ro said...

What does refudiate mean??? It sounds like something a muppet would say