I came across this bit of wisdom from Someecards this morning. “I’m okay with a mosque being built at Ground Zero because at least something would be built at Ground Zero.” Brilliant. I’m not okay with the fact that almost nine years later Ground Zero still sits pretty much vacant. I’m embarrassed for our country that we are so paralyzed with political corruption, political correctness, posturing and back room shenanigans that we cannot demonstrate to the rest of the world how a powerful phoenix should rise from the ashes.
We’re talking about building a community center here, people, one that will have a basketball court and yes – a prayer room. But to call it a mosque is waaay sexier. The media has used that term to inflame, to stir up controversy, to (excuse my vulgarity) piss kerosene to feed the fire. Yeah, that gets ratings! The media is also safe in the assumption that America is now a chronically attention-impaired populace that won’t actually go check out the facts. We prefer short, bullet-point stories that aren’t grounded in journalistic principles. We want a TMZ delivery, flashing graphics and spinning chyrons and hey and wow and IT’S A MOSQUE, BABY, AND IT’S AT GROUND ZERO!
Except that it is neither. It is not a mosque, it is a community center with a basketball court and a prayer room. Even if it was a mosque, it is not AT Ground Zero. It is over two blocks away, and New York City blocks are big. Clyde Haberman of the New York Times explains the significance of using the word “at” :
There’s that “at.” For a two-letter word, it packs quite a wallop. It has been tossed around in a manner both cavalier and disingenuous, with an intention by some to inflame passions. Nobody, regardless of political leanings, would tolerate a mosque at ground zero. “Near” is not the same, as anyone who paid attention back in the fourth grade should know.
Listen, I’m not thrilled with the controversy here but I can’t very well claim First Amendment rights and at the same time deny it to others. Evidently, a lot of Americans are willing to do so. Good luck with that. Let’s see the Lutherans try to build a community center within a couple of blocks of a Catholic church that was torched by a Lutheran arsonist but later rebuilt. Yeah, kickass all you Catholics and go get those heretics and – wait – well, Lutherans are ok. But not Muslims, man, that’s different. What if it was a pack of wild Lutherans who brought down the World Trade Center? Would you be declaring a jihad on them? Or would we, like reasonable, intelligent adults intellectually realize that maybe, just maybe not every Lutheran is a cold-blooded killer and the few who are were not representative of their entire religion? Imagine a religion – any religion - having whacked out, f’d up extremists among its members. Golly, what a concept.
I had this non-mosque argument with my husband last night. It was one of those moments when you look up at the ceiling (we were in bed at the time) and think, “Jeebus, who the (#$)(# did I marry?” He is a measured, reasonable person but he is buying into this frenzy hook, line and sinker and it pisses me off. I was raised to respect the rights of others even if I did not agree with their ideas. I live in a country that has legislated the same. (PS we had the same argument about flag burning, so there you go. )
Al-Qaeda must be loving this. The big, scary USA is terrified of a Muslim community center. Do I need to point out that this is exactly what feeds their mentality? Don’t feed the beast. We should, as a country, be able to stand up and say, “Yes, we guarantee the right of every American to worship and speak freely. We are also free to disagree with each other, but the ability to do so remains a constitutionally guaranteed right. It is one of the reasons why we are the greatest nation on this earth. If you gotta problem with that then bring it, baby. We will kick your ass to defend those freedoms.” **
** I just think we’d have a lot more credibility when we said that if there was a well designed, finished complex in place at the site of the World Trace Center. That would show ‘em. Nothing says “don’t f’ with me” like getting right back up on your feet after you have been knocked down. If you stay down, it appears that you fear them.