Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ground Zero, Freedom, and that Nitwit from Alaska

So there's a controversy raging in NYC over a proposed "interfaith cultural center" to be built near Ground Zero. This center will also include a mosque. Since it's just a few blocks from the site of the worst act of Islamic terrorism in US history, this has gotten some people a lil' upset.


I haven't commented on this broohahhah before (and don't plan to again) because it's one of those divisive subjects I pefer to avoid on this blog. But as a New Yorker who cares about what goes on in his city, I'll just add my two (or four) cents.

First cent: the opponents of this center are calling it a mosque. This is inaccurate. It's actually, as I mentioned before, an "interfaith center" that includes a mosque. So the people screaming about this are distorting what the project really is. And it's not helpful to their cause to lie about it. When one side of a debate is fundamentally dishonest, then it simply torpedoes its credibility.

Second cent: I can understand that some people think it would be innapporiate to put a building including a mosque there. Some people think this might be "insensitive" and, as a good liberal, I'm all about being sensitive. But isn't it interesting how these people (i.e. white people) are all of a sudden concerned with "sensitivity"? These same people aren't sensitive to blacks, Jews, gays, Hispanics, foreigners, or the poor but, when it comes to them, suddenly "sensitivity" is so important. Being PC is okay, I guess, in some cases. So I think this sensitivity argument is a bunch of hypocritical crap.

Third cent: a lot of the opponents of this center (again, it is not primarily a mosque) are saying that this place has been funded by people linked to terrorism -- but they have provided no proof. Mayor Bloomberg and police commissioner Kelly have said they have no problem with this center being built and that investigating it is "un-American." Now, no one has been more critical of Mayor Mike than Mr NYC (read most of this blog) but I happen to agree with him here. Trying to shut down a place of worship that you don't like is about the most un-American thing I've ever heard of. What about religious freedom? That's the most American thing I can think of. It's also exactly what the terrorists on 9/11 were targeting -- and which we've been fighting for the last nine years to preserve.

Preventing the building of a mosque, any mosque, would be like if a group of people wanted to tear down Catholic churches because so many priests have turned out to be child molesters. It might be understandable but would also be an attack on religious freedom and totally un-American.

Fourth cent: this controversy has been inflamed by that genius of American politics Sarah Palin who injected herself into the debate with the following, gracefully written Tweet: "Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn't it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate." (In fairness, she then we re-wrote the message with "Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real.")

I'll let you chuckle at her inventive uses of the English language yourself ("refudiate" is kinda brilliant although then comparing her new word to something Shakespeare would have done is chuzpah if I ever saw it). Point is, the former half-term Governor of Alaska clearly doesn't know what she's talking about -- she's repeating a lie. And again, Mz. Palin is only dividing America, trying to marginalize Muslims at a time when making them more mainstream in American society would only highlight just how whacked out those radical terrorists are. It's an example of bad leadership at its very worst.

Every time this woman opens her month, I can only shudder at the idea that she might have been only a heartbeat away from the presidency. And if you think a mosque at Ground Zero is disturbing, the idea that some people think she should be president is even more disturbing.

But New Yorkers and their fellow Americans are a lot smarter than that. New Yorkers reject the bigotry that accompanies the opposition to this mosque just like the American people rejected Sarah Palin for the vice-presidency in 2008. And hopefully the very freedom -- religious and otherwise -- that the terrorists on 9/11 tried to extinguish along with those 3000 lives will continue to thrive in NYC and America at large, long after we've killed the last terrorists and as well as the political careers of the likes of Sarah Palin.

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