Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Is the so-called Ground Zero mosque really such a bad thing?

The so-called "Ground Zero mosque" is not at all "on" or "at" or even next to the World Trade Center site. It's two blocks northeast of the site and not even visible from most of the site. The vicinity of the WTC site is not a "cemetery" (although there is an old cemetery and Church to the east of the site.) Sure, it's fine to have a memorial to 9/11, and the site design includes such a memorial (the two tower footprints), but it is too much of a stretch to consider the entire WTC site, let alone the surrounding blocks as so-called "hallowed ground." It It has been almost nine years since 9/11, so I think the time for grieving is long past and it is time for everyone, including families of the victims of 9/11 to move on and get on with their own lives. There is no non-political benefit to obsessing on 9/11 or the lives lost any further. Sure, there are plenty of politicians and special interest groups and fear-mongerers of all stripes who will seek to milk the event for as long as they can, but we do need to say No to all of them, including the families of 9/11 victims, but especially to the fear-mongerers. The proposed Islamic community center and mosque in downtown Manhattan is a perfectly reasonable effort to bridge religious and cultural gaps.

Besides, the entire downtown area of Manhattan is still suffering from economic decline, so every dollar of incoming investment should be welcomed. The site of the proposed center, formerly the Burlington Coat Factory, has been unused for quite some time. Rehabilitation of that block would be most welcome by New Yorkers who frequent the downtown area, including myself.

I surmise that there may in fact be a few 9/11 families that may be hurt by the center, but there is no evidence presented that any great harm would result, while there is every reason to believe that such a center would be a net positive for society.

The fact that the Landmark Commission voted 9-0 (yes, that's a zero) to allow the project to go forward even in such a politically-charged environment is a good sign that maybe New York City is finally able to "turn the page" and move on from 9/11 and not have 9/11 hung around its neck like an albatross.

The sad thing about this episode is that it highlights the extent to which there is a sizable number of people who are really on a passionate anti-Islam crusade. Some are sleazy and hide behind the veil of protecting 9/11 families, but many are outright public about their fear and hatred of Islam and a belief that only harm can come from any accommodation of Islam. We do need to say No to them, and quite strongly.

It is a big relief to see some public officials finally saying No to the fear-mongerers. Kudos to Mayor Bloomberg for saying Yes to the proposed center.

-- Jack Krupansky


At 7:47 PM , Blogger ITscout said...

You write, "It has been almost nine years since 9/11, so I think the time for grieving is long past." That sentiment is certainly not going to win you lots of friends.

American politics thrive on the creation of a bogeyman -- real or imagined. Islam is to communism as today's hot wars are to yesterday's cold war.

I seriously doubt most Americans are ready to forgive and forget 9/11. More people died that day than at Pearl Harbor. Even after years of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, many (if not most) Americans still feel justice has not been served. They still want revenge. They won't be satisfied until they see Bin Laden's head on a spike.

There's enough about Islam and Muslims that scares people. There's huge pent up resentment against Muslims. It doesn't take much to fuel the flames of fear and hatred.

There's a legitimate question as to why a mosque is going up in such close proximity to Ground Zero. That by itself arouses suspicion.

The Landmark Commission voted as they did because the Burlington Coat Factory obviously is not on a sacred or historical site.

I don't know why Mayor Bloomberg deserves kudos. If there was any legal basis to stop the construction of the mosque, it would have been stopped. There obviously isn't. Bloomberg has no basis to object.

On the other hand, the Muslim community must have been well aware that their decision to build a mosque so close to Ground Zero would be controversial and receive lots of media attention. Again, why did they opt to do that?

I'm not sure what it's going to take to reduce Islamic paranoia. When one thinks of Islamic governments, such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, etc., is there any wonder why there's so many Islam opponents.

How do you recommend lessening the tension?

At 8:14 PM , Anonymous Jack Krupansky said...

Mayor Bloomberg deserves kudos because he said "No" to fear and fear-mongering and showed leadership when so many people were succumbing to fear or at least imagined fear. Or even worse, so many were (and still are) spreading fear.

I just finished watch the video of Bloomberg's press conference after the Landmark Preservation Commission vote. He made a big deal about it, out on Governor's Island with the Statue of Liberty in the background and surrounded with a host of religious leaders. So, this was a big deal for the mayor, not just something he had to cave on due to legal issues.

America was not built on fear, anxiety, worrying, or fear-mongering. It was built by people willing to stand up when others were afraid to, willing to take risks, willing to... lead. The mayor is leading.

All of the naysayers and fear-mongerers are worshiping fear and pandering to human frailty rather than appealing to the dignity of the human spirit.

In truth there actually isn't anything about Islam itself that "scares people". It is the fear-mongering that misleads people to believe the worst rather than encourage them to open their eyes and say "No" to fear.

The path towards a lessening of tensions is the path that has each of us, as the mayor has done, stand up and say "No" to fear and fear-mongering.

Pandering to fear is simply... pitiful.

Caving in to fear and fear-mongering is surely one of the worst things any human can do.

-- Jack Krupansky


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