The Ground Zero Mosque Is Inappropriate, Offensive, and Divisive
As we approach the 9th anniversary of September 11th, Americans can be proud that the event and subsequent terrorist acts never precipitated a backlash against American Muslims. We have not seen Muslim businesses burned or boycotted nor have we read of violence or discrimination against Muslims. Americans’ ability to discern both foreign and home-grown terrorists from mainstream Muslim civilians has withstood the tests of the Christmas Day bomber, the Times Square bomber, the Fort Dix would-be attackers and the Fort Hood massacre.
Clearly, Americans are smart enough and civilized enough not to confuse innocent civilians with those who threaten our country, a quality not shared with our country’s enemies. Which is why allegations that opposition to the Ground Zero mosque are based on so-called Islamophobia and intolerance are as ridiculous as they are disingenuous.
There is no issue of religious freedom or private property rights here. The question is not whether anyone has the legal right to build a mosque on a particular lot in New York City. Rather, it is the appropriateness of building one so close to Ground Zero that is questioned. Consider, for example, how the National Parks Conservation Association is objecting to Wal-Mart’s plans to build adjacent to a Civil War National Military Park in Virginia. It’s simply the wrong building in the wrong place regardless of the developers’ legal rights.
And even if we were to believe that construction of the mosque is aimed at cultural healing and bridge-building, it will easily be interpreted by radical Islam as a statement of triumphalism. If there is one thing that mainstream America and radical Islam can agree on, it is that a mosque built near ground zero will be a monument to the 9/11 attackers, not their victims. So the issue is not that it should be illegal to build the mosque, but rather that it should be voluntarily moved elsewhere out of respect for the sentiments of the majority of Americans – if indeed the intent is bridge-building rather than triumphalism.
But some have questioned the motives of the mosque builders. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who is leading the effort, has been quoted as saying in 2005 that “the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than Al Qaeda has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims.” And shortly after 9/11, the Imam stated on 60 Minutes that “United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened… Because we have been an accessory to a lot of--of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, it--in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA.” Such rhetoric seems neither “moderate” nor aimed at healing and bridge-building. Some would consider it incendiary. Others would compare it to Reverend Wright’s famous remarks about 9/11 that “America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”
But in the upside down world of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, it is the mosque opponents who are suspect and should be investigated. Apparently, we should be concerned about the First Amendment rights of those wanting to build the mosque but disregard those of average Americans as well as the families and friends of 9/11 victims who object to its construction. Among the politically correct elite, there is no room for dissent.
And then there is President Obama himself, first expressing support for the mosque at a Friday the 13th Ramadan dinner, partially back-pedaling the next morning and finally stating that he had “no regrets” for any of his semi-contradictory statements. Who knows what possessed President Obama to step into this debate with his mosque comments, but Democrat leaders Harry Reid and Howard Dean are taking no chances by distancing themselves from President Obama, Pelosi and other Democrats who support the mosque.
I also find it ironic that the very people who object to prayer in public schools, who want to remove “In God we trust” from our currency, who want to convert Christmas to a “Winter Holiday,” who object to vouchers for parochial schools, who want to eliminate faith-based initiatives and essentially remove any vestiges of our Judeo-Christian heritage from the public square are now so worried about the mosque builders’ First Amendment rights of religious expression.
Again, that’s not the issue. When concerns were raised about building a convent in Auschwitz, Pope John Paul II wasted no time in relocating the facility, despite the church’s “legal right” to build on the location. As a religious leader, Imam Feisal might take counsel in the late Pontiff’s wisdom and, if sincerely dedicated to healing and outreach, build the project elsewhere. But in the planned location, its construction can only result in further divisiveness and anger, which our country surely does not need.
Contact George Leon at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo of Ground Zero Mosque protestors from newsrealblog.com