July 20, 2010

Mosque at Ground Zero- Just Say No

There is going to come a time in the not so distant future when my children ask me about 9-11. They'll look to me to answer the hard questions about how and why something like this could happen. It won't be the first time that we have talked about why people are willing to maim and murder others for no reason other than ideological differences.

And when that day comes I want to look them in the eye and remind them that we judge people based upon what they do or what they do not do. They know that remaining silent in the face of wrongdoing can be just as bad as participating in it. That is not liberal, kumbaya, feel good clap-trap but common sense.

If you stand around while kids tease other kids you are helping to create an environment in which that kind of abuse is acceptable. It doesn't mean that should or have to like everyone either. You don't have to be friends with everyone. And just because you have the right to do something doesn't mean that you should either.

I love America for what it has given my family. I am thankful, grateful and respectful of our heritage and traditions. Those laws and traditions means that the group that wants to build the mosque at Ground Zero has the right to do so. And if I lived in a world in which everything was black and white I would say that it is the end of the discussion.

But I don't, we don't and for my children's sake I cannot stand idly by without proclaiming my opposition to this. There is no reason nor need for a mosque or any sort of religious institution to be built there. It is not because the murderers who slaughtered the innocent on that day happen to be Muslim. It is not because there is a history of Muslims trying to claim control of land by building mosques on the sites of churches and synagogues.

Let me be clear that I won't say that this is the reason for the selection of this location any more than I will say that it isn't. I don't know what the reason for it is and I don't care.

My position is that Ground Central should be open and inclusive to all groups. Keep religion out of it.

It is not because I do not like religion, consider myself to be an atheist or dislike Muslims. There are good Muslims and there are bad Muslims just as there are Jews and Christians.

Building a mosque at this location doesn't do anything but help to foster an environment in which we define ourselves based upon religious affiliation. It will be divisive and create animosity. It doesn't have to be built there. There are lots of places within Manhattan to build one, it be wise to choose one of those other locations.


PJ Mullen said...

Well said, Jack. Proponents of this move are calling opponents of this xenophobes. I'm sorry, that doesn't fly with me. There is zero need for this (or any religion oriented center, regardless of denomination) to be built that close to Ground Zero.

Jack said...

Hi PJ,

Xenophobia is a term that is thrown around far too easily. This is such a sensitive topic. It really doesn't make any sense to let such a structure be built there.

twistedxtian said...

I'm with you guys, it just doesn't make sense. There is no need for any sort of religious monument or center there, and I say this as a pastor-in-training.
I'm hearing from many that they are keeping their opposition quiet b/c they don't want to be labeled intolerant, bigoted, or xenophobe. People need to stand up for what they believe in and call out those that are making unfair accusations, not hide from it.

Keith Wilcox said...

Oh, That was really well said. I've been mulling over the merits of having the mosque there, and there was something that didn't seem right about it, but I couldn't work out why I felt squeamish about it. This is EXACTLY why I have a problem with it. It isn't a Muslim vs Christian issue, it's a religious issue. The last thing that area needs is another reason to throw Molotov cocktails and protest. Just put up the memorial, make it an all inclusive place where everybody feels safe, and that'll about do it. People are free to think what they want, but when a religious group starts putting their stamps on stuff, then there's problems. Yeah, I agree completely, Jack.

New York Dad said...

So many tangents are just begging me to go off on them, but I digress.

I am not a big fan of memorials. That’s just me. I understand that they are meant as reminders because many of us have short memories, but I feel that memorials tend to become attractions as opposed to a place to remember and reflect. And quite frankly, it seems that the world’s population just LOVES it when history keeps repeating itself or so says the cynical New Yorker in me.

There are only two places in the world that are considered memorials that I have actually been to where tchotchkes were not sold and tourists did not pose in front of the memorial as though it were just another landmark: the former towns of Oświęcim-Brzezinka in Southern Poland (better known by their German denomination of Auschwitz-Birkenau) and the caves known as the Fosse Ardeatine on the outskirts of Rome, Italy. I close my eyes and I can hear the gravel under my shoes as I walked past the crematoriums in the latter unable to imagine how that same noise must have sounded more than half a century ago or the echo in the caves that must have rung out with men pleading for their lives in the former. I will admit that those two visits where the only two where I quietly cried because the experience of just being there was so overwhelming. This is not to say that there are not other similar sites around the world, but I have been to many and so I cringe to think that in a few years as I walk by where the Twin Towers once stood I must see people lining up with cameras in hand – just another photo-op for the scrap book.

So, no, I do not want a new mosque or synagogue or church or temple or anything even remotely religious anywhere near that gaping hole in downtown Manhattan. Nor do I want the guys selling little American flags, pins with ribbons and photos of the smoldering towers. Much better to have left a pile of rubble for people to see what it was really like that day.

You are absolutely right, it has nothing to do with being tolerant (insert multiple tangents here). Tolerant will be me walking by the memorial and probably the new mosque, shaking my head and walking on.

When will we ever learn to never forget?

PS Jack my apologies for practically guest posting – uninvited – in your comments section.

Jack said...


That is one of the challenges we face now. Far too many fights get swept beneath the rug because people fear being tarred and feathered.


That is it, this is so emotionally charged it is begging for trouble. It is a tinderbox of emotion and we aren't in a position to fix that. So we need to adjust how we do things so as to not exacerbate things.

NY Dad,

All of the tchotchkes are exactly why I am concerned about any sort of memorial. Something needs to be done, but in a tasteful way. It is an awkward situation. Our children won't understand it the same way that we will.

Unless they are older they don't remember walking friends/family to the gate at the airport. They don't remember how you could show up 30 minutes before a flight and just walk on.

They don't remember the towers or the sense of innocence that was shattered.

New York Dad said...

Those were the days, I used to take the Delta Shuttle between NYC and DC when I went to Georgetown back in the days. It was $95 roundtrip student fare ($15 cheaper than Amtrak). You would go through the metal detector and run to the gate just 5 minutes before the gate closed. They would rip off your boarding pass without even checking if it was you and the biggest perk of all was getting a bag of chips and a cold beer no questions asked when you plunked down in your seat. I used to love flying...

Adam said...

Actually, the proposal may or may not include a mosque. It's going to be an Islamic Community/culture Center. And it's going to be 2 blocks away from ground zero. There are already 3 Christian churches that literally border the remains of towers 1 and 2, so making it a religious-free zone is out of the question already.

Jack said...

NY Dad- I hear you. I used to love flying too.


I hear what you are saying and if I am not mistaken those churches pre-existed 9-11. But this is a peculiar situation and I am not sure that it is in the best interests of all to build it at that spot.

Some wounds take a long time to heal and are so painful they prevent real and meaningful dialogue.