A Mosque And Islamic Center Near Ground Zero? Fuhggedaboudit!

The World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks
Image via Wikipedia

This makes me crazy.

A mosque and Muslim center planned for a building mere blocks from Ground Zero is a really bad idea.

As one man said tonight on NBC Nightly News, “It’s a finger in the eye.”

Reports The New York Times:

After a protracted battle that set off a national debate over freedom of religion, a Muslim center and mosque to be built two blocks from ground zero surmounted a final hurdle on Tuesday.

The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission voted 9 to 0 against granting historic protection to the building at 45-47 Park Place in Lower Manhattan, where the $100 million center would be built.

That decision clears the way for the construction of Park51, a tower of as many as 15 stories that will house a mosque, a 500-seat auditorium, and a pool. Its leaders say it will be modeled on the Y.M.C.A. and Jewish Community Center in Manhattan.

I am deeply committed to diversity and freedom of worship and thought.

Yes, build it. Yes, make it a place that will welcome people of all faiths who — finally — might get the chance to meet Muslims face to face, get to know them, get to make friends, get to understand them. Clearly, not all Muslims are terrorists, no more than all Christians or Jews fall to the outer margins of what the majority consider acceptable behavior.

Just not there.

I did not lose family or friends on 9/11. I did spend a terrifying day wondering, as thousands of New Yorkers did, if my partner was alive or dead, as he was due to have been on the subway directly beneath the Towers when they were hit. He got home a few hours early, having left his friends’ house much sooner than he’d originally planned.

Everyone who was here, and many who had friends, loved ones, relatives or colleagues working here, remembers that day as if it were yesterday. No one who smelled the sour, vicious, disgusting smell of the towers as they burned for weeks afterward will ever forget it.

It is utter madness and folly to mess with this trauma.

Build it elsewhere.

Or wait for a retaliation — like every single area unionized ironworker, electrician, plumber, carpenter, HVAC expert and mason to refuse their labor — and say aloud what many of us feel.

You want me working where?


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12 thoughts on “A Mosque And Islamic Center Near Ground Zero? Fuhggedaboudit!

  1. Suzanna

    What I want to know is why? Honestly, why? Of all the places in the city to build a mosque, cultural center, whateverthefluff you want to call it, why there? It’s just not necessary, and the people who want to put it up, good intentions (and they lead where, ladies and gents?) aside, know the trouble and hurt feelings it’s causing. Just not necessary.

  2. john

    The fact that this is even a problem is just sad because all it really does is reinforce an “Us” versus “Them” mentality with respect to religious freedom in this country. That freedom is what makes us all Americans, not just some of us. A position like this one is bullshit, really, it’s basically the most unAmerican thing I can think of. No one has a problem with the strip club that’s two blocks away, no one calls it the Ground Zero Stripclub or has a problem with its proximity to “sacred ground”, but this community center captures the hearts and minds of (Christian) Americans? Puh-lease. Either we are big enough to distinguish between radical Islam and Islam proper, or we are not. Any pain and anger directed at a community center is completely and utterly misplaced, and it is ludicrous and dangerous to affirm it with misguided outrage. If there was ever a time and a place to rally around one of our fundamental constitutional rights and show the world the true spirit of America, it is now, and it is right there. It’s a shame to read so much moral indignation instead of a defense of one of our core principles. But hey, if the mob is loud enough and pissed off enough, who needs principles? We can flush those right down the toilet rather than adhere to them in our time of trial and prove that there is nothing we wont compromise in the name of security or moral indignation in this country.

  3. Doug

    Boy, I really disagree, Caitlyn. I think there’s a statute of limitations on how long New Yorkers get to be the most wounded people on Earth. I knew it was a mistake not to call it “9/11/01.” If it makes you feel better, think of it as a house of worship in lower Manhattan, which is all it actually is. Improbable, sure, but not intolerable.

  4. I know this is a very unpopular point of view. It’s not simply feeling “wounded”, as if we had a bad fight with our BFF. I doubt anyone now takes the subway or walks through Times Square without a frisson of fear about when it will happen next. The trauma of that day — and it is the correct word — is not something one can simply hand-flap away with impatience.

    If someone you loved were grieving their parent or spouse, would you dismiss their feelings, even after a decade? Maybe this is equivalent for many people here.

  5. Doug

    Maybe, but I have no idea what that has to do with a mosque in lower Manhattan. Of course I understand that people will never get over that day but, yeah, I dismiss non-sequiturs after a decade. If the YMCA uptown wants to offer classes in suicide-bombing and airplane hijacking, I would think New Yorkers would be right to oppose them.

  6. As realtors like to say, it’s all about location, location, location. There is no intellectual way to explain or defend the deeply powerful emotional, visceral response this evokes for some New Yorkers. If the area (as it is) is the grave for thousands of people, it is akin to spitting on it to locate anything to do with Islam near this site. I WELCOME a mosque and cultural center. Not within so close a physical distance. New York City has plenty of other places to build it.

    Anyone rational knows that the crazies who created 9/11 were crazies — but we all equally aware there are many more eager to take over their mission. I have dear friends who are Muslim. This is a much larger issue for some of us here. I don’t expect anyone beyond the five boroughs to get it, or care.

  7. Suzanna

    Would we be so open about erecting a monument to the Vietcong across the street from the Wall? Or how about statues commemorating kamikazi fighters right next to the USS Arizona? Before you say it’s not the same thing, stop and think… to some citizens it is the very same thing. To those that lived through those wars, it is the same thing.

    I understand both sides. We do need to stand up for tolerance and acceptance of all peoples, races, creeds, and beliefs. But the point here is, yes, location, location, location. Build it elsewhere. It just simply does not need to go 600 feet from the location of such a tragedy.

    1. john

      Your analogy doesn’t work because you’re confusing poor taste with religious freedom. If you don’t understand that that is fine, that’s why we have laws to keep you and yours out of the business of them and theirs. But as long as we’re trying to have a conversation about this let’s use analogy for better use. Suppose instead of a Mosque we were talking about a Catholic church, would this make it more acceptable to you? Or make it a Jewish synagog. If your impulse is to answer yes in either case, then consider all people of those faiths that were killed that day. Should we also ban those religions because it might offend a Muslim or Jewish family that lost someone? You see, you don’t have to pull this string too far until you bump up against one of our founding principles again, which is why I feel so strongly about this. Freedom from religious persecution is not and never can be about location, if it was, then any group large enough could use their invisible god to move you and yours wherever they like. That takes the secular out of our secular republic.

      1. Suzanna

        No, I don’t think either of those is OK either. Religious monuments, establishments, etc, have no place there. This is a global tragedy and should be treated as such, rather than a chance to make some sort of statement.

  8. I did a lot of writing for a failed magazine called RiseUp and wrote a long and detailed piece for them about interfaith work. I interviewed a local Muslim woman, a truly amazing person who is a female plastic surgeon and a devout Muslim who decided to veil herself after 9/11 to show her faith in Islam more publicly. She told me in the interview that many “friends” dumped her for this. I was appalled. I am appalled.

    One of the crucial issues with Islam remains its relative invisibility within American political and media discourse. How many of us personally know and love and hang out with Muslim friends or have ever been to a mosque or Muslim wedding? That which remains mysterious also remains threatening to some people.

    I am eager for greater dialogue between people of different faiths and views. But do it thoughtfully.

    1. john

      “One of the crucial issues with Islam remains its relative invisibility” – which is precisely why we have laws to protect ourselves from each other. Secular democracy only works when it works for minority populations and you should know this from visiting Turkey. Turkey is a perfect example where secular democracy is also in action, only there the relative proportions of religious populations are switched. Muslims dominate, but there are sizable populations of Jews and Christians and how would we feel if we read this similar sentiment over there?

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