Reading today's New York Times article on New Yorkers' take on the Cordoba House really disappointed me. A key aspect of this entire project that people are completely failing to grasp is the connection (or lack thereof) of everyday Islam to terrorism. The article quotes people delusional enough to start naming how many blocks away from Ground Zero would be appropriate for a mosque to be located.
I just find it extremely disheartening that almost ten years after 9/11 we have not been able to mentally isolate the terrorists as extremists who twisted the religion of Islam into their own perverted view to carry out heinous attacks on innocent civilians from those law-abiding Muslims who have no desire to destroy our culture and country. Every Muslim is a terrorist in the same vain that every Catholic is a child molester: the actions of the few do not reflect the actions of the many. Yet here we are complaining that an Abrahamic religion is going to set up shop two blocks away from the former World Trade Center.
Nearly everyone polled recognizes the Cordoba House's right to build wherever it wants, granted to it by the same Constitution that Islamic extremists deem so vile and pernicious. But then some folks believe that their personal feelings should outweigh this historied document. Take Marylin Fisher from Bensonhurst:
My granddaughter and I were having this conversation and she said stopping them from building is going against the freedom of religion guaranteed by our Constitution. I absolutely agree with her except in this case. I think everything in this world is not black and white; there is always a gray area and the gray area right now is sensitivity to those affected by 9/11, the survivors of the people lost.We are a nation of laws, not sensitivities. What people seem to forget is that the Cordoba House is not really a mosque. It has a prayer space, yes, but it also will offer services that any neighborhood in New York would be lucky to acquire (an auditorium, a swimming pool, basketball court, childcare area, culinary school, art studio, etc.) Precluding these services (which are not offered by the old Burlington Coat Factory) for the neighborhood because one objects to the idea of a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero based on irrational fear of Islam because of a small minority's twisted take on the religion is, in a word, wrong.
It is also important to note that by calling the Cordoba House the "Ground Zero Mosque," opponents take away the appellative meaning of the center. Cordoba is a town in Spain whose history includes being a large cultural center during the Islamic reign of the region in medieval times. When the Muslims came through and conquered Cordoba the Christians of the city were allowed to continue worshiping in the manner of their religion. Christians, after all, were people of the book and, according to the Qur'an,
And do not dispute with the followers of the Book except by what is best, except those of them who act unjustly, and say: We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you, and our God and your God is One, and to Him do we submit. (29:46)The fact that medieval times saw more tolerant displays of freedom of religion speaks to the the ridiculousness of this entire debate. People see Islam as this completely foreign religion, but fail to understand that the Qur'an simply finalizes the trilogy of testaments that Jews and Christians worship from. It is a continuation of their books.
In summation, America is based on the Constitution. Cordoba House has done everything by the book thus far and there is no Constitutional basis for disallowing them to move into Park51. If shadowy funding sources come to light I'll be the first to say GTFO. Until then, Cordoba House has done nothing to dissuade me of their right to move into the proposed space. While people may be split on whether the Cordoba House should be there, we are lucky to have the best tiebreaker in the world to decide for us: the Constitution.
Photo - Graph of global Islam (Campaign for Liberty)