If anything, the divisive issue of the “Ground Zero Mosque” has made me ill. The toxic, poisonous vitriol polluting the fountains of public discourse has stifled and killed any attempt to bring logic and understanding into the discussion. I try where I can, but you keep clicking your Like buttons and re-declaring your hatred of the Islamic Community Center at Park51. Your Facebook hate-groups, your rightist reposts, your pundit fan pages serve as a blanket to wrap yourself in, an echo-chamber, the reverberations of which support your own hateful ideologies. That blanket also muffles the voices of reason, protecting you from the cold harshness of a multi-cultural reality. While I will strongly defend your right to say what you want, I do not defend your offensive message.
There is no “Ground Zero Mosque”. It is a pan-cultural community center designed to serve the community of lower Manhattan. It’s the equivalent of a YMCA. Know what happens at community centers? Craft classes. Language courses. Alcoholics Anonymous groups. Gym sessions. Basketball games. This project will have a halal culinary school; “halal” is nothing more than the Muslim equivalent of the Jewish concept of kosher. No different than an Italian cooking school.
So if the YMCA (which is short for Young Men’s Christian Association) can set up shop in every major urban center in America, why can’t there be an Islam-based organization in downtown Manhattan?
“But it’s insensitive to the 3000 who died!” Do you know what’s insensitive? Clumping every single muslim into the same extremist group that brought those towers down. You might as well clump every christian together into the same group that dances with venomous snakes and marries twelve wives while blowing up federal buildings in Oklahoma.
Do you know what else is insensitive? Denying the needs of the underserved muslims who live in a city where you don’t live. There’s plenty of churches and synagogues in Manhattan, but there aren’t enough mosques to serve as prayer centers, a necessity for a religion that requires praying five times a day.
“But it’s next to Ground Zero!” Actually, the proposed location is nowhere near the “ground zero” pit. It’s two blocks away (in a run-down neighborhood with closed stores and vacant buildings). That’s two New York City blocks, which are absolutely huge by our mid-American standards. Are you getting it now? It’s not even close.
Do you know what is close, though? A catholic cathedral, which is directly across the street from the “ground zero” pit. There’s also an episcopal church a half block down the street. So if the christians can have single-purpose places of worship next door to “ground zero”, why the hell can’t the muslims have a multi-purpose community center two blocks away?
To deny them their right makes you a bigot, a racist, and a hateful zealot.
There is no Islamic plot to overthrow American culture. There is no End Times master plan to storm into every American home, force your men to grow beards, force your women to wear a hijab, train your children to carry bombs, or take away your HBO. You would have to be crazy to even think that. Are you crazy? You certainly sound crazy.
Listen, regardless of what your pundits and politicians of choice say (it is an election year, mind you), this country was founded on the principles of fairness and opportunity for all. Any deviation from this is a failure on our part. Our soldiers have fought and died to defend these principles, and now you want to disrespect them and diminish their sacrifice by spreading hate against a specific racial group in our society? Shame on you, shame on you.
Stop your hatemongering.