Why build a mosque that will loom over Ground Zero?
No looming will occur. Without x-ray vision, you won’t even see the Islamic center from Ground Zero. The 13-story center will sit two blocks away amid an array of tall buildings – we’re talking Manhattan, remember. By the way, the center won’t be just a mosque. It will be like a YMCA with a basketball court, a swimming pool and everything, as well as a place to worship.
Why then does the news media keep referring to the planned center as the “Ground Zero mosque”?
The news media has the unfortunate habit of parroting loaded terms coined by the rightwing blogosphere and punditocracy.
Still, wouldn’t an Islamic center sully hallowed ground?
That makes sense only if you believe Islam is evil or profane and that its contamination can leap two densely packed, commercial blocks. An argument can be made that Ground Zero’s hallowedness is all the more reason to have places of worship nearby, including mosques.
But the fanatics who destroyed the Twin Towers were Islamic extremists who acted in the name of Allah. Wouldn’t a nearby mosque disrespect their memory?
Actually, the center could serve their memory by acting as a moderating force within Islam and thereby tamping down terrorism. The imam behind the development opposes Islamic extremism and he has invited New Yorkers of all faiths to visit the center. Besides, if terrorists had destroyed the Twin Towers in the name of Christianity, would it follow that Christian churches should be barred from the area? In fact, Timothy McVeigh had destroyed the federal building in Oklahoma City to avenge a Christian cult for its fatal confrontation with federal authorities in Waco, Texas. Yet, that bombing didn’t put Christianity on trial.
But what about the relatives of those who died in the attack on the Twin Towers? They oppose construction of the center. Shouldn’t their wishes, whether right or wrong, be respected?
Actually, some relatives do oppose construction and some don’t. Keep in mind, too, that dozens of those who died in the Twin Towers were themselves Muslim. Like the relatives in general, the ones who oppose the center are generally in pain, but punishing a whole group, whether a race or a religion or a nationality, for the sins of some of its members remains wrong.
If opposition to the center has no merit, how did this controversy get so huge?
Well, rainstorms on Manhattan get more news play than rainstorms in, say, Peoria, Ill. Credit mostly, however, the rightwing punditocracy, which knows how to push the right buttons. The basic development – an effort to build an Islamic cultural center in lower Manhattan out of the view of the Twin Towers site -- has only local newsworthiness. After all, two mosques already lie in the vicinity of Ground Zero, and without controversy. But the fear mongers on the right blew up the innocent effort to open a multi-use cultural center into a dastardly plot to erect a monster mosque at Ground Zero as a sort of Islamic trophy for the destruction of the Twin Towers. The big, dumb media, alas, is just too slow-footed to fight assaults on the truth from that quarter.