Monday, August 16, 2010

The "Ground Zero" Mosque. Or: Why I hate Politics.

Thriller writers seem to be dragged into a lot of politics. Vince Flynn, because his protagonist is a government counter terrorist agent; Lee Child, because his protagonist is a former Military Policeman, and deals with a lot of army politics.

I personally hate politics, but, since I've already started by having a discussion on the Church, the Pope, and handling priests, I figured I'm due for another round....

Some may not know, and fewer may care, but there is talk of a mosque going up in downtown Manhattan, on what is currently a vacant lot, or a giant hole in the ground, depending on your point of view. Yes, someone wants to put a mosque at Ground Zero, the site of the New York City 9-11 attack.

There are multiple points of view on the matter, but I would like to address the one that no one else seems to be considering: The Muslim point of view.

Yes, I know I'm Catholic, but I'm turning on my empathy for five minutes. And it's not too hard. For example, we can break down the Islamic world into three camps: those who want to kill us, those who don't care, and those who rather like America and who have either already moved here (or want to).

From the “kill them all” camp (terrorists, supporters, sympathizers, Ron Kuby), I can only imagine a mosque over the scene of the biggest, most successful terrorist attack on American soil would be like planting a flag over captured enemy territory. From their point of view, a mosque would be a great idea, the bigger the better. Party time..

From the “I don't care” camp, I could only imagine a reaction of “What the....?” This mosque is going to be fourteen stories tall in the middle of downtown Manhattan— bigger than St. Patrick's Cathedral. Nearby areas consist of Greenwich Village, Chinatown, Wall Street, and a very Little Italy. Now, unless the Village has undergone a drastic demographic shift, or the official religion of China has become Islam, I can't imagine too many people going to this great big mosque. There's a heavy Muslim population in New York... in Brooklyn, on Atlantic Avenue. I would imagine that someone, somewhere out there, is wondering “Whose bright idea was this? And why couldn't we get them to build this near a major Muslim population center?”

The “moderate Islam” we hear so much about, who like America, hate terrorists, and came to this country to FLEE customs in the homeland, I can imagine being disturbed. I know that if my coreligionists had launched a terrorist attack on my country of residence, I would want as much distance between my faith and the attack site as possible. I could imagine this side of the Islamic spectrum viewing the mosque like the terrorist viewpoint, as a flag of victory, and consider that a very bad, disturbing thing.

Someone is going to try to put any of the above statements into my mouth and proclaim them mine. So I'll make my viewpoint clear...

In the biggest attack on American soil, Pearl Harbor, we have a war memorial. One of the ships that was irrevocable lost is still there, hull partially out of the water, one drop of oil coming up every minute or so. We did not put a Shinto shrine. With another slaughter, Gettysburg, it's also a war memorial, of sorts. We did not put up a Christian church; I believe there are smaller, individual crosses for the deaths of people who all happened to be one variety of Christian or another, but no massive Cathedral (I couldn't find one, feel free to check).

It isn't possible to make a war memorial in lower Manhattan on the scope of either of the above mentioned, since the real estate rates are somewhere in high orbit. If you built another World Trade Center with a war memorial in the lobby, and antiaircraft batteries on the roof, and make the rest of the building dedicated to standard business practices, I think that would cover all bases. The original lobby was huge, and all the things you need for a memorial are already constructed: I recall that we have a Vietnam-style wall with the names of those lost, we have a cross made out of I-beams that was put up by the construction workers (I would put it there less for religious reasons and more for the fact that it was created from pieces of the Twin Towers), and believe we have a statue of the iconic image of the three firemen raising the flag at Ground Zero. You get a memorial to the dead, patriotism, and a physical piece of what was lost.

As for the mosque itself, I'm more curious about other things...

(1) Are there really so many Muslims in lower Manhattan that we need something the size of a small skyscraper? If you take the terrorist attack out of the equation, building the Mosque anywhere in lower Manhattan isn't the brightest move. When the biggest groups are the Chinese, Wall Street, and the people of the Village, it's a bloody stupid idea.

(2) If there aren't “so many Musilms”, whose bright idea what this? I can tell you people who support it, but I can't tell you who's funding it. It's possible it's funded by someone who doesn't know New York City demographics, or someone with cross-cultural public relations problems, or someone who really does want to plant a flag on Ground Zero.

(3) Do American Muslims really want to put a mosque that close to an area of mass slaughter? I would think that would be up there with putting a temple on top of a graveyard.

(4) Before everyone plans for the war memorial, the mosque, or anything else, I would like the politicians to do one thing: BUILD US ANOTHER WTC.... I don't care if it's the 1776-foot tall “Freedom Tower”, or if they just build the originals again.

My position is simple: it's been nine years and three Governors since we lost the World Trade Center, and construction should have been started at least five years ago (count four years of red tape). Someone, get to work....

Oh, and no matter what designs are picked, I want the battery of Surface-to-Air-Missiles... and a giant sign that says “TRY AGAIN. PLEASE.”

Please feel free to comment; I put in as much data as I could find, and everything I can think of without going into a rant. If I have any Muslim fans of the book, I want to hear from you in case I missed something; like I said, I turned my empathy on for five minutes, so the above analysis of opinion is, essentially, a guess.

UPDATE [1-31- 2011]

And, maybe, just maybe, someone should tell this Imam how close he is to the village before he starts talking like this.


  1. I'm not local, but I was given to understand the proposed site is two blocks away from the WTC site proper and proposed to replace an irrevocably damaged building. While I agree there doesn't seem to be much point in building an elaborate Muslim cultural center and mosque in a neighborhood with few Muslims, surely there's a point where Ground Zero stops and the rest of New York begins ... and from there on it's mostly a question of, "Aren't you in a rather odd neighborhood for this?"

  2. Two blocks away from the WTC site: you can still see Ground Zero from the corner the mosque is supposed to be on. And when it's fourteen stories tall, you have a nice aerial view, I think.


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