The Mosque at 9/11

This blog rarely addresses political issues, as previously noted, because it would otherwise involve little else. However the construction of a community center, which is to include a mosque, near the site of the World Trade Center cries out for exploration.

I fully understand and sympathize with the victims and the families of victims who oppose the construction. Note that it is by no means all families and victims who are opposed.

I also understand those who oppose the construction because of the destruction of a building near the site of the terrorist attacks. The opponents had sought to preserve the existing building as an historic site. The Landmarks Preservation Commission, whose mission is to decide such issues, today ruled that the building does not meet its criteria. The vote was 9 to 0. The decision was based on a finding that the structure lacked architectural or historical merit. The commission does not make its decisions on the basis of anything but the standards that it applies to each structure.

Here are the reasons I think the construction proposed by Cordoba House should go forward:

The building proposed will be a community center, which includes a mosque. The stated purpose is “promoting integration, tolerance of difference,” and “inter-community gatherings.”

The construction is two blocks from the World Trade Center site not “at Ground Zero.” As nearly as I can tell from a map the center will not be visible from the site of the former Twin Towers.

The vocal opposition consists mostly not of New Yorkers  but of outsiders: Two Republican congressman from Suffolk, one of whom is running for governor; Sarah Palin; Rudy Giuliani (New York’s current mayor and the Democratic candidate for governor support the plan); and Newt Gingrich. He said that Muslims should be prohibited from building near Ground Zero “so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia.” So he’s advocating that we behave like the Saudis. And he’s assuming that Cordoba House members are from Saudi Arabia or have some ties to that country.

The construction has met every requirement of the city’s zoning rules and whatnot. Opposition is based solely on the fact that the group making the proposal is Muslim. A request to build a church or a synagogue would never meet with such opposition.

If this country starts to prohibit the siting of buildings on the basis of faith, we will have taken many, many steps back toward the days when the Puritans forced all “non-believers” to pay a special tax, or drove them out of town or denied them the freedom of religion. We would be acting as those who drove the Puritans to these shores in the first place.

And to the Anti-Defamation League, I say: think about how your organization and its members would feel if Jewish people were denied the right to build a synagogue because of a group of Jewish extremists had committed a horrific murder in the same area.

State Senator Daniel Squadron, whose district does include Ground Zero and environs, supports the Landmarks Preservation decision and captured the essence of why the construction should go forward. “[W]e will not stand for intolerance, or let it stand in the way of building a diverse, vibrant city composed of people from all over the world.

“Our hallmark is our diversity, and I stand with the people of Lower Manhattan, … and my colleagues in government to say that tolerance, diversity and mutual respect are as vital in the case of Cordoba House today as they have been in 400 years of New York history.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: