Politics

A mosque at Ground Zero?

A mosque at Ground Zero? How can we allow this to happen you might ask. Perhaps the bigger question is how can we allow some propaganda-spewing right-wing blogger to hijack the First Amendment.

One of the things the media has failed to mention in this embarrassing debacle was that this proposed “mosque” in question would not be a new building, as implied by the media, but would occupy a 13 story building that has been vacant since 9/11 (previously a Burlington Coat Factory). Located more than two blocks away, this building would actually serve as an Islamic community center with a basketball court and a cooking school, with the prayer center or “mosque” occupying only the top floor. This building is privately owned and the plans for this new renovation pass local zoning ordinances. The building can’t even be seen from Ground Zero.  Do we really want the federal government weighing in here regarding what can be done on private property?

The tragic events of 9/11 occurred almost 10 years ago and the construction of a Memorial and Museum is still underway at the site, ultimately paying homage to those who died on that fateful day. In the years since that epic disaster, life has continued onward in the neighborhoods around Ground Zero. The alleged “hallowed ground”, or streets and buildings immediately surrounding Ground Zero, have returned to the typical everyday life inherent to much of New York City. As portrayed in this photo pictorial on Daryl Langs website, what has been spun by the media as “hallowed ground” is actually a bunch of otherwise typical businesses, streets, and neighborhoods of lower Manhattan. I urge you to view the photos to gain some further perspective.

Currently there are several places of worship in the neighborhood surrounding Ground Zero, including St. Paul’s Cathedral and other churches. There are also two “mosques” in that neighborhood, one that has existed since early 1970, before construction on the World Trade Center was even finished.

As mentioned in this compelling report earlier in the week by Keith Olbermann, what started as an obscure story on a conservative right wing blog has escalated into an out of control national debate. One that questions the very First Amendment rights that provide us with the freedom we are so proud of in America. I can’t believe how our perpetually inept media has spun the story into such a divisive issue, and I especially can’t believe how many people are dumb enough to buy into it. Ultimately, this is a local zoning issue and has no place in the national spotlight.

But now that it is in the spotlight, much of our would-be forward thinking American society has been deemed a bunch of collective bigots, embarrassingly spewing forth this hate filled nonsense for all the world to see.

The very first line of the First Amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, prohibit the free exercise thereof.” This comes even before freedom of speech, freedom of press, and freedom of assembly. Seems pretty clear. If we as a society want our government to step in and say “You can’t build that there because some people won’t like it, even though it’s on private property and in accordance with local zoning.” how can we expect our citizens to respect our Constitution and governing bodies. You can’t have it both ways.

It’s time to get over this nonsense and stop buying into the sound bites. There are so many far more pertinent problems we are faced with as a society. In the end, it’s only kindness that should matter.