Wednesday, August 25, 2010

To Build or Not to Build

It seems like everybody and their brother is looking to get in on the discussion on the proposed mosque in New York. I'm sure if you're reading this far you are most likely familiar with the issue but in case you're not from the States or not very familiar with what's going on, the gist of it is that there has been major issue with the fact that a mosque has been seeking permission to build a community center approximately two blocks from Ground Zero in New York City. Now while I understand the emotion and the anger that many people feel towards allowing such a structure to be built so close to the site of the deadliest attack on United States soil in the history of the country, I think the debate is being elevated to greater proportions by people who want to do nothing more than fan the flames.

It's hard to watch the news these days and not see some side of the debate being discussed and rather than listening to only the words of those who agree with my viewpoint, I feel it important to also hear (and attempt to understand) the opposing viewpoints on the issue as well. As I mentioned, I understand the anger that many have over the fact that a mosque is being built in such close proximity to Ground Zero but I am at a loss to understand why there is so much ire. I agree that much of it has to do with the fact that the religion of those who perpetrated the attacks is Muslim and that the majority of those we are in conflict with around the world at this time happens to be Muslim but then is it right to punish the majority for the failings of the minority?

And not only that, but to hear many opponents talk, it seems that the mosque/community center that is to be built will be (in the eyes of most opponents) a site from which evil Muslims will plot the next attack on our country. Now I honestly cannot fathom just how rationale minded individuals can possibly believe that. Do people have that little faith in our intelligence and security services to believe that such an attack could again be planned and executed so close to the site of the 9/11 attacks in New York? Do people have so little faith that security services (not to mention the public in general) won't be keeping eyes on that building and would let police know if someone even litters (let alone attempts violence) there? To hear the experts at Fox News speak makes it seem like Bin Laden will have a seat of honor within site of the new World Trade Center plaza. I honestly can't buy that.

But what about those who argue that it just isn't sensitive of Muslims to want to build a mosque so close to where other followers of their religion attacked our country. They say that two blocks is too close. What about the prayer area within the Pentagon where Islamic prayer services are held every day since 2002? It seems that that location is located within a few hundred feet of where the plane slammed into the building. As far as I know there have been no protests which surprises me since I would have thought opponents (who seem to oppose for the sake of opposing at times) would have latched on to the fact that Islam is the religion of those attacking our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan but seeing as how that is not the case, the fact that a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero is insensitive strikes me as smacking of hypocrisy.

If you say that two blocks is too close then how far is far enough? Would it be safe to say that most people who oppose the site on principle would argue that not a single mosque should be built in New York ever again? Perhaps or perhaps not but it wouldn't surprise me if that didn't become the arguement of many. Opponents say that the timing isn't right or that it's too soon. To be perfectly honest, if you haven't been to Ground Zero in recent days I think you'd be hard pressed to term it hallowed if you didn't know any better. What with all the hot dog vendors, the fast food places and other tourist trappings in and around the area. If we truly believe the area to be hallowed ground or an area to be considered sacred, then it should be treated like the majority of Civil War battlefields in our nation, or the site of many historic battles or tragedies around the world. You'd be hard pressed to term it 'touristy'. I personally believe that there is more of a prejudicial reason so many oppose the project and that people just aren't willing to admit it.

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